Colombian National Army Provides Special Forces Training to Police
By Dialogo February 18, 2016
The Colombian National Army’s National Training Center (CENAE) is providing a month-long special forces training program for 31 police officers at the Tolemaida Military Base in the department of Tolima. The training, which is directed by Colonel Henry Palomino Cano, the head of the National Army’s Special Forces School, focuses on drug control, combat, and survival tactics in rural areas.
“This is the first group that receives this kind of special forces training,” Col. Palomino said. “This is a group of drug eradicators. This activity will play a key part in eliminating the drug [plantations] in the country.”
Since January 19th, the police officers, who mostly come from rural areas across Colombia, are enduring grueling exercises from 4:30 a.m. to midnight, six days a week. They begin the day with physical workouts and Military exercises on land before dawn, and continue with shooting range practice, special tactics training, and, at night, a set of physical and Military drills in aquatic environments. The Army instructors provide insight on reconnaissance, stealth, direct actions, air assaults, explosives, first aid, cartography, survival, and overall Military orientation for rural combat.
The four-week course is an abridged version of the original six-month to one-year special forces training. The Armed Forces conducts these demanding instructional programs in Tolemaida and in the jungle areas of the southern department of Guaviare to prepare Soldiers for the harshness of guerrilla warfare in Colombia’s jungles, mountains, and deserts, according to Col. Palomino. “It is a training for special forces units that consists in preparing men to carry out operations against strategic, high-value targets,” he explained.
Special forces achievements
Special forces are playing an important role in the Army's battle against illegal paramilitary and guerrilla organizations. In recent years, special forces have killed key leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), including Alfonso Cano during Operation Odysseus in November 2011. Special forces also killed FARC leader Víctor Julio Suárez Rojas, who was known as “Mono Jojoy,” in September 2010.
The special forces were created precisely to carry out missions against guerrilla and paramilitary organizations, according to the CENAE. The special forces school began operating on August 26, 1996, following orders from retired General Harold Bedoya Pizarro, who commanded the National Army at the time.
The initial training ground was the small base of Barrancón, which is in a humid and remote area in the rainforest next to the Guaviare River in Guaviare. The setting was ideal for the rough aquatic and land exercises that aimed to emulate the conditions where Soldiers needed to survive for days or weeks while attacking guerrilla groups. The special forces would not only be parachutists and survivalists, but also expert snipers and communications specialists, according to retired Gen. Bedoya.
More than 5,000 Soldiers went through CENAE’s training in 2015, including Troops from at least 32 other nations, and a similar number is expected to graduate from the course this year. The Special Forces School is expected to train more police officers this year.
I would like to know how the squads, companies, battalions, ranks, and courses are made up and how long each one runs and the kind of courses the Colombian army has the best in the world and also incorporating regular professional soldiers and high school soldiers thank you