Bulletin archive - Bulletin Issue8 October?December 2002
Thursday, 28 August 2008 20:31
• January 8 Delivery of 14 Black Hawk helicopters brings total to 29. 25 Huey-II helicopters deliverd later in the month.

• February 4 Bush presents his 2003 budget request of $538m in aid for Colombia, including $98m for a new army brigade to protect the Caño Limon–Coveñas pipeline operated by Occidental Petroleum, marking the first time since the Cold War that Colombia may receive non-drug military assistance. Colombia can expect to receive an additional $120m through Defense-Budget Counternarcotics Aid, bringing the proportion of military aid to around 75%. The total figure for military aid of around $508m is a significant increase over 2002.

• February 28 US Green Berets seen operating alongside Colombian military in invasion of the former safe zone, despite legislation specifying that all assistance to Colombia is solely for counter-drugs operations.

• February 22 Secretary of State Powell states USA will share intelligence, including satellite information, with Colombia.

• April 30 A federal grand jury indicts the FARC for the March 1999 murder of 3 US rights activists, despite protests from their families. This is the first time the FARC has been charged as an organization.

• May 1 Secretary of State Powell releases $104m in military aid approved in the 2002 budget despite protests from human rights groups, who insist that the Colombian army has not taken even minimal steps to sever its links with paramilitarism.

• July 23-24 Congress approves redirection of US aid to the fight against the country’s leftist rebels, releasing some 53 helicopters and 3,000 soldiers. The shift comes as part of a $28.9 billion ‘emergency’ terrorism funding package that includes another $35m for Colombia. It also authorises US personnel to engage in combat if the purpose is self-defense or rescuing US citizens, personnel, or funded contractors.

• Aug 17 President Uribe agrees to the US request to exempt US personnel acting on Colombian soil from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal.

• September 11 Some 600 US marines arrive at the Nanay naval base near Iquitos in the Peruvian Amazon. Peruvian reports indicate the marines are seeking a base to help fight rebels.

Estimated US troop deployments

Despite an official limit of 400 US military trainers and 400 US civilian contractors, most sources estimate that between 1,000 and 2,000 US personnel are operating in Colombia.

• Approximately 100 troops attached to unknown military intelligence battalion are based at the Joint Intelligence Center in the southern department of Putumayo.

• Four Special Forces teams training Colombian army counterinsurgency battalions in departments of Putumayo and Caqueta.

• Four Navy SEAL teams training Colombian marines and navy riverine operations personnel.

• At least three other teams, including military instructor pilots, instructor flight engineers and instructor gunners, training Colombian army and air force pilots in use of Huey helicopters as well as in tactical operations and close-air support.

• Intelligence personnel at five separate ground-based radar installations.

• Unknown number of personnel attached to mobile listening posts.

• Abundant security personnel for the numerous locations where US troops are based.

• Roughly 14 retired military and intelligence officers based in Bogotá to advise Colombian military high command.

• Four teams of approximately 50 men rotate around Colombian military bases at San Jose del Guaviare, Miraflores, Mariquita, Santa Marta and Puerto Asis.

• A team of around 45 ex-navy SEALS doing riverine training on contract for US State Department around Putumayo department; based out of Iquitos in Peru.