Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Atlanta University (AU)

Degree Name



Political Science

First Advisor

Professor Mack H. Jones


This study is an analysis of the United States policy in counterinsurgency as it was implemented in the country of Colombia in the physical and military defeat of an insurgent guerrilla movement within that country. It was the objective of the policy of counterinsurgency to achieve this task by aiding in the upgrading and professional development of Colombia's military and policy forces. In accomplishing this objective, the Colombian government was able to wage a successful military campaign against the insurgent guerrillas. This counterinsurgency policy allowed the United States to limit its role to that of a supportive ally. The primary responsibility of the United States was to provide support in the form of economic and military (equipment and training) assistance.

In analyzing this subject, the study elaborates on three programs which constitute the main aspects of the counterinsurgency policy in Colombia. These programs are military action, civic action and policy assistance.

The discussion of the military action program focuses on the joint effort of the United States and Colombia as they work together to eliminate the insurgent movement. Particular attention is given to the United States role in providing assistance in the coordination of military operations, training and the supplying of military aid and equipment.

The discussion of the second program, civic action, centers on the socio-economic dimension of the counterinsurgency policy. The study discusses the use of civic action projects as a way of facilitating military objectives. Thus, under this program various socio-economic development projects are implemented as a means of lessening the popular support of the civilian population for guerrilla forces. The philosophy underlying this concept of civic action as well as the actual projects implemented are discussed.

The third program, policy assistance, is examined to show how this type of aid was also utilized to fulfill a military function within the context of the counterinsurgency policy. It discusses the United States use of policy training assistance through the agencies of the Office of Public Safety and the International Policy Academy in upgrading the police forces in Colombia. The rationale behind this training was the view that in an insurgency type environment it is necessary for the police to expand their traditional duties and to function in an additional military capacity. The study details the means by which the United States police assistance program helped to transform the structure and character of the Colombian police enabling them to assume and fulfill a military role within the counterinsurgency policy.

These three programs constitute the main focus of the study. Prior to discussing them, however, the study provides a broad background perspective on the history of the United States counterinsurgency activities throughout the Latin American region. In addition, the particular insurgent conditions in Colombia which led to the implementation of the United States policy are discussed.

The study concludes with a discussion on the background history of the doctrine of counterinsurgency. It examines the emergence of the doctrine and outlines its basic tenets prior to its implementation in Colombia. Finally, the study closes with a discussion of the current United States counterinsurgency effort in El Salvador. It focuses on the merits of the national debate in respect to the meaning and implications of that policy.