The US-led intervention in Somalia has become shrouded in controversy. Criticism has centred on two issues: the manner of the UNITAF intervention and the military escalation under UNOSOM II. This article argues that in spite of criticisms by NGOs such as African Rights, the UNITAF intervention was both warranted and effective. Focusing on the actions of the US Army, it then analyses the circumstances under which UNOSOM II was dragged into a war in Somalia in the summer of 1993. It concludes that this military escalation reflected the Army's flawed conception of peace operations which led it to believe that it could slide from consent-based peacekeeping, to coercive peace-enforcement and back again. A clearer distinction between peacekeeping and peace-enforcement would have highlighted the operational risks, requirements and the irreversible nature of the shift from the former to the latter. However, US Army doctrine on this and other points has subsequently been recast in the light of the Somalia operations.