World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

National Army of Colombia

Article Id: WHEBN0002697243
Reproduction Date:

Title: National Army of Colombia  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Military Forces of Colombia, Operation Jaque, Military of Colombia, Galil ACE, Freddy Padilla de León
Collection: Colombian National Army, Military of Colombia
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

National Army of Colombia

Colombian National Army
Ejército Nacional de Colombia
Colombian Army Emblem
Active August 19, 1819 – present
Country  Colombia
Role Foreign and Domestic Defense
Size 235,538 (2009)[1]
Garrison/HQ Colombian Ministry of Defense
Colors Red with Army Crest
March "Himno del Ejército"
Anniversaries August 7
Engagements Independence War against Spain
Thousand Days War (Civil war)
War Against Peru
Korean War
Colombian Armed Conflict
Gen. Oscar González
Simon Bolivar,
Francisco de Paula Santander,
Gustavo Rojas Pinilla,
Harold Bedoya Pizarro,
Manuel José Bonett
Rafael Reyes Prieto

The National Army of Colombia (Spanish: Ejército Nacional de Colombia) is the land military force of Colombia and the largest branch of the Colombian Armed Forces. It is responsible for carrying out land-based military operations along with the Colombian Naval Infantry (Infanteria de Marina) and for protecting the Colombian state against domestic or foreign threats.

The modern Colombian Army has its roots in the Army of the Commoners (Ejército de los Comuneros), which was formed on the 7th of August of 1819, before the establishment of the present day Colombia to meet the demands of the Revolutionary War against the Spanish Empire. After their triumph against the Spanish, the Congress of Angostura created the Greater Colombian Army, to replace the disbanded Commoners Army.


  • History 1
    • Recent history 1.1
      • Overseas military operations 1.1.1
        • Korean War
        • Sinai
  • Organization 2
    • Major units 2.1
      • Divisions 2.1.1
      • Other units 2.1.2
    • Combat arms 2.2
    • Special units 2.3
      • Rapid Deployment Force 2.3.1
      • Anti-Narcotics Brigade 2.3.2
      • Air Assault Aviation Division 2.3.3
      • AFEUR unit 2.3.4
      • Special Forces Brigade 2.3.5
      • GAULA groups 2.3.6
  • Schools and courses 3
    • Courses 3.1
    • Military educational institutions 3.2
  • Equipment 4
    • Land vehicles 4.1
    • Pistols 4.2
    • Assault rifles 4.3
    • Submachine guns 4.4
    • Machine guns 4.5
    • Grenade launchers 4.6
    • Artillery 4.7
    • Anti-armour 4.8
    • Air defense systems and anti-aircraft artillery 4.9
    • Aircraft 4.10
  • Uniforms 5
  • Personnel 6
    • Rank and insignia 6.1
      • Officers 6.1.1
      • Enlisted personnel 6.1.2
  • See also 7
  • Notes 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


Batallon Colombia ensign designed for the Korean War.

The Colombian Army traces its history back to the 1770s and 1780s, when the Comuneros (Commoners) – mostly descendants of Spanish and Amerindians – decided to separate from the Spanish Empire to create their own country and initiated a revolutionary war.

By 1810, as the nation declared independence, a Volunteer National Guard was raised composed of infantry and cavalry units. Nationwide civil war prevented a full establishment of a regular army, and it would take 9 years before a truly national army would be formed.

The Colombia.

The military reform carried out by General Rafael Reyes Prieto in the year 1907, right in the aftermath of the Thousand Days War, marked the professionalization of the Colombian Armed Forces, resulting in the opening of the Colombian Military Academy. The Army was then dramatically changed by modernization efforts, which included among them the consultation of two military missions in the 1920s by the Chilean and Swiss armies.

Recent history

The Colombian National Army Flag.
Colombian National Army soldier searching for landmines.

The Colombian Army is presently at war with leftist rebels of the FARC, ELN and EPL, as well as other minor groups. Throughout the war, military personnel have usually maintained a level of professionalism.

