Cablegate: Nas Monthly Report for October 2008

Published: Wed 26 Nov 2008 05:10 PM
DE RUEHBO #4248/01 3311710
R 261710Z NOV 08
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Even with poor weather conditions negatively
affecting the total hectares sprayed, the contractor remains above
the projection line for the year. Total manual coca eradication for
the month of October was 11,683 hectares - bringing the GME
program's year-to-date total to 68,608 hectares, running short of a
projected goal for the year of 100,000 hectares. The Colombian
National Police and the Junglas had an outstanding month, seizing
much valuable materiel and capturing important targets. The Junglas
aided in the rescue of Senator Oscar Tulio Lizcano on October 19
(originally kidnapped by the FARC in August 2000), and then
conducted search and destroy missions against Mr. Tulio Lizcano's
FARC captors. The numbers of demobilized guerrilla members continue
to increase; mid-level leadership demobilization has doubled from
the same time period in 2007. So far this year, 50 hostile fire
incidents occurred, resulting in 99 impacts. Air assaults continued
to be an effective means of increasing security for aerial
eradication spray operations and counternarcotics interdiction
operations; however, FARC actions continued to inflict casualties.
Through October, 25 people have died during this year's manual
eradication operations, surpassing the sixteen killed during the
entire 2007 campaign. END SUMMARY.
2. (SBU) Total hectares sprayed for the month of October were
7,156, a significant drop from previous months, due to extremely
poor weather conditions. The CONDOR team, based in Larandia,
sprayed 3,570 hectares; the LOBO team in Tumaco sprayed 2,105
hectares; and the RAPTOR team in San Jose sprayed 1,481 hectares.
This brings the calendar year total to 120,828 hectares of coca
sprayed. Eradication aircraft were involved in one hostile fire
incident in October resulting in zero impacts. This brings the
total for the year to 50 hostile fire incidents, resulting in 99
3. (SBU) Weather began to improve in Larandia and Tumaco toward the
latter part of October, and this trend is expected to continue. The
Raptor team at San Jose is beginning to encounter better weather,
however, the Meta Exclusion Area (PCIM in its Spanish acronym)
continues to limit overall aerial spray in the region. Although
initial DIRAN estimates determined that approximately 5,000 hectares
of coca were present in the area, subsequent collection of the area
by the contractor C-208 Caravan Reconnaissance & Analysis team bring
the estimates significantly higher, with 8,000 to 10,000 hectares
being a more realistic prognosis.
4. (SBU) The contractor currently remains above the projection line
toward the calendar year spray goal of 130,000 hectares.
5. (SBU) Phase IV of the GOC's 2008 manual eradication campaign
(GME program) kicked off on October 1 and will run through
mid-December. Total coca eradication for the month of October was
11,683 hectares - bringing the GME program's year-to-date total to
68,608 hectares. Including eradication carried out by the Colombian
security forces, total coca eradication through October totaled
78,967 hectares. To increase the pace of eradication and reach the
GOC's manual eradication goal of 100,000 hectares, the GOC planned
to ramp up the number of GMEs in the field during Phase IV. Due to
limitations of security personnel, the GOC has been able to maintain
approximately 220 GMEs in the field during the month of October,
short of its goal of 250 GMEs. Manual eradication operations are
ongoing in 11 departments with the majority of GMEs in the
traditional coca growing regions of Putumayo, Antioquia, Vichada,
Meta and Narino. To assist manual eradication efforts in Meta, NAS
provided imagery of coca cultivation in the area off-limits to spray
in the Macarena Consolidation Program. The Meta imagery is an
addition to the gyrocam video provided to the GOC in September to
assist manual eradication efforts along the Ecuador border. In
October, one landmine incident in Meta injured 10 eradicators,
seriously injuring three. In two separate incidents in Norte de
Santander, one security personnel was killed and three eradicators
wounded by sniper fire. Through October, 25 people (12 civilians
and 13 security personnel) have died during this year's manual
eradication operations, surpassing the sixteen killed during the
entire 2007 campaign.
