The first Marines ofUNITAF landed on thebeaches of Somalia on 9December 1992 amid amedia circus. The press”seemed to know theexact time and place ofthe Marines’ arrival” andwaited on the airportrunway and beaches tocapture the moment

Unified Task Force
(UNITAF) was an
American-led, United
multinational force which
operated in Somalia
between 5 December 1992
– 4 May 1993. A United
States initiative (code-
named Operation
Restore Hope ), UNITAF
was charged with carrying
out United Nations
Security Council
Resolution 794 to create a
protected environment for
conducting humanitarian
operations in the
southern half of the
After the killing of several
Pakistani peacekeepers,
the Security Council
changed UNITAF’s
mandate issuing the
Resolution 837 that
establishes that UNITAF
troops could use “all
necessary measures” to
guarantee the delivery of
humanitarian aid in
accordance to Chapter VII
of the United Nations
Charter , [3] and is
regarded as a success. [4]
Faced with a humanitarian
disaster in Somalia,
exacerbated by a
complete breakdown in
civil order, the United
Nations had created the
UNOSOM I mission in
April 1992. However, the
complete intransigence of
the local faction leaders
operating in Somalia and
their rivalries with each
other meant that
UNOSOM I could not be
performed. The mission
never reached its
mandated strength. [5]
Distribution of the
armed rebel factions
Over the final quarter of
1992, the situation in
Somalia continued to
worsen. Factions were
splintering into smaller
factions, and then
splintered again.
Agreements for food
distribution with one
party were worthless
when the stores had to be
shipped through the
territory of another. Some
elements were actively
opposing the UNOSOM
intervention. Troops were
shot at, aid ships attacked
and prevented from
docking, cargo aircraft
were fired upon and aid
agencies, public and
private, were subject to
threats, looting and
extortion. [5]
By November, General
Mohamed Farrah Aidid
had grown confident
enough to defy the
Security Council formally
and demand the
withdrawal of
peacekeepers, as well as
declaring hostile intent
against any further UN
In the face of mounting
public pressure and
frustration, UN Secretary-
General Boutros Boutros-
Ghali presented several
options to the Security
Council . Diplomatic
avenues having proved
largely fruitless, he
recommended that a
significant show of force
was required to bring the
armed groups to heel.
Chapter VII of the Charter
of the United Nations
allows for “action by air,
sea or land forces as may
be necessary to maintain
or restore international
peace and security.”
Boutros-Ghali believed
the time had come for
employing this clause and
moving on from
peacekeeping. [7]
Scimitar .
However, Boutros-Ghali
felt that such action
would be difficult to apply
under the mandate for
UNOSOM. Moreover, he
realised that solving
Somalia’s problems would
require such a large
deployment that the UN
Secretariat did not have
the skills to command
and control it.
Accordingly, he
recommended that a large
intervention force be
constituted under the
command of member
states but authorised by
the Security Council to
carry out operations in
Somalia. The goal of this
deployment was “to
prepare the way for a
return to peacekeeping
and post-conflict peace-
building”. [5]
Following this
recommendation, on 3
December 1992 the
Security Council
unanimously adopted
Resolution 794,
authorizing the use of “all
necessary means to
establish as soon as
possible a secure
environment for
humanitarian relief
operations in Somalia”.
The Security Council
urged the Secretary-
General and member
states to make
arrangements for “the
unified command and
control” of the military
forces that would be
U.S. involvement
US President George
H. W. Bush (left)
visiting Somalia to
witness first hand the
efforts of Task Force
Somalia that was in
direct support of
Operation Restore
Hope. On the right is
Brigadier General
Thomas Mikolajcik .
Prior to Resolution 794,
the United States had
approached the UN and
offered a significant troop
contribution to Somalia,
with the caveat that these
personnel would not be
commanded by the UN.
