Viewing cable 09BOGOTA3998
Title: 2009 Colombian Demobilization Rates Down, Yet More

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
09BOGOTA39982009-12-15 18:33:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Bogota
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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #3998/01 3491834
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 151833Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1610
INFO RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
UNCLAS BOGOTA 003998 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: MCAP PHUM PREL PTER MOPS PGOV PREF SNAR PM VE PE EC
BR, CO 
SUBJECT: 2009 Colombian Demobilization Rates Down, Yet More 
Experienced Insurgents Increasingly Surrendering 
 
Summary 
 
-------------- 
 
 
 
¶1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Colombia's robust Disarmament, Demobilization and 
Reintegration (DDR) policy continues to bear fruit late into 2009 
primarily due to several years of sustained security operations. 
Yet, after high rates in 2007 and 2008, a natural leveling off is 
evident with demobilization slowing by more than 20%. 
Encouragingly, countermeasures implemented by illegal groups have 
not prevented a strong upswing in quality since 2007, with twice as 
many mid-level leaders laying down arms.  The Ministry of Defense 
(MOD) has intensified efforts against illegal recruitment by 
incorporating it into the demobilization strategy for 
implementation in 2010. MOD budget shortfalls stalled some program 
efforts during the first half of the year, but most large, 
important contracts have since been awarded through mid-2010. 
Efforts are underway to modernize the Programa de Atencion 
Humanitaria al Desmovilizado (PAHD) information technology (IT) 
infrastructure, analytical capabilities and positive identification 
through biometrics.  Future DDR success depends largely on 
sustaining or improving existing DDR policies and Colombia's 
ability to persuade its neighbors to collaborate.  END SUMMARY. 
 
 
 
52,000 in Seven Years 
 
-------------------------- 
 
 
 
¶2. (SBU) Colombia's DDR policy continues to bear fruit late into 
2009, primarily due to several years of sustained military and 
police operations under the Democratic Security Policy.  Since 
2002, the MOD has transitioned 20,398 fighters into society via the 
individual demobilization program, PAHD, while using the 
information volunteered about illegal organizations to further tear 
down such groups.  PAHD candidates historically include 
paramilitaries from groups like the United Self-Defense Forces of 
Colombia (AUC) or insurgents from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of 
Colombia (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN).  While 31,671 
of the AUC demobilized in a collective process under the High 
Commissioner for Peace, 3,682 demobilized individually until the 
statute of limitations ran out for paramilitary groups in December 
¶2006.  The Ministry of Defense welcomes demobilized fighters and 
their immediate family to one of 29 homes in six major cities where 
they receive meals, new clothes, psychological assistance and a 
modest transportation stipend.  Once certified by an interagency 
committee they transition to the High Commission for Reintegration 
(ACR) for continued assistance while participating in reintegration 
activities.  Assistance includes psychological therapy, education, 
job training, small business development and a monthly living 
stipend equivalent to Colombian minimum wage. 
 
 
 
Down but Not Out 
 
---------------------- 
 
 
 
¶3. (SBU) The PAHD is experiencing a natural leveling off after the 
extraordinarily high demobilization rates in 2007 and 2008, 
including a peak enrollment in 2008 when 3,461 insurgents 
demobilized.  These dramatic increases strongly correlated to areas 
under sustained military pressure, especially when combined with 
desertion, capture, or death of insurgent leaders.  Reduced 
pressure and a lack of major psychological blows may lower the 
 
 
motivation to desert, but a more important factor is an increased 
tendency for insurgents to avoid direct contact with security 
forces and withdrawal to more remote areas.  The COLMIL has had 
fewer direct engagements with the FARC, and according to the PAHD 
in 2009.  One of the most common reasons cited for desertion is 
military pressure.  The isolation of would-be deserters combined 
with less frequent engagements reduces their opportunities to 
escape.  As of November 30, 2009, the program has demobilized 2,481 
individuals.  To date, FARC demobilization numbers are short of 
last year's total of 3,027, but ELN demobilization numbers are 
already a record 470 plus. 
 