6. (SBU) Separate from the GME program, the Colombian Army (COLAR)
and the Colombian National Police (CNP) conducted manual eradication
as part of their normal operations. Through the end of October,
COLAR had eradicated 9,277 hectares of coca, 230 hectares of poppy,
and 11 hectares of marijuana, and the CNP has eradicated 1,084
hectares of coca, 119 hectares of poppy, and 12 hectares of
7. (SBU) PCHP aircraft flew a total of 780 hours in October. PCHP
Aircraft operated from Tumaco, San Jose, Larandia, and Tolemaida.
PCHP aircraft provided air assaults, air movements, reconnaissance,
medical evacuations, and support missions for the Counterdrug (CD)
Brigade and other vetted COLAR units. Air assaults continued to be
an effective means of increasing security for aerial eradication
spray operations and counternarcotics interdiction operations
conducted by Counternarcotics Battalion (BACNA in its Spanish
acronym) units of the CD Brigade. PCHP flew 58.5 hours supporting
16 medical evacuation flights that transported 48 patients. The
majority of the wounded were from encounters with FARC mine fields
which continue to take heavy tolls on deployed troops.
8. (SBU) Aircrew continuation/mission training and aircraft
qualification training were conducted throughout the month in both
the UH-60 and UH-II. Four Colombian Army (COLAR) pilots were
qualified as Pilot in Command and three new pilots completed UH-II
aircraft qualification training.
9. (SBU) A BRIM-19 base approximately 40 miles from Tumaco was
attacked by a FARC element and sustained significant casualties -
eight dead and an unknown number wounded. PCHP aircraft responded
with MEDEVAC airlift and additional security forces to reinforce the
10. (SBU) PCHP continues to provide aircraft to augment a Chief of
Mission authorized High Value Target (HVT) Joint Task Force air
assault operation employing troops from BAFER. This HVT mission is
still in progress.
11. (SBU) NAS Peru had two Peruvian Police officers attending
flight training at the Joint Initial Entry Rotary Wing School in
Melgar. One of the police officers was given a total of three
progress evaluations and two additional blocks of flight training
periods but was unable to demonstrate acceptable proficiency to
continue in the course.
12. (SBU) PCHP provided five aircraft in support of Undersecretary
James Glassman's delegation. Transportation was provided between
Villavicencio and Vista Hermosa.
13. (SBU) On October 2, PCHP provided seven aircraft in support of
an aerial spray demonstration for Andean Office Director Kevin
Whitaker's visit to San Jose.
14. (SBU) ARAVI's NAS-supported fleet flew 1585 mission hours in
October. The seven UH-60 Black Hawks closed out the month with 223
flight hours and an Operational Readiness (OR) rate of 86 percent.
15. (SBU) The Bell 212 fleet flew 187 mission hours with an OR rate
of 66 percent. 2 Bell 212's have yet to be inducted to the Service
Life Extension Program/Rewire. The Huey II OR rate was 61 percent
while flying 751 hours. After additional personnel was assigned,
two Huey IIs have been repaired, reassembled and are operational,
although two other Huey IIs, or 6 percent of the fleet, are waiting
for depot maintenance for structural repairs.
16. (SBU) The DC-3 fleet flew 275 hours in October, with an OR rate
of 49 percent. ARAVI received an additional C-26 Intelligence,
Surveillance, Reconnaissance Aerial Platform (ISRAP), and awaits
delivery of a second C-26 ISRAP in December.
