Mike Doubleday, deputy assistant secretary of defense for public affairs,
briefing, December 1, 1998
Tuesday, December 1, 1998
- 1:30 p.m.
Presenter: Capt. Mike Doubleday, USN, DASD (PA)
Q: The aid to Colombia today
to fight the drugs, do you have any idea of what kind of a training that
would accompany such aid?
A: What kind of training would
accompany the aid that is provided to Colombia?
A: Well, the Secretary, as
you know, is in Colombia for the Defense Ministerial of the Americas,
but that actually is coincidental to this article that was published today.
The United States has provided to Colombia assistance in the counter-drug
area. We do that by providing equipment in some cases, helicopters, that
sort of thing, repair parts, spare parts, some training of individuals
and units in counter-drug activity.
Q: How many American troops
are in Colombia now?
A: There are 127 DoD personnel.
These include -- that number includes 100 uniformed personnel, seven individuals
who are civilians, and 20 contractors. The contractors are under contract
to run our radar sites primarily, and to perform maintenance on those
Q: The 100 uniformed are primarily
A: I don't have a breakdown.
I would not be surprised since they have the language capability.
Q:...the U.S. is going to
be massively increasing this. Does the Pentagon have any view on the advisability
of getting more deeply involved in Colombia?
A: We certainly see Colombia
as a country that provides a significant portion of the drugs that flow
into the United States, and as such our effort is focused on controlling
that to the extent that we can through this relationship we have with
primarily the law enforcement portions of the Colombian government, but
to some extent also with the military in Colombia. About 80 percent of
our training is focused on law enforcement agencies in Colombia, which
are assigned the responsibility of this counter-drug activity that goes
on down there.
Our training and activities
with regard to military units and personnel are for those units that are
designated with a mission for this counter-drug activity.
Q: But leftist guerrillas
and narco-traffickers are closely tied together and cooperating in Colombia.
Does it bother the Pentagon at all that in the process of going after
drugs your people might be getting involved in the civil war down there?
A: Charlie, you make a very
good point there. The primary funding for the insurrectionist that is
going on there in Colombia, and has been going on for more than two decades,
is based on drug money, extortion and kidnapping. But our focus is on
the counter-drug part of that situation. As I just mentioned, our focus
is primarily with law enforcement agencies and with those military units
that have been given the mission of counter-drug activities. We are not
involved in counter-insurrection activities.
Q: Are the Special Forces
armed down there? Do they carry loaded weapons?
A: I would imagine that any
forces that we send into any kind of a situation like that certainly are
armed to the extent necessary to protect themselves.
Q: This Administration and
previous ones have made a very clear line between counter-drug and counter-guerrilla
activity and we were funding the former and we were not funding the latter.
Congress in adding the additional $100 million and also the Colombian
government, they tend to very much blur that and in fact dump it all together.
Are we in danger of...
A: We don't blur it over here
because we have no intention of getting involved in any kind of counter-insurrection
activities. Our focus is on the counter-drug activities. That's what we've
done in the past, that's what we plan to do in the future, and we have
no interest in any kind of other operations.
Q: Will any of the training
include conventional military training?
A: The training is primarily
designed to take down these laboratories -- to do eradication of the fields
where these drugs are grown -- has to do with obtaining evidence. I am
not aware of any kind of specific training that is involved in military
operations except to the extent that any kind of activity like this where
you're moving against a force which is very well armed, in fact in some
cases armed better than the military, that is actually trying to deal
with them -- that there has to be an element of self protection.
Q: Will the U.S. share intelligence
with them on things like...
Q:...locations of rebel forces,
that kind of thing?
A: Our intelligence, of course,
is designed to focus on the counter-drug activities. But as I said before
and as Charlie pointed out, the rebels are very closely tied to the drug
culture down there. Indeed much of our radar site, our air activity is
designed to pointing out where this drug activity is taking place.
Q: Are the Special Forces
supported by the Spectre gunships?
Q: Gunships. Do they have
Spectre gunships supporting them?
A: I am not aware of any Spectre
gunships that are down there.
A: I am not aware of any down
there. Maybe we can take the question and find out if indeed that is the
Q: There are a lot of helicopters
in this package, this congressional package, like 40 or something. Who's
going to be maintaining... That's a pretty large force.
A: Do you mean is it going
to be U.S. military personnel?
A: My guess is no, it is not
U.S. military personnel. I can't give you any specifics on that. I don't
know whether it's going to be done by individuals who have been trained
and who are Colombians, or whether it is going to be done by contractors
that already have the technological expertise to maintain helicopters.
Q: If an increasingly strong
rebel force threatens the Colombian military, do you envision the United
States becoming more militarily involved?
A: I think, Pat, I've certainly
been attempting to make it very clear that our focus down there is counter-drug.
It is not counter-insurrectionist. The question you've asked is hypothetical.
We have walked a very careful line in our approach to dealing with this
very complex problem down there. We certainly do have a threat that comes
to us in the form of drugs that we are very concerned about, and we're
attempting to deal with that, but, at the same time, focus on what the
issue is and not get involved in any kind of insurrection activities.
Q: What if the stability of
the Colombian military police force reaches the point where the government
is that shaky, do we have a military role there?
A: I would not care to speculate.
Right now I think that that is not the case, and we will continue with
this very careful approach that we have been working for the last several
As of March 13, 2000, this
document is also available at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Dec1998/t12011998_t1201asd.html