Herbert A. Friedman

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I have entitiled this article “Operation Uphold Democracy,” but the Haiti campaign has also been called “Operation Restore Democracy,” and even “Operation Maintain Democracy.” The confusion seems to be from the fact that there were two distinct plans of action about the intervention into Haiti, both peaceful and by force. There were also two different taskforces formed, one from the 10th  Mountain Division and one from the 18th  Airborne Corps. There have been reports of other unnamed causes for the duplication in names. Regardless of the name, the story is the same, the U.S. Intervention in Haiti in 1994.

In December 1990, the people of Haiti elected former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide as President with 67% of the vote. He took office in February 1991, but the military overthrew him in September of the same year. Joseph Nerette, who held power with the help of the armed forces, replaced him. In June 1992, Marc Bazin, who ruled as Prime Minister, not as president, replaced Nerette. In June 1993, Bazin resigned and the United Nations passed Resolution 970 which imposed an oil and arms embargo aimed at forcing the Haitian military to the negotiating table. As a direct result of the embargo, over 21,000 Haitians left the poverty-stricken country, many attempting to illegally enter the United States.

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President Jean-Bertrand Aristide

General Raoul Cedras

General Raoul Cedras, head of the Haitian armed forces, signed an agreement on 3 July 1993, which approved the return of President Aristide by 30 October 1993. These were known as the Governors Island Accords and consisted of 10 statements. The Accords said in part;

The President of the Republic of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of Haiti, Lieutenant General Raoul Cedras have agreed that the following arrangements should be made…

Return to Haiti of the President of the Republic, Jean-Bertrand Aristide on 30 October 1993.

Verification by the United Nations and the Organization of American States of fulfillment of all the foregoing commitments...

An amnesty granted by the President of the Republic…

Adoption of a law establishing the new police force…

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USS Harlan County

On 8 October, the USS Harlan County carrying peacekeepers to help with the transition of power attempted to dock in Port-au Prince. An armed mob turned the ship away.

The United States Army Special Operations Command Historical Monograph: Operation Uphold/Restore/Maintain Democracy: the role of Army Special Operations, November 1991-June 1995, points out that PSYOP personnel supporting Joint Task Force Haiti entered the country the day before the arrival of the USS Harlan County and then found themselves playing a game of “cat and mouse” with the Haitian military after President Clinton was pressured to withdraw the ship.

President Clinton, infuriated, authorized Joint Task Force 180 under the 18th Airborne Corps to develop plans to intervene in Haiti. The political and human rights climate deteriorated as the military sanctioned repression, assassination, torture, and rape to terrorize and control the Haitian people. In May 1994, the military appointed Emile Jonassaint the provisional president. The United Nations and the United States countered this illegal action by introducing United Nations Resolution 917. This Resolution says in part:

Strongly urges all States to freeze without delay the funds and financial resources of (Haitian) persons to ensure that neither these nor any other funds and financial resources are made available, by their nationals or by any persons within their territory, directly or indirectly, to or for the benefit of such persons or of the Haitian military, including the police…

Decides that all States shall prevent:

The import into their territories of all commodities and products originating in Haiti and exported there from after the aforementioned date…

Decides to prohibit any and all traffic from entering or leaving the territory or territorial sea of Haiti carrying commodities or products the export of which from Haiti or the sale or supply of which to Haiti would be prohibited…

Task Force 180 was first authorized for the initial invasion, made up of the 82nd Airborne Division. On 29 July 1994, the 10th Mountain Division was authorized to form Joint Task Force 190 for the second phase, the occupation of Haiti after it had been taken by the airborne troops. On 31 July 1994, the UN adopted Resolution 940 authorizing member states to use force to free Haiti of military dictatorship and return Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power. The Resolutions said in part:

Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, authorizes Member States to form a multinational force under unified command and control and, in this framework, to use all necessary means to facilitate the departure from Haiti of the military leadership, consistent with the Governors Island Agreement, the prompt return of the legitimately elected President and the restoration of the legitimate authorities of the Government of Haiti, and to establish and maintain a secure and stable environment that will permit implementation of the Governors Island Agreement…

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By summer of 1994, the sight of rickety wooden boats packed with starving Haitians trying to make landfall on the beaches of Florida was a daily sight on the evening news. Thousands were intercepted on the high seas by U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships and taken to Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba. The economy of Haiti was nonexistent, and the people had no choice but to flee in hope of a better life. The United States took the lead in forming a multinational force (MNF) to carry out the United Nation's mandate by means of a military intervention. The goal was to stop the illegal immigration, protect the people of Haiti, and stabilize that island with a legitimate constitutional government.

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The air-dropped Radio for Haiti bought in bulk from Radio Shack

The USASOC Monograph says that on 18 June 1994 the U.S. created a Military Information Support Team (MIST) in Washington, DC. The MIST consisted of soldiers from the 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) and a number of Creole speaking civilian linguists. Two radio stations were created: Radio Democracy, an FM station focused on delivering Aristide's message and Radio AM 940, which carried messages designed to deter Haitian immigration. One of the problems facing the Washington MIST was the availability of radios in Haiti to make a campaign built on that medium viable. As an interim solution to the problems, SOG aircraft parachuted 10,000 small radios complete with batteries into various urban centers in Haiti.

Battalion Chief M. E. Limon mentions the opening days of the Haiti operation in his Defense Research Paper: “Joint Services Psychological Operations and Peace Support Operations in NATO Countries,” British Command and Staff College:

A Military Information Support Team (MIST) was set up in June 94. Its aims were to assist President Aristide to broadcast towards his country and to fight the Junta’s propaganda. All the products delivered by the MIST had to be approved by President Aristide and the Commander in Chief, US Atlantic Command. A series of 900 hours of broadcast were transmitted by the commando SOLO aircraft before any troops had landed on the island. ‘Radio democracy’ programs were transmitted both on AM and FM band, and one TV channel was used to broadcast President Aristide speeches as well as messages to present the concept of democracy. These messages were carefully combined with popular programs of Haitian music and local news. To increase the impact of this campaign, 10,000 radio sets were sent to Haiti. There is no doubt that this operation influenced the last negotiations between General Cedras and Former President Jimmy Carter, which led to the resignation of the Junta on the 16 September 1994. Thus, the landing of US troops had to take place in a relative peaceful environment.

Between the 16 September and the landing on 19 September, Tactical PSYOPS Teams (TPTs) were dispatched on the island to prepare the landing and gain the support of the population. Their missions also included to avoid any retaliation on former Junta’s members or on their supporters.

The landing forces included a Joint Psychological Operations Task Force composed of elements of the 4th PSYOPS Group (HQ company, 1st PSYOPS Battalion, 9th PSYOPS Battalion, and the Broadcast Battalion). One of its major missions was to achieve the disarmament of the population. All the capabilities of the group were used to support this mission, including leaflets, broadcasting, and loudspeakers. This mission was a success, thousands of individual weapons were handed back to the authorities with a minimum number of incidents. TPTs conducted more than 760 missions throughout the island, sometimes using loudspeakers fitted on helicopters to reach remote regions. They also introduced innovative methods to spread their messages, such as the use of stickers, flags, T-shirts, and footballs. Another difficult objective was to promote the perception of the IPSF (Interim Public Security Force), which replaced the doubtful Haitian police. The message was that IPSF had been carefully selected and trained and would be supervised by MNF’s monitors.

Translators and interpreters were Haitian born soldiers serving in the United States Army. However, the pool of Haitian born soldiers was not large to begin with and secondly; Haitian Creole is an evolving language. Many of the soldiers used in the test audience had left Haiti long ago and were no longer current on language structure or contemporary slang.

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Marine Fast Company Fighting Position on the Roof of the U.S. Embassy

By July 1994, things were so bad at the American Embassy that the Ambassador called a Marine FAST Company for added protection. There were intelligence reports that orders were given for American personnel were to be killed and the Embassy was to be attacked by the Ton Ton Macoute if Haiti was invaded by U.S. forces. The regular Marine Security guard detachment was responsible for internal security of the embassy but was ill equipped to handle the growing threat from the Haitian mobs and military. In July of 1994, the Marine Corps deployed 18 combat personnel from FAST Company to secure the embassy from any and all possible threats.

The Marines flew in civilian aircraft wearing civilian clothes and carrying diplomatic passports, but on an early trip their bullet-proof vests and helmets were confiscated by Haitian police. The Fast team then staggered their entry into four small groups and exited the planes on the taxiway and jumped into State Department vehicles before the waiting Haitian police could inspect their baggage. In the military we called that “Lessons Learned.”

The FAST Marines hardened the Embassy by building sandbag positions on the roof and fighting positions in the flower beds surrounding the embassy. The ground positions were concealed to keep up diplomatic appearances. During the next several months there were many attacks on the embassy, most of them sporadic small arms fire but at times the volume of fire was extensive; so much so that the Marines received a radio transmission one night from the Duty Officer of the USS Inchon asking if they were in need of immediate support.

Once operation Uphold Democracy began in late September, the FAST Marines mission was complete. They left the country in late October having endured months of attacks by organized and unorganized assailants, all without ever firing back. While there were many opportunities to engage gunman, there was never a threat of losing the Embassy and so the Marines displayed incredible discipline by adhered to their strict rules of engagement. The unit members were awarded the Marine Corps "Combat Action" ribbon, and also received the Armed Forces Expeditionary campaign medal for actions while deployed.