 
 
Counter-measures Implemented to Prevent Desertion 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---------------------- 
 
 
 
¶4. (SBU) The MOD has uncovered evidence of demobilization 
"counter-measures" through testimony and the examination of 
captured FARC computers.  Examples of reported counter-measures 
include limiting contact with the local populace, separation of 
FARC couples, prohibiting the use of radios, and execution of those 
caught or accused of attempts at desertion. 
 
 
 
¶5. (SBU) In response to FARC counter-measures, the MOD created 
tactical demobilization positions throughout the Joint Task Force 
Omega (JTF-O) area of operations and other tailor-made 
demobilization initiatives.  For example, the Catatumbo region of 
Norte de Santander department employs a custom communications 
strategy designed to take advantage of a local FARC leader's 
tendency to abuse his personnel. 
 
 
 
Insurgency Losing More of Its Leaders to Desertion 
 
--------------------------------------------- ----------------- 
 
 
 
¶6. (SBU) A steady increase in the quality of demobilization 
candidates began in 2007.  The number of experienced combatants and 
mid-level leaders demobilizing has doubled each year, indicating 
more seasoned combatants are no longer convinced that their "cause" 
is just and creating a leadership void difficult to fill with 
inexperienced recruits.  ACR education and training programs have 
been refitted to match this increasingly significant demographic. 
 
 
 
Anti-Recruitment Efforts to Stem Flow 
 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
 
 
¶7. (SBU) The MOD has redoubled efforts against illegal recruitment 
by incorporating it into the demobilization strategy and combining 
it with communications initiatives as well as special events for 
high risk populations.  Design, coordination and funding of the 
strategy have been accomplished this year and include plans for 
full implementation in 2010.  Successful anti-recruitment efforts 
would potentially break the cycle of violence and prompt arrival at 
a post-conflict scenario. 
 
 
Budget Ready for 2010 
 
--------------------------- 
 
 
 
¶8. (SBU) The PAHD was not immune to large MOD budget shortfalls in 
early 2009; however they were able to sustain critical operations 
such as humanitarian assistance to the demobilized.  Communications 
and rewards for information and war material were hit hardest.  The 
program was unable to execute contracts with private media outlets 
for the first half of the year or to pay demobilized fighters for 
information and material surrendered in a timely manner.  In 
anticipation of potential budget shortages in 2010 and the unknowns 
associated with an administration change, large contracts for 
demobilized housing, psychological assistance and communications 
initiatives were awarded through mid-2010. 
 
 
 
Database, Biometrics and Analysis Capabilities Upgraded 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---------------------- 
-- 
 
 
 
¶9. (SBU) Our efforts to modernize the PAHD information technology 
(IT) infrastructure, analytical capabilities and positive 
identification through biometrics will be completed in early 2010. 
Information from those demobilized is one of the best sources of 
intelligence available to security forces, but thus far the volumes 
of data have not realized their full potential.  In addition to 
internal program benefits, such as paperless management processes 
and dramatically improved information security, the system will 
facilitate a more effective transition from the PAHD to the 
Reintegration phase. 
 
 
 
Comment 
 
------------ 
 
 
 
¶10. (SBU) Looking ahead two to three years after the demobilization 
or displacement of the majority of insurgents in Colombian 
territory, the most serious challenges for the PAHD will be the 
demobilization of insurgents who have found refuge in neighboring 
countries, and the prevention of illegal recruitment by criminal 
groups involved in drug trafficking (BACRIM).  Two potential 
strategies to deal with these problems include a Regional 
Demobilization Workshop led by Colombia using cooperation between 
the Governments of Panama and Colombia as a model, and dramatically 
increased efforts against recruitment by criminal groups 
complimented by nation-wide, U.S. supported consolidation efforts 
such as the Colombia Strategic Development Initiative (CSDI).  End 
Comment. 
NICHOLS