The United States is sending 10,000 troops to Haiti to help with disaster relief. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says, however, that they will have no policing role:
The U.S. military expects to have around 10,000 troops in Haiti and in ships offshore by Monday for the massive relief effort.
Haitian President Rene Preval said on Sunday that U.S. troops will help U.N. peacekeepers keep order on Haiti's streets, where overstretched police and U.N. peacekeepers have been unable to provide full security.
In Port-au-Prince, the crippled capital, and environs U.S. troops protected food and water supplies being handed out as marauding looters emptied wrecked shops and tens of thousands of survivors waited desperately for food and medical care.
Gates told reporters on a flight to India there would be a security element to U.S. relief efforts, but added: “I haven't heard of us playing a policing role at any point.”Asked about rules of engagement, he said “as anywhere we deploy our troops, they have the authority and the right to defend themselves.”
“And they also have the right to defend innocent Haitians and members of the international community if they see something happen,” he said.
But why don’t they have a policing role? Isn’t the restoration of order the first thing Haiti needs in order for the relief supplies pouring in to get to those who need it?