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This facility housed the JPOTF. Note the cots draped with mosquito netting in the foreground, the light printing station to the left of the bay door, and stacked boxes containing pre-approved leaflets at the rear of the photo. Administrative offices were located on the second floor above the main entrance. (Photo courtesy of Veritas magazine)

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Haiti PSYOP print facility

The military campaign was named Operation Uphold Democracy. Plans were made for either a military invasion or a peaceful entry into Haiti. Operations Plan (OPLAN) 2370 was the military offensive with a massive invasion from air and sea with overwhelming force. OPLAN 2380 was developed for a peaceful permissive entry into Haiti. The operation's deployment phase began on 18 September 1994 when the president, through the secretary of defense, issued the order to execute OPLAN 2370.

This operation is discussed in an interesting 1999 British Joint Services Command and Staff College Defense Research Paper by Chef de Bataillon, M. E. Limon. He says in part:

The US government planned a military operation to force General Cedras to resign and to restore President Aristide.The PSYOPS support for this operation was divided in 2 phases; PSYOPS support prior to the invasion and PSYOPS support during the operation.

PSYOPS staffs provided intelligence on regional, social and religious preferences of Haiti. A Military Information Support Team (MIST) was set up in June 94.   Its aims were to assist President Aristide to broadcast towards his country and to fight the Junta’s propaganda. All the products delivered by the MIST had to be approved by President Aristide and the CINCUSACOM (Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Command). A series of 900 hours of broadcast were transmitted by the commando SOLO aircraft before any troops had landed on the island.   These messages were carefully combined with popular programs of Haitian music and local news.  To increase the impact of this campaign, 10,000 radio sets were sent to Haiti.   There is no doubt that this operation influenced the final negotiations between General Cedras and Former President Jimmy Carter, which led to the resignation of the Junta on the 16 September 1994.Thus the landing of US troops took place in a relatively peaceful environment. 

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Former President Jimmy Carter, Senator Sam Nunn and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell

Crew of the Leaflet Mission of 15/16 September 1994

The crew was augmented due to the long (26 hour) duty day, so we had some extra bodies. We also had three PSYOP guys from Ft. Bragg with us and a support operator. A normal MC-130H crew was two pilots, one navigator, one electric warfare officer, one flight engineer, and two loadmasters. We also usually had a third pilot to act as safety observer, especially if we were doing night vision landings. I think we had three pilots and three loadmasters, and two Flight Engineers.

Major Dave White, USAF (retired) told me about an early mission he was assigned as a member of the 15th Special Operations Squadron. He said in part:

On 13 September 1994, as a preparatory event leading up to the planned invasion of Haiti, the 15th Special Operations Squadron was tasked to plan a PSYOP leaflet drop on Port-Au-Prince. Crew 1 was assigned to the mission. This was to be the first combat mission flown by the squadron since reactivation and equipping with the MC130H Combat Talon II in October 1992.

We planned the mission on 14 September for execution on the night of 15/16 September. We were briefed on the results of the first leaflet mission over Haiti, flown using standard high-altitude leaflet drop tactics. We were told that target coverage was not optimum, due to unpredictable winds over the island. We therefore determined that a low-altitude airdrop over the city was necessary to ensure target saturation, as well as to enhance the psychological effect of the mission. To ensure accurate wind information and minimize warning to the defenses, the ingress over the Gulf of Gonave was planned for extreme low altitude, varying from 50 to 200 feet. Two passes over the city were planned, with a drop altitude of 500 feet. The first pass would begin with coast-in just east of the Navy base on the southwest edge of the city, followed by a sweeping turn to the northeast. This would cover the eastern and southern portions of the city. The second pass would begin after completing a wide turn to a westerly heading in the valley northeast of the city. This pass would take us just south of the Port-Au-Prince airport and provide coverage of the north part of the city. No opposition from air defenses was expected, as the Haitian air force consisted of a single airworthy Cessna 172. However, small arms and AAA up to 40 mm was expected. All crew members were provided standard side arms, body armor, and survival gear.

On 15 September, we flew to Pope AFB to onload the leaflets and Army personnel, who would assist with the airdrops. Just before takeoff from Hurlburt Field, we were advised that a 40mm anti-aircraft weapon had been positioned to the south of the city on a ridge line. Initially, this appeared to impact our coast-in point and first pass. However, the electric warfare officer determined that the probable position of the weapon was such that the gun crew could not depress the barrel sufficiently to accurately target the aircraft until we were at a safe distance. We therefore chose not to alter our target plan. After an uneventful flight to Pope AFB, we arrived and onloaded the leaflets and Army personnel.

We departed Pope AFB after final mission approval was received. Our plan was to look like a normal C-130 supply flight to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Therefore, we flew our Instrument flight rules clearance on airways southbound. Enroute, we were advised that defensive units had been cleared to "fire at will" at intruding aircraft. (Later, we heard that another aircraft had already made an appearance over the island. It did not drop anything, and nobody ever admitted who it was or what it was doing.) We did an in-flight refueling north of Cuba, and Instrument flight rules was terminated south of Great Inagua. We began our descent on the standard Guantanamo arrival around the east end of Cuba, turning west and descending. We flew the initial part of the Guantanamo arrival for deception purposes, descending to less than 1000 feet. When the electric warfare officer advised that we were below radar coverage, we turned hard left onto the easterly ingress route. Inbound to Haiti, and south of Gonave Island, we descended to 50 feet over the water, using our terrain-following systems. We were also wearing our night-vision goggles (NVGs), which were a great help. During the ingress, Ron Lovett, in the copilot seat, suddenly called for an immediate pullup, which I did without hesitation, to say the least. When I looked up from the terrain-following displays, a large white wooden three mast sailing ship was directly ahead. The terrain-following system had not seen its non-metallic structure, and his warning prevented an early end to the mission. I have always wondered what the occupants of the ship thought as our blacked-out Hercules thundered overhead at less than 200 feet.

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The leaflet dropped on Haiti.
Happiness. Democracy. Prosperity. Opportunity. Education

Continuing the ingress, we coasted in at 500 feet Above Ground Level. We released our first leaflets at this time, with the naval base as the target. This was a late change to the mission, added because we had received an intelligence update that Raoul Cedras, the leader of the military junta, was spending the night at the Navy base for security reasons. We felt that our leaflets would provide an effective psychological blow if in fact he was there, and we changed the drop plan accordingly. We then performed a left turn to the northeast, and flew over the eastern half of the city, dropping leaflets continually. These were targeted for the main downtown areas of Port-Au-Prince and were spread by the prevailing easterly winds. During this pass, static lines whipped back into the cargo compartment and entangled one of the loadmasters, Rusty Fine. In the process of freeing him, the static lines pulled a set of NVGs off Mike Clevenger’s helmet, and they departed the aircraft. The goggles fell, harmlessly, into an unknown area of the city.

After the Night Vision Goggles were lost the men made up this fake leaflet as a gag.
It was not dropped over Haiti. The text on the back is:

My Haitian friends, we will reward you with money.
If you find these glasses call 904-844-4736

After crossing the northern outskirts of the city, we flew the short pattern to position for our final run. This was made to cover the north side of the city, particularly the airport area. On this run, we noted the city lights being extinguished, block by block. The loadmasters reported light ground fire from small arms around Port-Au-Prince airport. All the tracers were behind the aircraft, so we took no evasive action. Upon completion of this run, with all boxes expended, we egressed over the gulf on a westbound heading. Time over target was less than ten minutes, although it seemed like more than thirty.

Exiting the gulf, a climb to enroute altitude was initiated and the crew removed their combat equipment in preparation for the long ride home. To make the second in-flight refueling a bit more interesting, Ron Lovett bet me the price of beers for the crew that I could not complete it without illuminating any intermediate position lights on the receiver director array--not an easy task given the lateness of the hour, the post-airdrop letdown, and the crew's jovial efforts to "assist" with the task at hand. The refueling was completed (I won the bet) and we proceeded to recovery at Hurlburt, having flown 11.4 hours in all. No aircraft damage or crew injuries were sustained. After taking a crew picture and completing a debrief with the intelligence shop, we were released to go home with instructions to return to plan our next mission, expected to take place the night after the upcoming invasion. 

When I got home and turned-on CNN, I saw one of our leaflets laying in a Port-Au-Prince street. The news reported complete coverage of the target areas. It was the only time I ever failed in my career goal of staying off CNN, but I was not upset about it.

The Combat Talon

In December 2001, the Air University Press, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, released the book The Praetorian Starship - The Untold Story of the Combat Talon by retired USAF Colonel Jerry L. Thigpen. The book mentions many leaflet operations so with due respect to the author I will mention one of them in this PSYOP article.

On 13 September the 15th SOS was tasked for its first leaflet drop into Haiti, which was the first combat mission flown by the squadron since its missions into North Vietnam during the late 1960s. Two passes over Port-au-Prince were planned at 500 feet. The first pass would begin with a coastal penetration just east of the Haitian naval base located on the southwest edge of the city. After coast-in, the aircraft would make a sweeping turn to the northeast, dispensing leaflets over the eastern and southern portions of the city. The second pass would begin after completing a wide turn to a westerly heading in the valley northeast of the city. As the aircraft flew over the coastline at 500 feet, the first set of leaflets were released over the Haitian naval base. Late information given to the crew had changed the first target area to the naval base because intelligence sources thought that Cedras might be spending the night at the base. PSYOP planners felt that a direct hit where Cedras was staying would be effective in convincing him that the UN was serious about demanding he leave the country. After the first drop the planned profile was flown, with the aircraft dispensing leaflets over designated areas of the city.