Members of the military have been accused or condemned of collaborating with the activities of right wing paramilitaries, such as the AUC and others. The BBC and other sources have reported on cases of corruption within the military, as well as other scandals.

The United States government approved the Plan Colombia initiative. Part of the resources provided by this initiative would be directed to the support of the Colombian Army by strengthening its combat and logistics capabilities.

The Supreme Commander of the Colombian Army is the President of Colombia, with a four star General being sub-commander.

Several courses within the Colombian Army are world recognized due to their demanding nature. The most well known among these being the Lancero School. This course – dedicated in counterinsurgency warfare – is held in Tolemaida, 150 miles (240 km) from Bogotá, where temperatures range between 85 and 100 degrees F. (29.5–38 degrees C.) throughout the year. The course, which has been called the toughest in the world, is run by the Colombian army, with U.S. military instructors also playing a role. According to Paris Match (no. 2964, March 9–15, 2006) the course lasts 73 days and trains Bolivian, Ecuadorean, and Panamanian troops as well as Colombian soldiers; some French and American soldiers are also trained there.[2] The course, founded in 1955, was based in the metholody of the Ranger School, of the US Army. Lethal techniques and live ammunition are used. Because of its exceptional nature, the course has gained international prestige.

Overseas military operations

Korean War

During the Korean War, some 4,314 troops of the Colombian Army (21% of the total force) served with the Colombia Battalion in the United Nations Command. The initial contingent of troops transported to Korea aboard the USNS Aiken Victory. Once in-country, the Colombia Battalion received training and then joined the American 21st Infantry Regiment on 1 August 1951. It was engaged in battle during Operation Nomadic, for which the battalion received a Presidential Unit Citation. In 1952, as the 21st Infantry Regiment redeployed, the Colombia Battalion was transferred to the 31st Infantry Regiment. The battalion was greatly involved in the Battle of Old Baldy. Colombian soldiers killed in action were sometimes cremated at the United Nations Cemetery in Tanggok and repatriated in 1954.[3] Overall, the Colombian Army lost 141 soldiers by death and suffered 556 battle injuries.[4]


The Colombian National Army deployed soldiers in the Sinai as part of the United Nations Emergency Force between 1956 and 1967.[5] Since 1980 it has supplied one battalion ('COLBATT') to the Multinational Force and Observers there.


Structure of the Colombian National Army

Major units


Colombian Army Divisions are static Regional Commands

  • 1st Division (Santa Marta) – Its jurisdiction covers the Northern Region of Colombia in which there are the departments of Cesar, La Guajira, Magdalena, Sucre, Bolívar and Atlántico. 2nd Mechanized and 10th Armored brigades.
  • 2nd Division (Bucaramanga) – Its jurisdiction covers the north eastern Colombia in which there are the departments of Norte de Santander, Santander and Arauca. 5th Infantry, 30th Infantry and 23rd Mobile brigades.
  • 3rd Division (Cali) – Its jurisdiction covers the South West of Colombia in which there are the Departments of Nariño, Valle del Cauca, Cauca, Caldas, Quindio, Risaralda and the southern part of the Chocó. 3rd, 8th, 23rd and 29th Infantry brigades.
  • 4th Division (Villavicencio) – Its jurisdiction covers the eastern region of Colombia in which there are the departments of Meta, Guaviare, and part of Vaupés. 7th Infantry, 22nd Infantry and 31st Jungle Infantry brigades.
  • 5th Division (Bogota) – Its jurisdiction covers the Central Region of Colombia in which there are the departments of Cundinamarca, Boyaca, Huila and Tolima. 1st Infantry, 6th Infantry, 8th Mobile, 9th Infantry and 13th Infantry brigades.
  • 6th Division (Florencia) – Its jurisdiction covers the southern region of Colombia in which there are the departments of Amazonas, Caquetá, Putumayo and southern Vaupés. 12th Infantry, 13th Mobile, 26th Jungle and 27th Jungle brigades.
  • 7th Division (Medellin) – Its jurisdiction covers the western region of Colombia in which there are the departments of Cordoba, Antioquia, and part of the Chocó. 4th, 11th, 14th, 15th and 17th Infantry and 11th Mobile Brigades
  • 8th Division (Yopal) – Its jurisdiction covers the northeastern region of Colombia: the Departments of Casanare, Arauca, Vichada, Guainía, and the municipalities of Boyaca of Cubará, Pisba, Paya, Labranzagrande and Pajarito. 16th, 18th, 28th, and the 5th Mobile Brigade.

