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The Colombian Air Force: 100 Years of Existence in Style

During the Colombian Air Force’s centennial, the institution highlighted its decisive role in the conclusion of the internal conflict, humanitarian assistance, and international cooperation.
Geraldine Cook/Diálogo | 5 August 2019

Spotlight

Air Force General Ramsés Rueda Rueda, commander of the Colombian Air Force, says his institution wants to work with regional countries to confront common threats. (Photo: Colombian Air Force)

The Colombian Air Force (FAC, in Spanish) celebrated 100 years of existence. Its commander, General Ramsés Rueda Rueda, presided over the official ceremony next to Colombian President Ivan Duque and Defense Minister Guillermo Botero, July 13, at the 5th Air Command headquarters, in Rionegro, Antioquia. The celebration took place during the ninth edition of the International Aeronautic Fair – F-Air Colombia 2019. Gen. Rueda spoke with Diálogo about the importance of the centennial. 

Diálogo: What’s the importance of celebrating the institution’s 100 years?

Air Force General Ramsés Rueda Rueda, commander of the Colombian Air Force: Celebrating FAC’s 100 years represents the long trajectory of a military institution that has built important capabilities, especially for a conflict scenario, but also capabilities that have allowed the country to come together and develop. We’re a force that shows Colombia its achievements in being decisive during the conflict and driving the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — FARC –– to submit to a negotiation process. We showed the continent and the world that FAC joined other countries to build capabilities to confront transnational threats and, similarly, helped us build this great institution.

Diálogo: What are FAC’s capabilities?

Gen. Rueda: Using the force effectively and within the law, respecting human rights and international humanitarian law. We’ve also built capabilities that allow us to be interoperable and participate in exercises like Red Flag. Likewise, we’re part of the System of Cooperation Among American Air Forces (SICOFAA), and we work with countries in the region to discourage transnational threats such as narcotrafficking. We have a presence in remote areas to help transform those regions, for example, by helping communities substitute coca crops. FAC also has a wide range of operations focused on social, unarmed efforts to contribute to the state’s objectives.

Diálogo: What’s FAC’s biggest contribution in its 100-year history?

Gen. Rueda: FAC has contributed greatly to the country: It brought the national territory together (we have three mountain ranges, many jungles, valleys, two seas, and an archipelago); built a safer scenario that fostered the country’s growth and development, resulting in the world now considering Colombia an attractive country for investment and tourism; and developed capabilities that we share with other countries, allowing us to be a regional model that can do great things by bringing together the will to contribute to hemispheric security. 

Diálogo: In addition to releasing a commemorative stamp, what activities are going on to celebrate FAC’s 100th anniversary?

Gen. Rueda: To celebrate the centennial, Congress approved the Honor Law, authorizing a commemorative coin for national circulation; this is of significant value because Colombian people will carry a coin referencing our centennial in their pockets. We also have a commemorative book that we hope will be a success. We’ve celebrated our centennial throughout 2019 to bring us closer to the Colombian people at different events. 

Diálogo: How has the role of women evolved in FAC?

Gen. Rueda: FAC women have a very long trajectory, because they’ve been a part of the institution since the 70s. In 2000 we had the first career pilot officers, and today we have them in all specialties, except for aircraft pilots in the Air Superiority Squadron. Thirty percent of our personnel are women in command roles; they’re also in urban antiterrorist forces, CSAR helicopter, medic, and lawyer crews. So they’re part of all our structures and specialties within FAC. Women are active and strategic protagonists within the institution.

Diálogo: FAC is celebrating the ninth edition of the International Air Fair known as F-AIR Colombia. What’s the significance of this fair? 

Gen. Rueda: Along with the Colombian Civil Aviation, we’re one of two strategic partners. F-Air allows us to show what we’re capable of and it’s a tool to bring the Colombian business community together to develop the industry. F-Air is a source for development and an opportunity for FAC to solidify the development formula between the government, its armed forces, the industry, and academia.

In this edition, we are profoundly grateful to the United States for participating as our guest of honor and for showing Colombians, during the air show, the Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron, with the F-16 Fighting Falcons, which came to Colombia in 1969, to celebrate our 50th anniversary. 

Diálogo: What type of exchanges does FAC conduct with the U.S. Air Force?

Gen. Rueda: The United States is our most important strategic ally because it helped us build our force and be our partner in the war against transnational threats, such as narcotrafficking. We have many exchanges with them because of that, and we share information, experience, and conduct international exercises. Likewise, we work very closely with the South Carolina National Guard in military and humanitarian aspects, and they participate with us in the combined air operations exercise Relámpago 4.

Diálogo: What’s the importance of combined efforts among air forces through SICOFAA?

Gen. Rueda: SICOFAA brings together the air forces of the Americas to integrate capacities and standardize procedures to respond to natural disasters in a timely manner. SICOFAA conducts annual virtual and real exercises. In 2020, Colombia will host Exercise Cooperation 7, within the framework of the aerial exercise Ángel de los Andes, where we expect to bring together more than 13 countries.

Diálogo: What’s your message for the air forces of the region?

