Military Wiki
Colombian National Army
Ejército Nacional de Colombia
Escudo Ejercito Nacional de Colombia.svg
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 language: Ejército Nacional de Colombia ) is the land military force of the government of Colombia and the largest service of the Colombian Armed Forces. It has the responsibility for land-based military operations along with the Infanteria de Marina (Naval Infantry) to protect the Colombian state against domestic or foreign threats.

The modern Colombian Army has its roots in the Ejército de los Comuneros or Army of the Commoners which was formed on August 7, 1819, before the establishment of the present day Colombia to meet the demands of the Revolutionary War against the Spanish Empire.

That same day, the Congress of Angostura created the Greater Colombian Army after the triumph over the Spanish, to replace the disbanded Commoners Army. However, the Colombian Army considers itself to be an evolution of the Commoners Army, and thus dates its inception from its origins.


Batallon Colombia ensign designed for the Korean War.

The Colombian Army trace 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. The Greater Colombian Army is consolidated on August 7, 1819 by defeating the Spaniards at Boyacá in the Battle of Boyacá under the command of Simon Bolivar. Since then the Colombian Army has been the biggest organization in Colombia.

The military reform carried out by General Rafael Reyes Prieto in the year 1907 marked the professionalization of the Colombian Armed Forces.

Recent History

The Colombian National Army Flag.


Colombian National Army soldier searching for landmines.

The Colombian Army is present 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 for 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 in 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 Colombian Army is led by the President of Colombia (a civilian) and directed as well by a (four sun) General.

The training of Colombian soldiers is world recognized due to its demanding features. The promotional courses (courses that the candidate has to take in order to be promoted to a higher rank) are usually tough and physically demanding.

A "Lancero" training course 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, derives from the Ranger program of the US Army. Reportedly, severe techniques and live ammunition are used. Because of its exceptional nature, the course has gained international prestige.

Military overseas operations

The Colombian National Army deployed soldiers in the Sinai as part of the United Nations Emergency Force between 1956 and 1967.[3] Since 1980 it has supplied one battalion ('COLBATT') to the Multinational Force and Observers there. This is not a UN operation, due to Cold War manoeuvring. It has also joined forces many times with different armies around the world under the UN mandate.

Colombia is also planning to send around 100 troops to support Spain in the ISAF in Afghanistan.(The troops would also be under Spain's command.)


Structure of the Colombian National Army

Major units


Colombian Army Divisions are static Regional Commands


Army soldiers in training exercises.

  • Primera division ejercito de Colombia logo.png 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.
  • Segunda Division Coat.svg 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.
  • Tercera Division Coat.svg 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.
  • Cuarta Division Coat.svg 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.
  • Sexta Division Coat.svg6th 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

  • Infantería (Infantry)
  • Caballería (Cavalry)
  • Artillería (Artillery)
  • Ingenieros (Engineers)
  • Inteligencía (Intelligence)
  • Comunicaciones (Communications)
  • Cuerpo Logístico y Administrativo (Logistics and Administrative Corps)
  • Aviación (Army Aviation)

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

  • Anti-Narcotics Brigade (Brigada Anti-Narcoticos). This unit was specifically activated for operations against the trafficking of narcotics. It was created on December 8, 2000 and has its main headquarters in the Guaviare Department.

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's 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.

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

  • Colombian National Army 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


  • Cursos de Capacitación y Especialización de las Armas y Servicios (Arms and Services Capacitation and Specialization Courses)
  • Especialidades de Combate (Combat Specialities)
    • Lancero
    • Contraguerrilla
    • Paracaidista (airborne)
    • Fuerzas Especiales (Special Forces)
    • Desempeño Meritorio en Unidades Especiales (Meritorious Conduct in Special Units)
    • Others combat specialities:
      • Intelligence
      • Special Land Commandos
      • Urban Commando
      • Urban Counter-guerrilla
      • Psychological Operations
      • Military Police
  • Profesorado Militar (Military Professorate)
  • Por Acción Contra el Enemigo (For Actions against the Enemy)
  • Desempeño Profesional y Deportivo (Sports and Professional Achievements)

