Communications regarding the March 4th incident began very soon after the shootings took place. The incident and resulting communications occurred at a time that had been determined by senior officers and officials in Ottawa to be "politically sensitive". Due to the expected leadership candidacy of the Minister of National Defence, the Hon. Kim Campbell, the Deputy Minister, Robert Fowler, had reminded members of DND and the CF who attended the daily executive meeting (DEM) on March 1, 1993 that it was necessary to exercise "extreme sensitivity in all matters relating to public statements, speeches, press releases." He had already told those in attendance at the DEM of January 22, 1993, that the Minister enjoyed excellent relations with the media and that she did not want this relationship jeopardized.
At 2045 hours on March 5th, CARBG headquarters in Belet Huen informed CJFS headquarters in Mogadishu that the Recce Platoon had shot two Somalis during a security patrol at the Engineers compound. The message indicated that the Somalis had been trying to get into the compound, that one Somali was dead and one was wounded (condition unknown), and that a Significant Incident Report (SIR) had been sent. CJFS headquarters subsequently passed on the SIR to NDHQ in Ottawa at 2126 hours. No other information was available to members of the CJFS staff in Mogadishu at that time.
Officers at NDHQ soon became very concerned following the reports which stated that the Somalis had been shot in the back while fleeing. They urged Maj Moffat, the Operations Officer at CJFS headquarters in Mogadishu, to provide more information. Maj Moffat sent word to Belet Huen of NDHQ's concern over the wording of the incident report, which had been communicated by the CJFS public affairs officer to his people in Ottawa, stating that two Somalis had been shot in the back. Maj Moffat noted as well that Ottawa was "extremely excited" over the incident, and requested an updated SIR with additional information on the entry and exit wounds of the two Somalis. He indicated that it was necessary to "calm Ottawa" and conduct "damage control".
Maj Moffat also attempted to get in touch with Maj Armstrong regarding his medical report. Maj Armstrong was approached by a soldier sent by Capt Kyle, who asked him to phone Maj Moffat in Mogadishu. Testimony before us suggests that Maj Armstrong at first refused because he had already provided a report to his own superior officer, Maj Jewer. He indicated that he would make a written report the following day, but he finally agreed to telephone CJFS in Mogadishu. According to Maj Armstrong's testimony, it was at this point that he made direct allegations of murder to the duty officer, Maj Parsons (at 0210 hours on March 5th). Evidence also indicates that Maj Parsons then made a log entry that recorded Maj Armstrong's assessment of the March 4th death, but he did not explicitly record either the word "murder" or the word "homicide".
Through the SIRs, Ottawa also became aware that Col Labbé was planning to brief the media on the morning of March 5th. It was Capt Poitras, CAR's public affairs officer, who had phoned Cdr Keenliside at NDHQ to pass on these details. From this information, Ottawa, through Maj Parsons at CJFS in Mogadishu, sent an urgent hand-delivered message to Belet Huen, exclusively for Col Labbé, expressing concern over the holding of a media briefing that morning, and indicating that Ottawa was "excited" over the information about the entry and exit wounds of the dead Somali. The message contained questions from Cdr Keenliside that Ottawa wanted answered and instructions from the DCDS, VAdm Murray, at NDHQ. According to Col Labbé, he did not see this hand-delivered message until some time after he left Belet Huen on March 5th to return to HMCS Preserver. Col Labbé acknowledged that he had received this urgent message, but said that he simply tossed it into his satchel to be read once he was on board the ship.
A message was also sent to LCol Mathieu from Ottawa, which he received at 0625 hours on March 5th. That message requested answers to questions about the shootings and referred to the media briefing and the telephone conversation between Maj Armstrong and Maj Parsons at Mogadishu. LCol Mathieu sent his response to Ottawa's queries to Mogadishu with the comment that "Due to the avail[ability] of grenades, mines and explosives to the locals and the threat of entering the compound and stealing the weapons and/or ammo, any Somali attempt to breach the wire and enter the compound must be considered a hostile act. Soldiers under my command have been dir[ected] to apply the ROE accordingly...".
Communications activity took on a sense of urgency as officers
at NDHQ became more interested in the shooting incident. Frequent
messages were passed back and forth between Somalia and Ottawa.
A day-by-day chronology follows. It should be noted, however,
that we also determined that there is a large gap in the documentary
record relating to the flow and content of communications between
Somalia and Ottawa, as recorded in the National Defence Operations
Centre logs reviewed by Inquiry staff.
On March 5th at 0715 hours, Col Labbé authorized a call by WO Haines in Belet Huen to Mogadishu requesting information from Col Peck, U.S. UNITAF public affairs officer, about similar types of incidents involving other national forces, in order to put the March 4th shooting in context. The requested information was received in Belet Huen from Col Peck at 0730 hours. (CJFS communications logs recorded that Col Peck responded that it was quite common at other UNITAF installations to shoot at intruders and that they did not record all incidents that occurred.)
Col Labbé held separate media briefings with the Canadian Press, CBC Newsworld, and Standard Broadcast News by telephone on March 5th at 0800 hours to discuss the shootings. For the media briefing, Col Labbé referred to Capt Rainville's diagram and written statement, the updated March 4th SIR, and possibly some other papers gathered by Capt Kyle. He told reporters that the two Somalis might have been "possible saboteurs''.
In Mogadishu, Maj Moffat prepared the March 5th situation report, which was then sent to NDHQ. In it, he discussed the March 4th incident and conveyed interpretations of the rules of engagement, apparently taken from LCol Mathieu's answers to NDHQ's questions sent to him earlier that day. In both LCol Mathieu's reply and Maj Moffat's report, there is a discussion of a "hostile act possibly to conduct sabotage" and the statement that "any Somali attempt to breach the wire must be considered a hostile act and dealt with according to the ROEs". (Col Labbé would later speak with Maj Moffat directly to tell him that he would personally draft the commander's evaluation for the March 6 situation report to correct the information that was sent by Maj Moffat on the previous day.) At that time, Maj Moffat briefed Col Labbé about Maj Armstrong's telephone conversation with Maj Parsons concerning the nature of the wounds on Mr. Aruush.
LCol Mathieu's duty officer phoned Mogadishu to confirm that the medical information had been received and to ask whether Mogadishu required a written report. Originally, he had been told that the written report could be included with LCol Mathieu's daily situation report. However, Mogadishu later asked that a written medical report be provided as soon as possible. The request was changed because Ottawa had made a specific request to CJFS in Mogadishu to get the medical report right away.
Shortly after noon on March 5th, Col Labbé left Belet Huen and went straight to HMCS Preserver. He took with him Capt Rainville's handwritten statement and diagram, along with the unopened package of messages which included the urgent message from the DCDS. (Later that afternoon, at Capt Hope's request, Capt Rainville's statement was faxed back to Belet Huen to assist Capt Hope in his investigation.)
