News


DATE=5/26/98
TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
NUMBER=2-232820
TITLE=U-S MILITARY / COLOMBIA (L)
BYLINE=MICHAEL BOWMAN
DATELINE=BRASILIA
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 

INTRO:  THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE U-S ARMED FORCES SOUTHERN 
COMMAND SAYS THE PENTAGON OPERATES TWO MILITARY PROGRAMS IN 
COLOMBIA.  ONE INSTRUCTS COLOMBIAN FORCES IN ANTI-DRUG TACTICS; 
THE OTHER SERVES TO TRAIN ELITE U-S TROOPS THAT SPECIALIZE IN 
POTENTIAL OPERATIONS IN LATIN AMERICA.  GENERAL CHARLES WILHELM 
ADDRESSED THE TOPIC (TUESDAY) AFTER THE WASHINGTON POST 
(NEWSPAPER) REPORTED THE EXISTENCE OF U-S SPECIAL FORCES IN 
COLOMBIA.  V-O-A'S MICHAEL BOWMAN REPORTS FROM THE BRAZILIAN 
CAPITAL, WHERE GENERAL WILHELM IS ACCOMPANYING U-S DEFENSE 
SECRETARY WILLIAM COHEN ON AN OFFICIAL VISIT.

TEXT:   GENERAL WILHELM SAYS ALL U-S MILITARY MISSIONS IN 
COLOMBIA ADHERE STRICTLY TO U-S POLICY DIRECTIVES, AND THAT THE 
ACTIVITIES OF U-S ARMED FORCES IN COLOMBIA ARE SCRUTINIZED MORE 
CLOSELY THAN THOSE CONDUCTED IN ANY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE REGION. 
HE ACKNOWLEDGES U-S SPECIAL FORCES ARE ACTIVE IN COLOMBIA, TAKING
PART IN WHAT IS KNOWN AS "JOINT COMBINED EXERCISES AND TRAINING" 
(J-CET).  THE GENERAL DID NOT REVEAL SPECIFIC ACTIVITIES 
ASSOCIATED WITH THE TRAINING, BUT INDICATED THEY ARE DESIGNED 
PRIMARILY TO BENEFIT ELITE U-S TROOPS RATHER THAN THEIR COLOMBIAN
COUNTERPARTS.

                        // WILHELM ACT //

         THE GOAL IS TO SHARPEN THEIR LANGUAGE SKILLS, TO MAKE 
         SURE THAT THEY ARE FAMILIAR WITH THEIR (GEOGRAPHICAL) 
         AREA (OF SPECIALIZATION), TO GIVE THEM OPPORTUNITIES TO 
         TRAIN IN THE ENVIRONMENTS THAT ARE PECULIAR TO THE 
         REGION AND TO SHARPEN THEIR SKILLS FOR THEIR MOST LIKELY
         MISSIONS.

                          // END ACT //

GENERAL WILHELM SAYS THE EXISTENCE OF U-S SPECIAL FORCES IN 
COLOMBIA IS NOT A NEW DEVELOPMENT.  HE SAYS ELITE U-S TROOPS HAVE
CONDUCTED AT LEAST TWO DOZEN EXERCISES IN COLOMBIA IN EACH OF THE
LAST THREE YEARS.   THE SOUTHERN COMMAND GENERAL SAYS THE ONLY 
OTHER U-S MILITARY ACTIVITY IN THE SOUTH AMERICAN NATION CONSISTS
OF A PROGRAM TO TRAIN COLOMBIAN TROOPS IN COUNTER-NARCOTICS 
OPERATIONS.

                      // WILHELM ACT #2 //

         NUMBER ONE, THERE ARE NO U-S ADVISORS IN COLOMBIA.  
         POINT NUMBER TWO, THERE ARE NO U-S PERSONNEL ENGAGED IN 
         GROUND TACTICAL OR AIR TACTICAL OPERATIONS WITH 
         COLOMBIAN FORCES WHATSOEVER.

                          // END ACT //

GENERAL WILHELM SAYS THE SCOPE AND PARAMETERS OF THE U-S MILITARY
PROGRAM IN COLOMBIA HAVE BEEN RESTRICTED.  THE RESTRICTIONS COME 
AS A RESULT OF THE UNITED STATES' DECERTIFICATION OF COLOMBIA AS 
A RELIABLE ALLY IN THE WAR ON DRUGS - - AS WELL AS U-S CONCERNS 
ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES ON THE PART OF SOME UNITS OF COLOMBIAN 
SECURITY FORCES.

                      // WILHELM ACT #3 //

         THE TRAINING HAS BEEN FOCUSED EXCLUSIVELY ON THOSE 
         SKILLS THAT AID THE COLOMBIANS TO MORE EFFECTIVELY 
         PROSECUTE THEIR COUNTER-NARCOTICS OPERATIONS.  THOSE ARE
         THE GOALS AND THE OBJECTIVES: PROFESSIONALIZATION OF THE
         ARMED FORCES, RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, AND TO INCREASE 
         THEIR EFFICIENCY IN CONDUCTING COUNTER- NARCOTICS 
         OPERATIONS.

                          // END ACT //

COLOMBIAN TROOPS BATTLE BOTH DRUG CARTELS AND LEFTIST GUERRILLAS.
GENERAL WILHELM SAYS THE UNITED STATES DOES HAVE CONCERNS ABOUT 
COLOMBIA'S SECURITY SITUATION, ADDING THAT THE RISK OF TERRORIST 
ACTIVITY AND OTHER ATTACKS IS RISING AS THE COUNTRY APPROACHES 
ITS PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.  (SIGNED)



NEB/MCB/TMD/PT

26-May-98 3:51 PM EDT (1951 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America
.