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Cablegate: Nas Monthly Report for August 2009


DE RUEHBO #2929/01 2542139
R 112139Z SEP 09




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The aerial eradication team sprayed 5,868
hectares (ha) and, with 73,084 ha sprayed so far this year, is on
track to reach the 100,000 ha calendar goal. Phase III of the GOC's
2009 manual eradication campaign began in early August; total manual
coca eradication through August was 36,209 hectares, well short of
the 70,000 manual eradication goal for the year. Landmine and
hostile fire incidents killed four security personnel, including a
Santa Marta-based Jungla; so far, 32 personnel have died in 2009
during manual eradication operations. ARAVI's NAS-supported fleet
flew 2,256 mission hours during the month. Plan Colombia Helicopter
Program (PCHP) helicopters flew 74.6 hours, supporting 16 medical
evacuation flights transporting a total of 21 patients. To date in
2009, the Colombian National Police has destroyed 1,114 base and 131
cocaine HCl laboratories and six airstrips, captured 339 weapons,
316 land vehicles, 243 riverine and 10 open water craft, and 158
single-engine aircraft and 26 twin-engine aircraft. The Counter
Drug (CD) Brigade secured a total of 6,072 ha for aerial eradication
missions. In August, the interagency complaints committee received
1,834 new claims of alleged spray damage to legal crops, mainly from
Narino. The flood of complaints appears to be an effort to impede
aerial eradication operations in the southwest Colombia department.
265 people demobilized, among them 60 imprisoned former insurgents
and 24 indigenous former FARC members. So far this year, 1,922
people have demobilized, for a total of 19,839 since 2002. END

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2. (SBU) Aircraft based in Forward Operating Locations (FOLs) in
Tumaco, San Jose del Guaviare, and Larandia sprayed a total of 5,868
hectares in August. A total of 1,480 ha were sprayed out of Tumaco;
2,270 ha out of San Jose del Guaviare; and 2,118 ha out of Larandia.
The aerial eradication team has sprayed 73,084 ha so far this year
and is on track to reach the 100,000 ha calendar-year goal.
Eradication aircraft experienced five hostile-fire incidents and
four impacts in August, bringing the total for the calendar year to
18 hostile fire incidents and 25 impacts; no one has been wounded or
killed as a result of these incidents. An AT-802 spray aircraft
crashed in Larandia, Caqueta on August 26; no one was injured and
hostile fire was ruled out as a cause of the crash.

3. (SBU) Eradication aircraft sprayed 868 ha of coca in the
Macarena Consolidation Program area (PCIM) in the Meta department.
During the operation, an aircraft received one hostile fire impact.


4. (SBU) Manual eradication operations were ongoing in 15
departments. Phase III of the GOC's 2009 manual eradication
campaign (GME program) began in early August. Total eradication of
coca for August was 6,048 ha - bringing the GME program's
year-to-date total to 31,424 ha. Including eradication carried out
by the Colombian security forces, total coca eradication through
August was 36,209 ha, well short of the 70,000 manual eradication
goal for the year. During Phase III operations to date, manual
eradicators have pulled up approximately 5,000 ha of coca of the
22,000 hectare Phase III goal, with approximately 160 GMEs (manual
eradicator laborers) in the field working. The lack of security
units to protect manual eradicators limited attempts to
significantly increase the number of GMEs in the field. Anti-riot
police successfully dispersed protesters who were preventing
police-led GME groups in southern Bolivar department from entering
the eradication zone.

5. (SBU) In August, landmine and hostile fire incidents killed four
security personnel - two soldiers were killed by a landmine in
southern Bolivar, a Jungla (Colombian National Police airmobile
commando) was killed by a landmine in northern Antioquia, and a
soldier was killed by hostile fire in Caqueta. There were two
reported attacks on manual eradication camps, leading to several
injuries. Manual eradication groups in Caqueta and Narino are
reporting frequent hostile fire incidents. Through August, 32
people (24 security personnel and seven civilians, including one UN
Topographer) have died during this year's manual eradication
operations. In all of 2008, 26 security personnel and civilian
eradicators were killed in manual eradication operations.

6. (SBU) Separate from the GME program, the Colombian Army (COLAR)
and the Colombian National Police (CNP) conduct manual eradication
as part of their normal operations. Through August, COLAR had
eradicated 3,488 hectares of coca, 44 hectares of poppy and two
hectares of marijuana, the CNP has eradicated 1,134 hectares of
coca, eight hectares of poppy and 46 hectares of marijuana and the
Navy 164 hectares of coca.


