Retired Army Colonel Robert Killebrew, nonresident Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security and Bogota bureau chief for The Best Defense blog, contends that in the ongoing quest for news of counterinsurgency successes, Colombia has been overlooked. President Alvaro Uribe has taken a hard-line approach against the FARC and implemented a three-step whole-of-government process in the effort: the military removes the FARC from its strongholds across the country, the National Police and courts fill the vacuum, and the government offers economic assistance and provides infrastructure for the newly secure and stable population.
Thomas A. Marks, Chair of the Irregular Warfare Department at National Defense University’s College of International Security Affairs, also believes there is much to be learned from Colombia’s experience. In “Colombia: Learning Institutions Enable Integrated Response,” Marks writes of the centrality of the country’s “learning institutions” in the achievement of the upper hand over the FARC. For Uribe’s Democratic Security and Defense Policy to succeed, Colombia’s state institutions in general and security forces in particular needed to adapt and function in unaccustomed ways: “The national narrative . . . was that the state and its security forces were at one with the population in resisting those who would oppress them.” Marks offers a detailed account of the domino-effect adaptation that occurred, from the administration’s crafting of a genuine counterinsurgency plan to the state security forces’ operationalization of that plan (including the standing up of local forces and police) to the blossoming of the democratic process and its associated benefits in the new environment.
Dr. Marks’s article will appear in PRISM 1, no. 4 (September 2010), but you can read it here now:
Colombia: Learning Institutions Enable Integrated Response