Sometime in the afternoon of March 5th, Col Labbé spoke with Cmdr Cogdon and VAdm Murray at NDHQ. Evidence before us indicates that they both expressed a sense of urgency about the circumstances of the March 4th shooting, and that they wanted more details from Col Labbé. VAdm Murray talked to Col Labbé specifically about the interpretation of the ROE and about his contact with the media. Apparently, it was only after this telephone conversation that Col Labbé opened the package he had carried from Belet Huen and read that Ottawa was concerned about his plan to hold a media briefing.
According to the documentary evidence, VAdm Murray indicated to Col Labbé that he should be sensitive to the Minister's concerns about negative media attention which had followed the February 17th shooting incident. Col Labbé then spoke with Cdr Keenliside and LCdr Bastien to clarify details of the shootings. Col Labbé also advised VAdm Murray and other officers at NDHQ that a CO's investigation was under way, and that he personally was satisfied with the application of the ROE, basing his assessment on Capt Rainville's information.
At 1442 hours on March 5th, log entries indicate that a message was sent from Mogadishu to Belet Huen by Maj Moffat, directing that statements should be taken from all members of the Recce Platoon who had been involved in the incident. A further log entry indicates that at 1625 hours on March 5th, a message was sent from Mogadishu by Maj Moffat to Belet Huen, using Col Labbé's log identification name, ordering LCol Mathieu to forward the results of the CO's investigation within 24 hours.
Later that evening on board HMCS Preserver, Col Labbé
spoke to Col O'Brien about his concerns about the ROE and the
fact that the Somalis had been shot in the back. At that time,
Col Labbé first mentioned the possibility of asking personnel
from the U.S. Criminal Investigation Division to investigate the
shootings, but Col O'Brien suggested that it might not be the
most appropriate way to handle the matter.
In the early hours of March 5th, NDHQ received the first SIR and the updated SIR from Mogadishu concerning the shootings. Neither made any mention of the possibility that "bait" had been set out, but they made it clear that two unarmed men had been shot in the back outside the Engineers compound while attempting to flee. Although evidence indicates that by this time Maj Armstrong's medical assessment of the nature of the shots had been communicated to Mogadishu, NDHQ sent messages to Col Labbé and LCol Mathieu simply requesting additional information and instructing Col Labbé regarding his plan to conduct a media session on the morning of March 5th. The reports of the shooting incident were the first item of discussion at the daily executive meeting, chaired by the Deputy Minister and attended by the most senior officers and civilian staff at NDHQ.
Col Wells, Director General of Security at NDHQ, first heard of the shootings on Friday, March 5th, at NDHQ, when he was briefed by the Director Police Operations, Col MacLaren. Col Wells was told that one Somali had been killed and another wounded, and that the possibility existed that there had been excessive use of force and possible violations of the ROE. Col MacLaren recommended that this was a matter for the Military Police. An investigation decision was expected by the DCDS, but not before Monday, March 8th, after there had been an opportunity to review the CO's investigation report.
Col Wells was not aware of any objections on the part of the DCDS, VAdm Murray, to preparing the Military Police for possible deployment on March 6th or 7th, and on March 5th, Col Wells had a team of Military Police investigators in Ottawa inoculated and prepared to head to Somalia. Col Wells sensed that NDHQ knew from the outset that the March 4th shootings had the potential to be a criminal matter as well as a disciplinary matter. Col Wells could not send in the Military Police without approval from the Commander in theatre, Col Labbé, or from the DCDS.
VAdm Murray was briefed shortly after the March 4th incident.
He decided against sending in the Military Police immediately
because he wanted to wait for a report on the incident from Col
Labbé, but he believed initially that a Military Police
investigation was probable. According to his testimony, VAdm Murray
was not told that "bait" had been put out or that the
mission was designed to capture Somali intruders. As well, he
claimed that he was not told until later about the allegations
of Maj Armstrong. VAdm Murray did not immediately assume criminality
when he first heard of the March 4th shootings, but he was concerned
about the application and interpretation of the ROE.
Col Labbé arrived in Mogadishu on the morning of March
6th. He and Maj Moffat were debriefed regarding the March 5th
situation report and Maj Moffat's information about Maj Armstrong's
concerns over the incident. Col Labbé wrote the March 6th
situation report "commander's evaluation", using Capt
Rainville's statement, the March 5th situation report, the updated
SIR of March 5th, and his discussions with NDHQ. Col Labbé
indicated in the March 6th situation report that there were errors
in the March 5th report and he corrected what he described as
the erroneous interpretation of the ROE. After Col Labbé
wrote his commander's evaluation for the March 6th situation report,
he flew to Nairobi to greet the CDS, Adm Anderson, who was arriving
there on March 7th en route to Somalia to inspect the Canadian
troops in Belet Huen and to observe the CARBG operations.
On March 7th, Adm Anderson was met by Col Labbé in Nairobi and later arrived in Somalia for a four-day visit. Col Labbé had discussed the March 4th incident briefly with him in Nairobi. When he arrived in Belet Huen, he was again met by Col Labbé, along with LCol Mathieu and Col O'Brien. Adm Anderson had been en route from Ottawa when the original SIR was sent to NDHQ, but they quickly brought him up to date, allegedly without getting into the details of the events or of the investigation.
Capt Hope's first draft of his investigation report was delivered
to both LCol Mathieu and Col Labbé in Nairobi late on March
7th, complete with all attached statements, including CWO Jackson's
and Maj Armstrong's statements. Col Labbé read the report
and the attached statements of Maj Armstrong and CWO Jackson,
but did not remark on CWO Jackson's statement or the "dispatched"
comment in Maj Armstrong's statement.
Adm Anderson spoke to the officers in Belet Huen on March 8th and mentioned the upcoming election in his speech. He is said to have told the officers that he did not want "to make any waves because our Minister is running for the leadership".
At his orders group on March 8th, LCol Mathieu discussed ROE interpretations
and explained the concept of disengagement. This was perceived
as a significant change from the previous interpretation.
Col Wells met VAdm Murray at NDHQ on March 8th to discuss whether
the Military Police should be sent to Somalia. VAdm Murray told
him that he was still waiting for Col Labbés report which
would be the decisive document as to whether a Military Police
investigation would be necessary. Maj Buonamici was ordered to
stand down his Military Police investigative team until further
On March 9th, Adm Anderson and Col Labbé visited the CF hospital in Belet Huen. Maj Armstrong was present. Col Labbé later briefly discussed the March 4th incident again with Adm Anderson on his way to the airport. After Adm Anderson left, Col Labbé discussed Capt Hope's report with LCol Mathieu and pointed to areas which he thought were incomplete or incorrect. Col Labbé and LCol Mathieu discussed the ROE, and LCol Mathieu said that they had been clarified during the March 8th orders group.
On March 8th or 9th, Col Labbé was told by Col O'Brien
that "the pressure was off" and that there was less
urgency with respect to getting his report to Ottawa. It was after
this message from Col O'Brien that communications concerning the
March 4th incident slowed down considerably between NDHQ and Somalia.
