US Military Presence in Latin America: Making the Manta Forward Operating Location work [open pdf - 670KB]
"The US military's regional concerns in the 1990s focused on the drug war, improving interoperability, and carrying out regional engagement. In the new millennium, military activities have expanded to encompass a growing concern with Colombia's drug problem and the 'war on terrorism.' After the closure of Howard Air Force Base, Panama, the US established forward operating locations (FOLs) as tools for the realization of its goals in the region. This thesis examines both the international and domestic politics involved when establishing FOLs in Latin America and its implications for future efforts in the region. It focuses on the Manta FOL because it is essential for US strategy in Colombia and best illustrates the challenges of dealing with local opposition to a US military presence. This thesis concludes that Manta is viable because it is more cost-effective, improves military-to-military relations, and demonstrates the existence of external influence upon actors of domestic politics, which can be used as a bargaining asset to sustain its military presence. It is important to understand why the Manta FOL was a success, in order to create a model when establishing future FOL agreements in the region."
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