Gen. Rueda: FAC has a vision to share with the countries of the region and take advantage of the capabilities they built and achieved with U.S. support. Through cooperation programs, we conducted more than 3,000 activities in 61 countries over the last few years, 22 of which were in the Americas. We’d like to invite you to join efforts so that we can synergize and confront the threats that burden our region. There’s nothing more powerful than the shared will of all to confront them.

The Colombian Air Force (FAC, in Spanish) celebrated 100 years of existence. Its commander, General Ramsés Rueda Rueda, presided over the official ceremony next to Colombian President Ivan Duque and Defense Minister Guillermo Botero, July 13, at the 5th Air Command headquarters, in Rionegro, Antioquia. The celebration took place during the ninth edition of the International Aeronautic Fair – F-Air Colombia 2019. Gen. Rueda spoke with Diálogo about the importance of the centennial.

Diálogo: What’s the importance of celebrating the institution’s 100 years?

Air Force General Ramsés Rueda Rueda, commander of the Colombian Air Force: Celebrating FAC’s 100 years represents the long trajectory of a military institution that has built important capabilities, especially for a conflict scenario, but also capabilities that have allowed the country to come together and develop. We’re a force that shows Colombia its achievements in being decisive during the conflict and driving the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — FARC –– to submit to a negotiation process. We showed the continent and the world that FAC joined other countries to build capabilities to confront transnational threats and, similarly, helped us build this great institution.

Diálogo: What are FAC’s capabilities?

Gen. Rueda: Using the force effectively and within the law, respecting human rights and international humanitarian law. We’ve also built capabilities that allow us to be interoperable and participate in exercises like Red Flag. Likewise, we’re part of the System of Cooperation Among American Air Forces (SICOFAA), and we work with countries in the region to discourage transnational threats such as narcotrafficking. We have a presence in remote areas to help transform those regions, for example, by helping communities substitute coca crops. FAC also has a wide range of operations focused on social, unarmed efforts to contribute to the state’s objectives.

Diálogo: What’s FAC’s biggest contribution in its 100-year history?

Gen. Rueda: FAC has contributed greatly to the country: It brought the national territory together (we have three mountain ranges, many jungles, valleys, two seas, and an archipelago); built a safer scenario that fostered the country’s growth and development, resulting in the world now considering Colombia an attractive country for investment and tourism; and developed capabilities that we share with other countries, allowing us to be a regional model that can do great things by bringing together the will to contribute to hemispheric security.

Diálogo: In addition to releasing a commemorative stamp, what activities are going on to celebrate FAC’s 100th anniversary?

Gen. Rueda: To celebrate the centennial, Congress approved the Honor Law, authorizing a commemorative coin for national circulation; this is of significant value because Colombian people will carry a coin referencing our centennial in their pockets. We also have a commemorative book that we hope will be a success. We’ve celebrated our centennial throughout 2019 to bring us closer to the Colombian people at different events.

Diálogo: How has the role of women evolved in FAC?

Gen. Rueda: FAC women have a very long trajectory, because they’ve been a part of the institution since the 70s. In 2000 we had the first career pilot officers, and today we have them in all specialties, except for aircraft pilots in the Air Superiority Squadron. Thirty percent of our personnel are women in command roles; they’re also in urban antiterrorist forces, CSAR helicopter, medic, and lawyer crews. So they’re part of all our structures and specialties within FAC. Women are active and strategic protagonists within the institution.

Diálogo: FAC is celebrating the ninth edition of the International Air Fair known as F-AIR Colombia. What’s the significance of this fair? 

Gen. Rueda: Along with the Colombian Civil Aviation, we’re one of two strategic partners. F-Air allows us to show what we’re capable of and it’s a tool to bring the Colombian business community together to develop the industry. F-Air is a source for development and an opportunity for FAC to solidify the development formula between the government, its armed forces, the industry, and academia.

In this edition, we are profoundly grateful to the United States for participating as our guest of honor and for showing Colombians, during the air show, the Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron, with the F-16 Fighting Falcons, which came to Colombia in 1969, to celebrate our 50th anniversary.

Diálogo: What type of exchanges does FAC conduct with the U.S. Air Force?

Gen. Rueda: The United States is our most important strategic ally because it helped us build our force and be our partner in the war against transnational threats, such as narcotrafficking. We have many exchanges with them because of that, and we share information, experience, and conduct international exercises. Likewise, we work very closely with the South Carolina National Guard in military and humanitarian aspects, and they participate with us in the combined air operations exercise Relámpago 4.

Diálogo: What’s the importance of combined efforts among air forces through SICOFAA?

Gen. Rueda: SICOFAA brings together the air forces of the Americas to integrate capacities and standardize procedures to respond to natural disasters in a timely manner. SICOFAA conducts annual virtual and real exercises. In 2020, Colombia will host Exercise Cooperation 7, within the framework of the aerial exercise Ángel de los Andes, where we expect to bring together more than 13 countries.

Diálogo: What’s your message for the air forces of the region?

Gen. Rueda: FAC has a vision to share with the countries of the region and take advantage of the capabilities they built and achieved with U.S. support. Through cooperation programs, we conducted more than 3,000 activities in 61 countries over the last few years, 22 of which were in the Americas. We’d like to invite you to join efforts so that we can synergize and confront the threats that burden our region. There’s nothing more powerful than the shared will of all to confront them.

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