Other units

Combat Arms of the Colombian Army
  • Mobile Medical Command with 3 Battalions
  • Military and Institutes Brigade
  • 19th Cadet Brigade with 3 battalions
  • Army Aviation with 135 helicopters and aircraft.
  • Army Commando Battalion

Combat arms

Special units

The Colombian Army has created new programs in order to fight terrorist guerrillas that during the last 40 years have fought a war to overthrow the Colombian government. They are highly trained, specially selected Colombian Army soldiers. They do special recon operations to find and expel Colombian terrorists hideouts.

Rapid Deployment Force

  • The Rapid Deployment Force or Fuerza de Despliegue Rápido abr. FUDRA, was created as a modern quick reaction force to deploy to different regions and to all types of weather. Currently, its function is to solely carry out offensive operations against insurgents or outlaws.

Anti-Narcotics Brigade

Air Assault Aviation Division

  • The Colombian National Army Aviation or División de Aviación Asalto Aéreo del Ejército, is an aviation branch that works autonomously from the Colombian Air Force. It is part of the Colombian Army and its main mission is to support the army's ground operations. The unit has recently focused in the security of the Colombian border and Colombia's sovereignty.
    This Unit was created on September 7 of 1916 and it is managed by the Colombian Army.

AFEUR unit

The Agrupación de Fuerzas Especiales Antiterroristas Urbanas (Urban Counter-Terrorism Special Forces Group, AFEUR) is an elite unit of the Colombian Army, whose primary mission is to perform counter-terrorist operations and hostage rescues based on stealth, surprise and team work.

VIP protection is another task of the unit. For example, they protect the Colombian President when he travels, and provided protection for President Bill Clinton's (Army group) and President George W. Bush's visits to Cartagena, in 2000 and 2004 respectively. They also provided the second security ring to Bush's visit to Bogotá in 2007.

This unit answers directly to the Commando General de las Fuerzas Armadas (Armed Forces Joint Staff), and they are allowed to use any military air transportation to guarantee mobility, and to use any weapon or additional equipment as required to accomplish their missions.

AFEUR won the "Fuerzas Comando 2005" (Commando Forces 2005) contest, that took place in Chile in June 2005 lasting two weeks.

This yearly contest sponsored by the US South Command and the US Special Operations Command with similar teams from Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, U.S., Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Dominican Republic, Peru and Uruguay.

AFEUR also won the 2006 and 2007 versions of this contest.

Special Forces Brigade

GAULA groups

Members of the GAULA, prepare for a demonstration during a ceremony in Sibate, Colombia on Dec. 6, 2007.

GAULA is an acronym for Grupos de Acción Unificada por la Libertad Personal, i.e. Unified Action Groups for Personal Liberty, specialising in solving hostage-taking. These are elite units established in 1996 exclusively dedicated to the combating of kidnapping and extortion. They are composed of highly qualified personnel who conduct hostage rescues and dismantling of criminal gangs at the root of crimes which compromise the personal freedom of Colombians. There is an inter-institutional element in GAULA guaranteeing self-checking procedures, trained by staff of the Administrative Security Department, the Technical Investigation Corps (CTI) of the Criminal Investigation Bureau (Fiscalía) and military forces. Currently, the country has 16 GAULA of the Colombian National Army and 2 of the Navy.

