September 18, 2007

Bolivian MANPADS Redux

File this under It Could Be Nothing, But....

In 2005 the US rendered a bunch of Bolivian Chinese-made MANPADS inoperable. With the agreement of the Bolivian Armed Forces, the US took these weapons from their storage locations in Bolivia and flew them to the US for a quick snip-and-tuck. From the US perspective, in a post 9-11 world it wasn't a good idea to have poorly secured MANPADS floating around. And, given the lose Bolivian controls and porous borders, Bolivia seemed a likely candidate in which to implement this policy.

So imagine my surprise when I saw this article reporting that, in Brazil, between April 2005 and July 2007, Brazilian cops confiscated 9 "anti-air" weapons (armas antiaéreas) with the Bolivian Coat of Arms stamped on them.

Obviously, this means that the Bolivian Army or Ministry of Defense officials are selling weapons. I get that. Not a big surprise. But what I don't understand is what the heck are "armas antiaéreas"? That sounds like air defense weapons to me, but could they be...MANPADS? What other kinds of "armas antiaéreas" could they be talking about? They surely can't be talking about anti-aircraft guns, I can't imagine those suckers being dragged through the jungle (with due respect to the Viet Minh at Dien Bien Phu and the North Vietnamese Army at Khe Sanh--at least those guys were fighting a war).

Does this mean that the US missed some MANPADS? Or that they new of the leakage and that is what prompted the US to act in Bolivia? Of course, the article could be just plain wrong. It could be spin or an outright lie. Like I said, it could be nothing, but....

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