Almost 4000 American paratroopers were on their way to invade Haiti on 19 September 1994 when the Haitian military lost its nerve and agreed to a peaceful transition of government. Lieutenant Colonel David Bentley tells the story in “Operation Uphold Democracy: Military Support for Democracy in Haiti.” He says:

Shortly before the commencement of Uphold Democracy, a last diplomatic effort was attempted. Former President Jimmy Carter, accompanied by Senator Sam Nunn and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell, went to Haiti and met with the de facto rulers of Haiti, General Cedras and the illegitimate President Emile Jonaissant. Late in the night of September 18, while airborne forces from Ft. Bragg were en route to Haiti, an agreement was signed calling for Haitian military and police forces to cooperate with the U.S. military and for Cedras and his cronies to retire and leave the country peacefully. The synergy resulting from the combined diplomatic/military approach brought about the agreement which meant that the invasion plans had to be changed literally overnight. While U.S. military forces would have quickly overwhelmed the Haitian military and police, this negotiated solution saved lives on both sides, made the task of securing Haiti for Aristide's return easier, and avoided awakening of nationalist anti-U.S. sentiment which might have occurred had fighting taken place.

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This was the bone yard where General Raoul Cedras took people to be executed
Sometimes they were criminals; sometimes they were just in his way

As a result, American troops entered the country peacefully and without bloodshed. TheUnited States military and the multi-national force eventually numbered over 23,000 troops from over a dozen nations. General Cedras and his military staff left Haiti and President Aristide returned on 15 October 1994. The multinational force recovered nearly 33,000 weapons through buybacks, discovering caches, and roadblocks. The flood of refugees from Haiti, 3,000 per day in July 1994, virtually stopped. The United States repatriated more than 13,000 Haitians home.

The general story is told in The Concise History of the U.S. Army in Operation Uphold Democracy, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Press, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, 1998. It says in part:

Here in particular, American forces had to overcome not only the Marine intervention of 1915-1934, but also the unmistakable impression left by the Harlan County episode that the Americans lacked the resolve to face down elements in Haiti that opposed fulfillment of the Governors Island Accord.

Execution of the PSYOP campaign began in advance of ground operations in September. On August 22-23, for example, the Air Force conducted a leaflet drop at St. More.

[Note: that would be the leaflet below (fourth leaflet) showing a family walking toward a sunrise].

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Loudspeaker broadcasts were also made from helicopters

From December 13-17, roughly seven million leaflets were released over Port au Prince, Cap Haitien, and Les Cayes…the Air Force dropped roughly 10,000 radios across parts of Haiti…Both Joint Task Force 180 and 190 incorporated Tactical PSYOP Teams (TPTs) with loudspeakers.

Company A of the 9th PSYOP Battalion was attached to the 82nd Airborne Division for the take-down mission. Support of the 10th Mountain Division went to Company B, 9th PSYOP Battalion, which assigned TPTs to Port au Prince and Cape Haitiens.

Douglas Waller mentions the military-PSYOP connection in an article entitled "How a Spec Ops Campaign Saved Lives," Armed Forces Journal International, June 1995. Some of his comments are:

One reason the casualties were so low: the White House, the Pentagon and the CIA waged what one Department of Defense memo termed an "unprecedented psychological operations campaign."

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245th PSYOP Company prepares to deploy to Haiti

The PSYOP units involved in the Operation Uphold Democracy were the 2nd and 4th PSYOP Groups, and the 1st and 9th PSYOP Battalions.

Humiliated in Somalia, the Clinton administration was desperate for the generals to leave Haiti without bloodshed. The White House formed a PSYOP Working Group to decide on themes each week for radio and leaflet messages. A Ft. Bragg team set up a makeshift studio near the Pentagon, which Aristide used to tape speeches for daily broadcasts.

Fearing Aristide might slip in incendiary allusions to torturing opponents as he had in the past speeches, the PSYOP Working Group had Haitian linguists screen each speech. But Aristide, who was being gently coached by US officials ahead of time, never had to be edited. ‘I have come to ring the bell of reconciliation,’ he pledged—exactly the theme the psy-warriors wanted conveyed to assure Haitians he would not seek political revenge when he returned."

It is interesting to note that the author makes an allusion to "incendiary" but does not elaborate. Aristide’s followers were known to dress political enemies in a "Pere Lebrun," a rubber tire placed around the neck and set on fire. The New American, Vol. 13, No. 3, 1997 describes Aristide thusly: " Has been on video extolling the hideous practice of "necklacing" -- the placing of a gasoline-soaked burning tire around the neck of a victim -- as "attractive, splendorous, graceful, and dazzling."

He allegedly said in a televised speech of 27 September 1992, "A faker who pretends to be one of our supporters, just grab him; make sure he gets what he deserves…the burning tire. What a beautiful tool! What a beautiful instrument! It’s fashionable. It smells good. Wherever you go, you want to smell it."

There were others that were very critical of President Aristide. Canadian Lynn Garrison was an advisor to Haiti's ruler, Lieutenant General Raoul Cedras and the interface between the American embassy and the Haitian military during the 1991 to 1994 period. He said in regard to the American propaganda broadcasts that few Haitians listened to them. The Hercules radio broadcasts were so tepid that no one listened. He claimed that many Haitians believed the radio transmitters were actually based inside the American embassy. Instead, they tended to listen to Aristide’s taped broadcasts on local radio stations that were much more volatile than the ones transmitted from the C-130s.

He added that allowing Aristide to return to power was to be in coordination of the building of a new Forces Armees d'Haiti (FAdH) that would be strong enough to keep the dictator under control. The new Army still exists on paper but was never built. This gave Aristide free reign in Haiti. Garrison concludes:

Aristide is a major criminal but holds many dossiers on high-level people he bribed. Because of this he will never face justice for his murders, massive thefts of funds or control of the cocaine business.

Speaking of the Aristide broadcasts, Staff Sergeant Jamie Santos told me a bit more about them:

Before I deployed to Haiti I was in Washington D.C. stationed at the Pentagon. We kept President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in a hotel. Each day we had him prepare a radio broadcast which was immediately taken to Florida and broadcast there into Haiti. We used the same radio station that was used to broadcast propaganda to Cuba.

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Staff Sergeant Jamie Santos
Santos (seated) discusses a PSYOP campaign with SP4 Jason Hernoski

Staff Sergeant Jamie Santos, a Psychological Operations Specialist and enlisted member of the Dissemination Battalion was nominated for the Bronze Star Medal for his exceptionally meritorious achievement as the Non-commissioned Officer in Charge of the Product Development Center. The narration of his accomplishments is so well written that I think we can use it here as an example of what the Battalion accomplished in Haiti. His accomplishments are as follows:

He successfully planned, coordinated and executed seven campaign objectives intended to set the conditions for successful elections: gain popular support for the Haitian National Police; support the departure of the United Nations Mission in Haiti; increase popular support for the justice system; reduce Haitian on Haitian violence, and disarm the Haitian populace.

He managed the development, production and dissemination of over 100 print and 65 audio and video products by synchronizing the function of psychological operations specialists, illustrators, linguists, print specialists and broadcast specialists.

He coordinated with representatives of the Haitian National Police, International Investigative Training Assistance Program, Ministry of Justice, and selected Haitian political figures in an effort to institutionalize information programs.

He developed procedures which greatly enhanced the quality and efficiency of the Product Development Center. He cross-trained, led, and served as a role model for all of the soldiers in the unit. He coordinated and supervised all production activities within the Military Information Support Team to include print, audio and visual operations. He anticipated requirement, enabling the Military Information Support Task Force to adjust to emerging and changing situations, thus providing better support to the Zone Commanders.

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Corporal Aquila Knopf handing out leaflets

Corporal Aquila Knopf handing out leaflets and conducting loudspeaker information operations in the Grand'Anse District of Haiti in support of the 20th Special Forces Group from the Alabama National Guard. Corporal Knopf was a member of the 320th PSYOP Battalion (then 320th PSYOP Company), of the 7th PSYOP Group, an Army Reserve unit based out of Portland, Oregon. His team was made up of 12 Special Forces operators, 2 PSYOP specialists, 2 translators, and 1 or 2 Civil Affairs specialists. The leaflets and loudspeaker broadcasts were on the subject of how to vote and how to utilize the new justice system. Loudspeakers were used since a large portion of the adult population (sometimes as high as 50%) was illiterate. To reinforce the message, he asked the children to read the leaflets to their parents. Also, he always ensured the back of the leaflets were blank so the children could use it for note paper in school. The first Haitian phrase he learned was Garcon, patage si vous plais (“Children, share please”) since handing out leaflets could turn into a chaotic mess rather quickly as the children fought to get the largest number of leaflets possible.

Corporal Knopf told me:

Our call-sign was Delta Eight Romeo; however, after 7 of the 18 contracted of us contracted Dengue fever (present company included) we earned the nickname “Dengue Eight Romeo.” I am 19 years old and bare-chested in this photo because I wanted a sun tan and my sergeant gave me permission.

