Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, January 11 (epa)
January 20, 2007 -- The United States' top military official says U.S.-backed anti-drug and counterinsurgency operations in Colombia could serve as a "good model" for the Afghan government in its battle against opium production and drug trafficking.
General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Afghan authorities could learn from Colombia's campaign to clear areas of armed groups and provide relief and jobs programs for poor residents.
Pace made the remarks yesterday during a visit to Colombia, the world's largest producer of cocaine.
Colombia's defense minister, Juan Manuel Santos, said Colombia is ready to increase its participation in the training of Afghan security personnel.
Earlier this week, U.S. President George W. Bush nominated the current U.S. ambassador to Colombia, William Wood, to be the new U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan.
The United States provides hundreds of millions of dollars to Colombia annually to eradicate coca fields and train troops to fight rebel guerrillas.