Preparing To Move

The Air Force is mulling the best approach to take in its expected pullout from Forward Operating Location Manta in Ecuador late next year. The 10-year lease for the South American air base, from which USAF launches counterdrug sorties, expires in November 2009 and “the president of Ecuador has been pretty clear in that he is not going to renew the lease,” Lt. Gen. Norman Seip, commander of 12th Air Force and Air Forces Southern, told reporters yesterday during a meeting in the Pentagon. Accordingly, says Seip, AFSOUTH is working with US Southern Command to determine whether it is best “to do the mission right up to the lease, and then walk out” or “do a gradual degradation of the mission, so that when the lease ends, we can be out of there within a day or so.” Aircraft like the E-3 AWACS have operated from Manta. Seip says it is unlikely that AFSOUTH will move into another FOL the size and scope of Manta. Colombia and Peru have offered in the past to host the counterdrug mission. (For more from General Seip, read RAMPing Up)