Bumped Out of Ecuador:

Airmen flying out of Forward Operating Location Manta in Ecuador plan to shift their FOL but not reduce their efforts toward US counterdrug operations, reports Louis Arana-Barradas. The President of Ecuador has told the US that he wants to end a 1999 agreement that lets US forces, like USAF E-3 Sentry airborne warning and surveillance aircraft, operate out of his country. As it stands now, the agreement runs until 2009, and Air Force Lt. Col. Javier Delucca, commander of FOL Manta’s 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron says operations will continue, adding, “If we have to move, we’ll move, but we’ll operate from here until the end.” Apparently, US forces won’t have to move far, because Columbia and Peru have offered to host the counterdrug effort. In 2006, US aircrews flew some 1,200 missions from Manta, netting more than 258 tons of illegal drugs. Lt. Col. Preston Kise, commander of the 965th Expeditionary Airborne Control Squadron, whose members from Tinker AFB, Okla., are serving a four-month rotation at Manta, says, “If there’s a boat in the water, we’ll find it if we’re within 200 miles of it,” and he adds that over land they can spot aircraft within 250 miles of their E-3.