In a meeting concerning the March 4th incident, VAdm Murray brought
up the idea of using the U.S. CID to investigate. Col Wells did
not dismiss the idea immediately because he had a Canadian MP,
Maj Klassen, attached to UNOSOM in Nairobi. However, he did not
view it as the best available option. Col Wells suggested that
if there was to be a Military Police investigation, they should
put Maj Klassen in charge and use the U.S. CID only to assist,
but that the best scenario would be to send Military Police investigators
from Canada. There was, however, no decision made as VAdm Murray
was still waiting for Col Labbé's report.
Col Labbé communicated to Ottawa in a situation report that, "I have received Cdn AB Regt BG CO's investigation dealing with the shootings of March 4th. With the return of my J1 legal in-theatre I have dispatched the UNITAF U.S. criminal investigation detachment (CID) to Belet Huen to conduct a detailed police investigation of the incident. Once I have received the police report I will be in a position to complete my report to the CDS with recommendations for subsequent action, if any."
The CID, however, never actually arrived in Belet Huen. Col Labbé's J1 Legal, Capt Philippe, also was not in favour of this investigative option and upon his return from leave in Canada, recommended against using the CID.
In Belet Huen, LCol Mathieu instructed Capt Hope as to how to
revise his report, with the understanding that the information
was required by Col Labbé. Capt Hope would re-submit his
report on March 13th.
Col Wells met once again with VAdm Murray concerning the issue
of whether to send Military Police investigators to Somalia to
look into the March 4th shootings, but VAdm Murray indicated that
he had not received Col Labbé's report yet and would not
make a decision before he had this document in hand.
Capt Hope submitted the second draft of his report to LCol Mathieu,
who attached a cover letter and submitted it to Col Labbé.
Col Labbé then passed it to Capt Philippe for review. Capt
Philippe was greatly concerned by Capt Hope's report because he
thought it possible that the Somalis might have been enticed to
approach the camp and then entrapped. Capt Philippe also had some
concern over the use of the word "dispatched" in Maj
Capt Philippe met Col Labbé to express his concerns about Capt Hope's report. He recommended that a more thorough investigation be conducted into the possible criminal nature of the events of March 4th. Col Labbé indicated that he shared some concern over the possible use of excessive force, but that he saw no criminal intent in what had been done. They discussed Capt Rainville's plan for the mission, which Capt Philippe thought might have been set up as a trap or an "ambush", and Col Labbé explained that it was not improper to capture infiltrators and that he did not feel a Military Police investigation was necessary. However, Col Labbé still felt that more information was needed. Following the meeting, Col Labbé drew up six supplementary questions to be put to the patrol members.
Following his briefing of Col Labbé, Capt Philippe informed
his superior in the office of the Judge Advocate General (JAG)
in Ottawa, LCol Watkin, of Maj Armstrong's allegations. There
is some discrepancy as to whether this conversation took place
on March 14th or 17th, but it is clear that they did speak of
the shootings subsequent to Capt Philippe's review of Capt Hope's
report, and there is some indication that they discussed how to
deal with the incident.
The beating death of Shidane Arone while in the custody of 2 Commando
occurred on this date in Belet Huen. Sometime between March 16th
and March 22nd, Col Labbé's six supplementary questions
relating to the March 4th incident arrived in Belet Huen. They
appear to have been designed to establish that the two Somalis
presented a potential threat to Canadian troops and/or installations.
Members of the Recce Platoon met with Capt Hope over a 60- to
90-minute period to answer them. Capt Hope instructed the men
not to discuss their answers with each other, and to address the
appropriate ROE issues in their answers. During the administration
of the questions, LCol Mathieu briefly addressed the troops and
told them not to worry too much about the questions, that they
had done nothing wrong.
The Military Police investigators who had been on standby following
the March 4th shootings were sent to Somalia to investigate the
death of Shidane Arone on March 16th.
Col Labbé spoke with LCol Mathieu regarding the supplementary
questions because he was waiting for the answers of the members
of the Recce Platoon before finalizing his own report to VAdm
Murray. There is some contradiction as to the substance of the
conversation, but Col Labbé evidently received the information
he believed he required, as he was able to complete his report
on the shootings.
Col Labbé faxed his report to VAdm Murray without attaching
Capt Hope's report, or the statements of Maj Armstrong and CWO
Jackson. After reading the report, VAdm Murray felt that it addressed
all the necessary issues with regard to the March 4th incident,
but before making any decisions, he instructed Col O'Brien to
pass it to the JAG for a legal review. VAdm Murray then left for
a conference in Cambodia on March 24th, to return a week later.
Capt (N) Blair, the Acting Judge Advocate General, ordered LCol
Watkin to perform a legal review of Col Labbé's report
concerning the March 4th incident. LCol Watkin discussed the necessity
of reviewing the CO's investigation report, and in particular,
the statements of patrol members who had fired their weapons,
to ensure a thorough legal review. Capt (N) Blair contacted Cmdr
Cogdon, VAdm Murray's Chief of Staff, to ask for the CO's investigation
report and supporting documents. LCol Watkin subsequently dealt
with Col O'Brien on this issue and appears to have had some difficulty
getting access to the required documents. LCol Watkin did not
receive them until Col Labbé hand-delivered them on his
arrival in Ottawa on April 2nd.
Col Labbé received the written answers of the members of
Recce Platoon to the supplementary questions from LCol Mathieu.
These confirmed his impressions from their phone conversation
of March 22nd and further buttressed the conclusions of his report
of March 23rd.
Col Labbé arrived in Ottawa, bringing with him the CO's
investigation report and supporting documents, including the statements
of Maj Armstrong and CWO Jackson, which he then submitted to LCol
Watkin at the JAG so that the legal review of his report could
While on leave in Nairobi, Kenya, Maj Armstrong slipped a note
under the door of LCol Tinsley, a JAG legal officer who had accompanied
the Military Police investigators sent to investigate the March
16th incident. At 2004 hours local time, Maj Armstrong was interviewed
by MWO Dowd of the Military Police investigation team. During
the interview he clearly and unequivocally alleged murder in relation
to the March 4th shootings. MWO Dowd then called the Director
of Police Operations, Col MacLaren, to report the allegation and
inform him that an investigation had begun into the March 4th
Immediately following the events in Nairobi, an "excited"
Capt (N) Blair, a colleague of LCol Tinsley who had received Maj
Armstrong's allegation, informed VAdm Murray in the presence of
Cmdr Cogdon about that allegation. VAdm Murray also received the
results of the legal review of Col Labbé's report, which
expressed grave concerns about the shootings, specifically LCol
Watkins view of Maj Armstrong's statement alleging murder, and
that a Military Police investigation was required immediately.
