PGP is cool, but Pretty Good Armor... G.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 1 Apr 1998 18:49:36 -0800
From: Arm The Spirit <email@example.com>
To: Multiple recipients of list <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Colombia Rebels Wheel Out Home-Made Tanks
Colombia Rebels Wheel Out Secret Weapon In War: Home-Made Tanks
By Karl Penhaul, Reuters
BOGOTA (April 1, 1998 Reuters) - Colombia's leftist rebels
wheeled out a surprise weapon this week in their long-running war
with the government -- home-made "tanks" built from farm
Two of the makeshift war-horses, farm tractors with the
driver's cabs protected by thick sheets of steel and M-60
machine-guns mounted on top, spearheaded a guerrilla attack on
the town of Vista Hermosa in eastern Meta province on Tuesday.
The rebels have sporadically used crude armored vehicles in
the past. But police sources said on Wednesday the growing
sophistication of the designs indicated they were trying to form
their own "armored cavalry division".
"(These tanks) were made using a small tractor which was
stripped down to the chassis and fitted with extra thick, special
tires," Vista Hermosa town council official Alirio Omana told
"It was a sophisticated machine and could have destroyed an
entire army," he said, adding that the "tanks" drove through the
town at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour (40 kph).
In Tuesday's attack, about 300 Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia (FARC) rebels destroyed the town's bank and abandoned
one of the tanks after crashing it into the police station. One
policeman and four rebels died in the firefight.
"With these tanks the guerrillas are looking to restrict
their casualties," Gen. Alfredo Salgado, operations director of
the national police force, told Reuters.
The first reports that the FARC was building its own
military vehicles came when the army discovered two dump trucks
reinforced with steel sheeting in northern Bolivar province in
Regional army commander Gen. Freddy Padilla, head of the
army's 7th Division, said the FARC used another tractor-based
"tank" in a raid elsewhere in Meta earlier this month but
downplayed the weapon's effectiveness.
"These tanks do not really give the bandits any advantage.
They're easy to neutralize and destroy," he said.
However, the increasing military might of the FARC and the
smaller National Liberation Army (ELN) is causing an ever-bigger
headache for Colombia's armed forces.
At a congressional inquiry into military strategy on Tuesday
evening, armed forces chief Gen. Manuel Jose Bonett put the
number of guerrillas in the country at some 20,000 -- 33 percent
higher than any previous official estimate.
He said the army had an active combat force of just 40,000
men to fight the rebel threat.
Those figures, coupled with the guerrillas' growing ability
to outmaneuver even the army's best-trained counterinsurgency
troops in the mountains and jungles of Colombia has led to sharp
criticism from U.S. military experts.
In comments on Tuesday, Gen. Charles Wilhelm, head of the
Miami-based U.S. Southern Command, said Colombia's military was
incapable of defeating the country's drug traffickers and rebel