Schools and courses


  • Arms and Services Capacitation and Specialization Courses
  • Military Professorate
  • Sports and Professional Achievements
  • Combat Specialization Courses:
    • Lancero School
    • Counter-Guerrilla Course
    • Military Airborne School
    • Special Forces Course
    • Meritorious Conduct in Special Units Course
    • Intelligence School
    • Special Land Commandos Course
    • Urban Commando Course
    • Urban Counter-Guerrilla Course
    • Psychological Operations Course
    • Military Police Course

Military educational institutions

  • Colombian Military Academy "General José María Córdova"
  • Colombian Army NCO School "Sergeant Inocencio Chinca"
  • Army Arms and Services School
  • Army Infantry School
  • Army Cavalry School
  • Army Artillery School
  • Military Engineering School
  • Army Communications School
  • Army Logistics School
  • Colombian Army Military Police School
  • School of Civil-Military Relations
  • Army Equestrian School
  • Army Aviation School
  • Army International Missions Support School
  • Army Human Rights and International Rights School
  • Army School of Languages


Land vehicles

Colombian Army Vehicle Inventory
Vehicle/System Firm Number in Service Status Origin Photo
Armoured Vehicles
EE-9 Cascavel 180 In Service  Brazil
Infantry Transport Vehicles
Plasan Sand Cat 14 In service[6]  Israel
Humvee 800 In Service  United States
M-1117 67[7] In Service  United States
M-113 130 In Service  United States
EE-11 Urutu 100 In Service  Brazil
RG-31 Nyala 6 In Service  South Africa
ISBI 16 In Service  Colombia
Hunter TR-12 2 In production[8]  Colombia
LAV III 56 In Service[9]  Canada
Transport Vehicles
M35 2-1/2 ton cargo truck In Service  United States
AIL Abir In Service  Israel
Willys MB In Service  United States
Kaiser Jeep M715 In Service  United States
M151 In Service  United States
Ford Super Duty In Service  United States


Assault rifles

Submachine guns

Machine guns

Grenade launchers



Air defense systems and anti-aircraft artillery


Fixed Wing Origin Type Version(s) In service[13] Notes
Gulfstream Turbo Commander  United States Transport Commander 1000 2
Beechcraft King Air  United States Transport 90
Beechcraft Super King Air  United States Electronic warfare 200
Convair 580  United States Airliner 1
Cessna 208 Caravan  United States Utility 5
Aero Commander 500  United States Utility Rockwell 685 Commander 2
CASA C-212 Aviocar  Spain Transport 2
Antonov An-32  Ukraine Transport 2
Helicopters Origin Type Version(s) In service[13] Notes
UH-1 Iroquois
UH-1N Twin Huey
 United States Utility helicopter UH-1H
Mil Mi-17  Russia Transport helicopter Mi-17 MD 21 One lost on 25 February 2013.[14]
Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk  United States Transport/ Combat helicopter UH-60L
Including the 15 from Plan Colombia. One UH-60 lost on 22 February 2013.[16] All S-70i helicopters used by the Special Operations Aviation Battalion.[15]
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Origin Type Version(s) In service Notes
RQ-11 Raven  United States Reconnaissance RQ-11B Special Forces[17]


Colombian military personnel wore a number of different uniforms for both cold and hot weather. Army officer uniforms included a full-dress uniform of blue coat and white trousers for a cold climate; a white full-dress uniform for a hot climate; several different dress uniforms for both hot and cold climates that consisted of some combination of blue and white coat and trousers with piping or fringe on the trousers to indicate branch of service; an olive-drab barracks uniform for a cold climate; a tan gabardine barracks uniform for a hot climate; and tan gabardine service and field uniforms for all climates. Army enlisted uniforms consisted of an olive-drab dress uniform for a cold climate, a tan flannel dress uniform for a hot climate, and tan barracks and field uniforms for all climates.[18]

Since 2006 the National Army of Colombia changed its uniform type forest (woodland) by a modern design featuring a new digital camouflage pattern is called a pixel.

