The U.S. is giving Colombia over a billion dollars to fight drug gangs. In the past, many American troops, in the form of advisors and trainers, would come with this money. But following a trend that began in the 1980s, most American technical experts needed will be civilians. The U.S. government calls them contractors, critics call them mercenaries. Many of these civilians are former American military personnel. It is felt that losing some of these civilians will cause less political trouble back home than if soldiers were killed. There is some danger. Many of the nearly 300 American contractors enter combat zones. Reconnaissance aircraft operating in Colombia, often carrying Americans, came back with 125 bullet holes last years.