Colombian Military Engineers Connect the Nation

Colombian Military Engineers Connect the Nation

By Yolima Dussán/Diálogo
November 30, 2017

This is a very well presented post, my compliments. It has a lot of key elements that truly makes it work. And I love the outline and wordings. You really have a magnetic power that catches everyone in to your blog. Good one, and keep it going. On August 31st, 2017, military engineers of the Colombian National Army (ENC, per its Spanish acronym) finished the first stage of a series of projects to open up roads guerillas had destroyed. They built 350 kilometers of rural roadways that connect more than 46,000 people in several areas the armed conflict had cut off, such as in the department of Tolima. Residents can now access emergency services, connect with each other, and market their crops.

“Our goal was to build 350 kilometers in under a year. We did it in eight months and brought the government to these towns, changing their quality of life,” Colombian Army Colonel Hoover Yarley Ríos Román, director of Consolidation at the Engineering Command (COING, per its Spanish acronym), told Diálogo. “The first stage’s layout was broad; just as broad as it was urgent to build roads. The need to connect all of these isolated towns with the rest of the country couldn’t wait.”

COING is a strategic ENC unit that conducts mobility, counter-mobility, and survival operations, and carries out general engineering works to support military maneuvers and national development as defined in Plan Victoria. For each service member working on projects, three others guarantee security to work teams and equipment, and also civilians. Three thousand service members worked on the first stage.

Record completion time

The rural roadways connect municipal seats of government and villages. Small town residents depend on these roads to move around. Without them, they have no access to other routes of greater importance and connectivity.

COING identified 20 areas across the nation with an urgent need for intervention and mapped out the road building. They used infrastructure development, pacification, and stabilization criteria in all regions.

The first road building stage set forth in Plan Victoria took place in the departments of Antioquía, Chocó, Tolima, Meta, Nariño, Cauca, Guajira, Cesar, Norte de Santander, Arauca, and Caquetá. COING provided military engineers’ expertise and labor while the Special Programs Fund for Peace provided supplies and materials for the projects.

“The projects consisted of technical surveys of the areas, with topographical maps, licensing applications, environmental permits, draft and final blueprints, and georeferencing, all to finally carry out maintenance, repair, and construction of rural roadways,” Col. Ríos said. “Now they [inhabitants] can transport their crops and get from one place to another.”

Connecting the nation

In the program’s first stage, COING developed a second phase of projects the community requested—two or three kilometers of roads in the departments of Tolima, Chocó, Nariño, Norte de Santander, and Tolima. The five roadway projects will add 115 kilometers of road building in the coming months.

Four peripheral roadway megaprojects will cap off the program. Located in priority areas due to their vulnerability to armed groups, the projects of Tibu-La Gabarra in Norte de Santander, Planadas-Gaitania in Tolima, Junin-Barbacoa in Nariño, and Mesetas-Uribe in Meta are under evaluation.

“These are important routes, given the history of these populations. They’re in the study phase,” Col. Ríos said. “Once ready, we’ll discuss them with the residents, mayors, and provincial governments of the populations involved.”

“The communities themselves ask the Army to build their roads,” Colombian Army Captain Natalia Andrea Ríos, director of Communications for COING, added. “Aside from security, we build according to rules of transparency; we work hand-in-hand with the community.”

More than 200 years of engineering projects

Completion of the roads in record time, from November 2016 to August 2017, coincided with the 203rd anniversary of COING—today composed of 8,000 multi-mission service members. October 4th was the anniversary of the specialized corps founded in 1814. Its mission: develop construction projects at military installations and infrastructure programs, provide humanitarian aid in emergency areas, protect the environment, neutralize explosive devices, and demine.

“This unit is composed of highly qualified, trained, and trained again men and women. It’s a team whose capacity varies according to the missions of the other military branches,” said Colombian Army Brigadier General Luis Emilio Cardozo Santamaría, commander of COING. “Technological innovation and continuous improvement processes will keep us at the forefront of development for engineering projects executed across the nation.”

The roads the Army opened continue to grow. “The Engineering Command won’t stop. At its facilities, there’s constant hustle and bustle,” Col. Ríos concluded. “We have a clear mission. We’re peace-building soldiers who work to develop our nation.”The roads the Army opened continue to grow. “The Engineering Command won’t stop. At its facilities, there’s constant hustle and bustle,” Col. Ríos concluded. “We have a clear mission. We’re peace-building soldiers who work to develop our nation.”