The US Defense Department funded a two year study which found that the use of the armed forces to interdict drugs coming into the United States would have minimal or no effect on cocaine traffic and might, in fact, raise the profits of cocaine cartels and manufacturers.
The 175-page study, "Sealing the Borders: The Effects of Increased Military Participation in Drug Interdiction," was prepared by seven economists, mathematicians and researchers at the National Defense Research Institute, a branch of the RAND Corporation and released in 1988. The study noted that seven previous studies in the past nine years, including ones by the Center for Naval Research and the Office of Technology Assessment, had come to similar conclusions. Interdiction efforts, using current armed forces resources, would have almost no effect on cocaine importation into the United States, the report concluded.
During the early to mid-1990s, the Clinton administration ordered and funded a major cocaine policy study again by RAND. The Rand Drug Policy Research Center study concluded that $ 3 billion should be switched from federal and local law enforcement to treatment. The report said that treatment is the cheapest way to cut drug use. President Clinton's drug czar's office rejected slashing law enforcement spending.
Guerrillas and oil
Critics of Plan Colombia, such as authors Doug Stokes and Francisco Ramirez Cuellar, argue that the main intent of the program is not drug eradication but to fight leftist guerrillas. They argue that these Colombian peasants are also a target because they are calling for social reform and hindering international plans to exploit Colombia's valuable resources, including oil and other natural resources. As of 2004, Colombia is the fifteenth largest supplier of oil to the United States and could potentially rise in that ranking if petroleum extraction could be conducted in a more secure environment.
From 1986 to 1997 there were nearly 79 million barrels (12,600,000 m3) of crude oil spilled in pipeline attacks. Damage and lost revenue were estimated at $1.5 billion, while the oil spills seriously damaged the ecology.
Army Aviation Brigade (2000-2008 cost: $844 million)
This program is executed by the U.S. State and Defense departments. It equips and trains the helicopter units of the Colombian Army. It is subdivided into various specific programs.
Plan Colombia Helicopter Program (PCHP) comprises helicopters provided for free by the U.S. government to the Colombian Army.
The program needs 43 contract pilots and 87 contract mechanics to operate.
17 Bell UH-1N helicopters ( Former Canadian aircraft bought via US gov )
22 Bell UH-1H (Huey II) helicopters
13 Sikorsky UH-60L helicopters
Foreign Military Sales
(FMS) helicopters are purchased by the Colombian Army but supported by U.S. personnel.
20 Sikorsky UH-60L helicopters
Technical Assistance Field Team
Based at Tolemaida Army Base (Melgar, Cundinamarca), the team provides maintenance to U.S.-made helicopters.
Joint Initial Entry Rotary Wing School
Based at Melgar Air base (Melgar, Tolima), it is a flight school for Colombian combat-helicopter pilots. Additional pilot training is provided at the U.S. Army's helicopter training center (Fort Rucker, Alabama)
National Police Air Service (2000-2008 cost: $463 million)
The U.S. State Department provides support to approximately 90 aircraft operated by the Colombian National Police. The U.S. Defense Department supports the construction of an aviation depot at Madrid Air Base (Madrid, Cundinamarca).
National Police Eradication Program (2000-2008 cost: $458 million)
This program is executed by a private company, Dyncorp, under the supervision of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), and operates out of Patrick Air Force Base in Florida. U.S. State Department-owned planes spray chemicals to destroy coca and oppium poppy crops in rural Colombia. From 2000 to 2008 more than 1 million hectares (2.5 million acres) of crops were destroyed.
13 Air Tractor AT-802 armored crop dusters
13 Bell UH-1N helicopters
4 Alenia C-27 cargo planes
Those are just the more expensive ones above.
Aerial herbicide application
Plane sprays herbicides over the jungles of Colombia.
The United States regularly sponsors the spraying of large amounts of toxic herbicides such as Roundup over the jungles of Central and South America as part of its drug eradication programs. Many farmers who live below, and have nothing to do with the drug trade, are exposed to dangerous doses of toxic pesticides which cause severe health problems, birth defects, and deaths, not to mention destroying their legitimate crops, which for many are their sole source of income.
Environmental consequences resulting from aerial fumigation have been criticized as detrimental to some of the world's most fragile ecosystems; the same aerial fumigation practices are further credited with causing health problems in local populations.
Many Latin American farmers say that the fumigation programs are destroying their food crops, and that they are starving as a result.