This is an August 2007 copy of a website maintained by the Center for International Policy. It is posted here for historical purposes. The Center for International Policy no longer maintains this resource.

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Last Updated:6/21/02
U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) briefing paper, June 2002
MILITARY ASSISTANCE UNDER PLAN COLOMBIA IS
SUBSTANTIALLY BEHIND SCHEDULE.

Based on recent information provided by officials at State/INL and the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá, plans for using the helicopters and related military assistance provided to the Colombia under Plan Colombia have fallen substantially behind schedule and prospects for near-term fixes are bleak. Plan Colombia called for delivering 74 Blackhawks and 30 Super Hueys (UH-IIs) to the Colombian Army for airlifting U.S.-trained counternarcotics forces to conduct counternarcotics operations. The Blackhawks are in Colombia, and the Huey-IIs are scheduled for delivery by the end of 2002.

  • The Army was supposed to provide about 250 pilots for initial-entry, rotary-wing training and others for mechanics training, but it has been slow in providing the number of trainees needed. Although State/INL provided 10 UH-1H helicopters for initial training, they are not being maintained. The original intent was that these entry-level pilots would transition to the UH-IIs.
  • Mechanics' training for the Blackhawks has proceeded, but class sizes have not met goals. Currently, Sikorsky is maintaining the Blackhawks and recently extended its contract from 2 to 5 years.
  • Originally, the Colombian Air Force agreed to provide pilots-in-command to fly the Army's Blackhawks. This didn't happen. As a result, the helicopters are not being used.

In addition,

  • The Colombian Army is relying on the State Department's contractor (DynCorp) to maintain 36 UH-1Ns that were provided as an interim measure until the Blackhawks and UH-IIs were available.
  • The Colombian Air Force is making very little use of its U.S.-provided A-37 aircraft to interdict drug trafficking operations.

Moreover, the Colombian government has recently not supported coca and poppy aerial eradication operations because of political concerns, has not initiated changes to its draft laws that are needed for the military to increase its manpower, nor has it budgeted for increases in its defense spending to support the planned increased role of its military.

Many of the administration officials we talked to expressed frustration with the overall pace of Plan Colombia and the lack of Colombian commitment to the program, and expressed interest in having GAO examine the status of and effectiveness of U.S. counternarcotics assistance to the Colombian military.

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