Relationships Matter

A look at humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in Haiti
WRITER-ID | 1 July 2010

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ken Keen is awarded the Brazilian Order of Rio de Branco by Brazilian Deputy Consul Gen. Roberto Parente and Brazilian Army Maj. Gen. Floriano Peixoto (left). Keen was recognized for his diplomatic and meritorious efforts while leading U.S. military support in Haiti.[TECH. SGT. SANTITA MITCHELL/U.S. AIR FORCE]

LT. GEN. KEN KEEN - U.S. ARMY

The personal relationship between U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, commander of Joint Task Force-Haiti, and Brazilian Maj. Gen. Floriano Peixoto, Commander the MINUSTAH force, proved invaluable in coordinating relief efforts after the earthquake.[PETTY OFFICER 2ND CLASS JUSTIN STUMBERG/ U.S. NAVY]

MAJ. GEN. FLORIANO PEIXOTO VIEIRA NETO - BRAZILIAN ARMY

LT. COL. CHARLES W. NOLAN - U.S. ARMY

LT. COL. JENNIFER L. KIMMEY - U.S. ARMY

CMDR. JOSEPH ALTHOUSE - U.S. COAST GUARD

At 16:53 local time on January 12, 2010, a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, killing more than 230,000 people, injuring thousands of others and leaving more than a million homeless.1 The earthquake caused major damage to the capital and other cities in the region and severely damaged or destroyed notable landmarks, including the presidential palace and the Port-au-Prince cathedral. The quake destroyed 14 of the 16 government ministries, killing numerous government employees inside. The headquarters of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, or MINUSTAH, col- lapsed, killing 101 U.N. workers, including Head of Mission Hédi Annabi from Tunisia and his principal deputy, Luiz Carlos da Costa from Brazil.2 In less than a minute, the way of life in Haiti drastically changed.

The earthquake prompted an immediate international re- sponse from governments, nongovernmental organizations, and private foundations offering to send aid and assistance in vari- ous forms. The need for manpower on the ground to orches- trate the relief effort brought together military forces from all over the world including the U.S., which stood up Joint Task Force-Haiti, or JTF-H. The combined effort of MINUSTAH and JTF-H in providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Haiti demonstrates the importance of developing strong relationships, both institutional and personal, with partner nation armies.

A history of cooperation

Eighteen contributing nations make up the military component of the U.N. mission.3 These nations are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, India, Jordan, Nepal, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, the United States and Uruguay. The U.S. has a long and distinguished history of partnership and cooperation, con- ducting full-spectrum operations with various partner nations. Three notable examples include offensive operations during the Italian Campaign in World War II, humanitarian assistance during the 1965 civil war in the Dominican Republic, and peacekeeping operations in Ecuador and Peru in 1995.

Brazil was the only South American country to send troops to fight in World War II, a 25,000-man Brazilian Expeditionary Force, or FEB, made up of Army, Air Force and Navy personnel led by Gen. Mascarenhas de Moraes. The FEB’s 1st Division, under Gen. Zenóbio da Costa, consisted of three regimental combat teams that fought alongside the U.S. Fifth Army under the command of Lt. Gen. Mark Clark in the Italian Campaign.

The highlight of Brazil-U.S. cooperation came in February 1945 when Brazil’s 1st Division and the U.S. 10th Mountain Division fought side by side in the Battle of Monte Castelo against the German Army under extremely adverse winter con- ditions. The 10th Mountain Division, supported by Brazilian artillery and the FEB’s 1st Fighter Squadron, captured German defenses surrounding Monte Castelo, allowing the Brazil 1st Division to attack the German forces on higher ground and successfully take control of Monte Castelo itself. Later in the campaign, the FEB also distinguished itself by capturing more than 20,000 German and Italian prisoners to help end hostili- ties in Italy. By the end of the war, more than 900 FEB Soldiers had made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.

