Landpower and Ambiguous Warfare: The Challenge of Colombia in the 21st Century

  • March 01, 1999
  • Dr Richard Downes

On December 10 and 11, 1998, over 100 scholars, civilian government officials, and military officers from the United States, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama and Mexico gathered at the U.S. Army War College to discuss "Landpower and Ambiguous Warfare: The Challenge of Colombia in the 21st Century." While the conference adopted no resolutions or conclusions, it provided a valuable forum for expressing widely differing viewpoints on critical components of Colombia's security situation. The meeting highlighted the urgency of the Colombian crisis and the need for a comprehensive response by Colombia, the United States, and the regional community of nations. Much of the dialogue developed the principal subthemes of the conference: the sources of violence; the role of the guerrillas, paramilitaries, and narcotraffickers; the institutional capabilities and responses of the Colombian government and armed forces; and the role of the United States. Here, there was sharp disagreement among the participants, with some arguing in favor of an increased U.S. counternarcotics and/or counterinsurgency role and others emphasizing the priority of the peace process. This report summarizes the issues addressed and the major concerns of the attendees. The Strategic Studies Institute is pleased to offer the monograph as a contribution to the national security debate on Colombia within the United States and abroad.