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Newsletter 11-23
March 2011

Relationships Matter: Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief in Haiti

Lieutenant General P.K. (Ken) Keen, U.S. Army
Major General Floriano Peixoto Vieira Neto, Army of Brazil
Lieutenant Colonel Charles W. Nolan, U.S. Army
Lieutenant Colonel Jennifer L. Kimmey, U.S. Army
Commander Joseph Althouse, U.S. Coast Guard

Reprinted with permission from the May-June 2010 issue of Military Review.

At 16:53 local time on 12 January 2010, a catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, killing over 230,000 people, injuring thousands of others, and leaving over a million people 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 temblor destroyed 14 of the 16 government ministries, killing numerous government employees. The headquarters of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) collapsed, killing 101 UN 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, life on the small island of Haiti drastically changed.

The earthquake prompted offers to send aid and assistance in various forms from governments, nongovernmental organizations, and private foundations. The need for manpower on the ground to orchestrate the relief effort brought together military forces from the world over, to include the United States, which stood up Joint Task Force-Haiti (JTF-H). The combined effort of MINUSTAH and JTF-H in providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Haiti following the earthquake demonstrates the importance of developing strong relationships, both institutional and personal, with partner nation armies.

U.S. and Partner Nation Militaries: A History of Cooperation

Eighteen contributing nations make up the military component of the UN mission in Haiti.3 These nations include 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 United States has a long and distinguished history of partnership and cooperation conducting 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. They formed a 25,000-man Brazilian Expeditionary Force (FEB) made up of Army, Air Force, and Navy personnel led by General Mascarenhas de Moraes. The FEB's 1st Division, under General Zenóbio da Costa, consisted of three regimental combat teams that fought alongside the U.S. Fifth Army under the command of Lieutenant General 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 conditions. 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 over 20,000 German and Italian prisoners to help end hostilities in Italy. By the end of the war, over 900 FEB soldiers had paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.4

The 1965 civil war in the Dominican Republic led to another cooperative effort between the United States and several Latin American countries. The XVIII Airborne Corps headquarters was activated on 26 April 1965 and three battalions from the 3d Brigade, 82d Airborne Division, deployed on 30 April 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 82d's 1st Brigade joined the other three on 3 May. That month, the forces present saw the transition to an Inter-American Peace Force (IAPF). The IAPF consisted of troops from Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Brazil - with Brazil providing the largest contingent, a reinforced infantry battalion. Brazilian Army General Hugo Panasco Alvim assumed command of the Inter-American Peace Force with U.S. Army Lieutenant General Bruce Palmer serving as his deputy from 23 May 1965 to 17 January 1966. During this time, U.S. paratroopers worked in unison with the Organization of American States (OAS) forces in the area of civil affairs providing humanitarian aid to the people of San Isidro.5

More recently, the United States worked together 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 (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 a coequal status. Each nation contributed up to 10 officers led by a colonel, as observers. The United States also provided an element consisting of aviation, operations, intelligence, communications, and logistical support. The Brazilian general, Lieutenant General 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 1999.6

The United States 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 Also 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. Under-standing this dynamic, the U.S. Army has sought to develop a corps of officers and noncommissioned officers that have an in-depth understanding of the culture, language, and military organization of other nations, all toward enhancing interoperability.

The relationship between Major General Floriano Peixoto, the MINUSTAH force commander, and Lieutenant General Ken Keen, the JTF-H commander, exemplifies this goal. In October 1984, then-Captain Keen, S3 Operations Officer for 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, participated in a one-month exchange program with the Brazil Airborne Brigade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. During the exchange, Keen met then-Captain Floriano Peixoto, assigned to the Airborne Brigade as a Pathfinder instructor. The two initiated what would become a long-standing relationship developed over 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 earthquake-stricken Haiti.

In 1987, then-Major Keen attended Brazil's Command and General Staff Course in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The experience gave Keen a greater appreciation and understanding of Brazil, something that would serve him well in future assignments.

In 1988, then-Captain Floriano Peixoto attended the U.S. Army Infantry Officer Advanced Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. At the time, then-Major Keen worked in the Directorate of Plans, Training, and Mobilization for the U.S. Army Infantry School, and the two continued the relationship they established four years before.

Almost a decade later, then-Lieutenant Colonel Floriano Peixoto taught Portuguese in the Department of Foreign Languages at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Floriano Peixoto and Keen maintained contact via email, 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-Brigadier General Keen worked once again with then-Colonel Floriano Peixoto, who was assigned to the Brazilian Army Staff G5 International Affairs Directorate.

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

The UN in Haiti

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

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 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.7

The UN 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 UN effort focused on advising, training, and providing the necessary support to achieve the goals set by the mandate. After a series of incidents, the UN 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 UN goals of reinstituting democracy.8

The situation in Haiti continued to decline; diplomacy and economic sanctions had no effect. The United States saw no other option than to initiate military action to reinstate President Aristide. It began "Operation Uphold Democracy" on 19 September 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 82d Airborne Division.9

As these forces prepared to invade, a diplomatic team (led by former President Jimmy Carter, retired U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, and retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General 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 reference 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 15 October 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 31 March 1995 when the United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH) replaced it.10

The UN 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 1996.11

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 more.12 Haiti again threatened international peace and security in the region, and the UN passed resolution 1542 on 30 April 2004, effectively establishing the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) on 1 June 2004. Its mandate even now 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.13

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

MINUSTAH is under the civilian leadership of a special representative to the secretary general, with two deputies that oversee different aspects of the UN mission. The principal deputy is primarily responsible for the UN 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 UN agencies. The military force commander is also under the special representative's control. The military force consists of ten infantry battalions, two separate infantry companies, and eight specialized detachments (military police, engineers, aviation, medical, and logistics).14

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, the professionalizing of the Haitian 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.15

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 (NGOs) to approach, assess, and provide assistance without the threat of gang violence.16

The senate elections in April 2009 marked 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.17

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 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.18

While all the troop-contributing countries to MINUSTAH share these successes, U.S. government officials have praised Brazil's leadership role in the UN mission as a welcome demonstration of Brazil's emergence as a leader in regional and global arenas.19

Earthquake and International Response

When the earthquake hit on 12 January, it instantly 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 located in the old Christopher Hotel. The main part of the building had collapsed, killing numerous UN staff members and trapping several others. Staff members that 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 losses, 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.