The 1965 civil war in the Dominican Republic led to another cooperative effort between the U.S. and several Latin American countries. The XVIII Airborne Corps headquarters was activated on April 26, 1965, and three battalions from the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division deployed on April 30 and landed at San Isidro Airfield. After intense fighting that day, a cease-fire was established and the paratroopers soon transitioned to peacekeeping and stabilization efforts distributing food, water and medicine to the residents of San Isidro. A fourth battalion from the 82nd’s 1st Brigade joined the other three on May 3. That month, the forces present saw the transition to an Inter-American Peace Force. The IAPF consisted of troops from Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Brazil, with Brazil providing the largest contingent — a full, reinforced infantry battalion. Brazilian Army Gen. Hugo Panasco Alvim assumed command of the Inter-American Peace Force with U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Bruce Palmer serving as his deputy from May 23, 1965, to January 17, 1966. During this time, U.S. paratroopers worked in unison with the Organization of American States, or OAS, forces in the area of civil affairs, providing humanitarian aid to the people of San Isidro.

More recently, the U.S. worked with Argentina, Brazil and Chile on a smaller scale in Operation Safe Border. In early 1995, Peru and Ecuador engaged in sustained combat in a remote jungle area where they had not fully demarcated the border. Dozens were killed, hundreds wounded, and escalation of the conflict to population centers was feared. As guarantors of the 1942 Rio Protocol of Peace, Friendship, and Boundaries, which ended the 1941 Ecuador-Peru war and defined the border, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and the United States worked for a comprehensive settlement by establishing the Military Observer Mission Ecuador-Peru, or MOMEP. Brazil offered to provide a general officer to lead the observer mission, and the other participating nations agreed to define this role as “coordinator” rather than “commander” to preserve an equal status. Each nation contributed up to 10 officers as observers, led by a colonel. The U.S. also provided an element consisting of aviation, operations, intelligence, communications and logistical support. The Brazilian general, Lt. Gen. Candido Vargas de Freire, held operational control over the observers of all four nations while the colonels retained command for administrative and disciplinary purposes. In February 1995, Ecuador and Peru agreed to seek a peaceful solution. By October 1995, MOMEP observers organized the withdrawal of some 5,000 troops from the Cenepa valley and supervised the demobilization of 140,000 troops on both sides. The combat zone was demilitarized, and Ecuador and Peru began to contribute officers to the observer mission. In October 1998, Peru and Ecuador signed a comprehensive peace accord establishing the framework for ending the border dispute. This led to the formal demarcation of the border in May 1999. Both nations approved the peace agreement, and the national legislatures of both nations ratified it. The MOMEP mission withdrew in June 1999.

The U.S. continues to engage in security cooperation activities with countries from all over the world. These engagements take the form of bilateral staff talks, multinational exercises, and personnel and unit exchanges to improve relationships, capabilities and interoperability.

Personal relationships matter

In addition to cultivating institutional relationships between partner nations, one cannot overlook the importance of developing personal relationships as well. The better we understand each other in terms of culture, language and operability, the better we will be able to work together. Understanding this dynamic, the U.S. Army has sought to develop a corps of officers and noncommissioned officers who have an in-depth understanding of the culture, language and military organization of other nations, all toward enhancing interoperability.

The relationship between Maj. Gen. Floriano Peixoto, the MINUSTAH force commander, and Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, the JTF-H commander, exemplifies this goal. In October 1984, then Capt. Keen, Battalion S3 operations officer for 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, participated in a one-month airborne exchange program with the Brazil Airborne Brigade in Rio de Janeiro. During the exchange, Keen met then Capt. Floriano Peixoto, assigned to the Airborne Brigade as a Pathfinder instructor. The two initiated what would become a long-standing relationship with several parachute jumps and dismounted patrols. Little did either junior officer know that 26 years later they would be general officers working together to provide relief and assistance to the earthquake-stricken country of Haiti.

In 1987, then Maj. Keen attended Brazil’s Command and General Staff Course in Rio de Janeiro. The experience gave Keen a greater appreciation and understanding of Brazil along with its culture and language, something that would serve him well in future assignments.

In 1988, then Capt. Floriano Peixoto attended the U.S. Army Infantry Officer Advance Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. At the time, then Maj. Keen worked in the Directorate of Plans, Training, and Mobilization for the U.S. Army Infantry School, and the two continued the friendship they established four years earlier.

Almost a decade later, then Lt. Col. Floriano Peixoto taught Portuguese in the Department of Foreign Languages at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. Floriano Peixoto and Keen maintained contact via e-mail, letters and phone calls, but they would not see each other for another decade.

From 2006 to 2007, as the commander of U.S. Army South, then Brig. Gen. Keen worked once again with then Col. Floriano Peixoto, who was assigned to the Brazilian Army Staff G5 International Affairs Directorate.