7. (SBU) PCHP aircraft operated from Tumaco, Larandia, San Jose del
Guaviare, and Tolemaida bases and flew a total of 800 hours
providing air assaults, air movements, reconnaissance, medical
evacuations, and support missions for the CD Brigade and other
vetted COLAR units. PCHP aircraft provided crash-site airlift
support for an impacted AT-802. Tumaco-based PCHP helicopters
provided support for three CNP manual eradication operations. PCHP
helicopters supported one Chief of Mission HVT Joint Task Force
operation and flew 74.6 hours supporting 16 medical evacuation
flights that transported 21 patients.


8. (SBU) ARAVI's NAS-supported fleet flew 2,256 mission hours in
August. The seven UH-60 Black Hawks closed out the month with 272
flight hours and an Operational Readiness (OR) rate of 86 percent.
Two UH-60s are undergoing depot maintenance for structural repairs.
The Bell 212 fleet flew 295 mission hours with an OR rate of 61
percent. One Bell 212 still needs to be inducted into the Service
Life Extension Program/Rewire. The Huey II OR rate was 69 percent
while flying 1,036 hours. Two Huey II aircraft, or six percent of
the fleet, are currently undergoing depot maintenance for structural
repairs. The DC-3 fleet flew 375 hours in August, with an OR rate
of 64 percent; one DC-3 is undergoing a 2,000-hour inspection. The
last C-26 Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Aerial
Platform (ISRAP) PNC 0224 is expected to be delivered in September
2009. The C-208 Caravan, with a mapping camera installed, is
operational and the Colombians have received the required training
to operate it.


9. (SBU) According to the year-to-date statistics, the Colombian
National Police (CNP) has destroyed 1,114 base and 131 HCl
laboratories and six airstrips; captured 339 weapons, 316 land
vehicles, 243 riverine and 10 open water craft and 158 single-engine
and 26 twin-engine aircraft.

10. (SBU) While supporting manual eradication in Tumaco, on August
3, the Tulua Junglas destroyed an HCl laboratory in Rio Mira
(Narino) and seized 1.5 metric tons of HCl cocaine. This same
company also destroyed two HCl laboratories (with 800 kgs of HCl
cocaine) and 12 base laboratories in Guapi, Narino, and Jamundi,
Cauca. Near Buenaventura (Pacific coast), the Tulua Junglas
destroyed a semi-submersible watercraft-building facility.

11. (SBU) In San Jose del Guaviare and Mariquita, Tolima, the
Bogota-based Junglas seized more than 200 kgs of base cocaine, 7,000
kgs of macerated coca leaves, 1,200 kgs of dried coca leaves,
multiple coca seed beds, various weapons, 4,000-plus gallons of
liquid precursors, and an estimated 1,400 kgs of solid precursors.

12. (SBU) The Santa Marta-based Junglas continued supporting the
Search Block force in Monteria, Cordoba that has been looking for
the remnants of the Don Mario (Daniel Rendsn) narcotrafficking

13. (SBU) On August 24, in Choco, a contingent of Junglas, COPES
(Police Special Forces), GRATE (CNP search and rescue), Navy
Intelligence, and COLAF (Colombian Air Force) armed helicopters with
ARAVI support launched an attack on a remote "Rastrojos" emerging
criminal group camp that led to the arrest of 37 members of the
criminal group, the capture of various weapons (23 rifles and one
machine gun), and mortar rounds. Commanding officer, TC Ruiz (DIRAN
Operations Officer) stated DIRAN's intention to participate in many
more such joint missions - especially on the Pacific Coast.

14. (SBU) The Jungla Commando International Course (54
International students and 29 Colombian National Police students)
began on August 2 and continues on schedule at the newly inaugurated
Pijaos facility. To date, four of the eleven Dominican Republic
students have been unable to continue their training and have
returned to their country. The Combat Medic Course, which began
with 45 students, now has a total of 39 students. A four-week U.S.
Army Special Forces "Small Units" course that focuses on rural
reconnaissance began on August 31 and includes 36 Junglas from
various companies.