Lieutenant General Keen was in Haiti on a pre-planned visit on 12 January. 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 (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, cutting 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 UN 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 rapid and robust action, General Keen requested the deployment of U.S. military forces to Haiti.

Early on, the United States decided not to create a combined Joint task force. With the UN already on the ground, a robust multinational force was in place. In addition, MINUSTAH countries contributing additional resources and personnel already had links to their local UN 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 UN, and USAID. The military possesses significant capabilities that are useful in emergencies, but long-term plans for relief and reconstruction are best left to nonmilitary government agencies.

Major General Floriano Peixoto was out of the country when the earthquake hit. Upon learning of the disaster, he quickly returned to Haiti on 13 January. 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 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 UN forces whose mission was to provide security. While it was recognized this was a permissive environment, it was also 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.23

Floriano Peixoto and Keen later agreed that the most effective way to operate would be combining forces 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 email addresses of all their branch and section chiefs, senior aides, and advisors. To increase understanding and ensure transparency, both organizations conducted staff briefings for each 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 UN effort. Bilateral contributions came from France, Italy, Spain, Canada, and the Netherlands. On 19 January, exactly one week after the earthquake, the UN 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 incapacity and the resulting 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 United States 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 82d Airborne Division deployed to Port-au-Prince, and the 22d 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 so humanitarian assistance could arrive 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), 16 ships, and 58 aircraft. A robust Joint logistics command also supported the entire effort.

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 14 January to 4 February. The priorities were -

  • Restore medical capacity.
  • Distribute shelter, food, and water.
  • Integrate with MINUSTAH and NGOs.
  • Support Haitians.

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

Phase II (relief) began on 5 February. 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 coordinate its humanitarian assistance efforts with the UN. 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, the conditions were set to coordinate at the tactical level. As units from the 82d 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 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 that these people 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 31 January when MINUS-TAH and JTF-H troops initiated a combined operation to deliver food and water to the population of Port-au-Prince. The World Food Program - in partnership with the USAID, International Organization on Migration, United Nations Children's Fund, and numerous NGOs - led this 14-day food drive using 16 distribution points run by MINUSTAH and U.S. forces. Soldiers from various nations worked together, learned from each other, and showed 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 over 2.2 million people, a task that would have been impossible had not multiple countries worked together.

On 12 January, over 3,000 prisoners escaped from prisons damaged by the earthquake and fed to Cité Soleil.25 A troop from 1-73 Cavalry shared responsibility for 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, they coordinated with MINUSTAH through established relationships and responded accordingly.

Relationships Matter

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 had already been in Haiti conducting security operations since 2004.26 Having a professional, multinational force 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 UN does not have an established presence in every country where the United States will conduct operations in the future, the combined exercises we conduct 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 will facilitate combined efforts when real world events bring us together.

Second, Floriano Peixoto and Keen's 26-year personal relationship - with a solid base of trust, confidence, and friendship - provided clear evidence of the effectiveness of our International Military Education Training (IMET) Program and exchanges. Finding two general officers with this preexisting 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 cultures and languages, and come to understand other world perspectives. Doing so will facilitate future combined operations by developing relationships of trust and understanding.

Lessons Learned

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 added, "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 the personal level.


1. USAID Fact Sheet #46, 18 March 2010, "Haiti - Earthquake."

2. UN Website, at "" (22 March 2010).

3. Ibid.

4. Fort Bragg website, at "" (15 March 2010).

5. COL Glenn R. Weidner, "Operation Safe Border: The Ecuador-Peru Crisis," Joint Force Quarterly (Spring 1996).

6. U.S. Command and General Staff Thesis, LTC Carlos Jose Asumpcao Penteado, "The Brazilian Participation in World War II" (2006).

7. U.S. Department of State website, at "" (17 March 2010).

8. UN Website, at "" (12 March 2010).

9. Fort Bragg website, at "" (15 March 2010).

10. National Defense University Website, at "" (17 March 2010).

11. UN Website (12 March 2010).

12. U.S. State Department Website (17 March 2010).

13. UN Website (22 March 2010).

14. Ibid.

15. Ambassador Susan Rice at UN Security Council on Haiti, "US Salutes the Work, Bravery of UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti," UN Press Release, 6 April 2009.

16. Argentinean Joint Peacekeeping Training Center, "Assessment on MINUS-TAH - A South American Style of Peacekeeping," "" (17 March 2010).

17. UN website, at "" (10 March 2010).

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

19. "Devastation in Haiti brings Brazil and US Closer," Brazil Institute website, at "" (10 March 2010).

20. USAID Fact Sheet #46.

21. USAID Fact Sheet #12, 24 January 2010, "Haiti - Earthquake."

22. "A Massive Relief Effort Limps into Gear," The Economist website, at "" (23 March 2010).

23. "Gangs Return to Haiti Slum after Quake Prison Break," Reuters website, at "" (10 March 2010).

24. UN Website, 22 March 2010.

25. Reuters website.

26. UN Website, 22 March 2010.


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