VAdm Murray then informed Col Wells that it would be necessary
for him to send a team of investigators to look into the March
4th incident, a message that came shortly after Col Wells had
been informed by Col MacLaren of MWO Dowd's interview with Maj
Armstrong. According to the chain of command in Ottawa, it was
"pure coincidence" that the investigation into the March
4th incident began in Nairobi and was ordered almost simultaneously
Col Wells issued an order for a team of Military Police investigators
to go to Somalia to look into the March 4th incident; they departed
that day, arriving in Nairobi on April 21, 1993.
A team of experts from Canada conducted a forensic autopsy and ballistics tests to address the allegations made by Maj Armstrong with regard to an execution-style killing. Dr. James Ferris, a forensic pathologist from Vancouver General Hospital, performed an autopsy on the remains of Mr. Aruush, which by that time, almost two months after the shooting, were almost entirely skeletonized. Dr. Ferris concluded that the cause of death was generally consistent with the statements of the soldiers. He conceded that he could not draw conclusions with regard to the internal organs, specifically the protruding omentum (abdominal tissue), which Maj Armstrong had seen as significant. Dr. Ferris commented on the omentum only to state, "Although this opinion [Maj Armstrong's] may be correct, it is possible for abdominal contents to be extruded from a gunshot wound during the dying process and even after death." In general, his autopsy report did not conclusively end the controversy generated by Maj Armstrong.
From this point onward, the Military Police investigation ran its course. The soldiers were interviewed on May 8, 1993, search warrants were exercised on LCol Mathieu's and Capt Rainville's premises on August 5, 1993, and the investigation was completed on August 13, 1993. The Military Police investigative team issued its final report on August 24, 1993, and indicated that the police investigation was "inexplicably delayed for five weeks causing the irretrievable loss of physical evidence, faded recollections, increased opportunities for collusion and command influence".
Prepared by MWO Bernier and Maj Buonamici, the investigation report drew a number of conclusions, which seriously called into question the accountability of the chain of command, both in Somalia and at NDHQ in Ottawa. Some of the significant investigative findings were as follows:
As the Operation Deliverance deployment extended into mid-March, the CARBG continued to try to contain incidents of attempted incursion children and young men into the Canadian compound at Belet Huen. Even after the shootings of March 4th, security problems were still a source frustration for the Canadians. For example, documentary evidence reveals alleged severe beatings of suspected thieves by members of 2 Commando on March 14th and 15th.
Many of the troops had been in Somalia for almost three months. Some were discouraged about the mission and its seeming futility, and many were feeling the effects of hard rations, illness, and the limited opportunities for communication with their families. Repeated incursions into the Canadian compounds and nuisance thefts of equipment and supplies added to the troops' resentment of the local population.
On March 13, 1993, an operation reportedly authorized by Maj Seward
raided an illegal Somali roadblock. According to the investigation,
which occurred only long after the actual event, Capt Sox was
dressed in Somali civilian clothes, operating a Somali vehicle,
with a Somali civilian in the front of the vehicle, and other
Canadian soldiers hidden in the back. Many of the personnel involved
were the same individuals who were later involved the events of
Guards dealt with intruders by tying them up and holding them overnight in a bunker (originally intended to be used as a machine gun position an known as "the pit") near the entrance to the 2 Commando compound. The bunker consisted of a frame placed around a floor dug in the sand, with corrugated iron roof on top. Sandbags were placed around the sides to support the roof, which was approximately 30 centimetres above the sandbag walls.
In the morning, the established routine was to turn over the captured
thief to the authorities (local clan leaders and later the police
when the force was re-established) in Belet Huen, in spite of
the knowledge that the individual would be released almost immediately.
The captured Somali thieves were not technically considered prisoners
of war, but instructions had been given to CARBG forces to treat
them as such while in Canadian custody. However, no provision
had been made for food for the prisoners, nor were there proper
facilities to hold them for any period of time beyond the overnight
arrangement which, by then, had become routine.
This account of the torture and death of a young Somali on March 16, 1993 has been taken from a number of courts martial proceedings that followed the deployment. This Inquiry did not hear any evidence on this incident.
On the morning of March 16, 1993, Maj Seward, Officer Commanding 2 Commando, held a routine orders group with his platoon commanders. The general responsibility of 2 Commando was to maintain security in the town of Belet Huen and surrounding area and to provide guard duty for any individuals taken into custody. The commando was housed in a separate compound surrounded by wire, with one entrance that served as a sentry post.
At Maj Seward's court-martial, Capt Sox, Commander of 4 Platoon, testified that he was told by Maj Seward at this orders group, with respect to infiltrators, "to capture and abuse the prisoners". He stated that he was surprised by this directive and had asked for clarification. He was told, according to his testimony, that ''it meant to rough up and there was something to the effect of 'teach them a lesson"'.
Maj Seward testified that he said "I don't care if you abuse them but I want those infiltrators captured.... Abuse them if you have to. I do not want weapons used. I do not want gun fire." The apparent purpose of this instruction was to deter any person captured, and others, from such incursions in the future. Maj Seward admitted in his testimony at his court martial that nothing during his "training as an infantry officer or [in] Canadian doctrine...would permit the use of the word 'abuse' during the giving of orders."
Shortly afterward, Capt Sox conducted an orders group for the section commanders reporting to him. These were WO Murphy, second in command of 4 Platoon, and Sgts Hillier, Lloyd, Skipton, and Boland. At this briefing, apparently seeking to repeat what he understood Maj Seward to have ordered, Capt Sox told the group that "we have been tasked to capture and abuse prisoners", referring to any prisoners captured while attempting to penetrate the perimeter of the compound.
Sgt Boland was commander of 3 Rifle Section (consisting of MCpl Haines, Cpl MacKay and Pte Brown), which had been assigned responsibility for gate security from 1800 to 2400 hours on the night of March 16th. This duty included the responsibility for guarding any prisoners that might be apprehended. Prisoners were to be put in the unoccupied machine-gun bunker near the compound gate. After the meeting, Sgt Boland discussed the instruction to "abuse" prisoners with Sgt Lloyd, another section commander, and they both decided that they were not going to pass on that information to their respective sections. However, later that evening, after Shidane Arone had been captured and was being guarded by Sgt Boland's section, Sgt Boland reportedly told MCpl Matchee, a member of his section, "that Capt Sox had given orders that the prisoners were to be abused". According to Sgt Boland, MCpl Matchee's response to this was to say "Oh, yeah!"
Sgt Lloyd testified at Maj Seward's court-martial that not only did he not pass on the "abuse" order to his troops, but he expressly told them that he would throw in jail any of his troops who touched a prisoner. He stated that he had taken this added precaution because he knew that word of the "abuse" order would get around the camp.
Sgt Hillier testified at Pte Brocklebank's court martial that
when asked for clarification of the "abuse" order, Capt
Sox had said that if a prisoner resisted, "you could beat
the shit out of him". Sgt Hillier stated that he took this
to mean during apprehension, although he did not actually use
those words. He believed that the next prisoner to be caught would
be abused and made an example of, and he hoped that no one would
be caught that night. MCpl Skipton testified at Maj Seward's court
martial that Sgt Hillier had told his troops not to abuse anybody.
