RADM Germán González Reyes: Yes. Coordinated Integrated Action works with the other state institutions and with the private sector to bring certain solutions to the population. We hold development support days that consist of bringing in general practitioners and specialist physicians, delivering medicine, making referrals to hospitals; in sum, we seek the participation of businesses in support of the medicine and of the doctors themselves who provide care. Finally, we have Dispositive Integrated Action, which implements and supports the National Consolidation Plan. At this time, we’re selecting 54 municipalities that today are sites in the process of stabilization, meaning that the state is going to make itself present with security, development projects, production projects, education projects, health projects … in order to shift those red areas to yellow areas and then to green areas. Images of soldiers building a road in a remote location in the Colombian countryside, photos of demobilized former FARC members, and the smiles of children gathering to watch a movie in a town park make up the face of the strategy of Integrated Action, part of Colombia’s Democratic Security Consolidation Policy. During a visit to the U.S. Southern Command in Miami, Florida, in September 2011, Rear Admiral Germán González Reyes, in command of the Joint Integrated Action Bureau of the Colombian Armed Forces General Command, spoke with Diálogo about the achievements and challenges of a strategy that has enabled his country to take steps forward in the area of security and social welfare, earning a vanguard position in Latin America. DIÁLOGO: Why was the Integrated Action strategy created, and of what does it consist? DIÁLOGO: Colombia plays a vanguard role in Latin America with regard to strategies of this kind. How can Colombia’s example be of use to other countries in the region? DIÁLOGO: Is there any kind of agreement with the private sector? RADM Germán González Reyes: We’ve always relied on U.S. collaboration and support in training, in equipment. I can say that projects are currently underway to prevent the recruitment of children and adolescents. The United States has a framework of cooperation with the Joint Integrated Action Bureau to develop a variety of tools that can help to prevent forced recruitment and encourage the demobilization of members of military armed groups through information operations, in order to fulfill the objectives of integrated action. Twelve Integrated Action companies were trained in partnership with the U.S. Government, companies which will seek to position the concepts of legitimacy, strengthening the institutional image, and rapprochement with the civilian population on the operational and tactical level within the Armed Forces, in the context of fourth-generation war. DIÁLOGO: What have some of the successes of the Integrated Action plan been since its launch in 2002? By Dialogo September 20, 2011 RADM Germán González Reyes: There’s an example that we show off with a great deal of pride: the Montes de María. That’s an area located in the northern part of the country, where years ago, there was a presence by irregular groups. There was displacement of the population of those areas due to insecurity. An Integrated Action strategic plan was implemented, and we succeeded in dismantling all the irregular groups in the area. We obtained a state presence with the construction of roads to link several municipalities, and legal crops, such as avocadoes, were promoted. That was done by the National Navy: it served as a bridge, guaranteed security, facilitated agriculture, and arranged for the private sector to come to this area to purchase the crops. Today, the population has returned home, they’re farming, and the security environment is different. We can also mention the case of the Task Force Omega area, La Macarena, where we’re doing a project of the same kind. There were irregular groups there. Joint Task Force Omega was assigned, basic levels of security were restored, and after that, the state began to arrive. Today, roads, schools, and health centers have been built, and production programs have been implemented, giving the population alternatives for growing licit crops, instead of illicit crops such as coca. RADM Germán González Reyes: Irregular groups and drug trafficking always generate insecurity in the areas where they are. Integrated Action does not combat drug trafficking as such; nevertheless, it’s a tool used by the Military that supports military operations before, during, and after those operations (institutional synergy). When the state arrives with the presence of the Military, when it guarantees security and offers rural workers the opportunity of growing bananas rather than coca, and it gives them options for getting them to market and selling them, we are promoting a decrease in illicit drug cultivation. DIÁLOGO: How is the fight against drug trafficking ingrained into the strategy of Integrated Action? RADM Germán González Reyes: Integrated Action is a bridge between the institutions responsible for security and the social side of things. The fundamental objective is the coordination of state agencies and institutions, in order to act in a joint and integrated way throughout the entire national territory, in the social, economic, political, and military spheres, thereby guaranteeing the rule of law, the social recovery of territory, the effective application of the social state under the rule of law, and the neutralization of irregular armed groups. For example, General Integrated Action also has radio stations, with which we reach those remote areas of the country, as well as special psychological-operations groups (GEOS) that take a message of rapprochement to the population as part of military operations. A wide-ranging concept of civil and military cooperation began to be developed in Colombia during the administration of President Gustavo Rojas Pinilla, at the time that the Military was assigned the authority and capability to provide social assistance to the most vulnerable communities, helping with the solution of some basic needs. That gave rise to the initial concept of Civic-Military Action, the ultimate purpose of which consisted in obtaining the support and backing of the rural population. Starting in 2002, the Democratic Security Policy develops Integrated Action in full, strengthening a tool that brings together the coordinated and synergistic effort involved in the use of legitimate force. DIÁLOGO: What is the most important challenge faced by your bureau at this time? RADM Germán González Reyes: We have the ongoing challenge of trying to increase favorable views of and trust in the Military among the population. The Military is currently the most favorably viewed institution, according to surveys that have been taken in both urban and rural areas. Maintaining and improving that is one goal. Second is achieving an increase in demobilization and achieving a decrease in forced recruitment by irregular armed groups; likewise, continuing to fulfill the proposed objectives, by helping with military operations, designing tools to neutralize multi-dimensional and situational threats, and increasing preventive capabilities in response to those threats. In addition, it’s important for the bureau to continue developing long-term strategies, to counteract attacks on the state’s legitimacy, and to position the country as a leader and pioneer of information operations in Latin America, in order to generate international technical cooperation offerings. DIÁLOGO: How are the United States and Colombia collaborating in order to strengthen and implement the strategy of Integrated Action? RADM Germán González Reyes: Several countries have visited us for the purpose of learning about the procedures we carry out in Integrated Action and on the operational side of things in general. Currently, support is being provided to Central American countries and to Mexico. We’ve held workshops, talks, training sessions, and meetings on the topic of Integrated Action, where we’ve explained our procedures, generating an atmosphere of cooperation and advising on the structuring of an Integrated Action Doctrine. Likewise, a panorama of integrated action has been jointly constructed in the different countries on our borders and across the Americas, establishing unilateral and joint lines of action that take into account the advice provided on civil-affairs issues and issues of integrated action in general.