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Cablegate: Afghan Visit to Colombia Offers New Cn Insight

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 007840

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR PREL PGOV CO
SUBJECT: AFGHAN VISIT TO COLOMBIA OFFERS NEW CN INSIGHT

THIS MESSAGE IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE PROTECT
ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) Summary: A six-person delegation from the Afghan
government visited Colombia to discuss counternarcotics
policy and the joint USG-GOC program. The group met with
GOC officials and visited an air base to observe Colombia's
aerial eradication efforts. The NAS Acting Director
organized briefings on rural police protection, interdiction
efforts, and a visit to a Colombian training facility. The
delegation expressed an interest in continuing the dialogue
with Colombian officials. End Summary.

2. (U) At the invitation of the Government of Colombia, a
delegation of officials from various agencies of the
Government of Afghanistan visited Colombia July 14-17, 2005.
The delegation, which was headed by Minister of
Counternarcotics Habibullah Qaderi, also included
representatives from the Afghan Ministry of Defense and
officials from the Afghan Embassy in Washington. Embassy
Kabul NAS Officer escorted the delegation to events in
Washington and on the visit to Colombia.

3. (U) The delegation's objective was to receive briefings
from GOC officials responsible for counternarcotics policy
and to observe various elements of the joint USG-GOC
counternarcotics program. Following a delayed arrival on
July 14, the group met on July 15 with officials of the GOC
Ministry of Defense, Colombian National Police, the Office
of the President, and other law enforcement, judicial
branch, and economic development agencies.

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4. (SBU) On July 16, Embassy officers escorted the
delegation on a tour of NAS-managed aerial eradication,
aviation, and police training activities and facilities.
The group first traveled to the Colombian Army Aviation Base
at Tolemaida to receive a briefing on aerial eradication
planning, operations, verification, and monitoring.
Minister Qaderi noted that poppy cultivations in Afghanistan
were located in relatively small, hilly regions of his
country. Embassy officer pointed out that most poppy
cultivations in Colombia were at altitudes above 5000 feet,
often in extreme terrain conditions, that the typical poppy
cultivation was between one-quarter and one-half hectares,
and that aerial eradication was an efficient and effective
means of eradicating these cultivations.

5. (SBU) The NAS Eradication Program Manager provided a
detailed briefing of mission planning procedures. NAS
officials pointed out how various types of overhead imagery
provide the basis for mission planning. The geo-coordinates
of individual spray targets programmed into a GPS-guided
navigation system not only provide accurate guidance to
target, but record precise coordinates of areas actually
sprayed.

6. (SBU) The Minister and other members of the delegation
expressed their interest in the level of detail involved in
planning and execution, including chemical handling
procedures and post-spray verification. There was a full
discussion of manual eradication, including costs, physical
risk and effectiveness. On several occasions Minister
Qaderi noted that the Colombian narcotics industry was
dominated by narcoterrorists, whereas in Afghanistan poppy
was grown by impoverished peasants who would readily forego
poppy cultivation if there were sufficient positive
incentives. The Minister discounted the likelihood that
organized criminal elements would become deeply involved in
narcotics trafficking in Afghanistan and repeated his
conviction that the problem could be managed by a
combination of moral suasion and investment in "alternative
livelihood" development programs.

7. (SBU) During the visit to Tolemaida, Embassy officers
described the NAS's Plan Colombia Helicopter Program. This
program trains pilots, non-pilot crewmembers, and
technicians to operate and maintain a fleet of nearly 80
helicopters to provide mobility and logistical support for
Colombian Army units. Embassy officers underscored that the
combination of a host nation's political will and the
resources and experience of the US Government could design
highly effective solutions to a range of problems.

8. (U) In the afternoon the delegation traveled to nearby
Espinal to tour the CNP training facility at the Pijaos
Ranch. CNP Antinarcotics Police Deputy Commander Colonel
Yamilk Moreno led a tour of the training facilities,
including the CNP's designated marksman, combat medic, and
demolition schools. The delegation observed CNP training of
CNP cadre to the CNP Rural Mobile Police (Carabineros), who
provide security in Colombia's vast rural expanses. The CNP
Antinarcotics Police Airmobile Special Forces (Junglas), who
conduct the CNP's interdiction operations against drug
processing and storage facilities, and high-value
counternarcotics and counterterrorism targets, provided a
demonstration of an airmobile assault exercise. US Army
Special Forces trainers were briefed the delegation on the
various courses offered at the training center and on their
role in coordinating active training, course design, and
curriculum development.

9. (U) The visit to the CNP training facility elicited an
extremely positive reaction from the visiting delegation,
especially negotiating the level of training being conducted
are essentially unimproved, rustic facility. The CNP
training cadre, who live on-site in semi-enclosed huts,
explained that the philosophy of the training center was to
prepare students for the actual conditions they would
encounter in the field: all students live in tents during
their training courses, which range from 7-16 weeks in
duration.

10. (U) The Afghan delegation expressed interest in
continuing the exchange initiated during the day's
orientation tour. They were particularly interested in the
CNP's Carabineros program, which they regarded as
potentially adaptable to Afghanistan. We have been advised
that GOC and GOA officials have followed up and that the CNP
Antinarcotics Police Deputy Commander may soon visit
Afghanistan.

WOOD

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