Since its beginnings in 1943, the Inter-American Air Forces Academy (IAAFA) has fulfilled the invaluable mission of strengthening the bonds of brotherhood through providing education and training, in Spanish, to the countries in Latin America. One of the means IAAFA employs to fulfill its mission is the support provided to Latin American countries for the creation and strengthening of antiterrorist and anti-drug programs in those countries. Terrorism, defined as any act of premeditated violence that seeks to induce terrorism in the civilian population in order to reach its objectives, is a threat that respects no borders and, therefore, must be fought through multinational strategies. It is easy to conclude that the origins of terrorism date back to the very origins of the human species. For that reason, more than trying to eliminate the threat of terrorism from the face of the earth, the war on terror seeks to gain control over terrorist organizations that threaten the world's stability and, in so doing, avoid the disastrous results of terrorism as a means of fighting. It is here that IAAFA has sought to meet the needs of the nations that support inter-Americanism, by adapting its training programs to the demands of the new world order.
Nevertheless, how can we categorize the illegal armed organizations in Latin America that kidnap and murder congressmen, military, police and even peasants from their own country or other countries, with no other explanation than the desire to maintain an economy based on drug trafficking? Narco-terrorism, the result of the association of organized armed subversive groups, such as the FARC in Colombia or the ZETAS (former military with the Army Special Forces who are now protecting the members of the cartel of Norte del Valle) in Mexico, the rebirth of the last remaining Sendero Luminoso in Peru and the new PCC in Brazil, together with the illegal arms trafficking groups, are responsible for more than 970 kidnappings and revenues of over $300 million from drug trafficking in 2002 in only one of the countries mentioned. Paraguay, for example, witnessed the horror of the kidnapping and murder of a former president's daughter, as a result of the “association” of terrorist groups of different nationalities. Moreover, drug trafficking, at one time only considered a threat against society and the economy in the producing as well as the consumer countries, has become a much bigger terrorist threat to Latin America and a potential enemy to the United States and European countries such as Spain. Undoubtedly, the war on terror should be a world strategy. There is also no doubt that the education and training that IAAFA provides to members of the Latin American public force in order to fight drug trafficking and terrorism is key in that world strategy.
What happens to the illegally armed groups that use terror as a combat tool against the Western Hemisphere, when the European community and the United States reinforce their security plans to the highest level of alert in order to counter any type of terrorist act against its citizens? The answer: the appearance of new terrorist groups and the strengthening of existing ones in Latin America. Obviously, not finding the security conditions suited for their recruitment goals, training, planning, or for bringing to fruition their desired attacks against the civilian population in Europe or the U.S., the terrorist organizations will look for refuge and a place to regroup in those countries which have not taken a strong security position against this menace (as is actually happening in some countries of Latin America, where security agencies have been informed about the possible presence of terrorist agents). Furthermore, we shouldn't underestimate terrorist communiqués which have on various occasions made clear their intentions to finance and logistically support any organization that has concrete plans to attack American interests anywhere in the World.
In light of the aforementioned, it is clear that IAAFA—by fortifying inter-Americanism and revamping its training programs towards the Global War on Terrorism—becomes a valiant and strategic contributor to the struggle against this global menace. Courses such as Anti-Terrorism, Air Intelligence, and Special Operations (specifically tailored for hostage release and narco-terrorist capture), amongst others taught by IAAFA instructors to respective Latin American officers, complement the efforts made by Europe and the U.S. in the struggle to combat terrorism around the World.
As an example, the Anti-Terrorism Level 1 course provides the student with solid foundations to understand the history and evolution of terrorism around the world. Furthermore, it gives tools to critically analyze different world events and their possible effects over groups that use terrorism as a battle tactic.
Complimenting the above, Anti-Terrorism Level 2 presents the practical and theoretical doctrine necessary to assess and evaluate the threat in any particular world scene, and in this manner support the theater commander on decisions to arrest the menace, implementing the pertinent measures and appropriate coordination to limit a terrorist attack to the maximum extent possible. Furthermore, the student that attends IAAFA is prepared to implement the necessary organizational and command structure required in case a terrorist attack is not preventable, thereby minimizing the loss of life, materiel, equipment, and information—all vital components of a state. Anti-Terrorism Level 1 and 2 are excellent foundations for anyone that works in the fields of intelligence and counter-intelligence analysis, for commander's support staff in the areas of counter-terrorism, and for those members of government agencies that influence policy in counter-terrorism.
Additionally, the training offered by IAAFA in its Air Intelligence course offers a focused education in military operations planning as a product of an efficient utilization of different information sources and a powerful application of the cycle of intelligence flow. It's important, then, to underscore that the benefits that an IAAFA Air Intelligence graduate will provide can serve as the basis for any operation, be it ground, naval, air, any joint operation launched against any threat—the reality obviously being terrorist groups.
Finally, the Special Reaction Team (SRT) course seeks to train the student in the planning, training, and execution of special operations which due to their span or complexity are considered high risk operations. Within these high risk operations we find those that deal with high-visibility scenarios, hostage rescue, and the capture of dangerous subjects. The SRT course seeks to bolster the tactical and operational levels of Latin American militaries and polices with training and doctrine that are practical to real-world threats.
The training and support needs of the countries that comprise the American continent are the number one priority of the Inter-American Air Forces Academy. The threat of terrorism and drug trafficking is a flexible threat that demands new and better strategies to affront it. To this end, IAAFA works day after day to ensure that its programs satisfy the needs of its attending countries in the noble mission of securing the stability of all legally constituted organizations in Latin America and therefore supporting the valiant efforts towards the security of our continent.
In conclusion, the work performed by IAAFA is invaluable. It has been and will continue being an Academy striving for inter-Americanism by providing training and instruction to partner nations in the fight against organizations outside the law, and who have recently applied terrorism as a tool to bring their agendas against liberty, democracy, peace, and world order.