Fighting illegal drug trafficking is done to safeguard national security, and this fight is supported by security assistance programs executed for the Army by Security Assistance Command.
USASAC has used one such program, Section 333, to transfer 60 TH-67 Training Bell Model helicopters to the Regional Helicopter Training Center in Melgar, Colombia.
The helicopters had been on loan to the government of Colombia to support its operations in Colombia through U.S. Southern Command under a phased counter-narcotics 1033 authority.
There are many ways to help build partner capacity: foreign military sales, direct commercial sales, excess defense articles grants, and what is known as Title 10, Section 333.
Section 333 is a law that provides the authority to build capacity and is used to conduct or support programs providing training and equipment to national security forces of foreign countries for the purpose of building capacity of partner nations to conduct one or more of the following activities:
- Counterterrorism operations
- Counter-weapons of mass destruction operations
- Counter-illicit drug trafficking operations
- Counter-transnational organized crime operations
- Maritime and border security operations
- Military intelligence operations
- Operations or activities that contribute to an international coalition operation that is determined by the secretary to be in the national interest of the United States.
Country teams work through geographic combatant commands to nominate proposals to Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff for approval; Defense Security Cooperation Agency provides program management and execution through the implementing agencies. The Security Assistance Command is the implementing agency for Army.
Funding through this program is by annual appropriation.
According to Pete Dunklin, USASAC’s Colombia program manager, his team worked with U.S. Southern Command to arrange for in-country handover of the helicopters with the signed Letter of Offer and Acceptance in early May. The total case value is more than $1.5 million; each helicopter costs about $25,000.
Training associated with the helicopters such as pilot and crew chief qualification, rotary wing mission system qualification and helicopter maintenance qualification training will be provided under a separate Letter of Offer and Acceptance, he said.
The requirement for Colombia to generate trained and ready forces for national security operations is derived from the U.S. Southern Command’s Theater Campaign Plan Line of Effort “Counter Threat Networks.” The program advances the Integrated Country Strategy by “improving security and stability in Colombia, fostering Colombia as a strategic partner and improving its security capacity within Central America.”
“The delivery of the TH-67 aircraft to Colombia will certify Colombia as the premier rotary wing training facility in the region offering high-quality primary and advanced flight training to partner nations,” Dunklin said.