Veterans for More Effective Drug Strategies

Do Not Escalate US Military Involvement in Colombia's Drug War

Dear General McCaffrey:

We are military veterans from a variety of backgrounds who join together in recognition that the anticipated escalation of US military involvement in the four decade old Colombian civil war will do more harm than good. It is likely to derail the peace process in Colombia, entangle the United States in a military quagmire and make drugs more available to Americans.

We are writing to you to respectfully request a meeting to discuss these matters and urge you to reconsider your advocacy for this military aid package.

To give you more of a perspective on our concerns:

1. Military Analysis: There has been a lack of military analysis of the Colombian civil war. Entering the Colombian civil war would once again involve US military personnel in a civil war against a well armed, well financed and motivated indigenous army that blends easily with the surrounding population. The Andes jungle plateau is several times larger than South Vietnam which we were, for 10 years, unable to control effectively with 500,000 armed American combatants, hundreds of helicopters and total air superiority, compared to the handful of "advisors" and less than a hundred helicopters in Colombia. The planning is painfully unrealistic.

The normal questions of military engagement have not been asked: What is the goal of our military involvement? What would we consider victory? How many additional resources are we willing to provide to this civil war? How are the Colombian troops on the ground supposed to differentiate between drug traffickers and insurgents( since the US funding is not supposed to be used for counterinsurgency, doesn't this create confusion)? How will the US military avoid being labeled as a human rights violator by being closely associated with the Colombian military? What is the end game or exit strategy for this military entanglement? If we are successful would an occupying force be needed to ensure that cocaine and heroin trafficking does not resume? It seems that because we are calling our involvement "drug control" the discussion of military analysis has been ignored. The lack of a military review increases the chance of failure.

2. Peace Process: Recently representatives of both sides of the Colombian civil war completed a European tour which greatly advanced the peace process. Representatives of the tour noted that progress toward peace was being made at a rapid pace. However, the one thing they said could derail movement toward settlement of the civil war was the massive increase in US military aid. Have you considered that our involvement may do more to prolong the civil war and undermine the movement toward a peaceful resolution of the issues between Colombians?

3. Drug Policy: We have closely examined the history of interdiction and eradication efforts over the last 35 years. The consistent result of these policies is to increase the drug supply in the US by encouraging new source countries, developing new trafficking routes and creating new drugs. Indeed, after spending $250 billion on drug control since 1980 the price of cocaine and heroin are one-fourth of what they were in 1981 and purity of both drugs is at record highs.

The inexpensive availability of high purity heroin and cocaine is causing severe health problems in the U.S. with record high overdose deaths and emergency room mentions of drugs. Yet, 57 percent of those who need treatment are unable to get it. The RAND Corporation estimates that treatment is 10 times more cost effective than interdiction in reducing cocaine consumption. Wouldn't it make more sense to focus our resources on reducing demand rather than on military policies which while intended to reduce availability have consistently increased drug availability?

The Colombian drug policy is confused further because all sides of the conflict - including the ones we are allying with - have been tied to drug trafficking. Can you point to any successful interdiction or eradication program in the last three decades that has not resulted in new source countries, new trafficking routes or new drugs coming into the US market? Do you recognize that drug control efforts in Colombia are likely to spur production in other countries and increase the use of man made drugs (e.g., stimulate the marketing of methamphetamine)?

We believe it is important that there is a dialogue on these issues before we become entangled in another foreign military mission based on a "fundamental miscalculation" like the Vietnam War. A meeting between your office, us and our allies would be a first step toward such a dialogue. Thus far the discussion of this issue in the legislative process seems to be avoiding these important issues rather than reviewing and analyzing them.

Please respond to Lieutenant Commander Sylvester Salcedo, USNR (Ret.) at 184 Harborview Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06605, 203-362-0750 or We look forward to hearing from you.

