In a presidential memorandum, Obama stated that confrontation of aircraft “reasonably suspected” to be engaged in drug-trafficking is necessary because of the “extraordinary threat” posed to Colombia’s national security.
The U.S. president also certified that Colombia has appropriate measures in place to protect against innocent loss of life in the air and on the ground during such confrontation, and that “effective means” would be used to warn an aircraft before force is used.
Colombian authorities report an average of 14 planes a year stolen for drug trafficking according to website Insightcrime, while 80 percent of “narco-planes” detected in Guatemala reportedly come from Colombia.
The Colombian National Police Air Service is the largest police air fleet in Latin America and U.S. support includes maintenance, training, fuel, and technical expertise along with 58 helicopters and 18 airplanes — including models such as the UH-60 Blackhawk.
As well as counter-narcotics missions, the U.S. offers support with intelligence gathering, antiterrorism and anti-kidnapping.
The memorandum renewed the U.S. National Defense Authorization Act of 1995.