Colombia: February 22, 2002



Speculation over whether the next phase of the War on Terror will be Iraq, the Philippines, or Somalia has overlooked another war: Colombia. Drugs from that nation cause considerably greater economic damage to the US than all terrorism, and the increasingly powerful rebels will become even more dangerous if they succeed in overthrowing the government. Going after Colombian rebels would be a reasonable fit for available forces, as the US would need only some light infantry and airpower. Buried in President Bush's new budget request is a plan to send "limited numbers" of US troops to Colombia to train the four infantry battalions of the 18th Colombian Army Brigade, which protects the key Occidental Petroleum pipeline that is a constant rebel target. Training this unit (and providing it with field advisors and air support) would be a relatively inexpensive first step toward defeating the FARC rebels (and the other two rebel groups).Stephen V Cole


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