Very respectfully,

Colonel Walter R. Brett, USAF (Ret.), Melbourne, FL
Colonel Ronald B. Weinert, USAFR (Ret.)
Colonel Eleanor M. Carey, USAF (Ret.), San Antonio, TX
Commander Gene Tinelli, USN (Fmr.), Syracuse, NY
Commander Richard Rider, USNR (Ret.), San Diego, CA
Lieutenant Colonel Mitchell Bienko, USAF (Ret.), Wexford, PA
Lieutenant Colonel Robert H. Dowd, USAF (Ret.), Miami, FL
Lieutenant Colonel Robert M. Dowd, USAF (Ret.), Jensen Beach, FL
Lieutenant Colonel Octavio Jordan, USAF (Ret.), Miami, FL
Lieutenant Colonel William E. Hart, USA (Ret.), Homestead, FL
Lieutenant Colonel Clifford D. Kern, USAF (Ret.), Aromis CA
Lieutenant Colonel Pete Martineau, USAF (Ret.), Fair Oaks, CA
Lieutenant Colonel Tom O'Connell, USA(Ret.), San Mateo, CA
Lieutenant Colonel Russell E. Shaw, MA., USAF (Ret.), Boulder, CO
Joe Carvajal, U.S. Foreign Service Officer (Ret.)
Lieutenant Commander Al Byrne, USN (Ret.), Howardsville, VA
Lieutenant Commander J. T, Hann, USN (Ret.), Miami, FL
Lieutenant Commander Frank Harrell, USN (Ret.), Miami, FL
Lieutenant Commander John H. Ingram, USCG (Ret.), Miami, FL
Lieutenant Commander Sylvester L. Salcedo, USNR (Ret.), Bridgeport, CT
Lieutenant Commander Thomas A. Saint, USCG(Ret.), Alameda, CA
Lieutenant Commander Troy N. Thweatt, USN (Ret.), Miami, FL
Lieutenant Commander Donald Darling, USN (Ret.), Austin, TX
Major Walter E. Collier, USAF (Ret.), Miami, FL
Major Andrew P. Farris, USAF (inactive reserve)
Major George W. Gibson, USAF (Ret.), Katy, TX
Major David N. Reams, USAF (Ret.), Miami, FL
Major Albert J. Rourke, Jr., USAF (Ret), Miami, FL
Major Jack Spital, USA (Ret.), Miami, FL
Major Glenn MacDonald, USAR (Ret.), Chandler, AZ
Captain Frederick Chase, Jr., USMCR (Fmr.), Framingham, MA
Captain Richard M. Evans, USAF (Fmr.) Northampton, MA
Captain William M. Kwalick, USA (Ret.), Key Largo, FL
Captain Ruth E. Mawyer, USAR, Nurse Corps (Fmr), Charlottesville, VA
Captain Richard F. Strickland, USMCR (Fmr.), El Centro, CA
Captain Chris Bradley, USMC (Fmr.),Bethesda, MD
Captain Jon R. Floyd, USMC (Fmr.), Woodland Hills, CA
Lieutenant John G. Chase, USNR (Fmr.), Palm Harbor, FL
Lieutenant Joseph W. DuRocher, USN (Fmr.), Orlando, FL
Lieutenant Mary Lynn Mathre, USN (Fmr.), Howardsville, VA
Lieutenant Richard S. Miller, USAF (Fmr.), Honolulu, HI
Lieutenant Bob Ramsey, USCGR (Fmr.), Dallas, TX
Lieutenant Thomas H. Goodson, USNR (Fmr.), Pensacola, FL
Lieutenant Cynthia A. Hiers-Robinson, USNR (Fmr.), Las Cruces, NM
First Lieutenant Gary P. Noyes, USAF (Fmr.), Houston, TX
First Lieutenant Frank T Cloak, Jr., USAR (Fmr.), Albuquerque, NM
First Lieutenant Jerry Epstein, USMC (Fmr.), Houston, TX
First Lieutenant Dana Murphy-Parker, USA, Nurse Corp, (Fmr). Aurora, CO
First Lieutenant Lewis R. Nelson, USAR (Fmr.)