There are 2 types of camouflage, jungle camouflage that is used by most of the army and the desert camouflage that is used by troops in the department of La Guajira and the Colombia Battalion in the Sinai peninsula in the Multinational Force and Observers.

The changes provide greater comfort to the troops, while the material used allows even for the application of mosquito repellent to prevent mosquito bites and a high percentage of the concentration of bacteria and odors.

The design of camouflage texture, color and design is unique to the Colombian army. It is locally made and its distribution is controlled so that only Colombia's military forces can use it.


Rank and insignia

The rank structure for closely parallels that of the United States military. There are nine officer ranks, ranging from the equivalent of second lieutenant to general. The army has nine enlisted grades, ranging from the equivalent of basic private to command sergeant major

The tables below display the rank structures and rank insignias for the Colombian Army personnel.[19][20]

Ranks and Insignias - Colombian National Army


NATO code[n 1] OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1
 Colombia No equivalent
Spanish - General de Ejercito Teniente General Mayor General Brigadier General Coronel Teniente Coronel Mayor Capitán Teniente Subteniente
English - General of the Army Lieutenant General Major General Brigadier General Colonel Lieutenant Colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Second Lieutenant

Enlisted personnel

NATO code[n 1] OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
 Colombia No Insignia
Spanish Sargento Mayor de Comando Conjunto Sargento Mayor de Comando Sargento Mayor Sargento Primero Sargento Vice Primero Sargento Segundo Cabo Primero Cabo Segundo Cabo Tercero Dragoneante Soldado Profesional recluta
English Joint Command Sergeant Major Command Sergeant Major Sergeant Major First Sergeant Sergeant First Class Second Sergeant First Corporal Second Corporal Third Corporal Private First Class Private (Professional) Private Basic

See also


  1. ^ a b Colombia is not a member of NATO, so there is not an official equivalence between the Colombian military ranks and those defined by NATO. The displayed parallel is approximate and for illustration purposes only.


  2. ^
  3. ^ Coleman, Bradley Lynn (October 2005). "The Colombian Army in Korea, 1950–1954" (PDF).  
  4. ^ Ruíz Novoa, Alberto (1956). El Batallón Colombia en Corea, 1951–1954. Bogotá: Imprenta Nacional. pp. 149–160.  
  5. ^
  6. ^ Colombia selects the Oshkosh Sandcat –, December 20, 2012
  7. ^ Colombian Army Acquires 28 Additional ASV Armored Personnel Carriers –, 22 August 2013
  8. ^ El Ejército de Colombia adquiere un nuevo Hunter TR-12 para el Departamento de Huila –, 17 July 2013
  9. ^ Colombia; Armored vehicles procurement programs summary –, 3 January 2014
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Army of Colombia has take delivery of three new Nexter System LG1 Mk III 105mm light guns". July 5, 2014. 
  13. ^ a b World Air Forces 2013 -, pg 13, December 11, 2012
  14. ^  
  15. ^ a b Colombian Army receives two new S-70i helicopters -, 4 September 2013
  16. ^  
  17. ^ Colombia; US donates ScanEagle UAV's to FAC –, March 19, 2013
  18. ^
  19. ^ Congreso de la República de Colombia (28 July 2010). "Ley 1405 de 2010 Nuevos Grados Militares" (in Spanish). Retrieved 26 April 2011. 
  20. ^ Ejército de Colombia (15 March 2011). "Grados y distintivos del Ejército" (in Spanish). Retrieved 26 April 2011. 

External links

  • Colombian Armed forces official website (available in spanish, english and german)
  • Colombian Army official website (available in spanish and english)
  • Extense information about Colombian Armed Forces. Colombia Seguridad y Defensa, Pagina no oficial
  • UNFFMM página no oficial de las Fuerzas Militares de Colombia
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.