Cablegate: Nas Monthly Report for September 2009

Published: Fri 16 Oct 2009 07:09 PM
DE RUEHBO #3300/01 2891910
R 161909Z OCT 09
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: NAS Monthly Report for September 2009
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: During September, aerial and manual eradicators
experienced an uptick in attacks on eradication efforts. The
complaints committee's resources are strained as a deluge of new
claims of alleged spray damage to legal crops in the CSDI-priority
zone of Narino continues. The aerial eradication program is on
track to reach the 2009 spray goal, however, insufficient funding
will further impede manual eradication program's ability to reach
its calendar year eradication goal. Medical evacuation flights are
increasingly becoming a major part of the Plan Helicopter Program's
mission. On September 27-30, NAS hosted the ONDCP Director Gil
Kerlikowske, who met with GOC representatives including President
Uribe, observed a DARE event at a vulnerable school, and visited
Tumaco, Narino to learn about Embassy Bogota's Colombia Strategic
Development Initiative (CSDI). NAS Director met with the Commander
of the Colombian Army who expressed his appreciation for U.S.
assistance, promised strong support for NAS programs, and was
receptive to the possibility of developing a joint intelligence
task force in Tumaco. END SUMMARY.
I. Aerial Eradication Program Update
II. Manual Eradication Program Update
III. Plan Colombia Helicopter Program (PCHP) Update
IV. Colombia National Police Air Service Support (ARAVI)
Program Update
V. Interdiction Program Update
VI. Base security/Road Interdiction/NVD Program Update
VII. Maritime Interdiction Program Update
VIII. Communications/Weapons Program Update
IX. Port Security Program (PSP) Update
X. Colombian Army Counter-Drug (CD) Brigade Program
XI. Reestablish Police Presence Program (Carabineros)
XII. Air Bridge Denial (ABD) Program Update
XIII. Environmental Program Update
XIV. Individual Demobilization Program Update
2. (SBU) Aircraft based in Forward Operating Locations (FOLs) in
Larandia, Villagarzon, Tumaco, and Caucasia sprayed a total of
9,462 hectares in September. A total of 1,416 ha were sprayed out
of Tumaco; 5,962 ha out of Larandia and Villagarzon; and 2,084 out
of Caucasia. The aerial eradication team has sprayed 82,546 ha
through nine months, toward its 100,000 ha calendar-year goal.
September saw a marked increase in attacks on aerial eradication
assets: eradication aircraft experienced 11 hostile-fire incidents
and 28 impacts in September, bringing the total for the calendar
year to 29 hostile fire incidents and 53 impacts; no one has been
wounded or killed as a result of these incidents.
3. (SBU) Phase III of the GOC's 2009 manual eradication campaign
(GME program) will end in early October. Total eradication of coca
for September was 7,295 hectares - bringing the GME program's
year-to-date total to 37,947 hectares. Including eradication
carried out by the Colombian security forces, total coca
eradication through September was 43,491 hectares, well short of
the 70,000 manual eradication goal for the year. GME's Phase IV
begins in mid-October and will run through December 15. The GOC's
2009 poppy eradication goal is 500 hectares. The police are
fielding a 40-man unit to provide security for 15 civilian
eradicators to attack poppy cultivation in Cauca beginning in
4. (SBU) Reduced funding for Phase IV will result in fewer GMEs
than expected in the field. Police plans to increase the pace of
eradication of coca by adding police units to provide security were
cancelled due to insufficient funds to contract civilian
eradicators. Given the resources allocated for manual eradication
through the end of the year, it is unlikely that manual eradication
of coca will reach the annual goal of 70,000 ha.
5. (SBU) In September, landmine and hostile fire incidents killed
five civilian eradicators and one security personnel. In one
incident, three eradicators were killed and six soldiers injured by
a command detonated explosive device in Norte de Santander. On
September 29, a 20-year old carabinero was killed and two others
injured by a landmine during manual eradication operations near
Tumaco. During this year's manual eradication operations, 38
people (25 security personnel and 13 civilians, including one UN
Topographer) have died. 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 September, COLAR had
eradicated 4,173 ha of coca, 44 ha of poppy and two ha of
marijuana, and the CNP had eradicated 1,207 ha of coca, nine ha of
poppy and 47 ha of marijuana.