First Lieutenant Don Raichle, USA (Fmr.)
First Lieutenant Scott F. Warner, USMCR (Fmr.)
Lieutenant JG Charles Phillips, USN (Fmr.), Holtville, CA
Chief Warrant Officer Richard Lake, USA, (Ret.), Toledo, OH
Chief Warrant Officer W-3 Herb Childs, USN (Ret.), Lubbock, TX
Sergeant First Class Dawn E. Tighe, USA (Ret.), San Diego, CA
Sergeant First Class Lyle Webb, USA (Fmr.)
Sergeant First Class Perry A. Lupke, USA (Fmr.)
Technical Sergeant Richard Lion, CTANG (Fmr.), Enfield, CT
Staff Sergeant Thomas Hood, USAR (Ret.), Osseo, MN
Staff Sergeant David A. Pickett, USA (Fmr.), Bloomington, MN
Staff Sergeant James Hackney, USA (Fmr.), Joplin, MO
Staff Sergeant Alan E. Mason, USA (Fmr.), Aguanga, CA
Staff Sergeant Laura Wilson, USMC (Fmr.)
Staff Sergeant Scott McQuarrie, USMC (Fmr.)
Sergeant Don Beck, USAR (Fmr.), Odessa, TX
Sergeant Steve Paul, ARNG (Fmr.), Los Angeles, CA
Sergeant Dennis S. Sherman, USMC (Fmr.), San Antonio, TX
Sergeant Phillip Zerillo, USMC (Fmr.), East Hampton, NY
Sergeant Doug Scribner, USAF (Fmr.)
Sergeant Leslie A. Miller, USAF (Fmr.), Chestertown, MD
Sergeant Kenneth E. Humphrey, USAF (Fmr.), Middletown, CT
Sergeant Michael Krawitz, USAF (Fmr.), Ironto, VA
Sergeant Glen M. Miller, USA (Fmr.), Cabot, AR
Sergeant David Drolet, USA (Fmr.), Central Islip, NY
Sergeant Jim Griffin, USA (Fmr.), Chapel Hill, NC
Sergeant Henry H. Riske, USA (Fmr.), Grafton, ND
Senior Airman William D. Clark, Jr., USAF (Fmr.), Louisville, KY
Petty Officer First Class John J. Ripley, USN (Ret.), Virginia Beach, VA
Hospital Corpsman Second Class Adlai Boyd, II, USN (Fmr.), Palm Harbor, FL
Operations Specialist Second Class Mike Smithson, USN, Syracuse, NY
Electronics Technician Second Class Tom Grabowski, USCG (Fmr.),Pittsburgh, PA
Hospital Corpsman Second Class Rick Childs, USN, (Fmr.), Greenwood, VA
Petty Officer Second Class Robin M. Hollinger, USN (Fmr.)
Petty Officer Second Class Ben Chitty, USN (Fmr.), Yonkers, NY
Petty Officer Second Class Kimberley Jean Kelly, USN (Ret.)
Petty Officer Third Class Peter J. Christ, USN (Fmr.), Cazenovia, NY
Petty Officer Third Class Patrick Egan, USN (Fmr.), Little Rock, AR
Coxswain Laben D. Huff, USN (Fmr.), Marble, NC
Communications Yeoman Third Class Tom Bennett, USN (Fmr.), Mobridge,SD
Aviation Electronics Third Class Sonny Graham, USN (Fmr.)
Electronics Technician Second Class James Markes, USN (Fmr.), Conway, AR
Corporal Gary Montz, USMC (Fmr.)
Corporal (David) Mervin Key, USA (Fmr.)
Corporal David W. Nolan, USMC (Fmr.) Bloomington, IL
Corporal Glenn Portwood, USMC (Fmr.), Decatur, IL
Corporal Raphael A. Flores, USA (Fmr.), Bronx, NY
Corporal Mike Blailock, USMC (Fmr.), Beaverton, OR
Corporal Raymond L. Ouellette, USA (Fmr.), Long Beach, CA
Corporal Quentin Morris, USA (Fmr.)
Corporal T. Thomas Heikkala, USA (Fmr.), Austin, TX