Based on the previous interaction and personal relationship, the first thing Maj. Gen. Floriano Peixoto and Lt. Gen. Keen did when they were once again brought together by events in Haiti was sit down and develop a combined concept for working through the challenge together.

The U.N. in Haiti

To understand the international partnering that took place during the Haiti humanitarian relief effort, it is essential to know the history that led up to MINUSTAH’s establishment and its accomplishments prior to the earthquake.

The 30-year dictatorship of the Duvalier family in Haiti ended in 1986. Between 1986 and 1990, a series of provisional governments ruled Haiti, and in December 1990, Jean-Bertrand Aristide won 67 percent of the vote to become the first democratically elected president in Haiti’s history. Aristide took office in February 1991 but was overthrown by dissatisfied elements of the army and was forced to leave the country in September of the same year. A provisional government was established, but the true power remained with the Haitian military.

The U.N. established a mandate in September 1993 to assist in the effort to democratize the government, professionalize the armed forces, create and train a separate police force, and establish an environment conducive to free and fair elections. The U.N. effort focused on advising, training and providing the necessary support to achieve the goals set by the mandate. After a series of incidents, the U.N. and other international agencies left Haiti in October 1993 due to the instability created by the transitional government and the inability to move forward with the U.N. goals of reinstituting democracy.

The situation in Haiti continued to decline; diplomacy and economic sanctions had no effect. The U.S. saw no other option than to initiate military action to reinstate President Aristide. It began Operation Uphold Democracy on September 19, 1994, with the alert of U.S. and allied forces for a forced entry into Haiti. U.S. Navy and Air Force elements deployed for staging to Puerto Rico and southern Florida. An airborne invasion was planned, spearheaded by elements of U.S. Special Operations Command and the 82nd Airborne Division.

As these forces prepared to invade, a diplomatic team (led by former President Jimmy Carter, retired U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn and retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell) persuaded the leaders of Haiti to step down and allow Aristide to return to power. This effort was successful partly because the U.S. delegation was able to point to the massed forces poised to enter the country. At that point, the military mission changed from a combat operation to a peacekeeping and nation-building operation with the deployment of a U.S.-led multinational force in Haiti. On October 15, 1994, Aristide returned to Haiti to complete his term in office. Aristide disbanded the Haitian army and established a civilian police force. Operation Uphold Democracy officially ended on March 31, 1995, when the U.N. Mission in Haiti, or UNMIH, replaced it.

The U.N. remained in Haiti, through a series of mandates, until 2004 to maintain a secure and stable environment and promote the rule of law. There were a number of positive developments during this period, including the growth of a multifaceted civil society, a political culture based on democratic values and the first peaceful handover of power between two democratically elected presidents in 1996.

However, in February 2004, during Aristide’s second inconsecutive term as president, a violent rebellion broke out that led to Aristide’s removal from office once again. Haiti again threatened international peace and security in the region, and the U.N. passed resolution 1542 on April 30, 2004, effectively establishing MINUSTAH on June 1, 2004. Its mandate to date is to support a secure and stable transitional government, the development of a political process focused on the principles of democracy, and the defense of human rights.

The U.N. originally authorized MINUSTAH up to 6,700 military personnel, 1,622 police, 548 international civilian personnel, 154 volunteers and 995 local civilian staff. On October 13, 2009, in an effort to curb illegal armed groups, accelerate their disarmament and support the upcoming elections, the U.N. increased MINUSTAH’s authorized strength to 6,940 military personnel and 2,211 police. Eighteen countries currently provide military personnel, and 41 countries provide police officers.

MINUSTAH is under the civilian leadership of a special representative to the secretary-general, with two deputies who oversee different aspects of the U.N. mission. The principal deputy is primarily responsible for the U.N. civilian police, human rights, justice, civil affairs and electoral issues. The other deputy is responsible for humanitarian efforts on behalf of gender equality, children’s rights, disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration, HIV/AIDS issues, and other U.N. agencies. The military force commander is also under the special representative’s control. The military force consists of 10 infantry battalions, two infantry companies and eight specialized detachments (military police, engineers, aviation, medical and logistics).

Since 2004, MINUSTAH has created an environment of security and stability that has allowed the political transition to unfold. Haiti reminds us that security and development are inextricably linked and should not be viewed as separate spheres because the absence of one will undermine progress in the other. To that end, Haiti’s professionalization of its National Police is close to reaching its goal of having 14,000 officers in its ranks by 2011. By mid 2009, over 9,000 police had been trained.

