During the summer of 1994, at the height of Operation Able Manner, the Coast Guard led a joint effort to rescue or interdict tens of thousands of illegal immigrants who were fleeing Haiti largely for economic reasons. Shifting and ambiguous national strategies, a lack of third-country support, and no service or national mass-migration plans complicated the joint response to the challenging humanitarian crisis. Because of the lessons garnered from Able Manner and the heightened focus on border security after 9/11, the Coast Guard has since worked with other federal agencies to create, exercise, and regularly update an extensive plan that, despite some weaknesses, will adequately guide the operational commander in planning for and leading a mass-migration response.
Learning from Operation Able Manner
The U.S. Coast Guard has a plan to respond to future mass-migration crises—but does that mean it will be better prepared?
By Commander Richard J. Wester, U.S. Coast Guard