Operation Uphold Democracy restored the democratically elected government of Haiti and for the most part, halted the illegal emigration. On 31 March 1995, the United States handed over the peacekeeping responsibilities to United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH). Thirty four nations sent contingents to the UNMIH which reached about 6,000 troops by June 1995. In September 1995, the force had dropped to 2,500 American soldiers out of a total of 6,000 UN peacekeeping troops, and 800 UN civilian police, drawn from thirty-one countries. 

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PSYOP Loudspeaker Team in Haiti

The major American forces involved in the peaceful occupation were from the 18th Airborne Corps and the 10th Mountain Division. The PSYOP units were part of a Joint Psychological Operations Task Force. They included parts of the 4th PSYOP Group, 2nd United States Army Reserve PSYOP Group, 1st PSYOP Battalion, and the 9th PSYOP Battalion. 

A decade after I wrote this article I ran across an excellent after-action report by Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Arata of the 10th Mountain Division entitled: Psychological Operations in Haiti. The report was so well done that I have added some of the comments to this article. Here he introduces the reader to the problem:

When the United States military arrived in Haiti to begin operations, several internal Haitian threats faced us. These included the population, the environment, the Haitian Army (Forces Armée d'Haïti or FAD’H), and the Revolutionary Front for Haitian Advancement and Progress (FRAPH). The threat from the Haitian population included the common criminal element, large crowds and the threat of riots, and Haitian on Haitian violence. This included retaliation and retribution by the Haitian people towards former FAD'H members. The environment posed health risks to the military with exposure to disease, specifically malaria and dengue fever. Former members of the FAD'H posed potential security risks in the form of selected violence against the new Aristide government or the US military.

Dr. Robert Baumann and Dr. John Fishel discussed the PSYOP used during the campaign in depth in an article entitled “Operation Uphold Democracy.” Some selected comments are:

Closely related to the civil affairs effort was the PSYOP campaign conducted by U.S. forces in and around Haiti. Given the delicacy of native perceptions about the role of U.S. forces and Multinational Forces in Haiti, the American-directed information campaign was essential to preserving a psychological climate conducive to fulfillment of the military mission, the restoration of Aristide, and the eventual conduct of national elections.  

Execution of the PSYOP campaign began in advance of ground operations in September. On August 22-23, for example, the Air Force conducted a leaflet drop at St. More. A typical leaflet displayed the words "democracy," "prosperity," "opportunity," "education," and "law," overlaying a drawing of three persons moving into the sunlight. From September 13-17, roughly 7 million leaflets were released overPort-au-Prince, Cap Haitien, and Les Cayes. 

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193rd Special Operations Wing

A major part of American efforts was the use of EC-130E Commando Solo aircraft for radio broadcast operations by the 4th Psychological Operations Group working through the Air Force 193d Special Operations Wing (of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard). To facilitate the effectiveness of the broadcast campaign, the Air Force dropped roughly 10,000 radios across parts of Haiti. Broadcast messages, transmitted on three FM bands, sought to discourage the flotillas of boat people by announcing that entry to the United States would henceforth be possible only through the INS office in Port-au-Prince. A dramatic drop in boat interceptions after July 7, 1994, suggests that the campaign had the intended effect. Later messages aimed at preventing local vigilantes from taking retribution against supporters of the Cedras regime. 

Phil Taylor's papers (University of Leeds), mentions a report titled "Radio and Military PSYOPS" by N. Grace that adds in part:

Before launching the invasion to reinstall the ousted government, the 193rd Special Operations Group was sent out above Haiti. The U.S. State Department contacted the Army's 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to produce programming against the Haitian regime, which in turn, employed the exiled civilian government in Washington, DC. Programs for RADIO DEMOCRAT were produced in Washington and then sent by satellite to the airborne EC-130 Command Solo aircraft and were heard all over the continental United States on its frequency of 1035 kHz after it hit the air on July 15, 1994. Even the choice of frequency had significance as it was the old frequency for Port-au-Prince's defunct religious broadcaster, 4VEH. Its initial goals were to both prepare the island for invasion and to compel Haitians to stop boating to the U.S. After the invasion was completed and exiled President Aristide was returned to power, Radio Democrat left the airwaves. The U.S. military considers Radio Democrat and the PSYOPS teams to have been an important factor in restoring the civilian government on the island and for reducing casualties.

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TPT with Loudspeakers

From the beginning of operations in the country, both Joint Task Force (JTF) 180 and JTF 190 incorporated tactical PSYOP teams (TPTs) with loudspeakers. Each team normally consisted of four persons, although some split into two-person teams in support of remote Special Forces operations. Those TPTs that would have supported a forced entry were armed with taped messages in Creole demanding immediate surrender.”

Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Arata adds in an article entitled “Psychological Operations in Haiti,” Small Wars Journal, April 2005:

When the United States military arrived in Haiti to begin operations, several internal Haitian threats faced us. These included the population, the environment, the Haitian Army (Forces Armée d'Haïti or FAD’H), and the Revolutionary Front for Hatian Advancement and Progress (FRAPH).  The threat from the Haitian population included the common criminal element, large crowds and the threat of riots, and Haitian on Haitian violence.  This included retaliation and retribution by the Haitian people towards former FAD'H members.

Haiti offered a challenging environment for PSYOP employment. Literacy is low, and Haitian society relies on word-of-mouth communication. Official news broadcasts and publications are viewed with suspicion. Rumors are the preferred source of information, and credibility is judged by how well the listener knows the person repeating the rumor. Anyone in a uniform is to be mistrusted and even feared.  

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The 4th PSYOP Group booklet PSYOP Support to Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY adds:

Tactical PSYOP Teams would eventually conduct over 760 ground PSYOP missions covering an area from the northern tip of Haiti near Port-de-Paix to the southwestern city of Jeremie. Aerial loudspeaker teams flew 67 missions in support of ground operations, facilitating PSYOP dissemination in the rugged and mountainous regions bordering the Gulf of Gonave and in other denied areas.

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Personnel from Basic PSYOP Support Element 22 pose in front of the PSYOP support element headquarters. Standing left to right are CPT Martin C. Schulz (BPSE 22 OIC), Sergeant Daniel Stilson, Sergeant Jon McGinnis, Sergeant Gonzalo F. Villarreal, Sergeant Richard I. Keith, and Staff Sergeant Jon A. Cartier (TPT 221 team leader). Kneeling left to right are Staff Sergeant Marco A. Lopez (TPT 223 team leader) and Sergeant Kevin W. Buchaniec. (Photo courtesy of Veritas magazine)

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Joint Psychological Operations Task Force (JPOTF) Headquarters in Haiti

The J.F.K. Special Warfare Center issue of Special Warfare of June 1994 also featured several articles on Joint Task Force Haiti.

They were often effective. When an Angry mob of some 2,000 Haitians surrounded a military headquarters in Gonavies seeking revenge, a mobile loudspeaker team played a Garth Brooks country music tape and lured the curious crowd out of the town.

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Tactical PSYOP Loudspeaker teams

LTC Arata discusses loudspeaker use:

Next, PSYOP teams would use their loudspeakers and linguists to communicate the consequences of certain actions.  Finally, they would give directions for subsequent actions or movement. Tactical PSYOP teams also helped with the seeking out and capture of several known members of the FRAPH who were wanted by the joint task force headquarters for questioning.  In early October, one task force planned a series of raids on suspected locations of members of an activist political organization and other hostile individuals known as attaches.  The tactical commander decided to use a graduated response tactic that began with TPTs broadcasting surrender messages, followed by a countdown sequence.  Approximately 80% of the individuals at each objective surrendered and the rest offered no resistance when the assault team entered the building.  Not a shot was fired during the entire operation.  Again, a well-planned and well executed PSYOP campaign, in direct support of the tactical commander’s mission and intent, was invaluable to the successful and safe accomplishment of the mission.

In the Special Operations History magazine Veritas, Volume 11, No. 1, 2015, Dr. Jared Tracy wrote about Haiti in an article entitled “A True Force Multiplier – Psychological Operations in Operation Uphold Democracy, 1994-1995. Some of the loudspeaker messages mentioned by Tracy are:

Encouraged pro-Cedras militants to lay down their arms; Neighborhood crime watch; preventing Haitian-on-Haitian crime violence; political reconciliation; No to violence, no to vengeance, yes to reconciliation; Support Aristide; Turn in you weapons for cash.

Some Initial Problems

One of the major PSYOP problems in Haiti was the lack of linguists who spoke Creole. The military did a quick search and found thirty-three linguists throughout the armed forces, many born in Haiti. PSYOP soldiers who had served in Haiti in the past were also tapped to serve during the intervention.

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PSYOP loudspeaker team member reads a message from a prepared script

Other problems according to the USASOC Monograph arose when field commanders and staff officers began to impose their views on product development. A PSYOP officer explained: “Haitian is a very abrupt language.” You don't say, “Please move back.” You say, “Move back now or you might be killed.” Several staff officers took issue with the term “killed” and ordered it changed. None of the officers involved had any working knowledge of psychological operations let alone expertise in Haitian language or, culture.

There was also a seeming lack in interest to have PSYOP soldiers enter with the first waves. XVllIth Airborne Corps planners were only willing to dedicate a minimum number of assets to psychological operations. In one instance, a PSYOP unit and its equipment were temporarily displaced from a scheduled flight in favor of a supply of Port-A-Johns. Apparently, “crappers” had priority over trained psychological operators.