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7. (SBU) PCHP aircraft operated from Tumaco, Larandia, and
Tolemaida bases and flew a total of 864 hours providing air
assaults, air movements, reconnaissance, medical evacuations, and
support missions for the CD Brigade and other vetted COLAR units.
Helicopter hours have been depleted by damage to the aircraft and
the increasing need to provide additional protection from ground
fire incidents. Tumaco-based PCHP helicopters provided support for
BACNA 2 (Counternarcotics Battalion of the CD Brigade) air assault
missions and armed escort for COLAR MI-17 helicopters supporting
manual eradication operations. PCHP helicopters supported the
ONDCP visit to Tumaco by providing air transportation and escort
assistance. PCHP flew 24 hours supporting six medical evacuation
flights that transported nine patients.
8. (SBU) ARAVI's NAS-supported fleet flew 2,225 mission hours in
September. The seven UH-60 Black Hawks closed out the month with
176 flight hours and an Operational Readiness (OR) rate of 76
percent. One UH-60 is undergoing depot maintenance for structural
repairs. The Bell 212 fleet flew 335 mission hours with an OR rate
of 63 percent. One Bell 212 still needs to be inducted into the
Service Life Extension Program/Rewire. The Huey II OR rate was 65
percent while flying 1,143 hours. Two Huey II aircraft, or six
percent of the fleet, are
currently undergoing depot maintenance for structural repairs. The
DC-3 fleet flew 274 hours in September, with an OR rate of
52 percent; one DC-3 is undergoing a 2,000-hour inspection. The
last C-26 Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance Aerial
Platform (ISRAP) PNC 0224 arrived on October 3.
9. (SBU) During September, the CNP's Antinarcotics Directorate
(DIRAN) seized ten metric tons of cocaine hydrochloride (HCl) and
cocaine base, 38 metric tons of coca leaf, 7.7 metric tons of
marijuana, and 40 kgs of heroin. The CNP also destroyed 21 cocaine
HCl laboratories and 83 coca base laboratories, and captured 386
metric tons of precursor chemicals. Since January 1, 2009, the CNP
has seized a total of 102.4 metric tons of cocaine/cocaine base,
395.4 metric tons of coca leaf, 128.7 metric tons of marijuana, and
524 kgs of heroin. The CNP has also destroyed 151 cocaine HCl
laboratories, 1,193 coca base laboratories, and seized 22,480
metric tons of precursor chemicals.
10. (SBU) On September 13, the Tulua Junglas destroyed a cocaine
HCl laboratory on the Pacific Coast in southern Choc???? Department
that contained 160 kgs of cocaine. From September 10-14, 70 Bogota
Junglas uncovered two FARC 47th Front arms/explosives caches near
Puerto Triunfo, Antioquia that contained 590 antipersonnel mines,
29 claymore mines, 70 kgs of explosive mixture, 200 kgs of ammonium
nitrate, 180 fuse igniters, detonators, detonation cord, and a time
fuse. Reports indicate that the mines were going to be used to
attack manual eradication teams. Following this operation, the
Bogota Junglas deployed to Cucuta on September 15-17 and destroyed
three cocaine HCl laboratories containing 1.5 metric tons of
cocaine and two metric tons of precursor chemicals. On September
14, the DIRAN Zone One Intelligence Group captured 60 metric tons
of precursor chemicals stored in a warehouse in Pacho,
Cundinamarca. The DIRAN Zone 6 (Necocli, Antioquia) Operational
Company destroyed a cocaine HCl laboratory in the municipality of
Necocli on September 16. On September 22, the DIRAN Ipiales
(Narino) Company, working based on an informant's tip, set up a
road checkpoint and captured a woman carrying 100,000 euros
(approximately $146,820) taped to her body. On August 27, the same
Company had captured an Ipiales taxi driver transporting 740,000
euros ($1.086 million).
11. (SBU) A 30-man Santa Marta Jungla contingent continued
supporting the Search Block force in Monteria, Cordoba that has
been looking for the remnants of a major narcotrafficking group.
DIRAN deployed a 65-man element to Tumaco (45 Junglas, 12 DIRAN
Intel, and 8 ARAVI crew members) to conduct long-term
counternarcotics operations in Southeast Narino Department.
