Sunday, August 16, 2009

FACTBOX-Details on U.S. military in Latin America

FACTBOX-Details on U.S. military in Latin America

Fri Aug 14, 2009 1:42pm EDT
BOGOTA, Aug 14 (Reuters) - Colombia is poised to sign a deal to allow the U.S. military more access to its bases to enhance counter-drug operations after Washington lost access to a base at Manta, Ecuador it used for surveillance flights.

The proposal in Colombia has triggered ire among its Andean neighbors, especially Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a fierce U.S. critic, who says the plan could trigger war in South America. Other leaders called it worrisome.

U.S. officials say the plan is just an extension of existing cooperation with Colombia. [ID:nN14262229]

Here are details of current U.S. military operations at local installations in Latin America and the Caribbean:


U.S. military personnel: Approximately 268. A key operation in the region, the U.S. military in Colombia is involved mainly in training, logistical support and some intelligence backup for the Colombian armed forces to enhance their fight against cocaine traffickers and leftist FARC guerrillas. The United States has provided more than $5 billion in aid to Colombia since 2000. The current accord caps staff at 800 military and 600 civilian contractors.


U.S. military personnel: Approximately 1,900. The largest operation in Latin America is the joint task force at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard personnel are involved in detention operations on the island.


U.S. military personnel: Approximately 650. Joint task force Bravo at the Soto Cano Air Base, involving Army and Air Force, mainly to support disaster relief operations, humanitarian assistance and counter-drug operations.


U.S. military personnel: Approximately 150. A Forward Operating Location, or FOL, at local Comalapa Air Base installation. Navy officials and air crews are involved in drug surveillance missions in the eastern Pacific from the Central American country.


U.S. military personnel: Approximately 250. Another FOL in the Netherlands Antilles islands. Air Force crew and ground and support staff involved in counter-narcotics surveillance operations in an area that includes Colombia's Guajira Peninsula and the Venezuelan frontier region.


U.S. military personnel at time of full operation: Approximately 250, but currently less than 100 as the mission wraps up. U.S. FOL operation on Ecuador's Pacific coast was once a key piece in its counter-narcotics surveillance operations. Before leftist President Rafael Correa decided not to renew the deal, the base carried out more than 5,000 drug surveillance flights.

* Information from U.S. military's Southern Command, U.S. State Department, Reuters. (Reporting by Patrick Markey in Bogota; Editing by Will Dunham)



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