Another problem occurred since the original invasion plan called for US forces to capture intact radio stations as well as newspaper equipment. The peaceful landing left those facilities in Haitian hands. The Joint PSYOP Task Force had to request $750,000 to cover operating costs and material expenses over the next six months and immediate funding to cover costs for the first ten days of the operation. The money was forthcoming and it was only a matter of days before PSYOP leaflets, billboard advertisements, and radio messages were having their impact on the Haitian population.

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Long Live Peace

One of the songs that were played over the radio in the fall of 1994 by U.S. PSYOP as the American forces spread across Haiti was “Long live Peace.” The song promises democracy, work for all, education and good health.” There is no talk of vengeance, or people’s justice, since that would tear the country apart and discourage international aid. Reconciliation was the key to jobs and economic recovery. Curiously, a Haiti veteran sent this to me after finding it among his papers. He did not remember it and thought it was a poem or a song, and perhaps it was, but from a PSYOP standpoint, it is a song. I assume that the lyrics above were printed out by PSYOP troops and were handed to the people on the streets.

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Two Tactical PSYOP Teams distribute printed materials and
radios around Port-au-Prince from their M1025 HMMWVs.
(Photo courtesy of Veritas magazine)

Army Reserve magazine of spring 1995 mentioned the Haiti operation. It featured several photographs of reservists handing out 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" leaflets with pictures of Aristide that encourage national reconciliation. Some of the article text is:

Using language capability, cultural sensitivity and information technology, the PSYOP soldiers create a combat multiplier effect giving the U.S. forces an edge in many kinds of conflict situations. Over 80% of U.S. PSYOP forces are Army Reservists, and in October, U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (USACAPOC) established the 2nd PSYOP Group, a composite unit made up of Army Reserve PSYOP soldiers from across the nation. In Haiti, PSYOP was tasked with supporting the 8,600 combat troops of the 10th Mountain Division as they oversaw the peaceful change over of the Haitian government.

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Haiti loudspeaker teams

On the subject of the 2nd Group, The winter 1996 issue of Perspectives, the Journal of the Psychological Operations Association is dedicated to the Haiti intervention. The 2nd  Group deployed 67 reservists to Haiti, assigned from Cap Hatien in the north to Jeremy Jagmel in the south. They put 18 loudspeaker teams in the field. 

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The President Aristide Leaflet

There are only two leaflets that are known to have been dropped before the American intervention into Haiti. The first depicts a formal black and white portrait of President Aristide with a Haitian flag in the background. The back of this leaflet has five lines of blue text in Creole:


The New York Times of September 15, 1994 featured a Reuters photograph of hundreds of the above leaflets showing deposed President Aristide on the streets of an unidentified Haitian city. The caption is, "A U.S. plane dropped leaflets in Haiti supporting the exiled President." The British Broadcasting Company announced on 14 September that two million leaflets were dropped over Port-au-Prince and two other cities asking the population to support the US invasion and demanding the return of Haiti's ousted President Jean-Bertand Aristide. One published report states that seven million leaflets were dropped on Port-au-Prince, Les Cayes and Cap Hatien from 13-17 September. Another says that three million leaflets were dropped on the night of 14 September. A third report states that the Aristide leaflets were dropped over Port-au-Prince and La Plaine during the early morning hours of 10 September. There seems to be much confusion about where and how many leaflets were dropped, but it is clear that before the Americans hit the beaches, the people of Haiti had been psychologically prepared for the intervention.

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Soldiers of the 4th PSYOP Group examine materials being developed for use in Haiti

Veritas mentions several leaflets and gifts. Generic leaflets such as the Aristide portrait were prepared prior to the operation. There was a platoon-sized product development Detachment that printed all of the posters, leaflets and handbooks that were disseminated in Haiti. The PSYOP teams also distributed pro-Aristide buttons, T-shirts and radios. 20,000 calendars were printed and they were extremely popular. Pen, pencils, notebooks, bumper stickers and soccer balls were also popular among the Haitians. US PSYOP teams printed a newsletter entitled the Cap-Hatien Newsletter. By February 1995, ten issues of the newsletter were printed and 60,000 copies had been distributed throughout Cap-Hatien. Although the leaflets were not coded, the Army did have an internal identification code for all their leaflets:

Leaflet 4A-01-02L informed Haitians “U.S. Forces have arrived to restore democracy to your country.”

On 4 October PSYOP teams distributed 1,500 leaflets promoting weapons buyback, 700 leaflets explaining Haitian rights and responsibilities, and 700 miscellaneous leaflets.

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Tactical PSYOP Teams broadcated appeals from loudspeakers mounted on their humvees. (Photo courtesy of Veritas magazine)

Stephen D. Brown mentions weapon raids backed by PSYOP in “PSYOP in Operational Uphold Democracy,” Military Review, September–October 1996:

PSYOP-supported “Mountain Strike” operations from 3 to 14 October 1994 were highly successful. Mountain Strikes were raids conducted by 10th Mountain Division units on sites identified by intelligence as FRAPH or attaché safe houses. Mountain Strike commanders regarded TPT input as critical to their maneuver schemes. On each mission, TPTs broadcasted surrender appeal messages with a countdown sequence. In four of five cases, individuals in the safe houses followed instructions and came out with their hands up, If they did not give up right away, they gave up as soon as Multi-National Force soldiers entered the building, No shot was ever fired in any Mountain Strike operation.

On 12 October handbills were disseminated supporting the new police; from 12 to 14 October 2,000 pro-Aristide leaflets were distributed as well as campaign buttons.

The Associated Press reported:

Pro-army militiamen beat up some people trying to pick up the American leaflets, which announce the return of Haiti's elected president. Capital Police Chief Michel Francois was heard on the police band ordering soldiers to shoot at the aircraft as they flew over at 2:45 a.m… Mindful of uniformed and plainclothes soldiers and auxiliaries, nervous people intentionally ignored fliers dropped downtown within blocks of the National Palace, seat of the government installed by the army in May, and Haitian army headquarters. Soldiers picked up the fliers that fell on Bel Air before the people could even read them. ‘When the plane flew over, the soldiers at the post cordoned off our area and fired their automatic weapons into the air’.

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The second leaflet depicts a radio at the far right with the frequency of the American-sponsored government station, a map of Haiti and the flags of the United States and Haiti at the left. The text is:

Help us to help you. Listen to Radio 1080 AM 24 hours a day.

The back is all text,

The American Army has arrived to re-establish democracy. For your own and your family's safety, follow the advice below: Remain calm. Stay indoors. Keep away from windows. Do not form in groups on the street. Leave the American Army alone to work. Do not block traffic. Listen to the radio on 1080 for information. For more information tune your radio to 1080 AM."

This leaflet was dropped along with portable radios on 15 September 1994.

Speaking of the portable radios, Tracy mentions the radios handed out to Haitians so that they could hear the American programming several times. Some of his comments are:

An earlier airdrop of 10,000 radios had broadened the listening audience; [On 12 October] 1,300 radios were distributed around Port au Prince; [Between 12 and 14 October] 2,100 radios were distributed.

Tracy mentions that the small portable radios that were given to the local people were bought in bulk at Radio Shack. Some of the PSYOP radio messages were:

Violence is not an answer to the road to peace and reconciliation; The new year is a chance to reconcile, start anew, and give peace a chance;

Make your community a safer place to live. Support and join your community watch program.

A Haitian who was on the ground during the drop makes an interesting observation. Admittedly he is Pro-Army and anti-Aristide but he says:

I had an opportunity to view the American PSYOP projects from inside of Haiti. The C-130s were a waste of fuel since their broadcasts were much milder than ones already being broadcast on the local Haitian radio stations. Contrary to the propaganda, there was no censorship of Haitian media. They said some awful things about General Cedras. Radio Tropic, one of the most vocal, was just around the corner from Grand Quartier General, the military headquarters. The Americans were broadcasting to Haitians who knew the truth. There was no systematic violence or rape. The military was blamed for many things through very effective propaganda controlled by Aristide.

I can remember the night when low flying 130s dumped radios all over the place. Many of these were turned in to the police, while Haitians claimed to have converted others so they could listen to Radio Superstar.  Loads of leaflets could be seen cluttering the streets. I saved a few.

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Tactical PSYOP Team members distribute leaflets to the locals

The Rand Corporation makes an interesting comment on what seems to be this radio leaflet in their Organization Publication MR 1287, Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield for Urban Operations.

One proposed PSYOP campaign developed for Operation Restore Democracy in Haiti might prove illustrative of why perception assessment is necessary. Prior to deployment, leaflets were published informing the Haitian populace of U.S. intentions. The original leaflet was published in Dutch, the language of the Haitian elite. The one actually used for the PSYOP campaign was published in Creole, the official language of Haiti, because an astute PSYOP team member realized the need to publish to the wider audience. If the Dutch flier had been dropped on Port-au-Prince, it could have undermined the American mission to the country in several ways. The majority of the population would have been unable to read the flier. The subsequent deployment of U.S. forces into the country therefore, could have been perceived to be hostile. The mission itself, which was intended in part to restore equity within the nation’s social structure, could have backfired if the Haitians viewed the Dutch flier as an indication of U.S. favoritism to the Haitian elite.

