View Full Version : This Day In History

12-04-05, 06:35 AM
This Day In History | General Interest
December 4, 1992

President George H. Bush orders 28,000 U.S. troops to Somalia, a war-torn East African nation where rival warlords were preventing the distribution of humanitarian aid to thousands of starving Somalis. In a military mission he described as "God's work," Bush said that America must act to save more than a million Somali lives, but reassured Americans that "this operation is not open-ended" and that "we will not stay one day longer than is absolutely necessary." Unfortunately, America's humanitarian troops became embroiled in Somalia's political conflict, and the controversial mission stretched on for 15 months before being abruptly called off by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

In 1992, clan-based civil-war fighting and one of the worst African droughts of the century created famine conditions that threatened one-fourth of Somalia's population with starvation. In August 1992, the United Nations began a peacekeeping mission to the country to ensure the distribution of food and medical aid, but it was largely unsuccessful. With U.N. troops unable to control Somalia's warring factions, security deteriorating, and thousands of tons of food stranded in portside warehouses, President Bush ordered a large U.S. military force to the area on December 4, 1992. Five days later, the first U.S. Marines landed in the first phase of "Operation Restore Hope."

With the aid of U.S. military troops and forces from other nations, the U.N. succeeded in distributing desperately needed food to many starving Somalis. However, with factional fighting continuing unabated, and the U.N. without an effective agenda to resolve the political strife, there seemed no clear end in sight to Operation Restore Hope when President Bill Clinton took office in January 1993.

Like his predecessor, Clinton was anxious to bring the Americans home, and in May the mission was formally handed back to the United Nations. By June 1993, only 4,200 U.S. troops remained. However, on June 5, 24 Pakistani U.N. peacekeepers inspecting a weapons storage site were ambushed and massacred by Somalia soldiers under the warlord General Mohammed Aidid. U.S. and U.N. forces subsequently began an extensive search for the elusive strongman, and in August, 400 elite U.S. troops from Delta Force and the U.S. Rangers arrived on a mission to capture Aidid. Two months later, on October 3-4, 18 of these soldiers were killed and 84 wounded during a disastrous assault on Mogadishu's Olympia Hotel in search of Aidid. The bloody battle, which lasted 17 hours, was the most violent U.S. combat firefight since Vietnam. As many as 1,000 Somalis were killed.

Three days later, with Aidid still at large, President Clinton cut his losses and ordered a total U.S. withdrawal. On March 25, 1994, the last U.S. troops left Somalia, leaving 20,000 U.N. troops behind to facilitate "nation-building" in the divided country. The U.N. troops departed in 1995 and political strife and clan-based fighting continued in Somalia into the 21st century.


12-09-05, 07:04 AM
On This Day
1992: American marines land in Somalia
US troops have arrived in Somalia in a bid to aid thousands of starving locals.

The American marines landed just before dawn.

Their mission is to spearhead the arrival of 35,000 troops from a dozen countries assembled as part of a US led multi-national operation to crack down on looting and extortion that has prevented food getting through.

American forces were expecting to tackle hostile gunmen who have been holding the famine-stricken country to ransom in a conflict which has seen around 300,000 people killed in the last year ever since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted and local warlords took over.

But instead of fierce fighting, the marines were greeted by the world's media.

The first group of six to eight navy frogmen in Operation Restore Hope, came out of the sea on to the beach outside the Somali capital, Mogadishu under a full moon.

Later, three rubber boats came ashore and around 24 troops walked up through the dunes into the glare of television lights.

US Marines in armoured amphibious tractors from the USS Juneau then set about establishing beachheads for further arrivals of around 1,800 troops.

Their mission is to secure Mogadishu's airport and port areas so that food and medicine, which has been blocked by Somali gunmen, can be safely airlifted to thousands of locals dying of starvation.

About an hour after US troops landed, half a dozen unexplained gunshots were fired in a distant Mogadishu suburb.

Despite the attack, most of the city's streets remained relatively deserted.

Earlier in Washington, President-elect Bill Clinton could offer no ''artificial timetable'' for American withdrawal.

He added: "I respect and appreciate President Bush's desire to see the ground forces out of there by sometime in mid-January, and it may work out that that can be done.

"But the issue is whether the United States will have to keep these ground forces there longer than a few weeks. I think that depends on how long it takes to accomplish the mission."

Somalia's two top warlords, General Mohammed Farah Aideed and Ali Mahdi Mohammed, urged their fighters to co-operate with US forces and keep away from the port and airport.

But Robert Oakley, US Special Envoy to Somalia, said he recently met both men and he believes that neither of them have full control over their gunmen.

According to the Pentagon, around 35 countries have offered to help the US operation with military or financial contributions.

Around 2,100 French troops are due to team up with the US forces.