At approximately 2045 hours on March 16, 1993, an unarmed 16-year-old Somali youth, Shidane Abukar Arone, was captured in an abandoned U.S. Seabees compound, located beside the 2 Commando compound. Mr. Arone was captured by Sgt Hillier, Tpr MacGillvray and Capt Sox. (Capt Sox had replaced Sgt Skipton on patrol for a short period of time because Sgt Skipton had a scheduled phone call to make.) Mr. Arone was fully dressed and did not offer any resistance. When Sgt Skip ton returned, he saw that the captured Somali was in good physical shape.
After the capture, Capt Sox ordered Pte Brown, who had been assigned to guard the 2 Commando gate from 2000 to 2300 hours, to locate the person in charge of front gate security to tell him to come back to where the prisoner was being held. Pte Brown found MCpl Matchee, who was the second in command to Sgt Boland (and Pte Brown's and Pte Brocklebank's immediate superior) and returned with him to Capt Sox. Capt Sox then assigned MCpl Matchee to guard the prisoner.
By this time Mr. Arone was bound by his ankles and wrists and had a baton stuck between his arms and his body behind his back. Over the course of the next two and a half to three hours, Mr. Arone was severely and brutally beaten and burned with cigarettes by MCpl Matchee, with the acquiescence and perhaps the help of Pte Brown. Mr Arone was rendered unconscious from time to time by the beatings. When conscious, he reportedly was required to yell "Canada, Canada".
Sgt Boland arrived shortly before 2100 hours to relieve MCpl Matchee.
At that point, Maj Seward, Capt Sox, MWO Mills, and WO Murphy
were in or around the bunker. They left shortly after Sgt Boland
arrived. At about 2130 hours, Sgt Boland and Sgt Skipton cut off
the plastic cuffs binding Mr. Arone's ankles and arranged for
looser wrist bindings. While Sgt Boland was present, Sgt Skipton
secured the baton by pulling a sash cord over one end of it, pulling
the cord over a beam in the roof of the bunker and tying it to
the other end of the baton.
While Sgt Boland was present, MCpl Matchee retied Mr. Arone's ankles. He also removed one of Mr. Arone's garments and tied it around the young Somali's head. MCpl Matchee then proceeded to pour water over Mr Arone's head. Sgt Boland told him to stop or the prisoner would suffocate. (Sgt Boland's testimony suggested that MCpl Matchee may have been trying to give the Somali prisoner a drink by pouring water on his cheek.) MCpl Matchee remained for some time during Sgt Boland's guard duty, which lasted from 2100 to 2200 hours. MCpl Matchee then left the bunker and returned later with Pte Brown, who was to relieve Sgt Boland.
In Sgt Boland's presence, Pte Brown punched Mr Arone in the jaw (although in Sgt Boland's court martial testimony he referred only to Pte Brown having said something to the prisoner). As Sgt Boland went off duty, he said to Pte Brown and MCpl Matchee, "I don't care what you do, just don't kill the guy." (According to Sgt Boland, he had remarked "don't kill him", and he described this as having been said "in a facetious sort of way, sarcastic".)
MCpl Matchee stayed in the bunker with Pte Brown after 2200 hours, during which time both men hit and kicked the prisoner in his ribs and legs. MCpl Matchee also kicked Mr. Arone in his face. MCpl Matchee said to Pte Brown, "I want to kill this fucker, I want to kill this guy", and continued to beat the young Somali until his mouth bled. MCpl Matchee left to go to the tent of Cpl McKay, where he drank some beer. Sgt Boland arrived at the tent and had a beer with MCpl Matchee and Cpl McKay.
MCpl Matchee said that Pte Brown had been hitting Mr. Arone and that he, Matchee, intended to burn the soles of the Somali's feet with a cigarette. Sgt Boland reportedly said, "Don't do that, it would leave too many marks. Use a phone book on him." (During the courts martial, Sgt Boland confirmed that this discussion took place, but he said he did not believe MCpl Matchee and thought he was just trying to get a reaction. He said that his own reply was sarcastic and that the discussion of the phone book was "flip, banter", there being no phone books available.) After this conversation, Sgt Boland went to bed without returning to the bunker. MCpl Matchee returned to the bunker at about 2245 hours and proceeded, with the acquiescence or assistance of Pte Brown, to beat Mr. Arone to death.
Sgt Boland testified at the courts martial that he believed Pte Brown to be a weak soldier from whom he would not have expected aggressive treatment of a prisoner. He also claimed that he was not aware of the aggressive tendencies of MCpl Matchee, who had just been assigned to his section. However, there was other evidence that Sgt Boland knew what MCpl Matchee was like and that MCpl Matchee's reputation as a bully was well known within 4 Platoon.
Pte Brocklebank had gone to bed early on the night of March 16th, suffering from dysentery, without any knowledge that he would be assigned to guard duty later that night. From the time he went to bed until he was awakened by MCpl Matchee he did not get up, and he had no knowledge of the capture of Shidane Arone. However, at about 2300 hours, MCpl Matchee awakened Pte Brocklebank, saying "You're on shift. I got a surprise for you." As Pte Brocklebank was on his way to his sentry post at the 2 Commando gate, he was ordered by MCpl Matchee to come to the bunker. Pte Brown testified at the courts-martial that Pte Brocklebank arrived at the bunker at about 2308 hours to relieve him from guard duty.
At the bunker, MCpl Matchee told Pte Brocklebank to give him his pistol. Pte Brown testified at the courts martial that Pte Brocklebank seemed puzzled by this and told MCpl Matchee, "but it's loaded". Responding to an order from MCpl Matchee, Pte Brocklebank handed over his weapon, which was then held to the head of the prisoner by MCpl Matchee. According to evidence at the courts martial, MCpl Matchee held the pistol to Mr. Arone's head and told Pte Brown to take his picture. Existing photographs leave no room for doubt that Mr. Arone had, at that time, suffered a very severe beating. After this, MCpl Matchee returned Pte Brocklebank's weapon to him and Pte Brown left the bunker.
Pte Brocklebank remained outside the bunker while MCpl Matchee continued torturing the prisoner. While he was urinating at the north-west corner of the compound, Pte Brown heard Mr. Arone screaming. At one point, MCpl Matchee left to get a cigarette, leaving Pte Brocklebank alone with the prisoner. Pte Brocklebank provided a written statement on March 29, 1993, in which he stated that at the end of his shift "I was leaving to get the next sentry up. I told the CP [command post] to watch the bunker and I left to make my rounds." At his court martial, Pte Brocklebank testified that he had meant to say in his statement, ''watch the front gate" and not "watch the bunker". However, when Pte Brocklebank left the bunker, he did not try to stop Mr. Arone's ordeal by reporting the matter to any of MCpl Matchee's superiors.
