Colombia Invests in Weapons, Military Technology
By Dialogo November 12, 2012
BOGOTÁ, Colombia – President Juan Manuel Santos, whose administration is having peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) terrorist group, is spending heavily to bolster his country’s military.
Santos’ spending aims to acquire better technology, vehicles and equipment but also increase military and police troops, as fighting terrorism, crime and narco-trafficking remains his biggest priority.
Santos said security forces will pursue FARC guerrillas while the sides are discussing a peace treaty to end Latin America’s longest-running internal conflict. Talks were held earlier this month in Oslo Norway and will continue in November in Havana, Cuba, but Santos is taking precautions in case the talks break down, as they did in 2002, the last time the sides met.
“We have to be prepared for anything,” he told the country during a speech broadcast nationally in September. “This means reinforcing our infrastructure in case the dialogues fail.”
The government has a US$22 billion defense budget for 2012-2013, of which US$7.6 billion will be spent on acquiring the latest technology and combat equipment, among other items, in 2013. Last year, the country spent US$14.4 billion on technology, equipment and other initiatives, such as health care and education for the troops, according to the Ministry of Defense.
The Armed Forces are expected to receive several Black Hawk helicopters, transport aircraft and fighter jets early in 2013, said Diana Margarita Quintero, the vice minister for Defense Strategy and Planning.
Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón said an additional 20,000 police officers and 5,000 soldiers would be hired next year. The budget also provides funding for the promotions of more than 35,000 police officers and 30,000 soldiers.
John Ramos, a specialist on citizen security at the Universidad de la Sabana, said the government is spending money wisely.
“By acquiring more [of the latest equipment and technology], you guarantee security. [This can only] happen if there’s improvement in the military infrastructure,” he said. “By not placing full trust in the FARC, the government immediately guarantees success in expanding the social possibilities for Colombians and making sure everyone is safer.”
The government also is investing heavily in improving health care, education and housing services for military members by funding the following projects:
US$103 million will be spent on the military’s health care system in 2013, which includes the funding of the Military’s Southwestern Clinic, which will open in Bogotá in 2013, and a new medical center in the nation’s capital that will provide physical rehabilitation and mental health services. Last May, the Military Hospital in Bogotá was expanded to include a wing to treat landmine victims;
US$89 million will be spent in 2013 to provide residences and temporary housing to troops and police officers, as a portion of the money will fund the construction of 800 houses nationwide;
US$13 million will be spent in 2013 for the troops’ education, after US$28 million was spent between 2010-2012 on increasing soldiers’ and officials’ access to educational programs to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as to learn English.
The government also has allocated US$30 billion for the military’s pension system, while US$2 billion will be reserved in case of a natural disaster, but the amount can be raised depending on the severity of the catastrophe.
Outside the military, the government has approved a budget of more than US$103 billion, of which US$20 billion will go toward education and health care in 2013, which marks an increase compared to 2012.
In 2012, US$17 billion of the government’s US$91 billion budget went to education and health care and US$27 billion to governmental pension subsidies, with US$5 billion allocated to preventing and responding to natural disasters, according to the Ministry of the Treasury.
Gustavo Espinosa, a political scientist with the Military University of Colombia and specialist on Latin American conflicts, agrees with the government’s spending.
“To protect the national security interests is not only a necessity, it’s an obligation – especially if you consider earlier peace dialogues with the FARC did not [work out],” he said. “In the conversations with the FARC during the presidency of Andrés Pastrana [in 1999], the infrastructure of the armed forces was not as solid as it is today. This time, Santos is not leaving anything up to chance, and the proof is that he’s reinforcing the military.”
wonderful, but we still need the f-16, the merkava, the apache, the patriot, or their equivalents, in order to have real deterrence, both internal and external, otherwise this is money poorly invested in repotentiation of equipment in disuse, we are falling way behind our neighbors, this way we'll never have the alleged best forces of South America; today we are just numerous and nothing else, as far as weapons we are way behind in the 4 forces unless the military forces are keeping something very good under wraps, but they should let us know at least a little, such as the purchase of some f-16s, some saab gripens and some merkavas for example If it's true that COLOMBIA is the third economy of Latin America, modern armed forces are needed, we can't repeat the 1987 humiliation, when our corvette was humiliated on Colombian territorial waters because we couldn't face an attack from the Venezuelans. But additionally to this we have to have a defined, nationalistic diplomatic policy. Napoleon Bonaparte used to say that the effectiveness of diplomacy is founded on the mouths of cannons. very good 22 billion to defend what? Don't they say that "Santos and Uribe supposedly were going to end the armed conflict in Colombia, that's been going on for over 100 years without the need to murder Colombians?"
This Colombia resembles the Nazi Germany, they are all Germans and only the weakest must die (Jews and other "inferior" races). They invested 20 billion in education and health and then EVERYONE here is asking - why do I need to settle for a simple acetaminophen.
If more people were educated don't you think there would be fewer poor people, fewer illiterates that take up arms, and less poverty? you want a gigantic armed force? provide a better education then, Americans are what they are because of all the benefits they've had, the most intelligent people are from there, the most wealthy people, the people with the biggest businesses in the world. The governors of this world are intelligent because the COUNTRY helped them, here the cynical politicians only give support when someone is famous, an athlete or engineer. Do you think we need more weapons? A bigger armament? what are we, gun powder? is our health worth crap? it's 2013, it's been a year and I don't see anything improving or changing. The institution is more corrupt than before, I see more "gang-related" policemen and I don't know how the hell they let them in. They don't hesitate to pull out a gun to solve a problem as simple as a locked door. They don't even care about beating someone almost to death just for being different, racists, xenophobes, they are people with superiority complexes who believe a gun will solve all problems. FALSE, a gun has never solved anything, it only makes matters worse. Think it over and don't join the army, STUDY and have a better future, so you stop being illiterate and voting for people that give the country away piece by piece. Our armed forces must always be ready, therefore they should have the latest military technology to defend our country from external and internal aggressors.