Another measure of success has been the drastic decrease in the gang-related activity that threatened political stability. In Cité Soleil, the most infamous slum district in Haiti, MINUSTAH troops took over the main gang’s operations center and transformed it into a health clinic, which now offers free services to the community. This new level of security established in 2007 allows agencies and nongovernmental organizations to approach, assess and provide assistance without the threat of gang violence.

The senate elections in April 2009 mark another step in Haiti’s democratic development. MINUSTAH is credited for its continued support to Haiti’s electoral process and assisting the government of Haiti in intensifying its efforts to promote a political dialogue in which all voices can speak and be heard.

Haiti postponed legislative elections set for February 2010 due to the disastrous effects of the earthquake and has scheduled presidential elections for November 2010. President Rene Préval, who was elected a second time in 2006, said he would not seek office again after his term expires in February 2011, as he has already served two five-year terms, the limit set by Haitian law.

While all the troop-contributing countries to MINUSTAH have been a part of this effort to secure a lasting democracy, Brazil’s leadership role in the U.N. mission demonstrates the nation’s emergence as a leader in the region.

Earthquake and international response

When the earthquake hit on January 12, it immediately affected a third of the population of Haiti, including those serving in MINUSTAH.20 Immediately after the quake, hundreds of local citizens flocked to the MINUSTAH headquarters compound in the old Christopher Hotel. The main part of the building had collapsed, killing numerous U.N. staff members and trapping several others. Staff members who had escaped injury immediately engaged in the search and rescue of colleagues and provided triage and medical care to the walking wounded. Although MINUSTAH suffered enormous loss, MINUSTAH troops quickly took on new tasks such as search and rescue, clearing and opening of streets, providing immediate humanitarian assistance, and preparing mass graves following International Red Cross protocols — all while maintaining focus on their primary security mission.

Lt. Gen. Keen was in Haiti on a planned visit on January 12. Minutes before the earthquake struck, he was with U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Ken Merten on the back porch of his residence overlooking the city of Port-au-Prince. The ambassador’s residence withstood the quake and quickly became an assembly point for embassy personnel and Haitian government ministers as well as Keen’s link back to U.S. Southern Command in Miami.

Within hours of the quake, the government of Haiti issued a disaster declaration and requested humanitarian assistance from both the U.S. and the international community at large. That night, the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance activated a response management team to coordinate and lead the federal government’s effort.21

The next morning, Keen surveyed the effects of the quake. Rubble from collapsed buildings choked the streets and cut people off from food, water and medical supplies. The earthquake had destroyed the control tower at the international airport, making it impossible to fly in assistance. The people of Haiti had to rely on their own devices to survive. Having MINUSTAH already on the ground was a huge benefit, but with the destruction of the U.N. headquarters and the loss of its senior civilian leadership, the response required was greater than any one organization or country could shoulder on its own. Seeing that the situation demanded a rapid and robust response, Gen. Keen requested the deployment of U.S. military forces to Haiti.

Early on, the U.S. decided not to create a combined joint task force. With the U.N. already on the ground, a robust multinational force was already organized. In addition, MINUSTAH countries contributing additional resources and personnel already had links to their local U.N. representatives. Creating a combined joint task force would have conflicted with those efforts. Instead, Joint Task Force-Haiti deployed to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations. The purpose of Joint Task Force-Haiti was to support U.S. efforts in Haiti to mitigate near-term human suffering and accelerate relief efforts to facilitate transition to the government of Haiti, the U.N. and USAID. The military possesses significant capabilities that are useful in emergencies, but the long-term plans for relief and reconstruction are best left to government agencies.

Maj. Gen. Floriano Peixoto was out of the country when the earthquake hit. Upon learning of the disaster, he quickly returned to Haiti on January 13. He took immediate action to reconstitute command and control by establishing an emergency operations center at the MINUSTAH logistics base at the Port-au- Prince Airport. He redistributed his forces by bringing troops from less affected or unaffected parts of the country into the capital region and downtown Port-au-Prince.

