March 22, 2008

How to beat an insurgency...

Abu Muqawama mentioned the excellent briefing on Colombia and the FARC presented by Colombian Vice-Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzón last weekend. Embarrassingly for a student of counter-insurgency, Abu Muqawama knows little about the FARC. Having said that, it appears as if Colombia is really kicking the snot out of them these days. Colombian officials are clear and unashamed about one thing: steady and generous U.S. aid has been critical to their success.

In a country where most people cannot remember a time of peace, Colombians are for the first time raising the possibility that a guerrilla group once thought invincible could be forced into peace negotiations or even defeated militarily.

Weakened by infiltrators and facing constant combat and aerial bombardment, the insurgency is losing members in record numbers. The FARC, as the group is known, lost 1,583 fighters in combat last year, its columns are plagued by command-and-control problems, and popular support is evaporating, the government of President Ýlvaro Uribe says.

Since 2000, the Uribe administration has received $5 billion in U.S. aid, mostly for military and anti-drug programs -- more than any other government outside the Middle East. The money has helped it revamp the Colombian army, paying for new helicopters and training for elite troops, although rights groups remain concerned about abuses, including the killings of civilians.

(Civilians? Those weren't civilians -- surely those were insurgent potentialities.)

Update: Charlie recommends...