The New York Times said on 16 September that:

Paramilitary forces seized many of the thousands of radios that were dropped from an American plane that flew over the capital after President Clinton's speech. Because the security forces have beaten those who stopped to pick up pro-Aristide leaflet scattered in earlier airplane forays, many people today simply ignored the latest flyer, dropped last night which proclaims that "The road to a prosperous future begins with democracy."

Three small leaflets circulated about the time of the American entry. They are not the standard 6 x 3-inch leaflet size. They are 6 x 2-inch in size, black and white line drawings, crude in production and with blank backs. Very little is known about them, but it has always been assumed that they were CIA products.

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One shows a rifle round covered by a "prohibited" symbol at the left and an armed soldier exploding at the right. The text is:

There is going to be an explosion. We have destroyed some weapons.

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The second shows two soldiers throwing their weapons down on a pile of rifles and pistols. The text is:

Remain where you are. Put your rifles on the ground.

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The final leaflet shows a thug holding a club over his head. He is covered with the "prohibited" symbol. The text is:

Don't seek vengeance.

One of the great fears of the multinational forces was that the Haitian people would rise up and attack the former police and military that had terrorized them for so many years.

In addition, there were a number of leaflets that were produced but not disseminated. These are standard 6 x 3-inch leaflets, certainly produced by the 4th PSYOP Group, but not approved for some reason. Perhaps they were meant to be used in case the Haitians resisted. All of the leaflets are in black and white.

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The first leaflet shows two Haitians surrendering to an American soldier. A pile of weapons is at the left. There are seven lines of Creole text on the back:

This is how you conduct yourself upon arrest.
Remove all the bullets that are in your gun.
Tie a towel around the barrel of your gun.
Place you gun upside down on your shoulder.
Approach the multinational soldiers very slowly.
If you do these things,
all will go fine.

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The next leaflet depicts an American soldier in front of a Haitian and American flag. Text on the back is:

The American force will arrive in this zone. They have come to work with leaders of the nation to re-establish law and order for the people of Haiti.

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The third leaflet has the same vignette of an American soldier in front of the Haitian and American flag. The text on the back is:

The American Army has arrived here to re-establish democracy in your country. Remain calm. Do not jeopardize military operations. The American Army will work with all speed to finish the job.

It was considered important to explain to the Haitian people why the Americans were there. The USASOC Monograph explains:


Some of the first products to reach the Haitian public explained why us forces were in Haiti. Although few Haitians had any personal recollection of the United States Marine Corps presence in their country from 1915 to 1934, the Cedras regime had launched a psychological operations campaign of its own designed to reinforce the idea that the Americans would repeat the abuses of the Marine occupation.

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The fourth leaflet shows a family walking toward a sunrise. Text on the front is:

Happiness. Democracy. Prosperity. Opportunity. Education.

Three lines of text on the back are:

That which leads you to prosperity starts with democracy.

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The fifth leaflet shows two clocks. One is at 10:00 p.m., one at 5:00 a.m. The text is:

If you are out during the hours 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. you can be arrested. Harm can come to you.

There are five lines of text on the back:


By order of the commander of the multinational force in Haiti,
everyone must remain indoors every day from
10 o'clock at night to 5 o'clock in the morning.

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The sixth depicts a Haitian solder throwing his rifle away at the left, shaking hands with a U.S. soldier at the right. A similar leaflet vignette was used during Desert Storm, (C54) except it was reversed because Arabs read from right to left. Text on the back is:

People who cooperate will be paid. People who cooperate will have jobs. People who cooperate will be part of Haiti's future.

We mentioned earlier that there was a buy-back program for weapons. LTC Arata discusses this campaign:

Finally, one of the major programs that the infantry battalions, along with other units, were involved in was a weapons buy-back program. The intent of this program was to remove, voluntarily, dangerous weapons and munitions from the streets of Haiti, in an effort not only to protect the local population, but also to enhance force protection for the soldiers in the multi-national force.  Payment price increased according to how dangerous the item was or what operational condition the weapon was in. The better the condition of the weapon, the more money was paid to the Haitian turning it in. Although the intent of the program was worthy, it was the opinion of many that the weapon buy-back initiative was only marginally successful. Most weapons turned in were rusted and non-operational, and most explosives appeared unstable and perhaps posed a greater danger to the soldiers and Haitians handling them at the turn-in station. 

The USASOC Monograph says that a campaign theme around a cash for guns program. It became apparent that there were considerable numbers of guns available that could be turned against US soldiers or used by various different factions within the Haitian population to terrorize their opponents. The gun buy-back program was complicated by the fact that the Haitian constitution sanctioned gun ownership. Because the US entry into Haiti had been with the permission of the Haitian government, the constitution remained in effect. Only private ownership of military weapons, defined primarily as being capable of automatic fire, was banned by the Constitution. Over the three phased periods of the program, US forces seized 15,236 guns, most coming from various mlitary garrisons, and purchased another 10,196 from the people. Most were of poor quality and many were unserviceable.

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The final rejected leaflet consists of three panes. At the left, a looter comes through a store window. In the center, a citizen informs a U.S. soldier. At the right, the looter is arrested. Text on the back is:

HELP US HELP YOU. Support law and order. Report all criminals. Do not loot. Cooperate with the multinational force.

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The first card depicts the flag of Haiti, the white dove of peace, and clasped hands. The text is:

Haitians, Together for Peace

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The second card depicts the flag of Haiti at the center, palm trees and the white dove of peace. The text is:

Democracy, The Multinational Force, Peace

Two examples of cards

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These bumper stickers were handed out to the people to motivate them to support the democratic government. The first depicts two clasped hands representing Haiti and the United States. The text is:

Our Friends

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This bumper sticker bears the symbol of the Haiti Police Force and the text:

Protect and Serve

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This bumper sticker bears the flag of Haiti, the white dove of peace and clasped hands. The text is:

Haitians together for Peace

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The final bumper sticker depicts clasped hands and the text:

Government – Democracy – The People

Four examples of Propaganda bumper stickers

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Patriotic Gummed Label

In many wars going back to WWII, American PSYOP personnel produced patriotic gummed labels that could be placed on walls or tables or wherever people congregated to pass on the American message. Such a label was prepared in Haiti and given to civilians to place wherever they wanted to show that they believed in the friendship of the United States and Haiti. The small 4 x 4-inch and a second variety which is 3 x 3-inches label show the two flags in full color.

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A Propaganda T-Shirt with a Map of Haiti

Mutual Respect

Haitian Stand Proud

In addition to those leaflets prepared for, or used in the actual military landing, dozens of signs, bumper stickers, cards, posters and even T-shirts were prepared during the consolidation phase while the new government was taking power. Many were patriotic in nature and showed the flags of the United States and Haiti in full color, or white doves of peace, clasped hands, and other signs of friendship between the American and Haitian people.

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A Propaganda Banner in the Haitian City of Jeremie

And with the help of the United Nations as strong as a Citadel

Corporal Knopf told me about this banner:

Jeremie was the furthest outpost from the Headquarters in Port-au-Prince. We were resupplied by Canadians once a week who arrived in a 2 1/2 ton truck complete with food and supplies which had to be transported by an amphibious landing ship.

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Captain Martin C. Schulz poses with Haitian children after handing out leaflets and meeting with a local radio station owner to discuss broadcasting PSYOP products, October 1994. (Photo courtesy of Veritas magazine)

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Captain Martin C. Schulz stands among Haitians as one of his Tactical PSYOP Teams broadcasts in the main market square in Le Limbe, Haiti, December 1994. Enthusiastic crowds turned out wherever PSYOP teams appeared. (Photo courtesy of Veritas magazine)

The USASOC Monograph adds:

In part due to the non-hostile nature of the US intervention, the Joint Psychological Task Force found itself with its most innovative environment to date for the dissemination of products. Messages appeared on T-shirts, bumper stickers, billboards, soccer balls, buttons, and street banners. Enthusiastic crowds turned out wherever PSYOP teams appeared to disseminate products.

There were also the usual warnings against touching unexploded ordinance. Several leaflets warned children not to touch strange objects and pictured explosions. Some leaflets pictured the flags of the multinational nations to show the Haitians that they were supported by the world. Others featured the new police force in an attempt to show them as caring professionals, instead of the brutish thugs that beat civilians in the past.

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Seed leaflet

A Haitian plants a seed, waters and then sees a healthy tree. The back of this 5.5 x 8.5-inch cardboard handout is blank. The text is:

How do you grow your nation?

Let us all work together so the future of our children can be beautiful.

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I normally show leaflets in their foreign language as they were disseminated. In this case there is a lot of text so I have depicted the full English translation. That allows me to show all of the text instead of the small edited portions that I often add.

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I could also show this leaflet in the Haitian language it was printed in, but I think the reader might appreciate seeing it in English.

This PSYOP product attempted to show the people of Haiti how to grow a democracy. According to Waller (see below), the message was unclear. Cultural differences can be confusing. I recall once attempting to teach the use of a 1:50,000 military map to a similar group. I showed them the contour lines and said "The map is a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimension world." Confusion. It took quite a while to explain the concept of thin brown lines representing 20 vertical meters in the real world. It simply was not within their frame of reference.

