To the Congress of the United States:
In response to the request made by the House and Senate for certain information on our military operations in Somalia, I am pleased to forward the attached report.
In transmitting this report, I want to reiterate the points that I made on October 6 and to the American people in remarks on October 7. We went to Somalia on a humanitarian mission. We saved approximately a million lives that were at risk of starvation brought on by civil war that had degenerated into anarchy. We acted after 350,000 already had died.
Ours was a gesture of a great nation, carried out by thousands of American citizens, both military and civilian. We did not then, nor do we now plan to stay in that country. The United Nations agreed to assume our military mission and take on the additional political and rehabilitation activities required so that the famine and anarchy do not resume when the international presence departs.
For our part, we agreed with the United Nations to participate militarily with a much smaller U.S. force for a period of time, to help the United Nations create a secure environment in which it could ensure the free flow of humanitarian relief. At the request of the United Nations and the United States, approximately 30 nations deployed over 20,000 troops as we reduced our military presence.
With the recent tragic casualties to American forces in Somalia, the American people want to know why we are there, what we are doing, why we cannot come home immediately, and when we will come home. Although the report answers those questions in detail, I want to repeat concisely my answers:
- We went to Somalia because without us a million people would have died. We, uniquely, were in a position to save them, and other nations were ready to share the burden after our initial action.
- What the United States is doing there is providing, for a limited period of time, logistics support and security so that the humanitarian and political efforts of the United Nations, relief organizations, and others can have a reasonable chance of success. The United Nations, in turn, has a longer term political, security, and relief mission designed to minimize the likelihood that famine and anarchy will return when the United Nations leaves. The U.S. military mission is not now nor was it ever one of "nation building."
- We cannot leave immediately because the United Nations has not had an adequate chance to replace us, nor have the Somalis had a reasonable opportunity to end their strife. We want other nations to assume more of the burden of international peace. To have them do so, they must think that they can rely on our commitments when we make them. Moreover, having been brutally attacked, were American forces to leave now we would send a message to terrorists and other potential adversaries around the world that they can change our policies by killing our people. It would be open season on Americans.
- We will, however, leave no later than March 31, 1994, except for a few hundred support troops. That amount of time will permit the Somali people to make progress toward political reconciliation and allow the United States to fulfill our obligations properly, including the return of any Americans being detained. We went there for the right reasons and we will finish the job in the right way.
While U.S. forces are there, they will be fully protected with appropriate American military capability.
Any Americans detained will be the subject of the most complete and thorough efforts of which this Government is capable, with the unrelenting goal of returning them home and returning them to health.
I want to thank all those who have expressed their support for this approach during the last week. At difficult times such as these, when we face international challenges, bipartisan unity among our two branches of government is vital.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
The White House, October 13, 1993.