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Cablegate: Combined Colombian Police and Army Aviation

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

UNCLAS BOGOTA 002052

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR INL/LP AND WHA/AND

E.O 12358: N/A
TAGS: SNAR MOPS MASS CO
SUBJECT: COMBINED COLOMBIAN POLICE AND ARMY AVIATION
OPERATIONS

Ref: Bogota 0956

1. (SBU) Summary: Colombian Army (COLAR) helicopters
recently supported a Colombian National Police (CNP)
airmobile assault on cocaine hydrochlide (HCL) processing
laboratories. The eight-day operation was notable not only
for its operational results - three laboratories were
destroyed and nearly two metric tons of cocaine HCL seized -
but also for the cooperation between the COLAR and the CNP.
Employing combined assets improved effectiveness. End
summary.

2. (SBU) Following a spike in hostile ground fire directed
at aerial eradication aircraft in CY2003 (Reftel), a number
of countermeasures were undertaken to improve security. In
addition to increased use of intelligence, ground troops
conducted active screening operations in advance of aerial
operations in areas of higher risk. The effect was a nearly
fifty percent reduction in ground fire impacts in CY2004
compared to CY2003.

3. (SBU) Aerial spray operations in Narino Department have
always been difficult and meteorological conditions limit
the number of days when spray is possible. This major coca-
producing area is highly contested between AUC and FARC
elements. The CNP Antinarcotics Police (DIRAN) had
insufficient available assets to conduct effective
operations.

4. (SBU) In response to our request, COLMIL Commander
General Ospina directed that COLAR's Plan Colombia
Helicopter assets support the DIRAN operation. A Joint Task
Force was established: the COLAR provided three UH-60
Blackhawks and four UH-II gunships, and one UH-60 Blackhawk,
three UH1-N gunships, and one C-26 intelligence/command-and-
control platform was provided by the CNP. The CNP also
provided 80 DIRAN Special Forces (Junglas) troops.

5. (SBU) The eight-day operation was successful: three
cocaine HCl laboratories were destroyed and nearly two
metric tons of processed cocaine HCl were seized, along with
equipment and precursors. This was the first time that CNP
personnel were transported by COLAR aircraft to conduct an
airmobile assault. Despite several minor operational and
communications disconnects, the training and tactical
doctrines of the COLAR and CNP proved to be sufficiently
compatible. After Action Reviews, which involved candid
critiques and appraisals, were conducted in a spirit of
cooperation.

6. (SBU) Comment: The COLMIL has been slow to embrace the
concept of combined operations. We are hopeful that this
positive experience will result in greater acceptance of the
concept in the future. End comment.

WOOD

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