There were additional leaflets that glorified President Aristide, or showed seeds being watered that grew into democracy and prosperity. Waller specifically mentions the seed leaflet in his Armed Forces Journal article: "PSYOP succeeded in no small measure because 20,000 US soldiers were there to back up the message. ‘Cleverly worded leaflets and slick radio ads by themselves will not bring stability.’ We can only sow the seeds of democracy." admitted the 4th PSYOP Group's Commander, Colonel Jeffrey Jones. ‘The Haitians have to nurture the plant.’

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A PSYOP Soldier hands out leaflets to civilians in Haiti

That may be easier said than done. When PSYOP teams in Haiti's countryside passed out green handbills which were titled "How to Grow a Nation" and pictured a palm tree being planted with the word "Democracy" underneath, they had to go back to the villagers to explain what the concept meant."

Waller mentions the Army's efforts in greater depth,  "The Army's 4th PSYOP Group at Fort Bragg, NC, divided Haiti's population into 20 target groups to be bombarded with different types of leaflets. No detail was ignored. Radio broadcasts began with the crow of a rooster, the mascot for Aristide's party. Leaflets were printed in red and blue, the colors of Haiti's flag. Orange was avoided. It was the color of Haiti's hated military buildings."

About the preparation of the battlefield he says, " Two months before the September 19 intervention, the daily Commando Solo broadcasts began - from 4 to 8 a.m. and 6:30 to 10 p.m. Market surveys showed many Haitians slept during the day because of the stifling heat.

The CIA had its own campaign to psyche out the Strongmen. Anonymous phone calls went out to Haitian soldiers warning that the regime's days were numbered. CIA planes did manage one air drop five days before the intervention; thousands of transistor radios were parachuted in so Haiti's poor could tune into Commando Solo broadcasts."

On the subject of CIA operations in Haiti, The New York Times said on 27 September, "President Clinton has approved a secret contingency plan that authorizes unspecified political activities to neutralize the opponents of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, senior Administration officials said today. In addition, the $5 million plan authorizes the Central Intelligence Agency to spend $1 million on propaganda to help ease Father Aristide's return and to use covert means to protect American forces there from hostile groups, they added."

The following leaflets show some of the important themes and subjects prepared and disseminated by PSYOP troops during Operation Uphold Democracy.

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The International Police Monitoring Team...

This leaflet shows the flags of the nations of the Multinational Force and reminds the Haitians that the world is concerned for their welfare. The leaflet is 8.5 x 5.5-inches in size and printed on paper with a blank back. Some of the text is:

The international police monitoring team is composed of police from many countries of the world. They are coming here to help security forces and the Haitian people. Help them in this effort so that together, we will change the situation.

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During the Haiti operation it was important to show the people that it was not just the Americans, but all their neighbors in the Caribbean area that had come to help them. This handout depicts the flag of Haiti in the center and another 12 nations around the border. The 4th PSYOP Group says about it: “handbill promoting Multinational Forces.” The text on the back is:

Hello. Here you see the flags of the multinational forces from the Caribbean. We have come to help you maintain peace and security in your community.

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We Watch Crime

In an attempt to better protect the Haitian people the Coalition forces sponsored a Community Watch organization in Cap Haitian. This is a 5.5 x 8.5 handbill on cardboard stock. Cap-Haitian is often referred to as Le Cap or Au Cap, is a commune of about 190,000 people on the north coast of Haiti and Capital of the Department of Nord. The text on the front and back is:

We watch crime – Cap Haitian.

We Work Together

Call the Acting Public Security Forces for assistance

62-2313 or 62-0951

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Tooth Ache

This leaflet depicts a dentist’s chair, teeth and various dental tools. The United States often provide free medical and dental care to citizens in a country where there has been a conflict. In Vietnam these were called MEDCAP and DENTCAP. It is a way to help the people in need and win their trust. The text on the front and back of this leaflet is:

Tooth Ache

Take this card and stand in line where you see this picture

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The New Public Security Force

This all-text handout was printed on 5.5 x 8.5 cardstock. The back is blank. The card tells the people about their new security force. The text is:

The New Public Security Force.

Truly professional.

They work under the International Monitoring police that will guide them and make sure that they serve the people according to the Constitution.

For you are the nation of champions.

To serve and protect

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The Professional Police Officer

This poster depicts the new well-trained professional Haitian policeman and encourages the populace to listen to his instructions.The text on the front is:

Proud of his uniform

Proud of his actions

Proud of his homeland

There had never been a police force separate from the military, a police academy or any police training in Haiti. Within four months of the U.S. intervention, the Interim Public Security Force (IPSF) was created, composed of over 3,000 Haitian military personnel selected through a process of human rights screening. This poster was designed to motivate the public to support the IPSF.

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Operating around Cap-Haïtien, TPT 941 (from B Co., 9th POB) consisted of (L to R) Team Leader Staff Sergeant Brent A. Mendenhall, Assistant Team Leader Sergeant Darren R. Roberts, and Specialist Jesse Bolka. (Photo courtesy of Veritas magazine)

A Concise History adds:

Perhaps the greatest PSYOP challenge in Haiti was selling the public on the program to professionalize the armed forces and reconstitute the Haitian National Police. The Joint PSYOP Task Force, therefore, produced a series of publications designed to inform members of the police and security forces in Haiti of the concepts of civilian control and professional standards of conduct as incorporated in the Haitian Constitution.

Techniques and tools for disseminating PSYOP themes now included not only traditional methods, such as radio, television, handbills, loudspeakers and leaflets, but also innovative promotional techniques such as T-shirts, billboards, buttons, and even a new national song of reconciliation. This song, titled “Long Live Peace” called for an end to violence and renewal of justice and peace. Tactical PSYOP teams distributed over 20 million copies of handbills, posters, flags and bumper stickers and conducted over 750 ground and 67 aerial loudspeaker missions.

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PSYOP soldiers conducted face-to-face meetings with the local communities

LTC Arata mentions professionalism in his report:

Before the new government, there was no rule of law, so justice was meted out in an arbitrary and violent manner. In this environment, the Military Information Support Team (MIST) developed and executed an information campaign directed toward three audiences. To the Haitian military, it communicated the benefits of professionalization. To the police, it communicated the desirability of separation from the army, and to the population at large, it communicated confidence in the democratic process as well as confidence in the ability of US forces to ensure stability and peace. The Peacekeeping operations that we conducted in Haiti during which Tactical PSYOP Teams (TPTs) were used effectively, included the following tasks: 1) Conduct civil-disturbance operations; 2) Conduct Cordon and Search operations; 3) Construct and Man a Checkpoint; 4) Conduct Vehicular and Personnel Searches; 5) Conduct Civil Affairs operations; 6) Conduct non-combatant evacuation operations; 7) Gather Intelligence; and 8) Conduct Humanitarian Relief Operations.

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Captain Louis M. Sand, Military Intelligence Officer and OIC of BPSE 21, poses with
orphans from Carrefour to whom he and his subordinate TPTs delivered food in November 1994.
(Photo courtesy of Veritas magazine)

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The Temporary Security Officer

TheTemporary Security Officer works with the help and services of the the International Monitoring police. The text on the front is:

Working hand in hand with the International Monitoring Police:

New direction

New training

New Mission

The text on the back is:

What do the Temporary Security Forces do?

They are responsible for investigating crime. They are responsible for providing safety for all citizens. They are assisted by the International Monitoring Police. They are responsible for our conduct according to the new code of laws.

They temporarily help to support our safety and our security, for our communities and for future generations.

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The Interim Public Security Officer

We are told that these new officers are responsible, professional, respectful and dedicated.The text says in part:

The Interim Public Security Officer

Responsible – Professional – Respectful – Dedicated

The Haitian government is very proud to announce the first promotions to Interim Public Security Officer. The Graduation will take place on 29 October 1994.

Haiti's only functioning security force after the U.S. operation was an interim police force composed entirely of former members of the military. By the end of January 1995, U.S. officials of the State, Defense, and Justice departments, aided by the Haitian military high command, had selected nearly 3,400 soldiers through the rank of major, given them six days of training, and returned them to their units to serve under the observation of international police monitors of the multinational occupation force.

HaitiExplosives.jpg (24067 bytes)

Do not touch Explosives

This is an unexploded ordinance-warning leaflet and reminds the children of Haiti not to pick up odd items found on the ground. The text is:

Do not touch Explosives, or things you do not recognize.

If you touch them...this can happen to you!

Boom – Boom – Danger - Danger

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Peaceful Demonstrations

This leaflet tells the people of Haiti that they may demonstrate quietly, but violence will not be tolerated. A group of Haitians has taken to the streets and one unruly demonstrator has been arrested by the authorities. The handout if 5.5 x 8.5-inches in size; printed on paper and blank on the back. The text is:

You may demonstrate quietly if you want to

But we will not tolerate violence

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Captain Martin C. Schulz listens as Senior Airman Gabriel Montpoint (U.S. Air Force interpreter)
broadcasts through the vehicle-mounted loudspeaker system, October 1994.
(Photo courtesy of Veritas magazine)

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Loudspeaker teams discouraged violence and encouraged peaceful demonstration.

LTC Arata explains:

Several days before the 30 September anniversary commemorating the 1991 coup by General Cedras, the joint PSYOPS task force initiated an intensive program aimed at discouraging violence and encouraging a peaceful demonstration. Tactical PSYOP teams disseminated products on how to demonstrate and broadcast non-violence themes by ground and aerial loudspeaker systems throughout the city. Similar messages were conveyed to the armed forces and police of Haiti as well. On 30 September, the joint task force conducted a show of force with four battalions throughout the city against a crowd of almost 50,000 demonstrators. Tactical PSYOP teams broadcast prerecorded messages urging the crowd to remain calm and peaceful.

