One of the least reported conflicts in South America, the U.S.-aided Colombian government effort to stem the tide of contraband drugs into wealthier regions of the Western Hemisphere is an operation that has cost tens of millions in U.S. aid, only to be countered by heavily armed gangs awash with drug money.
So formidable are the drug overlords in the region that they can command control of whole tracts of territory in Colombia and neighboring countries, run towns and villages, operate ad hoc air strips and have clandestine collaborators in a range of public and private services.
Conviction of the organized crime gang members hasn't been easy, neither has the use of force produced the desired results, analysts said, pointing out the operation has to go on till the military secures secure some sort of closure.
ManTech International Corp., a leading provider of innovative technologies and solutions for mission-critical national security programs, said it would operate in Colombia under a task order it received in line with a Strategic Services Sourcing prime contract.
The company said it will support the operations of the U.S. Military Group Colombia and the AFSOUTH Air Operations Coordination Cell in the Latin American country. The $6.2 million award is for the operation to run for an initial period of 12 months with an option for the work to be extended over another two years.
ManTech will provide a bilingual team to support communications to U.S. air assets conducting counter-narcotics operations in Colombian air space.
The team will help coordinate diplomatic clearance for U.S. air assets, support air operations planning and support the U.S. Military Group Colombia with technical and security assistance advice, strategic planning and coordination for institutional strengthening initiatives in Colombia, ManTech said.
The range of tasks outlined for the company under the contract suggests ManTech's work in Colombia may be highly diversified.
The AAOCC coordinates U.S. counter-narcotics air activities and assists with the transfer of information on counter-narcotics-related flights to the Colombian armed forces.
It's a complex process requiring fluency of communication in both English and Spanish.
"We are proud to be selected to play a part in the U.S. counter-narcotics mission," said Louis M. Addeo, president and chief operating officer of ManTech's Technical Services Group.
"Colombia is a prominent positioning point to battle the illegal drug trade that enters the United States."
He said ManTech's "extensive experience supporting U.S. military forces overseas" would help it to give anti-narcotics operation effective support.
The job may involve real-time surveillance and communications, the report indicated.
ManTech International Corp. has headquarters in Fairfax, Va., and employs more than 10,000 professionals in 40 countries.
In the United States the company works with the departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security and Justice, including the FBI, plus other executive agencies and security organizations.
ManTech didn't say what else it does for companies and governments abroad.
The company had a turnover of $2.02 billion in 2009 and earned $111.8 million net.