Resolution 794 did not
specifically identify the
U.S. as being responsible
for the future task force,
but mentioned “the offer
by a Member State
described in the
Secretary-General’s letter
to the Council of 29
November 1992 (S/24868)
concerning the
establishment of an
operation to create such a
secure environment”. [9]
Resolution 794 was
unanimously adopted by
the United Nations
Security Council on 3
December 1992, and they
welcomed the United
States offer to help create
a secure environment for
humanitarian efforts in
Somalia. [10] President
George H. W. Bush
responded to this by
initiating Operation
Restore Hope on 4
December 1992, under
which the United States
would assume command
in accordance with
Resolution 794.[11] CIA
Paramilitary Officer Larry
Freedman from their
Special Activities Division
was the first US casualty
of the conflict in Somalia.
He had been inserted
prior to the US invasion
on a special
reconnaissance mission.
Freedman was a former
Army Delta Force operator
and Special Forces soldier
and had served in every
conflict that America was
involved in both officially
and unofficially since
Vietnam. Freedman was
awarded the Intelligence
Star for extraordinary
heroism .[12]
The first Marines of
UNITAF landed on the
beaches of Somalia on 9
December 1992 amid a
media circus. The press
“seemed to know the
exact time and place of
the Marines’ arrival” and
waited on the airport
runway and beaches to
capture the moment. [13]
Critics of US involvement
argued that the US
government was
intervening so as to gain
control of oil concessions
for American companies,
[14] with a survey of
Northeast Africa by the
World Bank and UN
ranking Somalia second
only to Sudan as the top
prospective producer. [15]
However, no US and UN
troops were deployed in
proximity to the major oil
exploration areas in the
northeastern part of the
country or the
autonomous Somaliland
region in the northwest.
The intervention
happened twenty-two
months after the fall of
Barre’s regime.[16] Other
critics explain the
intervention as the
administration’s way to
maintain the size and
expenditures of the post-
Cold War military
establishment, to deflect
criticism for the
president’s failure to act
in Bosnia, or to leave
office on a high note.[17]
Composition of UNITAF
Indian Army T-72
tanks with UN
markings in support of
Operation CONTINUE
The vast bulk of UNITAF’s
total personnel strength
was provided by the
United States (Some
25,000 out of a total of
37,000 personnel). Other
countries that contributed
to UNITAF were Australia ,
Bangladesh , Belgium ,
Botswana, Canada, Egypt ,
France , Germany, Greece ,
India, Republic of Ireland ,
Italy , Kuwait, Morocco ,
New Zealand, Nigeria ,
Norway , Pakistan, Saudi
Arabia , Spain , Sweden ,
Tunisia , Turkey , United
Arab Emirates , the United
Kingdom and Zimbabwe.
The national contingents
were co-ordinated and
overseen by U.S. Central
Command, however, the
relationship between
CentCom and the
contributing nations
varied. There were a few
diplomatic and command
confrontations over the
methods and mandates
employed by some
contingents. For example,
the Italian contingent was
accused of bribing local
militias to maintain
peace, whilst the French
Foreign Legion troops
were accused of over-
vigorous use of force in
disarming militiamen. [18]
A US Marine Cadillac
Gage Light Armored
Vehicle from the 3rd
Light Armor Infantry
Battalion (left) and
Italian Soldiers in a
Fiat-OTO Melara Type
6614 Armored
Personnel Carrier
(right) guard an
intersection on the
“Green Line” in
The operation began on 6
December 1992, when U.S.
Navy SEALs and Special
Boat crewmen from Naval
Special Warfare Task Unit
TRIPOLI began conducting
operations in the vicinity
of the airport and harbor.
These operations lasted
three days. In the early
hours of 8 December 1992
elements of the Army’s
4th Psychological
Operations Group
(Airborne) attached to the
15th Marine Expeditionary
Unit (MEU) conducted
leaflet drops over the
capital city of Mogadishu .
[19][20] Early on 9
December, the MEU
performed an unopposed
amphibious assault into
the city of Mogadishu
from USS Tripoli (LPH-10) ,
USS Juneau (LPD-10) and
USS Rushmore (LSD-47) .