The next day, Keen went to see Floriano Peixoto at his temporary headquarters to exchange information on the relief efforts and the pending arrival of U.S. forces in Haiti. Dropping in unannounced was against normal protocol, but it seemed necessary at the time. As Keen walked into the headquarters, he learned from a Brazilian colonel that Brazilian Minister of Defense Nelson Jobim was assembled with his Brazil service commanders and the MINUSTAH staff. Not wanting to interrupt, Keen was about to leave when the Brazilian colonel insisted he join Jobim, Floriano Peixoto and the Brazilian contingent. The meeting became a unique opportunity as the Brazilian commander of MINUSTAH provided a detailed report of ongoing humanitarian assistance efforts and the loss of 18 Brazilian Soldiers, the biggest loss of life for its armed forces since World War II.22 Jobim asked Keen what forces the U.S. military might deploy. The discussion then centered on how MINUSTAH and U.S. forces might work together and coordinate their efforts. Both leaders knew it was imperative to clearly identify the role of each partner to avoid confusion and duplicated effort. MINUSTAH’s mission of providing security and stability in Haiti would remain as it was. JTF-H would provide humanitarian assistance with U.S. forces executing security tasks only while carrying out such operations.

From this beginning, it was clear that U.S. forces would operate within the envelope of a “safe and secure” environment provided by the U.N. forces whose mission was to provide security. This was a permissive environment at a very uncertain time with the chaos following the earthquake, the lack of Haiti National Police presence on the streets and the escape of over 3,000 prisoners from local prisons.

Floriano Peixoto and Keen later agreed that the most effective way to operate would be combined whenever possible. This early dialogue set the stage for the combined operations that followed. They coordinated shared sectors, administered distribution points for food and provided other humanitarian assistance. To increase communication between their staffs, Floriano Peixoto and Keen established liaison officers in each headquarters. Both organizations also exchanged phone numbers and e-mail addresses of all their branch and section chiefs, senior aides and advisors. To increase understanding and ensure transparency, both organizations conducted staff briefings for the other during the first week on the ground.

Immediate offers for assistance continued to come in from around the world. Many troop-contributing countries offered additional troops. Japan, the Republic of Korea and the Caribbean Community offered to join in the U.N. effort. Bilateral contributions came from France, Italy, Spain, Canada and the Netherlands. On January 19, exactly one week after the earthquake, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1908. The resolution authorized an increase of 3,500 peacekeepers (2,000 military and 1,500 police) due to additional security risks created by the local government’s incapacitated state and the 20 percent decrease in the effectiveness of the local police.24 It took time to deploy these additional troops and engineers, but the rapid deployment of U.S. forces helped fill the time gap.

The U.S. first deployed Special Operations Air Force personnel to open the airfield and manage the huge influx of aid delivered by air. The JTF-H quickly established its headquarters with members of the Southern Command Standing Joint Headquarters and the XVIII Airborne Corps staff. A brigade from the 82nd Airborne Division deployed to Port-au-Prince, and the 22nd and 24th Marine Expeditionary Units deployed to provide assistance to the west and north of the capital. Ships and aircraft from the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, including the USNS Comfort hospital ship, also deployed. Joint Task Force-Haiti established a “port opening” task force to get the port ready for the humanitarian assistance arriving by sea. By the end of January, the U.S. had deployed more than 22,000 civilian and military personnel, about 7,000 on land and the rest afloat at sea; 16 ships; and 58 aircraft. A robust Joint Logistics Command also supported the entire effort.

A Haitian boy holds the hand of a U.S. Sailor from the Bataan Amphibious Relief Mission, which supported Operation Unified Response in Bonel, Haiti.[PETTY OFFICER 1ST CLASS HENDRICK DICKSON/U.S. NAVY]

JTF-H organization

The Department of Defense designated the effort as Operation Unified Response. With MINUSTAH responsible for security, JTF-H focused on saving lives and mitigating human suffering. The operation had two primary phases with different priorities for each.

Phase I (initial response) lasted from January 14 to February 4. The priorities were:

  • Medical capacity restoration.
  • Shelter, food and water distribution.
  • Integration with MINUSTAH and NGOs.
  • Support to Haitians.

Critical tasks included opening both the airport and seaport so that humanitarian aid could get into the country.

