This might be difficult to read, but the bottom right corner of the building reads "Generator here", with a giant "X" underneath it, denoting where they wanted us to emplace a generator we had slung underneath the cargo hook of the aircraft. (I think this mission was flown by the famed one-wheel landing aviator, then-Major Carey Wagen)
Beware of Mission Creep. Your job is to try to get Haiti back to something approaching the way it was seconds before the quake struck. If the President wants you to do nation-building, he’ll let you know. Identify the things that only you as the American military can do and for how long you will need to do them. When the roads are open, they will not need helicopters anymore; stop flying helicopters. If you need to run a hospital until Doctors Without Borders get there, you should stop running it when they arrive. Your best people are the ones who will get you into mission creep situations the fastest. Doctors and engineers always want to make things better, and in these kinds of operations, better is the enemy of good enough.
When Col. Anderson speaks of mission creep, it's important to remember that the US launched Operation Restore Hope in Somalia a humanitarian assistance mission in December 1992. Less than a year later, Rangers, Night Stalkers, Delta Force Commandos and Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division found themselves in heavy urban combat during the battle at the Bakara Market in downtown Mogadishu (which we all remember from Black Hawk Down). Indeed, The Washington Post echoes Col. Anderson's sentiment about mission creep and the challenges of nation-building:
...development officials agree, the recovery effort must build up, not supplant, the Haitian government and civil society, starting with putting Haitian authorities at the center of a single, clearly defined plan to rebuild Port-au-Prince and its environs in a far sturdier form.
"National disasters, as awful as they are, you want to seize those moments, use that awful, awful opportunity, to strengthen the ability of national and local authorities to act for the benefit of their citizens," said Jordan Ryan, the assistant administrator of the U.N. Development Program. There is, to an extent, a development framework in place from efforts underway before the earthquake involving the Obama administration, the United Nations, a huge network of international aid groups and a Haitian government that, despite corruption, was viewed as more reliable than any in years. The United States budgeted $292 million in assistance to Haiti this year, including food aid, infrastructure funds and money to fight drug trafficking. And the Haitian economy grew by 2.5 percent in 2009, despite the global recession...
..."Haiti's going to have to change. And if they do, we ought to make a commitment to stick with the government of the day to keep the institutional development going," Zarr said. "Unless we are committed to institutional development, I fear Haiti's never going to get off this terrible treadmill it's been on."
Others aren't so sure. Putting more faith in Haitian authorities can be done only if there is a crackdown on corruption, said Stuart W. Bowen Jr., who has witnessed the tension between local empowerment and wasted aid money as special inspector general for Iraqreconstruction. The United States has spent $800 million in Haiti in five years, he said, with little to show for it.
"Certainly, at this stage, the delivery of aid should be direct and not through the government," he said. "And that process should be maintained for a while, until there is a sense of stability . . . to make sure that the government delivers the aid well."
Because nongovernmental organizations will play a central role for years to come, development veterans say, it will be up to the United Nations to ensure that their efforts are coordinated, as was done after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.