Marines Take on Haitian Peacekeeping Mission
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 1, 2004 – More than 200 Marines from Camp Lejeune, N.C., have
landed at Port-au-Prince airport and are setting up to provide security in the
Haitian capital, Defense Department officials said today.
U.S. Southern Command officials said U.S. Coast Guard cutters also are near the
The Marines began arriving after nightfall Feb. 29. President Bush had ordered
them earlier in the day to deploy following the resignation of Haitian
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. More Marines will flow into the island, said
DoD officials. The 8th Marines are providing the bulk of the U.S. forces, local
The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a request from acting President
Boniface Alexandre for urgent international support in restoring peace and
security in Haiti. Alexandre was the chief of the country's Supreme Court
before Aristide's resignation.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on the Haitian people to remain calm,
and said the Multinational Interim Force shows the world has not forgotten
about Haiti. The force is authorized for three months.
The U.S. Marines are the lead force in the multinational unit. DoD officials
said events on the ground and the number of troops from other countries will
determine the size of the U.S. contribution.
During an interview this morning on NBC's "Today", Secretary of State Colin
Powell said he didn't have a specific U.S. troop number to give out, but "it's
in the hundreds, maybe a little more than a thousand or so. But it is not a
large force -- joined by forces from a number of nations that have already
indicated they want to make a contribution."
Powell stressed the U.N. operation is a peacekeeping effort. "I think the
nature of the presence will shift from combat troops increasingly to police
monitors, gendarmerie, those sorts of international forces present to help the
Haitian people, and not combat forces of the kind that would be engaging in
direct combat," he said. "I think this is mostly a stability operation, as
opposed to a combat operation."
Powell said French and Canadian troops will arrive in Haiti shortly. He said he
also expects troop contributions from Latin American and Caribbean nations. The
interim force will provide stability in the Haitian capital, and help in the
delivery of humanitarian supplies, he said.
U.S. Southern Command officials said the newly deployed Marines joined with a
forward area security team that deployed to Haiti Feb. 23. The team, from
Norfolk, Va., has provided security at the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince.
Secretary of State Colin
Secretary-General Kofi Annan
Related Web Sites:
U.S. Southern Command
U.S. Marine Corps
Camp Lejeune, N.C.
U.S. Coast Guard
U.N. Security Council
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