In 1994 the USS Eisenhower and the USS America were deployed to Haiti with their decks full of Army choppers. The US was threatening an invasion if the Junta did not return power to elected officials, and the 10th Mountain Division and a unique combination of special forces were sent over via the two super-carriers to make sure it happened.
On July 31st, 1994, the United Nations Security Council passed UNSCR 940, authorizing the use of force to return Haiti back to its democratically elected government after a military coup, led by Raoul Cédras, seized power in 1991. Plans under the name "Operation Uphold Democracy" were quickly drawn up to deploy an overwhelming force to the island, both as a negotiating tool and for an actual invasion if need be.
As part of the plan, two US super carriers, the America and Eisenhower had their decks packed with various versions of H-60 Blackhawks, OH-58 Kiowas, AH-1 Cobras and H-47 Chinooks. The Eisenhower carried a force of 2,000 soldiers and 58 helicopters from the 10th Mountain Division and the America carried an assortment of special operations forces and choppers from the 160th SOAR 'Nightstalkers' for air support.
In addition to these super carriers turned helicopter bases and their embarked shock troops, portions of the 82nd Airborne and other forces staged out of Puerto Rico and off of other ships sailing off the coast of Haiti. By mid-September, all these forces, which fell under the command of Joint Task Force 120, were ready to descend on the island in mass, with over 25,000 troops participating, when, at the last minute, the military led government stepped down after emergency negotiations led by U.S. Senator Sam Nunn and retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell finally came to fruition. As the invasion was more-or less in motion when word came of surrender, what was to have been a force poised to attack, turned instantly into a stabilization and peacekeeping force.
This rapid fielding of an invasion force and the resulting almost immediate pivot from offensive operations to peacekeeping and nation building duties is widely regarded as a showcase of how dynamic the US military had become in the post Cold War era. It was also a sign of just how far 'jointness' between the services had evolved over the prior decade. Seeing US Navy flattops loaded with Army helicopters was breathtaking evidence that the walls that traditionally had divided the services were indeed crumbling.
Pictures via DoD.
Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer that maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for Jalopnik.com You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address Tyler@Jalopnik.com