Programs > Section 1033
last updated:12/7/06

"Section 1033" Counter-Drug Assistance

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Program description / Law | Funding

Program descriptionLaw

Section 1033 of the 1998 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, P.L. 105-85) was often referred to as the "Riverine Program" because it was designed to support counterdrug programs focused on the interdiction of drugs trafficked by river.

When first put into law, Sec. 1033 allowed the Department of Defense to use its own budget to provide specific types of counter-drug assistance to Colombia and Peru betwen fiscal years 1998 - 2002. The legislation directed that not more than $9 million be spent in 1998, and that not more than $20 million be spent each subsequent year. The 2001 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 106-398) extended the end date of this provision to 2006, for Colombia only.

The "Plan Colombia" aid package (Section 3101 of P.L. 106-246) allowed the maximum expenditure to be exceeded for Colombia in 2000 and 2001.

The 2004 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 108-136) significantly expanded the scope of "Section 1033" aid:

  • The word "riverine" was removed to make it a more general-purpose counter-drug assistance program.
  • The list of countries eligible was expanded to include Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, as well as five Central Asian states (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Pakistan).
  • The authority for all countries was extended until 2006.
  • The maximum expenditure was increased to $40 million per year beginning in 2004.
  • (As with all aid to Colombia, Section 1033 assistance to Colombia's armed forces may be used for both counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism missions.)

The 2007 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 109-364) further expanded the scope of "Section 1033" aid.

  • The list of countries eligible was expanded to include Belize, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama and Peru, as well as nine Central Asian states (Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Pakistan).
  • The authority for all countries was extended until 2008.
  • The maximum expenditure was increased to $60 million per year beginning in 2007.

Section 1033 authorizes the following types of support:

  • Patrol boats;
  • Nonlethal protective and utility personnel equipment;
  • Nonlethal specialized equipment such as night vision systems, navigation, communications, photo, and radar equipment;
  • Nonlethal components, accessories, attachments, parts, firmware, and software for aircraft or patrol boats, and related repair equipment;
  • Detection, interception, monitoring and testing equipment;
  • For Afghanistan only, "individual and crew-served weapons of 50 caliber or less and ammunition for such weapons for counter-narcotics security forces"; and
  • Maintenance and repair of equipment that is used for counter-drug activities.

The conference committee report accompanying the 1999 National Defense Authorization Act clarified that "the intent of Congress was to provide nonlethal assistance, including unarmed riverine patrol boats…the conferees note that other programs exist in which the Government of Peru can acquire the weaponry necessary to arm these vessels." [1]

During the first three years of its existence, some congressional oversight personnel questioned the Riverine Program's effectiveness. The Armed Services Committees of Congress required an unusual amount of reporting for a Defense Department program.

Those reports have not been available to the public. The FY 2004 National Defense Authorization Act requires no special reporting on the Riverine Program. It has proven difficult to get information about Section 1033 expenditures per country.

Of all Department of Defense-funded counternarcotics activities, this is the newest program given a specific line item in the defense budget. Section 1033 contains much stronger reporting requirements than other Defense Department counternarcotics programs, including an annual Counter-Drug Plan to be prepared by the Secretary of Defense in consultation with the Secretary of State. (This plan, to date, has not been available to the public.)


Each year, Congress will not release funds for "Section 1033" assistance until 15 days after the Secretary of Defense submits to the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the House National Security Committee, and the House International Relations Committee a written certification that:

  1. Providing the assistance would not affect the preparedness of the U.S. armed forces;
  2. The equipment would be used only by government officials and employees who undergo background investigations by the recipient governments and who are approved for the performance of counter-drug activities; and
  3. The recipient governments have certified that none of the equipment will be transferred to any other person or entity not authorized by the United States and that the equipment will be used only for the purposes intended by the U.S government.

The certification also had to specify that recipient governments would maintain a thorough inventory of the equipment provided, and would allow U.S. government personnel access to any of this equipment or to any records having to do with it. The recipient government must guarantee the equipment's security to a degree deemed satisfactory by the U.S. government, and must permit continuous U.S. government review of the equipment's use.

Counterdrug Plan

The law requires that a Counterdrug Plan be provided to the relevant committees of Congress before release of the first year's funding. The plan, which must be produced for each country receiving assistance, covers nine points, including: a security assessment, an evaluation of riverine operations, an assessment of assistance provided and management and coordination information. For subsequent year funding to be released, the Secretary of Defense is required to submit any changes in this plan to the relevant committees of Congress.

Text of Section 1033, as amended


Country1998 actual [2]1999 actual [3]2000 actual [4]2001 estimate [5]2002 estimate [5]
Colombia and Peru (shared)$6,468,000$19,950,000$7,230,000$22,960,000$4,300,000


1 United States Congress, Conference Committee Report 105-736 on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1999, P.L. 105-261, September 22, 1998.

2 Ana Maria Salazar, deputy assistant secretary of defense for drug enforcement policy and support, United States Department of Defense, letter in response to congressional inquiry, Mar. 19, 1999.

3 United States, Department of Defense, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Drug Enforcement Policy and Support, correspondence with authors, September 21, 2000.

4 United States, Department of Defense, "Report on Department of Defense Expenditures To Support Foreign Counterdrug Activities", Washington, December 29, 2000.

5 United States, Department of Defense, "DoD Andean Initiative FY02 Colombia", Washington, Document obtained September 19, 2001; Congressional Research Service, "Colombia: Summary and Tables on U.S. Assistance, FY1989-FY2003," (Washington: CRS, May 3, 2002): 4 <>.

United States, Department of Defense, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, Report required by the Floyd D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (P.L. 106-398), (Washington: April 18, 2002).


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