[21][22] :16
The MEU’s ground combat
element , 2nd Battalion
9th Marines (2/9),
performed simultaneous
raids on the Port of
Mogadishu and
Mogadishu International
Airport, establishing a
foothold for additional
incoming troops. Echo
and Golf Company
assaulted the airport by
helicopter and
Amphibious Assault
Vehicles , while Fox
Company secured the port
with an economy of force
rubber boat raid. The 1st
Marine Division’s Air
Contingency Battalion
(ACB), 1st Battalion, 7th
Marines , arrived soon
after the airport was
secured. Elements of BLT
3/9 India Co, 3rd Battalion
9th Marines and 1/7 went
on to secure the airport
in Baidoa, the port city of
Kismayo, and the city of
Bardera. Air support was
provided by the combined
helicopter units of
HMLA-267 , HMH-361 ,
HMM-164 and HC-11
Concurrently, various
Somali factions returned
to the negotiating table in
an attempt to end the
civil war. This effort was
known as the Conference
on National Reconciliation
in Somalia and it resulted
in the Addis Ababa
Agreement signed on 27
1993. [citation needed] The
conference, however, had
little result as the civil
war continued afterwards.
German Army soldiers
from Paratrooper
Battalion 261 on board
an armored personnel
carrier (APC) on hand
for the dedication of a
well, which was part
of the relief effort.
As UNITAF’s mandate was
to protect the delivery of
food and other
humanitarian aid, the
operation was regarded
as a success. [23] United
Nations Secretary-General
Boutros Boutros-Ghali
determined that the
presence of UNITAF
troops had a “positive
impact on the security
situation in Somalia and
on the effective delivery
of humanitarian
assistance.” [24] An
estimated 100,000 lives
were saved as a result of
outside assistance. [25]
One day prior to the
signing of the Addis
Ababa Agreement, the
United Nations Security
Council passed Resolution
814, which marked the
transfer of power from
United Nations led force.
The major change in
policy that the transition
II entailed is that the new
mandate included the
responsibility of nation-
building on the
multinational force.[26]
On 3 May 1993, UNOSOM
II officially assumed
command, and on 4 May
1993 it assumed
responsibility for the
Operation Continue Hope
provided support of
UNOSOM II to establish a
secure environment for
humanitarian relief
operations by providing
personnel, logistical,
intelligence support, a
quick reaction force, and
other elements as
required. Over 60 Army
aircraft and approximately
1,000 aviation personnel
operated in Somalia from
1992 to 1994.
UNITAF transition
UNOSOM II area of
UNITAF was only intended
as a transitional body.
Once a secure
environment had been
restored, the suspended
UNOSOM mission would
be revived, albeit in a
much more robust form.
On 3 March 1993, the
submitted to the Security
Council his
recommendations for
effecting the transition
II. He noted that despite
the size of the UNITAF
mission, a secure
environment was not yet
established and there was
still no effective
functioning government
or local security/police
force. [27]
The Secretary-General
concluded therefore, that,
should the Security
Council determine that
the time had come for the
transition from UNITAF to
UNOSOM II, the latter
should be endowed with
enforcement powers
under Chapter VII of the
United Nations Charter to
establish a secure
environment throughout
Somalia. [5] UNOSOM II
would therefore seek to
complete the task begun
by UNITAF for the
restoration of peace and
stability in Somalia. The
new mandate would also
empower UNOSOM II to
assist the Somali people
in rebuilding their
economic, political and
social life, through
achieving national
reconciliation so as to
recreate a democratic
Somali State.
established by the
Security Council in
Resolution 814 on 26
March 1993 and formally
took over operations in
Somalia when UNITAF was
dissolved on 4 May 1993.
1. ^ http://www.fas.org/
2. ^ “United Nations
Operation in Somalia
UNSOM 1992” .
Australian War Memorial.
Retrieved 31 May 2009.
3. ^ a b “United Nations
Operation In Somalia I –
(Unosom I)” . Un.org.
Retrieved 2012-01-29.
4. ^ “Operation Restore
Hope” . Retrieved 2008 –
01 – 15.
5. ^ a b c d “UNITED
Peacekeeping” . Un.org.
Retrieved 2012-01-29.


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