15. (SBU) The Base Security course that ran from July 21 to
September 2 in Tumaco graduated 44 students from various DIRAN,
EMCAR (Mobile Carabinero Squadron), COLNAV (Marine Corps) and BRACNA
(Antinarcotics Brigade) units. The next course will be conducted
during DIRAN Northwest Zone's base construction and will take place
in mid-September in Necocli, Gulf of Uraba (near the Panamanian

16. (SBU) The IDIQ La Julia project to reinforce the police base
attacked in May was completed. Phase II of the Miraflores project
is scheduled to be completed in late September or early October.
FARC harassment has impeded progress of the Tierradentro, Antioquia
project, which is now slated to be completed in September. The
Piedras Blancas and Belen de Bajira contracts were completed in

17. (SBU) 150 of the 165 new Night Vision Devices (NVDs) were
inspected in August and have been sent to the designated EMCAR units
located throughout the country.


18. (SBU) In August, DIRAN's Ports and Airports Area (ARPAE) unit
seized 313.5 kgs of cocaine and 0.5 kgs of heroin at Bogota's El
Dorado airport and arrested 17 people. ARPAE seized one kg of
cocaine at Pereira airport; in Cali's airport, 13.5 kgs of cocaine,
7.8 kgs of heroin, and 8.3 kgs of marijuana were seized and four
people arrested. At the Medellin airport, the ARPAE seized 4.5 kgs
and arrested two people; at the Cartagena airport - 4.2 kgs of
cocaine were seized and two people arrested. The majority of the
passengers arrested were Colombian, followed by Spaniards - most of
whom were traveling to Spain.

19. (SBU) The ARPAE seized 240 kgs of cocaine and arrested 12
people at the Buenaventura port; seized 278 kgs of cocaine at the
Cartagena port; 32.3 kgs of cocaine at the Barranquilla port; and
3.8 kgs of marijuana at the San Andres port.

20. (SBU) The DIRAN polygraph unit conducted polygraph exams on 38
members of the ARPAE unit as well as on the CNP's anti-kidnapping
unit. Of those tested, 20 passed the exam, 17 failed, and one had
inconclusive results. A special DIRAN Judicial Police group for the
Pacific coast that receives support from NAS/DEA ran an
investigation leading to the arrest of 12 workers from different
port operators and security companies in the Buenaventura port.


21. (SBU) The CD Brigade's First, Second, and Third Battalions
supported eradication and conducted interdiction and combat
operations from bases in Tumaco, San Jose del Guaviare and Larandia.
The battalions conducted interdiction and combat operations against
the FARC's Daniel Aldana Mobil Column, various FARC fronts, and the
ELN's Guerrero Del Sindagua Company in Narino, Cauca, Meta,
Guaviare, and Caqueta departments. The CD Brigade secured a total
of 6,072 ha for aerial eradication and destroyed two HCl and 16 coca
base laboratories, two enemy caches, and one clandestine refinery,
seizing 10 kgs of coca base, 850 gallons of liquid cocaine, 6,646
gallons of liquid precursors, 2,020 gallons of solid precursors,
4,620 kgs of processed coca leaf, 1,252,300 coca seedlings, one
boat, eight microwaves, two generators, two refrigerators, seven
heaters, six gas cylinders, and five special devices used to process
cocaine. During combat operations, the battalion confiscated two
shotguns, 12 rifles, 2,112 rounds of ammunition, and three 2-meter
radios used for communications. The battalions killed two and
captured four FARC terrorists during operations.

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22. (SBU) The Carabinero squadrons throughout the country captured
157 personnel (7 FARC/ELN members, 5 from criminal bands, 12
narcotraffickers, and 133 common criminals) and seized 60 weapons,
4,284 gallons of liquid precursors, 8,041 kgs of solid precursors,
and 10,535 gallons of diesel fuel. The EMCAR also deactivated nine
improvised explosive devices and eradicated 123 hectares of coca.
The school at Pijaos graduated more than 300 students from basic and
designated marksmanship courses.

23. (SBU) In Tulua, the 51st Carabinero squadron helped to capture
criminal band "Los Rastrojos" number three in charge Edgar Anibal
Escobar Rojas. In Uraba, the 10th squadron captured Victor Alfonso
Rojas, wanted for aggravated homicide, attempted homicide and
terrorism. Squadron 41 captured four extortionists in Cauca.
Squadron 40 captured criminal band leader Aurelio Palaga while
supporting the regional judicial police (SIJIN) in Caloto, Cauca.
In San Lorenzo, Santander, Squadron 18 captured three ELN members
wanted for the 2002 murder of two policemen. Squadron 42 found and
destroyed various explosive devices in San Vicente de Caguan,
Caqueta while conducting operations in support of a presidential
visit to the area.