Phase II (relief) began on February 5. After addressing emergency needs in phase I, it was time to transition to a more deliberate plan. As the government got on its feet and more nongovernmental organizations established themselves in the country, the focus became transitioning JTF-H responsibilities to them. Early on, JTF-H established a humanitarian assistance coordination cell to administer its efforts with the U.N. Phase II priorities shifted to:

  • Support efforts to provide shelter, establish settlements and conduct debris removal.
  • Transition JTF-H humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts to capable partners when ready.
  • Plan, coordinate and prepare to execute a phased transition to smaller but longer-term force structure and operations.

Partnering on the ground

With transparency and coordination already established at the operational level between Floriano Peixoto and Keen, and roles clearly defined between MINUSTAH and JTF-H, conditions were set to coordinate at the tactical level. As units from the 82nd Airborne Division arrived in Port-au-Prince, commanders at the battalion and company level linked up with their MINUSTAH counterparts. Each MINUSTAH unit was at a different stage in deployment, but its knowledge of the area and experience on the ground put it in a position to greatly assist the newly arrived paratroopers. MINUSTAH units helped the paratroopers quickly understand their operating environment and gain situational awareness by conducting combined patrols to learn their sectors.

In one example, U.S. Soldiers patrolling with their Brazilian counterparts to recon their sector came across a crowd that had stacked piles of stones in the streets. The paratroopers with experience in Iraq and Afghanistan interpreted this as a roadblock and quickly responded by stopping the vehicles and pushing out security. The Brazilian Soldiers, who knew the earthquake had displaced these people and they were simply using the rocks to carve out a space to live in the street, quickly explained to the paratroopers what was going on and assured them that there was no immediate threat.

One of the best examples of coordination and cooperation began on January 31 when MINUSTAH and JTF-H troops initiated a combined operation to deliver food and water to the population of Port-au-Prince. The World Food Programme in partnership with USAID, the International Organization for Migration, the U.N. Children’s Fund and numerous NGOs led this 14-day food drive with 16 distribution points shared by MINUSTAH and U.S. forces. Soldiers from various nations worked together, learned from each other and demonstrated to the people of Haiti that the relief effort was truly an international mission. During the first food surge, the food drive delivered more than 10,000 tons of food to more than 2.2 million people, an impossible task without multiple countries working together.

On January 12, more than 3,000 prisoners escaped from prisons damaged by the earthquake and fled to Cité Soleil.25 A troop from 1-73 Cavalry shared Cité Soleil with a Brazilian platoon, increasing troop presence by a factor of four. In addition to increasing the sense of security for the local Haitians, this allowed the Brazilian platoon to focus its efforts on capturing the escaped prisoners while 1-73 focused on humanitarian assistance and supported the Brazilian platoon with information sharing.

MINUSTAH and JTF-H clearly defined their roles for the operation. MINUSTAH was responsible for security. On any given day, MINUSTAH conducted, on average, more than 600 security operations involving over 4,500 troops. MINUSTAH also planned and conducted relief operations. The JTF-H focus was on saving lives, mitigating near-term human suffering and accelerating relief efforts. As aforementioned, security operations conducted by JTF-H were in direct support of humanitarian assistance missions such as securing food distribution points, relief convoys and rubble removal. When JTF-H identified a security issue not linked to a humanitarian assistance mission, the task force coordinated with MINUSTAH through established relationships and responded accordingly.

Relationships make a difference

The international military cooperation witnessed during the Haiti relief effort was a unique experience. Two factors had a major influence in the success of the mission.

First, MINUSTAH was already in Haiti conducting security operations since 2004.26 Having a professional, multinational force already on the ground with experience and situational awareness facilitated the response of MINUSTAH and other countries that assisted. MINUSTAH’s existing working relationships with the government also helped accelerate and expedite the processes of disaster relief.

While the U.N. does not have an established presence in every country where the U.S. will conduct operations in the future, combined exercises with partner nations around the world provide an important opportunity to learn about each other and how each army operates. Working together during exercises enhances interoperability and facilitates combined efforts when real-world events bring us together.

Second, Floriano Peixoto and Keen’s 26-year-long personal relationship with its solid base of trust, confidence and friendship provided clear evidence of the effectiveness of our International Military Education Training, or IMET, program and exchanges. Finding two foreign general officers with this pre-existing relationship is definitely not the norm, but this case highlights the importance of providing officers and NCOs with opportunities to meet Soldiers from other countries, learn about their culture and language, and come to understand another world perspective. Doing so facilitates future combined operations by developing faster relationships of trust and understanding.

