Colombia’s Army Has Faith in the Cause
By Geraldine Cook January 01, 2013
Service increases motivation and strengthens ethical standards by focusing on the
meaning of its new motto.
The Colombian Army has been fighting an insurgency led by the Revolutionary
Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) for more than 50 years. During the past five years,
the Army and the Colombian Government have mounted a series of successful operations
against the FARC and have begun to plan for the end of the conflict.
Key to recent successes is the professionalism and dedication of the
Colombian Army and its willingness to strive for constant improvement not only of
the institution but of its members. More than 50 years of combat causes an army to
adapt and change, and allows for the chance to review tactics and strategy, and try
In Colombia, the Army saw a need to develop a program that reaffirms and
strengthens the fundamental principles of ethics and values that provide the
foundation for its Soldiers to perform their mission. The initiative, called “Fe en
la Causa” (Faith in the Cause), was developed by General Alejandro Navas during his
time as commander of the Colombian Army and began in December 2010.
The program not only involves the officers, NCOs [noncommissioned officers],
and Soldiers of the Army, but also seeks to involve the Colombian civilian
population by reinforcing the ethical component of combat operations that will help
lead the Military and the nation to victory against the FARC. With Gen. Navas’
appointment as commander of the military forces, “Fe en la Causa” has also been
embraced by all services.
Gen. Navas explained that although the motto “Fe en la Causa” and the
supporting campaign is new, the underlying concept of faith in the military and the
nation is not.
“While the concept for ‘Fe en la Causa’ had not been previously brought out
as a motto, it has been a fundamental part of our institution’s daily life,” Gen.
Navas said. “The faith that we have and the cause that motivates our actions are not
mere new words. They have been implicit in the hearts and minds of our officers,
NCOs, and Soldiers forever, and have become part of our philosophy of life.”
“We saw the need to convert this concept into a motto that would remind us,
under every circumstance and at all times, that if we want to live our lives as
military service members, we must be committed to the institution’s mission and
therefore, committed to unconditional service to country.”
Based on this recognition, the Army devised a three-phase institutional
campaign to instill the concept in the hearts of its members as well as in
everything they do. The three phases are an instructive, a persuasive, and a
sustainment phase through which commitment and faith in the Armed Forces’ mission is
deepened, in order to reach victory.
As described by Colonel Wilson Torres, deputy director of Integrated Action,
the office within the Army’s headquarters charged with leading the instructive phase
efforts, the campaign has matured over the last 18 months with the instructive and
persuasive phases well underway. The Army expects to enter the sustainment phase in
The first phase consisted of developing a communication plan that would
ensure that all members of the Army were informed about the initiative and its
goals. From videos and radio spots, to messages in the food packets Soldiers take
with them on combat operations in the jungle, the “Fe en la Causa” concept is spread
throughout the Army using all communication platforms.
The campaign has also reached the Colombian public through the showing of a
specially produced video in civilian movie theaters as well as on television during
prime viewing hours and radio spots on public radio channels. Public awareness and
interest also has been raised through the Army’s website, which has seen an increase
in public users accessing “Fe en la Causa” information.
In addition to the communication campaign, the Army’s Training and Doctrine
command has established a “Fe en la Causa” training program that is included in all
levels of professional development. For example, in Tolemaida, the Army’s largest
training post, Soldiers go through training where they encounter scenarios designed
to challenge their ethics and values. The scenarios are based on events that they
could experience in combat. Retraining is done every six months to ensure that
Soldiers internalize the concept of superior ethical behavior.
General Sergio Mantilla, current Army commander, said the “essence of the
campaign is the human resource, our Soldier. This is the most valuable asset of the
Highlighting the importance of the human resource, the Army designed the “Fe
en la Causa” medal that is used to recognize Soldiers and civilians whose actions
embody the spirit of ethical behavior and dedication to the cause and the nation.
To determine the success of the program, the Army is surveying the force
every six months to measure Soldier understanding and knowledge of the program, and
the degree to which they accept and apply the principals. The Army also tracks the
number of “Fe en la Causa” medals awarded; the number of human rights violations or
complaints made, if any, during operations; the Soldier desertion rate; and finally,
the Army tracks Gallup poll results regarding the civilian opinion of the Military
as a profession.
So far, the results of these measurements are positive. According to
Integrated Action officers, the Army has seen fewer retirements; leaders report a
positive influence on Soldiers and their behavior as well as an increase in Soldiers
taking on leadership roles; a decrease in the number of complaints by Soldiers and
against Soldiers; and a February 2012 Gallup poll had the military rated as the most
respected institution in Colombia by 81 percent of poll respondents.
To achieve victory, the campaign has reaffirmed the values and ethics of a
professional military throughout a force that has been fighting an enemy within its
own borders for decades. The campaign sets the foundation for good citizenship and a
military that Colombian citizens can count on to conduct itself in accordance with
the highest ethical and moral standards.
“The vision is to carry out the duties that the State requires of us, which
has a direct impact on our defense of our sovereignty, of our independence, the
integrity of our national territory and the constitutional order,” Gen. Mantilla
said. “We can carry out all of that with the commitment and the courage of all the
men and women that comprise the force, with their total devotion to duty, courage,
discipline, modernization, training and values, the highest morale and ‘Faith in the
There’s no worse disease than hate, no greater gift than health, no other faith like trust, and no other joy like peace. I thank the creator and nature for the growth arising from the path of peace and harmony in my beautiful Colombia. In my view this is a very good article, very well written. But it would be good to put in the exact day the campaign was created because all that is there is the month and the year XDDD These are the officers who make us proud to be Colombians. Congratulations to Colonel Wilson Torres Prado