17. (SBU) The Colombian National Police (CNP) had a tremendously
successful month, seizing 17.7 metric tons of cocaine hydrochloride
(HCl) and cocaine base, 30.26 metric tons of marijuana, and 85
kilograms (kgs) of heroin. The CNP also destroyed 15 cocaine HCl
labs, 160 coca base labs, and captured 895 metric tons of precursor
18. (SBU) The Bogota Junglas (Colombian Antinarcotics Police
Airmobile Commandos) assisted the DIRAN (National Police
Antinarcotics Division in its Spanish acronym)Asset Forfeiture Group
in Western Boyaca (October 1-4), seizing eight different major
properties. The Bogota Junglas (40 Junglas, 2 x UH60s) deployed to
Mariquita (October 9) and hit an HCl lab near Puerto Salgar, seizing
500 kgs of coca base. On October 9, the DIRAN Southern Zone hit an
HCl lab in Putumayo, capturing 650 kgs of cocaine. The DIRAN Neiva
Company set up a series of road checkpoints in Huila Department,
intercepting three vehicles and capturing respectively three kgs,
two kgs, and 200 grams of cocaine. On October 15-16 in San Jose de
Guaviare, the Bogota Junglas (45 x Junglas, 2 x UH60s) hit two HCl
labs - one in Tomachipan and the second in Mapiripan. The DIRAN
Manual Eradication Group hit a cocaine HCl lab located seven
kilometers outside the Caucasia airport (October 10). An alert Bell
212 pilot spotted suspicious activity as he made his routine
approach into Caucasia airport and DIRAN mounted an operation
against the target, achieving total surprise and arresting several
lab workers. The DIRAN Company in Neiva (29 men) captured 1.5 tons
of coca base hidden in a cache site outside of Garzon, Huila. On
October 17, the DIRAN Neiva Company stopped a public bus at their
routine road interdiction checkpoint outside of Neiva and arrested a
woman smuggling coca base in the soles of her shoes. After the
woman initially complained of stomach pains, the Junglas escorted
her to the tree line and she "passed" 30 capsules filled with coca
base. Lately, the number of people caught smuggling coca base in
the soles of their shoes in the Neiva area has increased
significantly. The Tulua Junglas (2 x UH60s, 40 Junglas) deployed
to Tumaco (October 19-24) and hit three HCl labs and eight base labs
containing over 2.7 tons of cocaine/coca base. The Bogota Junglas
(2 x UH60s, 30 Junglas) deployed to Cumaribo, Vichada (October
18-21) and destroyed two HCl labs. The Santa Marta Junglas deployed
to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta to manually eradicate 15
hectares of marijuana (October 21-24). On October 18, the Bogota
Junglas moved by road to Chicoral, Tolima and uncovered a false
"cocaine" cache containing 5400 perfectly wrapped "kilo" blocks of
wood. On October 24, the DIRAN Ipiales Company moved by road to the
outskirts of Pasto and uncovered a cache containing 17 kgs of
19. (SBU) The Bogot Junglas (45 Junglas, 2 x UH60s) deployed to
Armenia on October 17 to establish a Joint Task Force with the
Colombian Air Force and the Army Special Forces Brigade to rescue
Senator Oscar Tulio Lizcano (kidnapped by FARC since August 2000).
The Junglas formed combined patrols with the Army. Following the
rescue of Oscar (October 19) in Canon de Garrapatas (Choco
Department), the Junglas conducted search and destroy missions
against Oscar's FARC captors. The Santa Marta Junglas responded to
DIRAN Uraba Company's intelligence information and on October 27
captured 1.08 metric tons of cocaine hidden in a tractor trailer
truck in Turbo, Antioquia. The U.S. Army Special Forces team
deployed to Santa Marta and conducted five days of Close Quarters
Combat training for 60 Junglas. This same instruction will be
taught at Facatativa and Tulua in November.
20. (SBU) Gonzalez and Castellanos conducted first school board
with GRUIN and DEA; unit members were selected for four courses in
the United States.
21. (SBU) The GRUIN conducted three missions in October. The first
mission was a night infiltration up the river Atrato where the unit
was able to locate three hidden go-fast boats and 275 gallons of
fuel, which were all destroyed. The three go-fast boats were
prepositioned while they waited to be loaded with cocaine. The
second mission was against a command and control center in the
vicinity of Turbo, believed to have belonged to Don Mario. The unit
found eight tactical radios, one cellular phone, one generator, two
car batteries and billeting for 30 men. The billeting was destroyed
and equipment was taken as evidence. The third mission was a joint
US/COLNAV (Colombian Navy) mission, in which the Naval Intelligence
Group (GRUIN in its Spanish acronym) passed actionable signal
intelligence to Joint Interagency Task Force in Key West (JIATF-S),
JIATF-S assets were able to seize 850 kgs of marijuana, one go-fast
boat, and capture three suspects. The signal intelligence
intercepts will be used to assist in the prosecution of the crew in
23. (SBU) During the month of October, one million of 5.56mm rounds
arrived in Colombia in direct support of Jungla operations. In
addition, Seventh Group Special Forces conducted training for 40
Junglas in Santa Marta, in such specialties as night shooting with
Night Vision Devices (NVDs), and zeroing in on new ACOG
(long-distance) sites.