Corporal Alix Paultre, USA (Fmr.), Brooklyn, NY
Corporal Daniel E. Gray, USA (Fmr.)
Lance Corporal S. Delaney Ellison, USMCR (Fmr.)
Lance Corporal Ronald D. Lewis, USMC (Fmr.)
Petty Officer 1st Class Willis Albert Roebuck Jr., USN (Ret.)
Petty Officer 1st Class Charles Schneider, USN (Fmr.), Ann Arbor, MI
Petty Officer 2nd Class Leslie J. Smith, USN (Fmr.)
Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Lee Sharp, USN (Fmr.), Los Angeles, CA
Petty Officer 2nd Class Charles C. Bird, USN (Fmr.), San Diego, CA
Specialist 6th Class Edward H. Moss, USA (Fmr.), Denver, CO
Specialist 5th Class Van E. Estes, III, USA (Fmr.), Hendersonville, NC
Specialist 5th Class James M. Robbins, USA (Fmr.), Corvallis, OR
Specialist 5th Class Thomas E. Baxter, USA (Fmr.), Tallahassee, FL
Specialist 4th Class Edubijen V. Garcia, USA (Fmr.), Lovell, WY
Specialist 4th Class Jonathan Zwickel, USA (Fmr.), Madera, CA
Specialist 4th Class Bruce Dunn, USA (Fmr.), Morris, NY
Specialist 4th Class Rob Gwilt, USA (Fmr.), Abilene, TX
Specialist 4th Class Gary M. Sage, USA (Fmr.)
Specialist 4th Class Lon Weston, USA (Fmr.), Bethlehem, NH
Specialist 4th Class Gerald Sutliff, USA (Fmr.)
Specialist 4th Class Zeal Stefanoff, USA (Fmr.)
Specialist 3rd Class Jerry Mandel, USA (Fmr.)
Specialist Darren Brock, USA (Fmr.), Davie, FL
Specialist David Cline, USA (Fmr.), Jersey City, NJ
Specialist Colin A. Holtz, USA (Fmr.), Missoula, MT
Specialist Bryan A. Krumm, USAR (Fmr.), Albuquerque, NM
Specialist Hal Noyes, USAR (Fmr.), Durham, NC
Specialist Stephen Sedlacko, USAR (Fmr.), Portland, OR
Specialist Tony M. Goins, USA (Fmr.), Oklahoma City, OK
Specialist Charles Sheehan-Miles, USA (Fmr.), Vienna, VA
Specialist Harry Simpson, USAR (Fmr.), Detroit, MI
Specialist Paul Sullivan, USA (Fmr), Fairfax, VA
Specialist Clifford Wallace Thornton, Jr., USAR (Fmr.), Windsor, CT
Specialist Walter F. Wouk, USA (Fmr.), Summit, NY
Private First Class David L. Pickard, USMC (Fmr.), Mabelvale, AR
Private First Class Leslie Davis, USAR (Fmr.), Minneapolis, MN
Private First Class John Clayton, Sr., USAR (Fmr.), Rockville, MD
Airman 1st Class James Manion, USAF(Fmr.), Inyokern, CA
Airman 1st Class Mark Laythorpe, USAF(Fmr.), Vista, CA
Airman 1st Class Allan L. Swain, USAF (Fmr.)
Airman 1st Class Tom Ganiatsos, USAF (Fmr.)
Airman Kenneth A. Dreisbach, USAF (Fmr.)
Private Richard Brown, USMC (Fmr.)
Private Larry Joe McGowan, USMC (Fmr.), Midland, TX
Private Cline Russell, USA (Fmr.), Irving, TX
Private Thomas V. Connor, USA (Fmr.), Wallkill, NY
Seaman David Isenberg, USN (Fmr.),Arlington, VA
Seaman David Brandt, USN (Fmr.),Las Cruces, NM
Seaman Ashley Howard Clements, USN (Fmr.), Atlanta, GA
Seaman Recruit M. Simon, USN (Fmr.), Rockford, IL

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