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Cablegate: Air Bridge Denial: December 2003 Program Update

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

id: 13666
date: 2/2/2004 13:51
refid: 04BOGOTA1017
origin: Embassy Bogota
classification: UNCLASSIFIED
destination: 04SEC2003STATE265910
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

----------------- header ends ----------------





BOGOTA 00686)

REF: A. SEC2003 STATE 265910

1. (U) Summary: Following is the December Air Bridge Denial
(ABD) activity report required by ref A. There were over
2400 tracks sorted, of which 26 were declared Unidentified,
Assumed Suspect (UAS) Tracks, with one pPhase I and two
Phase II events during the month of December. ABD program
issues of concern include the availability of interceptors
and focused operations. End Summary.

ABD Tracks

2. (U) In December 2003, over 2400 tracks were sorted, of
which 26 were declared UAS aircraft. The GOC did not react
to 15 UAS, five due to non-availability of assets or
proximity to borders/international waters, six due to the
track information being dated or insufficient, and the
remaining four were eventually identified as friendly.

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Phase II Events

3. (SBU) On 11 December 11, 2003, the Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE) Airborne Early Warning ( AEW) P-3
aircraft discovered a track in nearthe the Colombia-Braziln
border in the Dog's Head area. The Citation was airborne,
and responded, and . JIATF-S declared it a UAS. The
Citation made radar then visual contact with the UAS. The
UAS,, a white single-engine aircraft, thatthen landed in
San Pedro, an illegal airfield near Caruru in Vaupes
Department. 7 to 10 individuals offloaded tThe aircraft was
then off-loaded,then moved off the runway, and
into trees at the eastern end of the runway and covered it
with a tarp. The Citation completed pPhase I, and . Phase
II was requested and approved but the Air and Ground Safety
Monitors did not relay this to JIATF-S. When the phase II
was accomplished, JIATF-S objected and during the ensuing
discussions, the interceptor aircraft on station ran low on
fuel and had to return to base.where although the FAC
Commander gave approval for phase II, this step was never
transmitted as completed over the radio, so JIATF objected
when Phase II was completed without the approval having been
relayed. The A-37 only had about 5 minutes station time
available, so while the objection was discussed they had to
leave. The Citation had been airborne for one and a half
hours before phase I started, so they would not be able to
stay for a long time. The Citation also ran low on fuel and
returned to base, so the event was terminated. and the
Citation returned to base. There was talk about sending
another A-37 and another Citation and starting as a new
event but eventually there was no further action. The review
of this event underscored the is event emphasized theneed
for safety monitors to adhere to the checklist and ensure
that continuous, effective communication is maintained
throughout the event.emphasize checklist step completion and
getting acknowledgement for these.

4. (SBU) On 16 December 16, 2003, the ICE P-3 reported a
track about to enter Colombia from Brazil in the Dog's Head
area from Brazil. The Citation tracker was airborne and
entered an orbit. A Tucano interceptor based inwas airborne
from San Jose de Guaviare was also airborne. The target
made repeated a couple of feints towards Colombian Airspace,
but e. Each time , they returned to Brazilian airspace to
avoid interception. after the Citation maneuvered to
intercept. The target orbited for 1 hour and 15 minutes
before it made it's final move.

Once the target crossing into Colombian airspace. ed the
border, The Citation and the Tucano moved in for the
interception. . Phase I was completed . The target headed
towards Caruru with the Tucano in trail.and Phase II was
approved, but at this time by then it was too dark for the
Tucano to maintainkeep visual contact and safely fire
warning shots. The runway at Caruru was illuminated,
however, enabling the target aircraft lit up in time for the
target to land. The target aircraft was then moved to the
vicinity of structures, at which point GOC authorities
elected not to proceed with the event. N and it was
immediately pushed into a hangar surrounded by structures,
making it impossible to proceed any further. An AC-47 had
been scrambled towards the area but Host Nation decided to
end the event at that point.

NOTE: The GOCHost Nation has stationedmoved some Tucano
aircraft to San Jose de Guaviare, which
effectivelypractically doubles the interceptor availability
in the Dog's Head area. Two Tucanos were available for this
event. San Jose is almost halfway between Apiay and Caruru,
but the runway is not usable by the A-37. Though the
Tucanos are considerably slower than the A-37s and have
shorter range, but having themtheir availability at this
location gives enhances the possibility of completing
interceptions/events in this critical area of Colombia. End
noteus greater possibility of completing an intercept.

Ongoing Activities

3. An ABD IPR was held 9-10 December. As a result, it was
agreed to focus ABD assets with the ICE P-3 when one is in
Colombia to maximize use of that asset. This was done
starting mid December and will be resumed once a P-3 returns
to Colombia, which is expected to happen mid Jan 04. Next
IPR will be 29 Jan 04 ay Key West. The February 24-25, 2004
IPR will also serve as a semi-annual Program Management
Review and will be held at Key West.

Ongoing Issues

45. (SBU) Interceptor availability continues to be a
concern. Most activity has centered in the Dog
Head's/Caruru area, but the distance from interceptor bases
and lack of GOC ground-based forces in this area has limited
our ability to bring events to a conclusion. All four
aircraft destroyed thus far have been in the northern half
of Colombia, where fighters are located more closely to
targets. With no fixed date for the arrival of the OV-10s
undergoing maintenance in the United States, and nearly half
the A-37 fleet down for long-term maintenance/non-
availability of parts, MOD officials have again raised the
possibility of acquiring additional interceptor and tracker
aircraft. During the December 9-10, 2003, ABD Interim
Program Review (IPR), the GOC agreed to focus its limited
ABD assets (trackers and interceptors) in those areas where
the ICE P-3 wwis programmed to operate. The USG agreed to
explore means of upgrading facilities to permit the basing
of interceptors closer to the Colombia-Brazil border. The
GOC also has plans to station ground-forces in this area
during first quarter of 2004. The next IPR is scheduled for
January 29, 2004, in Key West. The February 24-25, 2004,
IPR will also serve as a semi-annual Program Management

CY 2003 Nnumbers

65. (SBU) The ABD program was activein action for the
finallast four months of 2003. There were twelve12 ABD
events in Colombian airspace, in which seven aircraft were
forced to land. There were four Phase I, two Phase II, and
6six Phase III events resulting in with 4five destroyed
aircraft destroyed and one receiving anundetermined amount
of damage. There were 6Six aircraft and one Go-Fast boat
were captured andwith a total of 6.9 MT of cocaine were
The eleven destroyed/impounded aircraft (5/6) for one
trimester compares favorably to full-year numbers achieved
under the previous ABD program in the 1998 (16/12) and 1999
(15/16) timeframes.

7. (SBU) Comment: The ABD program, re-started in August 2003
following a two-year hiatus, is effectively a new program
with new personnel and procedures. We are in constant
contact with the GOC and the Joint Interagency Task Force
South (JIATF-S) to identify and exploit possible program
improvements. The partial-year results achieved in 2003
are, in our view, all the more impressive when viewed in the
context of a work in progress. End comment. Most of the
activity has centered in the Dog Head's/Caruru area.
However, the distance from interceptor bases and lack of
government presence in the area have made most of the
activities there close calls (Four Phase I and two Phase II,
with two Phase III where the damage to the aircraft was
undetermined). All four destroyed aircraft were destroyed
in the northern half of Colombia, where fighters are more
closely located to targets. The ten destroyed/impounded
aircraft (4/6) for one quarter project to yearly numbers
similar to those obtained under ABD in 1998 (16/12) and 1999
(15/16). This in spite of new procedures, new crews,
limited fighter availability and very limited P-3 presence
during this period.


=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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