24. (SBU) ABD aircraft, participating in a mission with the Joint
Interagency Task Force South and the Colombian Navy, impounded two
vessels - one in the Caribbean and one in the Pacific. One of the
vessels carried over four million dollars in cash and the other
vessel was not registered and carried 58 55-gallon drums filled with
fuel; all eight crewmembers were arrested for smuggling contraband.
The ABD SR-26 flew 50 hours in 22 missions and the SR-560 aircraft
flew 242 hours in 100 missions.


25. (SBU) In August, the interagency complaints committee received
1,834 new claims of alleged spray damage to legal crops; 1,829 of
these cases originated from Barbacoas, Narino. DIRAN reviewed the
complaints, most of which arrived incomplete, and determined that
several members from the same family filed complaints for the same
plot of land. NAS will not be able to verify this information until
site coordinates are received.

26. (SBU) A total of 1,357 cases will be closed because the
complainants failed to submit the complaint within 20 days of the
alleged spray incident; in 472 cases, the complainants need to
provide additional information. In August, 103 crop damage cases
were closed due to incomplete applications, 26 were closed because
either coca was mixed with legal crops or no damage was found; seven
cases were compensated totaling $50,556.

27. (SBU) The environmental team continues to focus on reducing the
complaints backlog. During the first week of August, the complaints
committee visited 38 sites in Arauca and will compensate 31
complaints. Since the cases date back to 2005, it has been
difficult to determine if legal crops had indeed been damaged. The
committee then traveled to Putumayo and Narino where they visited 48
sites; several complaints there dated from 2007-2008. The
complaints committee determined that 15 farmers would be
compensated. The NAS lawyer is working on an agreement with the
DIRAN to set specific guidelines to handle crop-damage complaints.

28. (SBU) During a two-week period in August, DIRAN received almost
4,000 spray complaints from three veredas (townships) in the Tumaco
municipality. The CNP found the majority of the complaints to be
invalid due to multiple submissions, complaints from multiple family
members, extended delays in submission, or the presence of coca in
the field sprayed. It appears that the flood of new complaints is a
concerted effort to impede spray operations in Narino.


29. (SBU) INL awarded a $49,438 NAS Bogota grant to the CICAD/OAS
Nursing School Project using the new Public International
Organization (PIO) grant process. Using the new process caused a
delay of about four months in awarding the grant.


30. (SBU) In August, 265 people certified under the Ministry of
Defense (MOD) Humanitarian Program for Demobilized Individuals
(PAHD), among them 60 imprisoned former insurgents and 24 indigenous
people. So far this year, 1,922 have demobilized, for a total of
19,839 since 2002. Eighty percent of the demobilized are former FARC
members and the rest are ELN.

31. (SBU) The PAHD, Ministry of Interior and Justice, and the
Bureau of Prisons agreed to begin showing a NAS prisons
program-funded video explaining Decree 1059 to FARC and ELN inmates
interested in demobilizing from prison. In addition to the video,
the audio will be played on prison radio stations to increase

32. (SBU) Program officials led a Colombian interagency
demobilization event in support of Naza indigenous communities near
Santander de Quilichao, Cauca. A total of 24 individuals who were
members of the FARC 6th Front and Jacobo Arenas Mobile Column
demobilized before hundreds of members of their communities and the
group of government representatives. Another similar event and
dialogue with indigenous leaders on August 26 in Antioquia did not
have comparable results - 35 individuals, former FARC 34th Front
members, demobilized before their indigenous communities in a
traditional ceremony, but during the event the community leaders
reversed their position, refusing to recognize legitimacy of the
state. Consequently, these indigenous former Foreign Terrorist
Organization (FTO) members did not legally demobilize. PAHD
officials will continue to lobby indigenous leaders to encourage
cooperation with government efforts.

33. (SBU) Desire for a new start, abuse by former comrades,
political divergence, and military pressure continue to be the main
motivations for desertion in 2009. Information voluntarily provided
by the demobilized is one of the best sources of intelligence
available to security forces. Reintegration remains a major
challenge for the Colombian government as almost 80% of demobilized
individuals have not completed elementary school. The Ministry of
Defense continues to strengthen initiatives to provide psychological
assistance to the demobilized and prevent illegal recruitment.


35. (SBU) NAS cleared approximately $7 million of unliquidated
obligations during August. NAS received and obligated $52.6 million
of FY 2007 Andean Counterdrug Program funding that was on hold by
the Congress because of human rights concerns with the Colombian
military. This funding will be used for COLAR aviation to support
its nationalization efforts. Approximately $19 million of FY 2008

assistance funds remain on hold.


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