At about 11:45 p. m., Pte Brocklebank woke Cpl Glass, who was to take the next gate sentry duty. Pte Brocklebank also woke Cpl McKay so that he could make his telephone call home. While waiting to use the phone, Pte Brocklebank told Cpl McKay that MCpl Matchee had beaten the prisoner, and that he thought that what was going on was wrong.
A number of Canadian soldiers passed the bunker where Mr. Arone was being held, but no one made any attempt to stop the beating. Cpl McDonald saw Pte Brown and MCpl Matchee beating Mr. Arone before the arrival of Pte Brocklebank. He returned to the command post where he told his superior officer, Sgt Gresty, that "the Somali prisoner is getting a good shit kicking". Sgt Gresty took no action to go out and stop MCpl Matchee.
MCpl Giasson was on sentry duty within 427 Squadron lines from 2000 to 2400 hours on March 16th. During the course of his rounds, at about 2315 hours, MCpl Giasson stopped at the bunker where the prisoner was held and witnessed some of the beating. At that time, he testified at the courts martial, Mr. Arone was bleeding from the lip and looked in rough shape.
MCpl Matchee remarked to MCpl Giasson that in Somalia, the police would shoot the prisoner, and that "in Canada we can't do it but here they let us do it, and the NCO are aware of it". He stated that MCpl Matchee then took a two- to three-foot hollow aluminum pipe that he, MCpl Giasson, carried with him on his rounds. He testified at the courts martial that he did not intervene because he feared for his own safety. The next morning, he and his partner, MCpl Alaire, reported the incident to the CO.
Pte Glass testified at the courts martial that Sgt Lloyd had previously
told him that there was a prisoner in the bunker who had to be
guarded as part of his gate security shift. Pte Glass told Sgt
Skipton that MCpl Matchee was beating the Somali prisoner shortly
after he entered the area of the bunker. At about 2400 hours,
Pte Glass asked Sgt Hillier to come and look at the prisoner.
After seeing Mr. Arone, Sgt Hillier went to the command post and
informed the duty officer, WO Reese, about Mr. Arone's condition.
While Sgt Hillier was at the command post, Sgt Skipton entered
the bunker, removed the cuffs which had been placed on the young
Somali's wrists and checked for a pulse. When he could not find
one, Sgt Skipton went to the command post to inform Sgt Hillier,
who went to awaken Capt Sox to inform him of the prisoner's condition.
During the time that Mr. Arone was being tortured and beaten to death, there were a number of Canadian soldiers in both the command and sentry posts. The distance from the command post to the bunker was 84 feet; from the sentry post to the bunker, 59 feet; from the bunker to the observation tower in Service Commando (across the road from the 2 Commando compound), 214 feet. At about 2200 hours, Cpl MacDonald, Sgt Gresty, Mohammed (the interpreter), Maj Seward, MWO Mills, and Capt Sox were in the command post. Cpl MacDonald reported hearing a "yelp" from the bunker. Cpl MacDonald testified at Sgt Gresty's court martial: "I recall everybody kind of looking in the direction of the bunker, and then just kind of went back to what they were doing." There was also evidence that soldiers in the observation tower heard screaming (at a distance of 214 feet).
Shortly after midnight, Mr. Arone was dead. Most of the beating was administered by MCpl Matchee. Pte Brown was present during much but not all of the beating. Pte Brown admitted that at an early stage of the prisoner's ordeal he had punched him once in the jaw and kicked him twice in the leg. There was evidence from other soldiers who visited the bunker that Pte Brown appeared calm or bored, or as if "he didn't want to be there", or was "upset" or "shocked". MCpl Matchee, on the other hand, according to witnesses at the courts-martial, appeared "pumped up", and spoke frequently and expressed satisfaction at what was happening. Evidence was also heard at the courts-martial that Pte Brown did not like MCpl Matchee and was scared of him. MCpl Matchee was described as a violent person with a quick temper, and he had apparently been drinking that night.
The exact cause of Mr. Arone's death was never determined, because
no autopsy was performed. Medical evidence based on photographs
and the description of the beating was that the death was probably
caused by brain swelling resulting from the cumulative effects
of blows to the head. Lacerations on the deceased's face were
probably caused by blows with a fist, and such blows may have
had a concussive effect, contributing to Mr. Arone's death. Death
was preceded, however, by prolonged and severe pain and suffering.
Maj Anthony Seward, OC of 2 Commando, ordered MWO Mills to arrest MCpl Clayton Matchee on March 18, 1993, on suspicion of the murder of a Somali prisoner. He was taken to a detention facility and turned over to guards from 1 Commando. The detention bunker, which was located in the headquarters compound, was approximately five feet six inches in height with open air "windows" all around the six by ten foot interior. There was no door on the structure.
MWO Mills ordered that a cot and water be brought for MCpl Matchee, and a guard, MCpl Godin, searched the kit of his prisoner and completed a record of the personal property in it. He also searched MCpl Matchee but removed nothing (a knife had been taken from MCpl Matchee at some time before this search). Guard duty was turned over routinely as shifts changed. Just before lunch on March 19th, the prisoner was visited by Sgt Martin for about two minutes to make sure he understood his right to legal counsel and to give him a number to call for duty counsel.
Sgt Guay and Cpl Blais took over guard duty from MCpl Godin at
noon on March 19th. Sgt Guay, a friend of MCpl Matchee, helped
take some photos with the camera MCpl Matchee still had with him.
Following his shift, Sgt Guay also carried a letter, which MCpl
Matchee had written to his wife, to Cpl Matt Mackay to be mailed.
It has been reported that MCpl Matchee mentioned in the letter
that he would be able to see his daughter soon, as he was being
flown back to Canada to stand trial. Another shift change occurred,
but at that time the two new guards did not actually check on
An hour later, one of the guards, Cpl Petit, entered the detention bunker to conduct the hourly check. He found MCpl Matchee hanging from one of the beams in the roof by a bootlace, his arms free and his feet barely touching the ground. He was about one metre from the camp cot, the only piece of furniture in the bunker. Cpl Petit immediately called for help and cut the bootlace to lower the prisoner to the ground. Reportedly, first aid, including CPR, was administered immediately.
The headquarters log indicates that Maj Armstrong and Cpl Adkins
arrived within minutes, along with an ambulance. Maj Armstrong
and a U.S. medic who was in the vicinity began resuscitation.
(A DND photographer who was visiting the base took photographs
while this was happening.) MCpl Matchee was transported to the
Canadian medical facility in the Service Commando compound within
10 to 12 minutes of the time he was found. There he was further
resuscitated by the emergency room staff and placed in intensive
care. The next day, MCpl Matchee was evacuated via Hercules aircraft
to the U.S. 86th Evac Hospital in Mogadishu.
A Significant Incident Report (SIR) was sent from Belet Huen to CJFS headquarters in Mogadishu to report that MCpl Matchee had apparently attempted to hang himself. The report indicated that the media already knew of the incident, that Col Labbé had already made a statement to the press, and that the next of kin had not yet been notified. CJFS communicated its own SIR to Ottawa, reporting the apparent attempted suicide, and also sent an exclusive message to the DCDS at NDHQ requesting military police and legal support.