Two months into the relief operation, Floriano Peixoto and Keen reflected on what they thought made a difference during the combined operation. Floriano Peixoto commented that clearly defining and understanding the role that each partner was to play in the relief effort was key. When asked what made this possible, he responded, “trust.” Based on the relationship they had shared, neither needed a signed document that articulated each partner’s role. A statement of principles was later developed but only to provide organizations outside the participating military forces an explanation of how MINUSTAH and JTF-H worked together.

Keen commented that the combined military presence on the streets of Port-au-Prince made a difference: “Seeing U.S. Army Soldiers standing side by side with MINUSTAH Soldiers at food distribution points during the first few weeks sent a strong message to the Haitian people: partnership and unity of effort. It paved the way for all we would do.”

Floriano Peixoto added that another contributing factor was coordination. Keen met Floriano Peixoto the same day he arrived in Haiti, and they immediately decided both organizations would be completely open and transparent with no classified briefs.

When asked why relationships matter, Floriano Peixoto responded: “Relationships are a force multiplier. They are essential if you want substantive results. You increase the speed of achieving results by facilitating, forming and reinforcing relationships. You need to build these associations at all levels of the organization.”

Keen said: “Fundamentally, in peace or war we need to trust one another. We learn to trust each other through building a strong relationship, personal and professional. That is the key to building an effective team that works toward a common purpose. In Haiti, this proved to be the case within our own military and with our interagency partners, nongovernmental organizations, and foreign partners. When tough issues were encountered, their strong relationships broke down the barriers.”

Keen added: “If our government had one more dollar to spend on security assistance, I would recommend it be spent on the IMET program, not hardware.”

The success of the multinational military contribution to the Haiti relief effort proves that relationships matter — both at the institutional and personal level.

This article is reprinted with the permission of Military Review. It was originally published in the May-June 2010 issue.

1. USAID Fact Sheet #46, “Haiti — Earthquake”; March 18, 2010.

2. U.N. website, www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/minustah; March 22, 2010.

3. Ibid.

4. U.S. Command and General Staff Thesis, Lt. Col. Carlos Jose Asumpcao Penteado, “The Brazilian Participation in World War II,” 2006.

5. Fort Bragg website, www.bragg.army.mil/history/HistoryPage/powerpack/PowerPack.htm; March 15, 2010.

6. Joint Forces Quarterly, “Operation Safe Border: The Ecuador-Peru Crisis,” Col. Glenn R. Weidner, Spring 1996.

7. U.S. Department of State website, www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/1982/htm; March 17, 2010.

8. U.N. website, www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/past/unmih.htm; March 12, 2010.

9. Fort Bragg website, www.bragg.army.mil/1bct/history_gulfwar.html; March 15, 2010.

10. National Defense University website, www.ndu.edu/inss/strforum/SF_78/forum78.html; March 17, 2010.

11. U.N. website; March 12, 2010.

12. U.S. State Department website; March 17, 2010.

13. U.N. website; March 22, 2010.

14. Ibid.

15. Ambassador Susan Rice at U.N. Security Council on Haiti, “U.S. Salutes the Work, Bravery of U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti,” U.N. Press Release; April 6, 2009.

16. Argentinean Joint Peacekeeping Training Center, “Assessment on MINUSTAH — A South American Style of Peacekeeping”; www.haitiargentina.org/content/download/218/907/file/109/pdf; March 17, 2010.

17. U.N. website, www.un.org/apps/new/printnewsAR.asp?nid=30627; March 10, 2010.

18. Jacqueline Charles and Jim Wyss, “Haitian President Postpones February Elections, Appeals for Tents, Jobs,” Miami Herald; January 27, 2010.

19. Brazil Institute website, brazilportal.wordpress.com/2007/01/14, “Devastation in Haiti brings Brazil and US Closer”; March 10, 2010.

20. USAID Fact Sheet #46.

21. USAID Fact Sheet #12, “Haiti—Earthquake”; January 24, 2010.

22. The Economist website, www.economist.com/world/americas/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15330781, “A Massive Relief Effort Limps into Gear”; March 23, 2010.

23. Reuters website, www.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=USTRE60G0CO20100117, “Gangs Return to Haiti Slum after Quake Prison Break”; March 10, 2010.

24. U.N. website; March 22, 2010.

25. Reuters website.

26. U.N. website; March 22, 2010.

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