Operation Uphold Democracy (September 19, 1994 – March 31, 1995) was a response to the overthrow and expulsion of the duly elected government of Haiti by a military coup.
The operation began with the alert of United States and Allied forces for a forced entry into the island nation of Haiti. U.S. Navy and Air Force elements staged to Puerto Rico and southern Florida to prepare to support the airborne invasion, spearheaded by elements of U.S. SOCOM and the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division. The planned airborne assault was to be the largest airborne assault in history since D-Day in World War II. As these forces prepared to deploy, a diplomatic element led by retired U.S. General Colin Powell entered the country and persuaded the leaders of Haiti to step down and allow the elected officials to return to power.
This effort was successful due to the diplomatic efforts of Powell and, in no small part, because he was able to point to the massed forces poised to enter the country with overwhelming superior forces. The military mission changed from a combat operation to a peace-keeping and nation-building operation at that point with the deployment of the U.S. led multinational force in Haiti. This force was made up primarily of members of the 3rd Special Forces Group. In September 1994, 2nd Battalion 75th Ranger Regiment deployed to Haiti.
Operation Uphold Democracy officially ended on March 31, 1995 when it was replaced by the United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH). U.S. President Bill Clinton and Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide presided over the change of authority ceremony. From the March 1995 until March 1996, 2,400 US personnel from the original Operation Uphold Democracy remained as a support group commanded by UNMIH under a new operation called Operation New Horizons. A large contingent of U.S. troops (USFORHAITI) participated as peacekeepers in the UNMIH until 1996 (and the U.S. forces commander was also the commander of the UN forces). UN forces under various mission names were in Haiti from 1995 through 2000. During the operation, one U.S. service member was killed by hostile fire. He was a US Special Forces Staff Sergeant shot during a roadside check.