On March 19, 1993, the DCDS, VAdm Murray, sent a memo to the Minister's office (as well as to the Deputy Minister, the CDS and other senior officers and officials) on the incident. It stated that: (a) a Military Police investigation was ordered; (b) MCpl Matchee had been placed under close custody; (c) MCpl Matchee had attempted suicide; (d) whatever role he may have had with respect to the incident involving the Somali death was unknown; and (e) that members of the media were present near the scene of the attempted suicide and that a media report was therefore expected. By the end of that day, the military investigators had been given their orders to travel to Somalia, and the DCDS, VAdm Murray, had advised the Minister's staff officer, Richard Clair (in the presence of Robert Fowler, the Deputy Minister) of the apparent attempted suicide and of the decision to order a Military Police investigation, under the direction of MWO Paul Dowd, because of the probable death by foul play of a Somali in CF custody.
Just before the military police investigators arrived from Canada, Maj Seward indicated in his diary that he was "anticipating a difficult forthcoming week of questioning followed almost inevitably by a court martial". He wrote to his wife on March 22, 1993 that he had ordered Capt Sox to take the initiative to apprehend Somalis who were repeatedly penetrating the wire surrounding the Canadian compound, but that he had explained his intention clearly and he had not wanted a killing such as had occurred on March 4th.
On March 23rd, Maj Seward's diary entry stated:
My thoughts are for my well being while I dread the forthcoming investigations. It is, however, my intention to openly and readily state that I did order Somali intruders to be abused during the conduct of apprehension and arrest. To what extent this order caused MCpl Matchee and Tpr Brown to beat to death a Somali intruder will be a matter for litigation. I may not be found criminally responsible but my military career is certainly finished. I expect to be relieved of my [appointment]; possibly before a seemingly pending redeployment.
On March 24th, MCpl Matchee was evacuated to a U.S. military hospital
in Germany. When examined by physicians in Germany on March 25th,
it was determined that there was a 70 per cent chance that he
would remain in a reduced-capacity state. MCpl Matchee was flown
back to Ottawa on March 26, 1993.
Documents indicate that there were two investigations containing contradictory information about the apparent attempted suicide of MCpl Matchee. In a June 1994 Land Force Command (LFC) memo concerning release of information under the Access to Information Act, two versions of the investigation report are mentioned. The memo recommended that only the second version be considered for disclosure for two reasons: first, because the first report had been prepared soon after the incident and was incomplete, and therefore had the "potential of reflecting badly upon the Canadian Forces"; and second, the first report contained information about the boot lace used by MCpl Matchee to hang himself.
The LFC memo also stated that the CO had explained that for operational reasons the decision was made to leave the prisoner with his boots and laces, but the memo also stated that this could be misinterpreted to mean that MCpl Matchee had hanged himself with his own boot laces, which, it noted, was not the case. The memo referred to a number of statements indicating that no one could explain where the black boot lace used in the hanging had come from, and it also stated that MCpl Matchee was found wearing boots complete with laces.
On March 23rd, military police investigators arrived in Nairobi
en route to Belet Huen, and by April 1st, four other arrests had
taken place: those of Pte Brocklebank, Pte Brown, Sgt Boland,
and Sgt Gresty.
There were 50 documented incidents, including mistreatment of detainees, killing of Somalis, theft of public property, and self-inflicted gunshot wounds, that occurred between the start of deployment and March 16, 1993, the date that Shidane Arone was killed. Summary investigations had been called promptly in eight of these incidents, but none was investigated by Military Police until after Mr. Arone's death, despite several incidents involving potentially serious criminal or disciplinary matters or Crown liability.
Thirteen of these cases were eventually investigated, but investigations
into eight of them were begun only over a year later. In 23 incidents,
there were charges laid, and convictions and sentencing of offenders
followed. However, there is no record of any investigation of
these 23 cases. (Once the Military Police unit arrived in Mogadishu
in June 1993, during the time of the redeployment of the CF almost
every incident was investigated by the Military Police.)
One of the last serious incidents while the CARBG was still in Somalia occurred on May 3, 1993. A Significant Incident Report reported that a member of 3 Commando, MCpl Smith, had accidentally discharged his C7 rifle, resulting in the death of another 3 Commando member, Cpl Abel. It was first reported that the accidental discharge occurred while the soldier was cleaning his rifle. Later, it was reported to Maj Buonamici that MCpl Smith had been dry-firing his weapon without the magazine when it fired unexpectedly.
A summary investigation found that MCpl Smith had placed the magazine
into his weapon while incorrectly holding the loaded weapon. The
summary investigation concluded that he should not be charged
until after the findings of a military police investigation, which
eventually concluded that it was an accidental death. Nevertheless,
he was later charged with negligent performance of duty and criminal
negligence causing death, and a court martial was ordered for
December 15, 1993.
It was also reported on May 3, 1993 that the Royal Canadian Dragoons
had mishandled a number of prisoners at Matabaan. Following an
investigation, evidence disclosed that under an Acting Officer
Commanding (Maj Kampman, OC of the RCD, was away) a unit arrested
three children between the ages of 9 and 14 and detained them
for 48 hours in a sandbag bunker. They also permitted a Somali
interpreter to hang a sign which said "thief'' at the bunker.
The responsible officers were counselled by Maj Kampman when he
learned of the incident. This incident was reopened in September
1994, to determine whether Col Labbé's January 1993 order
to LCol Mathieu to prevent the public humiliation of Somali prisoners
had been communicated to the RCD. In his statement to the military
police, Maj Kampman did not recall receiving any such direction
from LCol Mathieu.
A number of incidents involved alcohol. One occurred on HMCS Preserver,
during which an intoxicated CARBG member tried to take over the
ship during Christmas dinner. Another incident involved a female
corporal, who acted in a discreditable fashion while drunk in
Mombasa on April 2, 1993. And on the night of May 25, 1993, two
unarmed CF soldiers dressed in civilian clothing were apprehended
attempting to enter 1 Commando lines in Mogadishu through a barrier
of concertina wire. Both men smelled strongly of alcohol and appeared
drunk. They admitted to having been in a prohibited area, a brothel
in the Italian zone, allegedly to locate other members of their
platoon. Both soldiers were later fined $500.
On February 13, 1993, a CF soldier seized a .38-calibre revolver from a Somali employed on a food convoy by the International Red Cross. When the Somali asked for it to be returned, he was informed by the officer responsible for the soldier that the weapon had already been returned. An anonymous caller reported that the soldier had mailed the revolver to his wife, and the soldier later confessed. During the investigation, the soldier told the regimental Military Police that when he tried to return the weapon to the Red Cross they did not want it. The investigation was reopened when the Military Police platoon arrived in May, and it was found that the weapon seizure had been lawful. However, it was concluded that the weapon had not been turned over to the chain of command in accordance with CARBG policy. The revolver was never recovered, and the Canadian soldier was repatriated to Petawawa.
