In 1994 the Caribbean country of Haiti was undergoing tremendous turmoil. The dictator, General Cedras, headed a regime that had overthrown the Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991. The dictator’s police forces were accused of human rights abuses and American public opinion demanded that the White House take action. President Clinton issued some ultimatums to the dictator which were rejected, so he ordered a military invasion. At the last minute the Haiti regime agreed to flee the country and the invasion was called off. However the U.S. military sent in an occupying force – spearheaded by special operations forces to restore rule of law and stability. [1] Teams from the U.S. Army Special Forces played a unique role in this occupation of Haiti in an operation named Uphold Democracy.

Map of Haiti

From a Special Operations task force base in Port-au-Prince, Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha’s (SFODA) were dispatched to various sections of the country to restore order and create a stable environment. The teams were issued a fairly open-ended mission statement. The SF teams soon were confronted with a variety of situations across the country during Operation Uphold Democracy.

There was no government – as the national and local government cronies aligned with the previous regime fled the country or went into hiding. The Haiti police force disappeared or was forced out of their offices and off the streets by the public. U.S. conventional troops secured Port-au-Prince (the capital city) and later Cap Haitien (on the north coast of Haiti) but for the most part the remainder of the country was secured by the 12-man U.S. Army Special Forces Teams positioned in strategic locations.