Colombian and United States Efforts
Colombia and the U.S. are the two primary countries that are leading the effort against FARC. Colombia has taken the initial lead and is backed by United States financial and military support.
In 2000 the United States supplied one billion in foreign aid, $750 million per year during the Bush administration which also incorporated the supply of American military equipment including Blackhawk helicopters and combat boats. In 2003 the United States government introduced a training program which consisted of 4,000 Colombian troops. 32,000 Colombian troops were eventually trained by Pentagon’s International Military Education and Training program. Then, in 2005 there was then an increase in U.S military aid and assistance by $300,000. Before this, Executive Order 12978 which was introduced by President Clinton in 1995 to “block assets and prohibit transactions with significant narcotics traffickers” giving more power to the U.S. against the war on drugs. Fast forward to the recent past President Obama’s Southwest Border Initiative was enacted with surveillance, personnel, border security, fencing by the National Guard, as well as, leading financial measures to freeze assets as well like Clinton.
Colombia has taken the lead by introducing the Plan Lazo, Colombia’s first approach by military force which was known as the State of Siege. Previously, Colombian civilians were authorized to own military grade weapons, as well as aerial fumigations (1990s) which didn’t work so well and ultimately strained the relationship between the Colombian government and FARC further. Colombia had multiple plans: Plan Colombia which was a $1.3 billion plan introduced by the United States military that provided a diplomatic aid initiative aimed at combating Colombian drug cartels and left-wing insurgent groups in Colombian territory. This was replaced by Plan Patriota-(Pres. Uribe) which was a military plan developed by the Government of Colombia with the financial support of the United States to get troops deeper into remote areas of Colombia which helped to combat FARC and also introduce new social programs. This was then replaced by Plan Victoria, which incorporated asymmetric warfare led by U.S. Southern Command and American Special Forces. They also introduced high border, security as well as peace talks which included the possibilities of a Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) program. Colombia also conducted military raids to kill Victor Julio Suarez Rojas-FARC commander and Supreme Leader Alfonso Cano.
U.S. Policies and Recommendations
Before 9/11 there was a mix of ideas in regards to how the U.S. should handle the NARCO –terror group FARC, whether it be by increasing drug treatment and awareness or to combat the source of income for FARC by destroying the drugs at their source. After 9/11 there was a mentality to treat FARC just like one would Al-Qaeda. Currently the U.S. policy on Columbia is to “support the Colombian Government’s efforts to strengthen its democratic institutions, promote respect for human rights and the rule of law, intensify counter-narcotics efforts, foster socio-economic development, address immediate humanitarian needs, and end the threats to democracy posed by narcotics trafficking and terrorism” (U.S. Government, 2003).
The fight against FARC must remain a multi-state effort with strong regional alliances and help from the U.S. The presence of high border security will be a key determinant in stopping or reducing FARC activities. Also installing financial measures, freezing assets from both U.S. and Colombia. Ending involvement with AUC United Self-Defense Groups of Colombia would provide a decrease in violence. Holding peace talks and/or joint military intervention would allow for a more pleasant mitigation of terror. Finally, only through a joint effort by Colombia and its regional allies will a prosperous and stable society be obtainable.