24. (SBU) Weapon inventories and facility inspections were
conducted in Tumaco. Discrepancies were identified and reported to
CNP and NAS for corrective action. Discrepancies included improving
a proper storage facility for weapons and NVDs. For example,
pistols were stored in a cabinet drawer and NVDs were stored on a
shelf above the pistol drawer. The CNP are in the process of
planning corrective actions for the Tumaco facility.
25. (SBU) The coordination for the next one-month Base Defense
course to be conducted in Tumaco continued with a site survey and
coordination with local DIRAN and COLMIL officials. The start date
has been scheduled for November 17 and 40 students are being vetted
for attendance.
26. (SBU) The IDIQ (indefinite amount/indefinite quantities)
project proposals at Cerro Cruz Verde, San Jose de Guaviare, and
Mapiripan were bid and award of contracts has been decided. Final
approval from a contracting officer in Washington, D.C. is pending
in order to start the project.
27. (SBU) The close-out project at Puerto Estrella continued with a
site visit and final determination of the requirements. Potential
contractors are developing proposals and they traveled to survey the
28. (SBU) The test equipment for the GRUIN NVD lab arrived and is
currently being nationalized in preparation for a final presentation
to the unit. The 30 NVDs on order are the only elements still due
in to complete the NVD lab renovation project.
29. (SBU) NAS interdiction advisor, John Hincapie, completed
inspections and conducted required maintenance on NVDs at El Dorado,
Tulua, Facatativa and Espinal. A total of 47 NVDs were serviced and
made mission-capable.
30. (SBU) DIRAN data section has created a DIRAN Domain (a domain
is network security model for grouping computers together which
share a common directory database) where users can access a shared
drive and restrictive permissions can be added to the network.
31. (SBU) DIRAN's radio section sent a repair team to San Jose de
Guaviare where they repaired a Motorola repeater, installed a UHF
radio base station donated by Comando General, and performed
preventive maintenance on all portable radios. In addition, the
same team displaced to El Cerro del Tigre, Meta, where the team
repaired another broken Motorola repeater. This fixed repeater
provides reliable communications to Villavicencio and San Jose de
32. (SBU) DIRAN's radio section programmed and performed
operational checks on eighty new Motorola XTS 5000, which will be
donated to the three Jungla Companies.
33. (SBU) In October, DIRAN's Ports and Airports Area (ARPAE) unit
seized 370 kgs of cocaine at the Port of Cartagena; 370 kgs of
cocaine at the Port of Santa Marta; and the unit at the port of
Barranquilla participated in a joint operation led by the Judicial
Police Directorate (DIJIN in its Spanish acronym), where 10.5 metric
tons of cocaine were seized. In Bogota's airport, 94 kgs of
cocaine, 10.7 kgs of heroin, and 12.8 kgs of marijuana were seized;
in Cali's airport - 5.2 kgs of cocaine were seized; and in
Rionegro's airport, 300 grams of cocaine were confiscated. K-9
units' participation was key in various cases, specifically K-9
units were responsible for the seizure of 335 kgs of cocaine at the
Port of Cartagena and 18 kgs of cocaine in Bogota's airport. K-9
units also supported a DIJIN operation near Bogota's airport, where
9.8 kgs of heroin were seized. A new K-9 antidrug course finished
at the CNP Academy and now the PSP has 22 more dogs.
34. (SBU) The DIRAN's polygraph unit conducted polygraph exams on
124 members of the DIRAN's Eradication, Interdiction,
Administrative, Aviation and Ports and Airports units and supported
the Internal Control Group activities on specific cases. 91 of
those tested passed the exam, 27 failed it, and six results were
35. The First BACNA remains in Putumayo supporting manual
eradication. The Second BACNA continues to support aerial
eradication in San Jose de Guaviare; Long Range Surveillance
Division (LRSD) and Alpha (A) Company conducted an air assault
against FARC's Seventh Front. The Third BACNA continues to support
aerial eradication in Tumaco. The First BACNA located and destroyed
two coca paste labs in Putumayo, and the Third BACNA located and
destroyed one coca lab and two HCl labs in Narino.
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36. (SBU) Carabineros squadrons continue to conduct manual
eradication in Vichada, Putumayo, Nario and Meta Departments, a
total of 34 squadrons are involved. The Don Mario Search Block, with
3 squadrons, are conducting operations in Uraba, Choco, Antioquia
and Cordoba Departments. Other squadrons continue their normal
missions of rural security and security along the major lines of
communications. In October a emerging criminal bands member in Uraba
turned himself in and stated that the increased police presence was
putting pressure on the group.
