Jane's Defence Weekly


January 8, 2003


US Special Forces Give Colombians Anti-Terrorism Training


By Kim Burger, JDW Staff Reporter, Washington, DC


The US Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) plans to provide Colombia with new

levels of intelligence to assist its operations against insurgent groups and

to instruct their armed forces in applying that information to operations,

the director of operations for USSOUTHCOM Brig Gen Galen Jackman has

disclosed to Jane´s Defence Weekly.


As part of an expansion of its involvement in the region, the US government

no longer limits its aid to counter-narcotics efforts in Colombia. It now

permits the helicopters, intelligence and training provided to Bogota under

that programme to be used to fight terrorism.


The USA has cited as terrorist organisations the right-wing paramilitary

United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia, the leftist Revolutionary Armed

Forces of Colombia and the Colombian National Liberation Army.


"Our main objective is to help transform the Colombian military to a force

that is capable of defeating the terrorist organisations, establishing

presence and defence, in order to provide a safe and secure environment and

governance throughout Colombia," Gen Jackman, told JDW on 18 December 2002.

He added that Colombia has recently crafted a "well thought out, systematic

way" for re-establishing governmental authority throughout the country.


The extension of aid to combat terrorism is consistent with the USA´s

efforts to reward countries that pledge support for its `war on terrorism´.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell said in December 2002 that the US

government intends to forward $573 million in aid to Colombia in Fiscal Year

2003 (FY03), bringing the total since 2000 to nearly $2 billion. US

officials plan to include funding for drug eradication and air bridge denial

in FY04, he added.


US military assistance includes greater intelligence sharing, now that

restrictions are lifted on the USA seeking out or providing information to

Colombia on matters outside the scope of counter-narcotics activities. Gen

Jackman would not identify what US assets are deployed in the region, but

said USSOUTHCOM can support Colombia through the provision of signals

intelligence, imagery and human intelligence (HUMINT). US troops will

provide the Colombian armed forces with planning assistance for fusing and

analysing that information, as well as its own intelligence collection. The

aim will be to help forces create a common picture for operations, Gen

Jackman said.


Further, the USA will instruct a Colombian commando unit in tactical

intelligence techniques and procedures, and provide equipment such as small

arms, communications, optics, night operations and soldier systems. Much of

the focus for this unit is on HUMINT, as is President Alvaro Uribe´s new

informant programme, Gen Jackman noted. "HUMINT is absolutely critical, as

opposed to the focus on a lot of technology", he added.


Military training is a major part of the USA´s expanded co-operation, with

much of it aimed at the Colombians being more proactive than defensive,

officials said. The commando unit, to be modelled on a US Army Ranger

battalion, will learn long-range tactical level reconnaissance and

surveillance, and direct action focused on terrorist leaders, Gen Jackman

said. Troops have already been selected for the commando battalion and have

begun preliminary training. The unit is set to be operational by the end of



US instructors in January 2003 will begin training up to two brigades in

infrastructure protection, primarily to confront groups targeting the Cano

Limon pipeline in Arauca province. The brigades will also be capable of

protecting electric pylons and communications relay stations.


US forces have also helped Colombia reorganise a counter-narcotics brigade

into smaller, more agile battalions comprised of more experienced soldiers.

Training that began previously with a Colombian counter-terrorism unit will



Further USSOUTHCOM plans include blocking weapons and ammunition headed into

Colombia, much of it flowing through the drug trade. The Joint Interagency

Task Force East, which is involved in monitoring narcotics transit to assist

law enforcement, has taken on the arms interdiction mission. Gen Jackman

added that the task force will also monitor illegal aliens coming into the

USA from South America.









Adam Isacson

Senior Associate, Demilitarization Program

Center for International Policy

1755 Massachusetts Ave NW, Suite 312

Washington DC 20036

+202-232-3317 fax 232-3440