In recent years, more than 60 countries around the world have benefitted from training with the Colombian Armed Forces.
The Colombian Military has earned a world-wide reputation for its effectiveness in fighting terrorist groups like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), and criminal gangs, amassing vast experience in conducting counter terrorism operations, effective methods of gathering intelligence, anti-kidnapping tactics, and mounting effective demobilization campaigns with the support of the U.S. Armed Forces, which helped train and build their capacities over time.
So it is not surprising that countries facing similar challenges regularly call upon Colombia’s Armed Forces to provide their know-how and lessons learned when designing training programs for their Military and police forces.
Between 2010 and 2014, the Armed Forces of Colombia have assisted in training about 20,000 Soldiers and police officers from 63 nations, including El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Spain, Italy, and Afghanistan, thanks to cooperation agreements between the countries.
Soldiers from Colombia have provided insight to their specialties: the best ways to conduct counter-terrorism and anti-kidnaping operations, and how to combat transnational crimes, among others.
Defense officials laud the Colombian Military
The Colombian Military has the depth of experience and knowledge to help security forces throughout the world thanks to cooperation agreements they themselves have sustained with partner nations like the United States, which in turn, allow other countries to benefit from their experience and knowledge.
For example, following an October 10, 2014, meeting with United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at the Tolemaida Fort, Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón suggested that Colombia could contribute to the international fight against the radical Islamist group ISIS by training Coalition Troops.
The Colombian Military has also lent their assistance in training Spanish security forces on the best ways to dismantle improvised explosive devices (IEDs); demining methods; how to conduct interdictions at sea and on other waterways; counter-terrorism operations; and the most effective tactics for conducting rescues in combat zones.
International cooperation is crucial in the battle against transnational criminal organizations.
“In today’s world, where crime is an international concern, our countries must work together for stability, and Colombia serves as an example of rarely seen persistence and seriousness,” said Admiral Juan Francisco Martínez, Spain’s director of Defense Policy during a visit to Colombia in May 2014. “Spain admires characteristics such as the abilities the Armed Forces have developed in the fight against terrorism,” Martínez said. “There are tons of things that could be of use to us, and useful to Colombia,” he added.
In another example, last October, Pinzón participated in the Tswalu Dialogue in South Africa, where he met with global security experts and learned that several African countries intend to adopt the Colombian Armed Forces’ methods of fighting drug trafficking and terrorism.
Contributions of the Junglas Command
The Military is not the only Colombian security force to provide training to other countries.
Every year, the Junglas Command of the Colombian National Police trains dozens of new officers from throughout the world in its drug enforcement program.
The Junglas Command is a specialized group within the Colombian Drug Enforcement Police whose mission is to conduct a frontal assault on drug trafficking, as well as to offer training internationally.
Since 1989, the Junglas have trained approximately 1,600 police officers from countries including Perú, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panamá, Brazil, Argentina, Afghanistan, and México, according to the Section Commander of the Junglas Company, Wilson Forero.
They provide training that focuses on the “planning, preparation, execution and evaluation of operations on interdictions, location and destruction of coca processing laboratories, destruction of landing strips and high-value objects, in any topographical area,” according to Forero.
In May, the Junglas will offer its Fifteenth International Course, to be attended by 80 students, including 50 from the Colombian National Police, and 30 from other countries.