37. (SBU) The Rural Commando Operations School (COR) currently has
1100 students in the basic course, and will start the demining and
designated marksmanship courses in November.
38. (SBU) Results for October were; Captures, 93 (19 narcos, 12
FARC/ELN, 2 BACRIM and 60 common criminals), Seizures 121 weapons,
8291 galllons of liquid precursors, 1719 kilograms of solid
precursors, 85 kilograms of cocaine, 5898 kilograms of marijuana, 30
vehicles, and deactivated 9 improvised explosive devices.
39. (SBU) The Ministry of Defense's demobilization program received
391 deserters in October, a new record for a single month, totaling
2,994 individuals so far this year. If the current demobilization
rate persists for November and December, demobilization rates for
2008 will surpass the 2007 record year when 3,192 demobilized by
approximately 500 individuals. The
quality of demobilization continues to improve with mid-level
leadership demobilization doubling, and an increase of 17 percent in
demobilization of experienced combatants as compared to the same
period in 2007. The most common motivations for desertion from the
illegal groups are poor quality of life, physical abuse by their
commanders, and military pressure. Incidences of demobilization due
to military pressure has
increased significantly since 2007. This "carrot and stick"
approach is reaping great rewards for the Colombian Ministry of
Defense (MOD).
40. (SBU) The fourth major demobilization promotion event
"Chevere-Fiesta" took place in Southeastern Colombia on October 30.
Thousands of residents from San Jose del Guaviare and surrounding
locales joined senior military commanders to promote demobilization.
The event included a concert with typical music from the Colombian
plains (Musica Llanera in Spanish), a children's parade for peace,
and a special appearance by Colombian soccer star Carlos "El Pibe"
Valderama. El Pibe played soccer with children from the area and
encouraged them to
fight for peace.
41. (SBU) There were 6262 tracks over Colombia, of which seven were
declared Unknown Assumed Suspect. Host nation responded to all
seven. Three were overwater and were visually identified with the
information passed to neighboring nations. One was impounded after
landing at Magangue, Bolivar Department, but no illegal items were
found. One boat was impounded after coordination with the Colombian
Navy and 755 kgs of cocaine were impounded along with the boat.
42. (SBU) In October, the interagency complaints committee received
65 new claims of alleged spray damage to legal crops. NAS
initialized a payment to one complainant totaling 32,468,500 COP
(approximately 13,983 USD) and will conclude this payment in
November. As of October 31, 114 people were compensated totaling
1,077,000,257 COP (approximately 461,000 USD). The transfer of fuel
payment responsibilities from the USG to the GOC has not caused any
significant delays in complaint verification visits. During
October, 85 sites were visited in the departments of Guaviare, Meta,
Nario, and Putumayo.
43. (SBU) The 18 verification mission field component occurred
between September 19-26 in the departments of Antioquia and Nario;
Gyrocam images were taken of the remaining departments. The
verification team began analyzing these images, and upon completion
will draft a report explaining the findings of the mission.
44. (SBU) Face sheets of the funds received by the end of FY 08 for
the amount of $13,609,924 were signed by the Ministry of Defense.
With the signature of this last group of documents all funds
received at post are legalized according to INL policy.
45. (SBU) NAS Warehouse received 255 Kodiak Trucks for CNP
Carabineros; Ambassador Brownfield visited the warehouse. NAS
Customs received one C-26 and is preparing to export one Cessna
Caravan that belongs to CNP Aravi. NAS Audit team increased
co-workers knowledge of NAS programs by arranging ARAVI-supported
site visits to Guaymaral.
46. (SBU) The fieldwork for the National Household Drug Survey
began. The National Consulting Center (CNC in its Spanish acronym)
will interview 39,000 households and aims to have the fieldwork
completed by mid-December when OAS's Inter-American Drug Abuse
Control Commission (CICAD in its Spanish acronym) will start
analyzing the results.
47. (SBU) The Colombian Government started having planning sessions
to consolidate its drug demand prevention efforts. The GOC aims to
launch its drug demand prevention strategy on November 27.
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