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Another leaflet on the same general subject shows a thief looting a store and warns the citizens to stay away from such occurrences.

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Attention – Danger!

This leaflet seems to target the more ambitious looter, the one that might try to steal a tractor being used to repair Haiti. A thief is depicted picking up a rock, perhaps to break padlocks protecting a trailer. Above him we see a symbol of danger and another that indicates that visitors are not welcome. On the back of the leaflet the thief is seen under the tractor, perhaps preparing to steal fuel. The head of a Coalition soldier is just appearing at the right. The text on the front and back is:

Attention – Danger!

Stay away from vehicles!

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President Aristide returns to Port-au-Prince on October 15, 1994. He arrived ten days after the Commander and Staff of JTF 180 departed Haiti to go back to the United States. (Photo courtesy of Veritas magazine)

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Crowds gather in the main square in Cap-Haïtien in anticipation of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s return speech there. 2nd BCT, 10th Mountain Division soldiers provide security, while BPSE 22 use their loudspeakers for crowd control and to amplify Aristide’s speech. (Photo courtesy of Veritas magazine)

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President Aristide Handout

This 5.5 x 8.5-inch handout on card stock features a close-up portrait of President Aristide. It is a consolidation leaflet meant to bring the people together. The back is blank, or some versions have the Haitian flag on the back. The text is:

President Aristide has returned with an open heart to reconcile the people and save the nation.

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A Second President Aristide Handout

The handout uses the same photograph of the President and again attempt to consolidate the country by saying:

The Interim Public Security Force, It is Excellent.

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Do not Interfere...

Another interesting 8.5 x 5.5-inch cardboard handout depicts a Haitian man attempting to beg gasoline from a US Army soldier in a Humvee. The soldier is clearly telling him "no" and the text warns the Haitians not to interfere with military operations. The back of this handout is blank. The text is;

Do not interfere with military action

Help us to help you

Keep your distance in areas of military operations

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Weapons Receipt

Wherever the Americans go there is always a “money for weapons” program. The quickest way to get weapons off the streets and out of the hands of gunmen is to simply buy them. This 5.5 x 8.5-inch cardboard handout is written in Creole on one side and English on the other. When the civilian brings in a weapon the soldier records the time and place and as you can see the payment was 750 gourdes for a handgun, 1500 gourdes for an automatic rifle, etc. On the Haitian-language side the citizens are told to bring in their weapons from 2 to 24 October 1994, from 0800 to 1600 daily.

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A Tactical PSYOP Team conducts patrols in Cite Solei

A Tactical PSYOP Team conducts patrols in Cite Solei in February of 1996. From left to right: A USAF translator, Sergeant Alvin Alpilado, a Bangladeshi soldier and Corporal Aquila Knopf. Cite Solei was an extremely impoverished and densely populated commune located in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area in Haiti. It was renowned as being one of the more dangerous areas of the city. One month before the photo the police station had been overrun and the weapons and equipment inside looted. After the elections in December and January, the US and UN began rapidly reducing its footprint. The Tactical PSYOP Teams shifted their focus from delivering messages to the populace to data collection for possible future contingencies. Examples of data collection are: Identify all key communicators, the literacy rates, the percentage of households with radios, etc.

LTC Arata says in part:

One of the major programs that the infantry battalions, along with other units, were involved in was a weapons buy-back program. The intent of this program was to remove, voluntarily, dangerous weapons and munitions from the streets of Haiti, in an effort not only to protect the local population, but also to enhance force protection for the soldiers in the multi-national force. Payment price increased according to how dangerous the item was or what operational condition the weapon was in. The better the condition of the weapon, the more money was paid to the Haitian turning it in…It was very important to involve PSYOP teams and products at these turn-in sites. Many Haitians feared what would happen to them if they turned in a weapon. There was also the fear of getting robbed once you left the site. Tactical PSYOP products like pre-recorded messages broadcast in the local community and at the turn in site, along with signs, could help temper these fears. Troops patrolling the area around the weapons buy back site helped reinforce the secure environment that we had created.

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Some American troops in Haiti were issued a small pointee-talkie booklet. The cover shows an American soldier in front of the flags of Haiti and the United States and the text "MWEN SE OU SOLDA AMERIKAN" ("I AM AN AMERICAN SOLDIER"). The 46-page booklet introduces the troops to Haiti's history, culture and religion, has a pronunciation guide, and ends with a number of Creole phrases and expressions. Some of the more interesting ones for soldiers in peril are:

   HaitiBookPage01.jpg (26001 bytes)   HaitiBookPage02.jpg (25085 bytes)

Two pages from the pointee-talkie booklet

Picture showing an injured foot. "English: I am injured. Creole: Mwen Blese."

Picture showing a hand holding a banknote. "English: The Americans will reward you if you if you take me to them. Creole: Ameriken yo ap peye ou, si ou aide mwen alle kote yo ye."

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Ambassadors of Peace Do's and Don'ts Card

The "Ambassadors of Peace" card  was a complete lists of Do's and Don'ts issued to American troops who were in country supporting Operation Uphold Democracy. The Americans were aware that they sometimes did not understand the cultural nuances in foreign countries, so they regularly produced these “codes of conduct” to insure that no soldier insulted a local citizen accidently because he was not aware of their customs and habits.

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1 and 20 Credit Notes

We don’t know much about these credit notes. In some combat zones where change is short the military will occasionally print “chits” to be used as quarters or whatever is needed. There does not seem to be any need for change during the short Haiti operation. We don’t know who printed these “chits.” We don’t know why they are in “Credit” denominations, but one could make a case that they were to be used to pay civilian workers. Perhaps they were printed for the purpose of being redeemed for cash or goods? We can say that they are fairly professional looking, printed on a thin card stock, and bear the flags of the United States and Haiti and are similar to many of the paper products printed by PSYOP units. If anyone can tell us more we would be very thankful. The original finder is an old friend Garry Arva who was a First Sergeant in the 101st Airborne Division during Operation Desert Storm. He said:

I received them from a PSYOP unit soldier with the 82nd Airborne Division. I had two or three of each but found no one interested in them. I was told that they were never issued. They were made by whatever print unit from Fort Bragg went to Haiti for the operation. They were supposed to be used to pay civilian workers at the camp.

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General (then Lieutenant General) Henry L. Shelton

Lieutenant General Henry L. Shelton, Commanding Officer of the 18th Airborne Corps had this to say about PSYOP in Haiti:

As Commander of Joint Task Force 180 during Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY, it is my belief that the integration of psychological operations early in the planning process was critical to the successful execution of the operation. Long before any American military forces stepped ashore, PSYOP helped us quickly accomplish our political and military objectives by semi-permissive operations. Without a doubt, PSYOP won the hearts and minds of Haiti's citizens, as well as setting the stage for the peaceful accomplishment of the Joint Task Force's mission.

There is no question PSYOP saved lives, on both sides, during operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY. It proved to be the unsung, yet vitally important, factor in this operation. A true combat multiplier.

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Commando Solo over Haiti Again

We mentioned the use of the EC-130 Commando Solo aircraft many times during the American intervention in Haiti. A major earthquake struck southern Haiti on 12 January 2010, knocking down buildings and power lines and inflicting what its ambassador to the United States called a catastrophe for the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation. It is estimated that over 100,000 people died in the earthquake and as many as one million are homeless. The magnitude 7.0 quake, the most powerful to hit Haiti in a century, struck shortly before 5 p.m. and was centered about 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince.

Because of the loss of power and destruction of radio stations, a U.S. Air Force EC-130J Commando Solo was sent to broadcast news and information to survivors from the skies over Haiti. These specially modified aircraft, which are operated by Air Force Special Operations Command’s 193rd Special Operations Wing, can broadcast their own signal over AM and FM radio, UHF and VHF television bands.

The aircraft relay live broadcasts of Voice of America call-in shows in Haiti’s national language, Creole. The plane also broadcasts pre-recorded public service announcements with practical advice like information on emergency sanitation. There are also pre-recorded warnings to discourage Haitians from trying to attempt a dangerous ocean crossing to Florida. In this case a “combat multiplier” weapon has been used to save lives and ease the pain of a suffering people.

It does no good to send radio broadcasts to people without radios or electricity. Once again, the United States supplied portable radios to Haiti. More than 50,000 solar and crank-powered radios were sent to Haiti as a result of the collaboration between elements from Joint Forces Special Operations Component Command in support of Joint Task Force-Haiti and the international community. Before and after the 12 January 2010 earthquake, radios were the primary means of disseminating information in Haiti.

Working with the U.S. embassy, the United States Agency for International Development and other humanitarian assistance agencies, Humanitarian Assistance Information Support Teams helped distribute the radios faster than any of the organizations could have done working alone. The radios were given out at distribution points, along with food, water and other supplies. They provided information in Creole, the local language, on where people could go for help, the need to be patient when waiting in line and the reminder that the U.S. and other non-governmental organizations are coming to help.

The author encourages interested readers who may have additional information or personal experiences with Haiti and Operation Uphold Democracy to write to him at sgmbert@hotmail.com

© 3 April 2005