BOGOTA – The army is restructuring as it prepares for the signing of a peace agreement with the FARC guerrilla group, with plans to create a military police force, among other units, Colombian Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas said.
“This transformation is to strengthen the army. It’s a transformation of the general staff, of the brain of this force, and there will be new reengineering of the operating parts,” Villegas said.
New units will be created “with a focus on cutting-edge technology and mobility,” like the special forces, the defense minister said.
Three new commands – planning and policy, force deployment and operations – will be created.
The restructuring’s goal is to help the army “adapt” to “new threats and remaining threats,” and deal with them, Villegas said.
The government also wants to ensure that the army can complement the foreign policy of Colombia, which as a “regional power” has the “inexorable need to have stronger institutional relations via its armed forces” with Central America, the European Union, Canada and the United States, among other counries and regional blocs, the defense minister said.
Colombia has “an army for peace and for war, strengthened, enthusiastic and transparent, which will surely serve it into the future,” Villegas said.
The government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, are preparing to sign a peace agreement ending five decades of armed conflict after more than three years of talks in Havana.
President Juan Manuel Santos’s administration has also been engaged for more than two years in exploratory contacts with the National Liberation Army, or ELN, guerrilla group in an effort to start a peace process similar to the one involving the much larger FARC insurgency.
The government, meanwhile, has launched a massive security operation targeting the gangs created in the wake of the demobilization of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, militia federation.