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First, U.S. generals David Petraeus and Stanley A. McChrystal played a pivotal role in designing Colombia’s new counterinsurgency strategy to target the mid-level command structures of the Revolutionary Armed Forced of Colombia (FARC). Now, U.S. Army general Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, is further increasing military ties between Colombia and the United States.
Last week Dempsey visited Colombia, which may be on the road to becoming the third theater of U.S. military operations after Afghanistan and Iraq. Dempsey revealed that Army and perhaps Marine Corps colonels that have commanded combat brigades in Iraq and Afghanistan will be arriving to Colombia in a few weeks to share their experiences with the Colombian military. The move is an effort to improve the counterinsurgency performance of the Colombian armed forces.
“We learned how to defeat al-Qaida by attacking the network along its entire length,” Dempsey told reporters during the trip. “Now in that case we did most, if not all, of the heavy lifting. The question here [in South America] would be, can we take the same paradigm in how to attack a network—but not do it ourselves?"
The U.S. personnel will be housed in the strategic Larandia military base in the department of Caqueta, which has been core to the offensive against the FARC. It is reported that Larandia also housed Israeli military personnel and private security contractors such as Dyncorp.
The increasing U.S. intervention sheds light on the growing importance of Colombia for the U.S. military strategy in the Pacific-Atlantic-Amazon triangle. The region is a key node for U.S. hemisphere security, and an important reason that the United States is not keen about the growing assertiveness of regional players such as Brazil and Venezuela. Colombia has become the most reliable satellite for the U.S. hemispheric security strategy. As Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez once said, Colombia has become the “Israel of Latin America,” with the largest military in the region, on par with Brazil.
For the United States, defeating the Marxist insurgency in Colombia has become an imperative in order to set up the U.S. hemispheric security regime. Given the training, aid, and experiences that the Colombian armed forces have gained over the country’s nearly 50-year civil, they could even be put at the service of the U.S. global conflicts, ranging from fighting drugs in Central America to insurgencies in Africa, Asia, or in the Middle East.
For more from Nazih Richani's blog, Colombian Cuadernos, visit nacla.org/blog/cuadernos-colombianos, or see the NACLA Report July/August 2009, "Coercion Incorporated: Paramilitary Colombia." Subscribe to NACLA