12. (SBU) The $670,000 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project at the
Facatativa Ammunition Storage Facility will be completed on
November 5 and will provide support for the Facatativa Jungla
Company, the DIRAN, and the CNP's Carabinero School.
13. (SBU) On September 2, The DIRAN Junglas deployed a nine-man
Mobile Training Team (MTT) to Mexico to provide 60 days of
antinarcotics training to 60 members of the Jalisco State Police.
On September 14-28, the DIRAN Junglas conducted a two-week Program
of Instruction (POI) for 17 Colombian Air Force (COLAF) special
operations personnel focusing on survival, land navigation, and
operations planning. The DIRAN's four-man MTT will travel to the
Bolivian Garras School, Chimore on October 17 to provide
instruction on cocaine laboratory destruction, chemical safety, and
evidence handling; Argentinean, Paraguayan, and Brazilian nationals
will also attend this training. The Jungla Commando International
Course, made up of 54 international and 29 CNP students, will
continue until December 3. The Combat Medic Course's 39 students
will graduate on December 15. Six new U.S. Army Special Forces
trainers arrived in Colombia on September 24 and will assist with
training at Pijaos through April. The DEA is helping the
Facatativa Junglas to develop a live fire reaction pistol and rifle
range. The Junglas set up a cocaine HCl laboratory and Jungle
patrol demonstrations in Tumaco for the ONDCP visit.
14. (SBU) On September 2, 44 officers from the DIRAN, Carabineros,
Navy, Marine Corps, and the CD Brigade graduated from the Defensa
De Areas (Base Security) course in Tumaco. The next course will
take place in Necocli in October and will be comprised of 40
officers from the DIRAN Northwest Zone base, DIRAN officers from
other departments, and COLAR personnel currently assigned to the
Uraba Gulf area; the course will end on November 4.
15. (SBU) The Tierradentro, Antioquia IDIQ project begun in late
May was completed in September. Phase II of the Miraflores,
Guaviare IDIQ project should be finished by late October or early
November. All 165 of the new NVDs (Night Vision Devices) were
inspected and sent to designated EMCAR units located throughout the
16. (SBU) On September 14, the Colombian Coast Guard in
Buenaventura located a large cache in a mangrove containing 502 kgs
of marijuana. On September 17 in Choco, the Coast Guard captured a
"go-fast" boat with 300 kgs of cocaine. On September 23, the
Buenaventura Coast Guard seized another "go-fast" after a struggle
during which the narcotraffickers threw a significant amount of
cocaine overboard; the Coast Guard was able to capture the vessel
and arrest two men, recovering 112 kgs of cocaine.
17. (SBU) The GRUIN (Naval Intelligence tactical team) conducted
live fire exercises and zeroed the unit's new, NAS-procured,
Advanced Combat Optical Gun (ACOG) sites and Eotech holographic
weapon sites. GRUIN tactical units established an observation post
in the Cesar department and found a cache belonging to the BACRIM
(emerging criminal band) group "Los Rastrojos" that contained 683
kgs of cocaine, six AK-47 assault rifles, one mini-Uzi, four hand
grenades, and one pistol.
18. (SBU) The DIRAN weapons section repaired three M60 machine
guns, four M9 Beretta pistols, forty M16, thirteen M249 automatic
weapons, and five metal detectors. The weapons section also
provided various tactical materials to DIRAN/DICAR police forces
assigned to manual eradication operations. A Mobile Training Team
(MTT) traveled to Santander, Narino, and Caqueta to train local
police forces. NAS installed a security camera system at the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers-built armory in Facatativa, allowing for
24-hour monitoring of the armory via closed intranet systems around
the country.
19. (SBU) With NAS support, the Immigration and Customs
Enforcement agency (ICE) and the CNP seized a record-breaking
amount of $40 million in cash in Buenaventura's port. This seizure
is the largest of its kind in Colombian maritime history.
