Colombian and Peruvian Air Forces Cooperate to Fight Drug Trafficking

Colombian and Peruvian Air Forces Cooperate to Fight Drug Trafficking

By Dialogo
November 03, 2015

The Peruvian Air Force (FAP, for its Spanish acronym) and the Colombian Air Force (FAC, for its Spanish acronym) have reached an accord to exchange information and conduct joint training sessions to combat drug-trafficking organizations.

Lieutenant General Julio César Valdez Pomareda, the FAP's Chief of Staff, and Major General Luis Ignacio Barón Casas, Second-in-Command and Chief of Staff for the FAC, met during the first joint meeting of the Air Forces' Chiefs of Staff from August 11-13 in Bogotá, Colombia. At the first of what is planned to be an annual meeting, they discussed how to “improve institutional capabilities and strengthen operational performance keeping in mind the hazards posed in border zones,” according to the FAC.

“The threats in border areas are offset by, among other things, combined aerial exercises, the real-time exchange of information concerning illegal air traffic, and the exchange of experiences at the operational and training levels."

The Air Forces' accord builds on an agreement the FAP and FAC signed in 2002 to combat drug trafficking and related crimes, such as the smuggling of weapons and other contraband.

Interoperability and training

Officials with the two Air Forces focused on four issues of cooperation between the FAP and FAC during the rest of 2015 and 2016:

Sharing their respective experiences using unmanned aircraft (ART), also known as drones;

Cooperating to produce a Military aircraft;

Exchanging information about their respective experiences using the A-37 simulator for training purposes;

Discussing the lessons FAP and FAC officials learned during an interoperability exercise held by the two countries, an event that Brazil helped arrange concerning the application of International Humanitarian Law (DIH).

“The standardization of phraseology, communication, the control of air traffic, and the capture of aircraft are essential in the fight against drug trafficking,” Retired FAP Lieutenant General Carlos Bohórquez Castellares told Diálogo. “
This is a gargantuan task and requires a great deal of coordination...these procedures must be continuously updated by the two countries to keep up with the new multidimensional threats that arise every day at the regional level. These threats include organized crime, terrorism, illegal mining, and human trafficking.”

Officials from the two Air Forces discussed their respective capabilities and shared information about their facilities and equipment. Those from the FAP, including Lt. Gen. Valdez, spent part of their time during the joint meeting with officials from the FAC's CACOM-4 -- which is also known as “the Cradle of Rotary Wing Pilots” and is part of a larger technological, operational, and social project. They also visited the FAC's Aerospatial Medicine Corporation (CEMAE) and the Military Transport Aerial Command (CATAM).

Strengthening ties

The meeting bolstered “the ties of friendship and cooperation between the Air Forces of Colombia and Peru,” according to the FAC. “The cooperative nature of the relationship between the two countries’ Air Forces is of great importance, and it is because of this that a Second-in-Command position has been created specifically for the needs of the Air Force. There is a significant number of overlapping themes and ample opportunity for mutual cooperation with the aim of strengthening operational capabilities, which will benefit regional security.”

Those opportunities for cooperation extend to the other branches of the Armed Forces of Peru and Colombia. For instance, the General Armed Forces Command's "Roundtable Talks of the Senior Officers of the Armed Forces of Colombia and Peru" has boasted participation from Second-inCommand personnel from each of the branches of the Armed Forces for 21 years.

The need for coordinated anti-drug efforts

Cooperation in the fight against international drug trafficking is needed to fight transnational criminal organizations, which are constantly evolving to develop new air, maritime, and terrestrial transportation routes.

“In this sense, the meeting of the Chiefs of Staff takes on great relevance with the common goal of closing spaces to drug trafficking,” Retired Lt. Gen. Bohórquez explained. “The problem of drug trafficking is very real, and the Colombian and Peruvian Air Forces are constantly updating much of their investigative work to keep up with the crime rings.”

Colombian and Brazilian organized crime groups traffic drugs throughout the region where Brazil, Colombia, and Peru meet.

“However, the actual trading is supervised by smaller organizations with operating bases often located downstream in either Brazil or Peru, where much of the drug production in the area happens,”
reported in April 2014.