On the night of February 15,1993, CF personnel allegedly entered the residence of a Somali and stole a ceremonial sword. A complaint was eventually relayed to 2 Commando, because the owner had recognized one of the individuals in the group as the interpreter for that commando. On investigating the complaint, Capt Reinelt reported that patrol logs did not place 2 Commando soldiers in the vicinity when the theft occurred. However; the regimental Military Police made further inquiries and learned that soldiers from 2 Commando and Combat Engineers Regiment had, in fact, been in the residence of the victim on the day of the theft to remove some explosives and that one of the soldiers had wanted to buy the sword.
The regimental Military Police interviewed some of the personnel involved but was not able to obtain corroboration of the allegation that, following the owner's refusal to sell his sword, some of the same soldiers had returned and taken it at gunpoint. When the military police platoon arrived in Somalia in May, they reopened the investigation and found that the interpreter had been employed on the date of the theft and that 2 Commando logs confirmed the victim's claim that soldiers had been in his residence that day. The primary suspect was MCpl Matchee, but he could not be interviewed after his suicide attempt, and the file was closed. Damages of $200 were paid to the Somali complainant.
During the month of February 1993, Col Labbé participated in a house-clearing operation during which a Somali vehicle was searched. Approximately 5,000 Somali shillings were improperly seized from the vehicle (valued at $1 Cdn). Col Labbé gave some of the shillings to HMCS Preserver personnel who were travelling with him at the time, and he also distributed a quantity to personnel at CJFS headquarters in Mogadishu. This incident was investigated by the Military Police, and Col Labbé acknowledged that he had taken the funds as souvenirs.
At the beginning of June 1993, an alleged shortage of funds in the canteen of 1 Commando was reported to the Military Police by the OC. The military police concluded that it would not be possible to prove who was responsible and suggested that the honour system at the canteen was resulting in pilfering. The amount of the operating deficit which could be attributed to theft was approximately $1,400.
Throughout the deployment to Somalia, there appears to have been a reluctance among senior officers to involve Military Police. In two particular cases, there was a clear indication of possible criminal intent - the incident involving the theft of a revolver and the death of Shidane Arone - and in both cases, Military Police were not called in until after a confession had been made. In the death of Shidane Arone, the 2 Commando CC, Maj Seward, knew shortly after midnight on March 17th that the Somali's injuries were suspicious, but Military Police were not called to investigate until March 19th after Pte Brown had reported his involvement in the death.
Assuming there would be an investigation into the shooting incident on March 4th, Military Police prepared to deploy immediately. However, their departure was delayed for five weeks. The reason for the delay was that the DCDS, VAdm Murray, and Col Labbé had discussed the incident and agreed that the Military Police should not be involved until the results of the in-theatre CO's investigation ordered by Col Labbé were available.
Although Col Labbé had initially ordered that the CO's investigation of the March 4th incident be completed within 24 hours, the first report of the incident was not received by NDHQ until March 23,1993. Military Police were assigned to investigate the March 4th incident only after MP investigating the death of Shidane Arone had obtained information that there had been a questionable shooting on March 4th, and after the JAG, dissatisfied with the report received from Col Labbé, had requested further investigation.
The planned UNOSOM II operation consisted of two interrelated activities. The first phase was the maintenance of a secure environment, within which the second phase, "national reconciliation" would take place. The secure environment had been established by the U.S.-led UNITAF coalition. Responsibility for maintenance of that security was assumed by UN forces under the UNOSOM II mandate. National reconciliation had begun with the meeting of various factions in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in early January 1993. Agreements were reached on a process for implementation of a cease-fire and disarmament and for the formation of an ad hoc committee to oversee the process. A second meeting took place in mid-March 1993 to continue planning for the transition.
Subsequent discussions between senior Canadian officers and UNOSOM military staff indicated, however, that the transition was progressing at a faster rate than had been anticipated, and that UNOSOM would be able to take over from UNITAF on or before May 15,1993. Because of the high degree of stability in the Belet Huen sector, it was also evident that the transfer of operational responsibility for the Canadian area of responsibility could occur by June 1,1993.
Redeployment planning and close-out administration of the CJFS in Somalia was a large and complicated undertaking. Return of equipment and materiel to Canada required the loading of approximately 300 sea containers, and vehicles had to be cleaned to meet Agriculture Canada inspection standards, a task that took a day for each vehicle. The bulk of this materiel had to be moved by road convoy from Belet Huen to Mogadishu, and accounting procedures had to be put in place.
CF personnel were scheduled to return to Canada under control of NDHQ on weekly flights beginning in mid-May, with the main movement occurring about June 11th, approximately 10 days after the Belet Huen sector had been turned over to UN forces. On May 1,1993, UNITAF turned over operations in Somalia to UNOSOM II forces, and security at the airport and seaport in Mogadishu was no longer the responsibility of U.S. troops.
Intelligence reports indicated that increased violence was possible, and extra vigilance and caution were advised. As CF troops left Belet Huen in stages to travel to Mogadishu for departure from Somalia, security precautions were increased. In addition to their routine tasks in preparation for re-deployment, Canadian troops were also given responsibility for providing security in designated areas during the redeployment. Members of 1 Commando were assigned to assist the National Support Element in securing the old port area of Mogadishu.
In spite of some minor incidents, redeployment activities continued, and Canadian operations in Somalia gradually drew to a close. With the exception of a small number of CF members assigned to UNOSOM II, all Canadian troops had left Somalia by June 26,1993. The movement of CF personnel was completed using military and civilian flights as well as civilian sea lift. USAF aircraft were required to transfer heavy equipment and machinery back to North America.
Because of the media attention following the murder of Shidane Arone, it was expected that the return of CJFS to Canada would be widely covered. A public relations strategy was developed to counteract negative media stories; it included emphasis on the positive accomplishments of CF personnel in Somalia. Because of the staggered return flights of CJFS personnel, it was determined that a major welcome home ceremony would not be feasible.
Returning personnel were provided with advice and instructions in a redeployment communications plan issued by Col Labbé. In it he stated:
[T]he vast majority of thinking Canadians, the Department of National Defence and your families are proud of your accomplishments... You must remember that negative, irresponsible journalism generated, for the most part by the misinformed who have never been to Somalia, was propagated for reasons beyond our control and will very quickly [lose] the public interest... The international community recognizes your accomplishments [and] when the dust has settled, even the few who have been [misled] by sensationalist journalism will realize and acknowledge the truly valiant mission you have accomplished in Somalia.
Redeployment of CARBG personnel to CFB Petawawa was completed on June 17,1993. The de Faye board of inquiry, which had convened on April 28,1993 while CF were still deployed in Somalia, was suspended when Adm Anderson decided to divide its proceedings into two phases. The de Faye Board's Phase I report was released in July 1993. A series of Somalia related courts martial followed as well.