20. (SBU) DIRAN's Ports and Airports Area (ARPAE) units seized 407
kgs of cocaine, one kg of heroin, and 80,000 pills of
pseudoephedrine (going to Mexico) at Bogota's El Dorado Airport and
arrested 25 people. At the Pereira airport, 15 kgs of cocaine and
3.8 kgs of heroin were seized. In Cali's airport, 90 kgs of
cocaine were seized and 13 people arrested. 2.7 kgs of heroin were
seized at the Buenaventura's port; 190 kgs at the Cartagena's port;
and 14.6 kgs of cocaine at the Santa Marta's port.
21. (SBU) NAS Bogota supported the participation of two DIRAN
polygraph examiners in the Latin American Polygraph Congress in
Lima, Peru. The DIRAN unit conducted polygraph exams on 117
members of the ARPAE and Internal Affairs sections; 87 of those
tested passed the exam, 25 failed, and five had inconclusive
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22. (SBU) The CD Brigade's First, Second, and Third Battalions
supported eradication and conducted interdiction and combat
operations from bases in Tumaco and Larandia. The battalions
conducted interdiction and combat operations against the FARC's
Daniel Aldana Mobil Column, 29 Front, and the ELN's Guerrero Del
Sindagua Company in Narino and Caqueta. The CD Brigade secured a
total of 14,533 ha for aerial eradication and destroyed seven coca
paste laboratories, five enemy camps, and one enemy cache, seizing
one kg of coca paste, 1,180 gallons of liquid precursors, 3,115 kgs
of solid precursors, 200 kgs of processed coca leaf, and 3,153,832
coca seedlings. During combat operations, the battalion
confiscated one rifle, 231 rounds of ammunition, and one hand
grenade. The Third Battalion killed one FARC terrorist during
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23. (SBU) EMCAR 43 (mobile carabinero squadron) eradicated a total
of 57.5 hectares of illegal crops in Caqueta in September and
seized a total of 90 weapons and ten hand grenades, capturing 36
persons implicated in drug trafficking, terrorism, and homicide.
The first students selected through the police scholarship program,
including ten indigenous police recruits, will soon go through
evaluations in Tulua, Valle.
24. (SBU) Out of 1,320 air tracks over Colombia, three were
declared Unknown, Assumed Suspect (UAS) in September. Colombia
responded to two of the UAS; the third aircraft departed Colombian
airspace before it could be inspected. Colombian and Panamanian
authorities shared information that led to the seizure in Panama of
an aircraft that was carrying drugs from Colombia; the Panamanian
authorities arrested the pilot and impounded the aircraft.
25. (SBU) In September, the DIRAN closed 1,624 cases, bringing the
back-log total to 2,284 cases. During the month, the interagency
complaints committee received 465 new claims of alleged spray
damage to legal crops; 358 of these cases originated from
Barbacoas, Narino. The antinarcotics police continue to work on
decreasing the back-log generated from Narino over the past two
months however, incomplete applications have impeded an expeditious
resolution of the complaints. Out of the 2,778 complaints received
from Narino in July and August, 1,587 have been closed. It is
likely that an additional 900 will be closed by November.
26. (U) The NAS-contracted personnel began building a laboratory
at the National Institute of Health where the scientists will be
able to verify the presence of glyphosate in human bodily fluid
samples. By mid-October, when this laboratory will be completed,
Colombia will have achieved full capacity to analyze glyphosate in
soil, water, and body fluid samples.
27. (U) The environmental section continues to promote
environmental conservation messages by explaining the negative
effects of illicit crop production on the environment. During
September, the picture museum was displayed at the Unicentro
shopping center, and it will travel to the Gran Estacion and Portal
La 80 malls in October. Additionally, several pictures from the
picture museum will be placed in Bogota's libraries.
28. (SBU) The Ministry of Defense (MOD) Humanitarian Program for
Demobilized Individuals (PAHD) has received 20,042 former
combatants since 2002, including 203 insurgents in September and
2,125 thus far in 2009. Demobilization rates are approximately 20
percent below those in 2008, and a tenth lower than those in 2007.
Eighty percent of the demobilized in 2009 are former FARC members
and the rest are ELN. Desire for a new start and way of life,
abuse by former comrades, political divergence, and military
pressure are the major motivations for desertion. Information
voluntarily provided by 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 percent
of demobilized individuals have not completed elementary school.
The MOD continues to strengthen initiatives for prevention of
illegal recruitment and psychological assistance to the
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