The U.S. Army has produced the story of its involvement in Somalia during “Operation Restore Hope” (CMH Pub 70-81-1). The 1994 cover image of this work, called “On the Town,” is by Jeffrey T. Manuszak. Online, courtesy U.S. Army Center of Military History.


By August of 1992, effects of the Somali famine had reached disastrous proportions. UN envoys estimated that 25% of all Somalis (about 1.5 million people) would likely die of starvation. Some experts thought the toll would be even higher.

By September of that year, relief organizations reported that 25% of Somali children under five years old had already died. But it wasn't just the famine that was killing people.

Food supplies, sent to Somalia from all over the world, were not effectively distributed to the needy. Central government in the country had collapsed on January 27, 1991 when Siad Barre's regime was toppled by rebels. Since the country's infrastructure had ceased to operate even before the end of Barre's rule, no Somali governmental agencies could process food distribution.

Bandits, often under the influence of khat (now illegal in Somalia), looted food warehouses in Mogadishu and elsewhere. They used food as "power chips."

Fueling the growing anarchy, bandits were armed. Weapons supplied by the Soviet Union, when Siad Barre had tried to turn Somalia into a socialist state, were still plentiful. So were weapons the United States had provided as part of its $403 million military aid package to Barre's opposition. Mounting automatic weapons on top of vehicles, armed groups created "technicals" which they could use to shoot their opposition.

Responding to this out-of-control situation, UN Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali sent UN peacekeeping soldiers to Somalia. Their job was to protect the food supplies.

This image depicts a PSYOP leaflet—one of more than 7 million which were distributed during "Restore Hope." The illustration is featured in The United States Army in Somalia 1992-1994; online via the U.S. Army Center for Military History. 


U.S. military, dispatched to Somalia as part of a relief mission called Operation Restore Hope—while George H.W. Bush was president—first arrived in country on December 9, 1992. Marine-Corps General Joseph P. Hoar, commander in chief of the American Central Command, announced on December 14th that U.S. forces would NOT disarm Somalis. His reasoning? Local people had to resolve this political issue themselves.

Plans change, however. Even UN relief trucks were caught in the crossfire of opposing militia groups. By early January, U.S. forces were pursuing "technicals" and raiding arms depots. Their mission was to safeguard operations and protect both Somali civilians and the peacekeeping military. Because personnel from other countries had joined Operation Restore Hope, some U.S. troops were able to pull out of Somalia in mid-January, 1993.

In the summer, the killing of American soldiers started.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Jun 19, 2019

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"OPERATION RESTORE HOPE" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. May 26, 2020.
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