The grand incognito here in Manta, the invisible bear lurking down
When the US military was unceremoniously forced from their longtime
Rather, they broke their operation down and set up shop in a series
When asked if the Manta base would play a role in the current "Plan
Meanwhile, today’s El
A Report From a Non-Government Organization Questions the Effectiveness of the Forward Operating Locations
A study completed over three years in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Holland and Ecuador, as part of an international initiative called the Drugs and Democracy program, sponsored by the Andean Action and the Transnational Institute, concluded that the Forward Operating Locations (FOL’s) of the US Military are part of a “new war-mongering spirit” on the part of the United States.
A new book titled “The War on Drugs and American Military Projection; the Forward Operating Locations in Latin America and the Caribbean” by Theo Roncken, Tom Blickman and Pien Metaal, analyzes American anti-drug policy after the closure of Howard Air Force Base in Panama. It looks at the role of the Department of Defense and the Southern Command en the region, the creation of the FOL’s, the doubts (some official) about their effectiveness and the internal debates in each of the countries where these American enclaves have been installed.
According to the book, after the abandonment of the base in Panama in May, 1999, the US State Department needed to find a way to control the flow of drugs from the producing countries of Bolivia, Colombia and Peru to the US.
The concept of the FOL’s, not an entirely new concept in military circles, was the brainchild of anti-drug tsar Gen. Barry McCafferey in 1998, when he was director of the National Office of the Drug Enforcement Agency.
The study, according to Theo Roncken, traces the desire of the Americans to insure a post-Panama military presence in the region.
In this context, the FOL were created to carry on the over 2,000 anti-drug operations run out of Howard AFB. In September, 1999, when Gen. Charles Wilhelm, commanding officer of the Southern Command, appeared before the US Senate to win support for the concept, he compared the cost of operation of antidrug efforts at Howard ($75.8 million) to the one-time cost of creating the FOL (($122 million).
In order to make an economic argument for their construction, Wilhelm calculated that over a period of 10 years the cost of operating the new bases would be less than previously budgeted for the operations out of Panama.
The Southern Command also touted the expanded coverage these bases would offer, as they would represent a deeper penetration into producing areas as well as coverage of the eastern Pacific area, where trafficking was on the increase.
“Once these bases are operative, our coverage will be 110% of what it was when Howard was our only base of operations,” said Wilhelm.
As to whether the FOL are potentially bases of military operations rather than exclusively intelligence gathering, the report notes that the construction of runways capable of handling any and all types of military aircraft indicates an increased risk that these bases may be used for other operations than the war on drugs.
It is also clear that the collection of intelligence data, including for example, human intelligence, electronic eavesdropping, aerial or satellite photographs , can be used not only to fight drug traffic, but also to monitor insurgent troop movements, arms traffic, terrorism and even illegal immigration.
In addition, the effectiveness of the FOL is questioned in the report. The General Accounting Office (US) concluded in a separate study that “military monitoring has not demonstrated the ability to contribute either to the interdiction of drug shipments, or to limit the drug supply reaching the United States, in any form proportional to its cost. Military involvement in stopping drug shipments has not increased our ability to stop the flow of cocaine onto the streets of the US.”
in Spanish, translated here by the Dowbrigade