Los Angeles Times | 3/7/2011 12:00:00 AM
Colombia assuming instructor role for other militaries
March 7--As part of a regional counter-narcotics push, Colombia is helping train the armed forces of Mexico and 13 other Latin American and Caribbean nations, many of which get U.S. financial assistance.
Garcia knew that Tascon taught classes during the day and sometimes flew dangerous missions against leftist rebels at night, and that he had chalked up 2,500 hours of flight time, much of it on special operations and perilous rescue missions. He didn't have to be told that for the Colombian pilot, fighting a drug war was anything but an academic exercise.
"We have a lot to learn from Colombia. We're now going through what they have experienced for the last 20 years," the 27-year-old Garcia said later of the drug-fueled violence plaguing Mexico. "What Colombian pilots know about night missions, flying over difficult terrain, and participating in joint task forces is invaluable to us."
Garcia, who says Colombia's history gives its pilots and trainers a unique credibility, is one of 18 Mexican helicopter pilots undergoing training at a Colombian air base two hours southwest of Bogota, the capital. The curriculum includes special operations, rescue missions, weaponry and battle tactics.
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