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

Army Equipment

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Land Vehicles

Vehicles used in Plan Meteoro

Colombian Army Vehicle Inventory
Vehicle/System Firm Number in Service Status Origin
Main Battle Tanks
M60 Patton 60 In Service United States
Wheeled Armoured Vehicles
EE-9 Cascavel +180 In Service  Brazil
M8 Greyhound Unknown In Reserve United States
Plasan Sand Cat 0(14) On order[4]  Israel
Infantry Transport Vehicles
Humvee +400 In Service United States
M-1117 39, 28 on order[5] In Service United States
M-113 +300 In Service United States
EE-11 Urutu +180 In Service  Brazil
RG-31 Nyala 4 In Service  South Africa
ISBI 16 In Service  Colombia
AIL Abir In Service  Israel
Hunter TR-12 2 In production[6]  Colombia
LAV III 0(24) On order[7]  Canada
Transport Vehicles
M35 2-1/2 ton cargo truck In Service United States
M3 Half-track In Reserve United States
AIL Abir In Service  Israel
Willys MB Retired United States
Kaiser Jeep M715 In Reserve United States


Assault Rifles

Submachine Guns

Machine Guns

Grenade Launchers


Anti Armour

Air defense systems and anti-aircraft artillery

  • Mistral (missile)
  • Baterías AA Eagle Eye
  • Sistemas Oerlikon
  • bofors M1
  • M-55 AAA
  • M-8/M-55


Fixed Wing Origin Type Version(s) In service[10] 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[10] 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.[11]
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.[13] All S-70i helicopters used by the Special Operations Aviation Battalion.[12]
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Origin Type Version(s) In service Notes
RQ-11 Raven United States Reconnaissance RQ-11B Special Forces[14]


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 International Watching Forces.

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.


Ranks & Insignias

The tables below display the rank structures and rank insignias for the Colombian Army personnel.[15][16]

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 Insignia of general of colombian army.svg Teniente general.svg Rank insignia of mayor general of the Colombian Army.svg Rank insignia of brigadier general of the Colombian Army.svg Rank insignia of coronel of the Colombian Army.svg Rank insignia of teniente coronel of the Colombian Army.svg Rank insignia of mayor of the Colombian Army.svg Rank insignia of capital of the Colombian Army.svg Rank insignia of teniente of the Colombian Army.svg Rank insignia of subteniente of the Colombian Army.svg
Spanish - General Teniente General Mayor General Brigadier General Coronel Teniente Coronel Mayor Capitán Teniente Subteniente
English - General Lieutenant General Major General Brigadier General Colonel Lieutenant Colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Second Lieutenant

Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) and Soldiers

NATO code[n 1] OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
 Colombia Rank insignia of sargento mayor de comando conjunto of the Colombian Army.svg Rank insignia of sargento mayor de comando of the Colombian Army.svg Rank insignia of sargento mayor of the Colombian Army.svg Rank insignia of sargento primero of the Colombian Army.svg Rank insignia of sargento viceprimero of the Colombian Army.svg Rank insignia of sargento segundo of the Colombian Army.svg Rank insignia of cabo primero of the Colombian Army.svg Rank insignia of cabo segundo of the Colombian Army.svg Rank insignia of cabo tercero of the Colombian Army.svg Rank insignia of dragoneante of the Colombian Army.svg Rank insignia of soldado profesional of the Colombian Army.svg 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. 1.0 1.1 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.


  4. Colombia selects the Oshkosh Sandcat -, December 20, 2012
  5. Colombian Army Acquires 28 Additional ASV Armored Personnel Carriers -, 22 August 2013
  6. El Ejército de Colombia adquiere un nuevo Hunter TR-12 para el Departamento de Huila -, 17 July 2013
  7. General Dynamics Awarded $65 Million by the Colombian Ministry of National Defence for Light Armoured Vehicles - General Dynamics press release, January 10, 2013
  10. 10.0 10.1 World Air Forces 2013 -, pg 13, December 11, 2012
  11. Air Forces Monthly. Stamford, Lincolnshire, England: Key Publishing Ltd. April 2013. pp. 31. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 Colombian Army receives two new S-70i helicopters -, 4 September 2013
  13. Air Forces Monthly. Stamford, Lincolnshire, England: Key Publishing Ltd. April 2013. pp. 30. 
  14. Colombia; US donates ScanEagle UAV's to FAC -, March 19, 2013
  15. Congreso de la República de Colombia (28 July 2010). "Ley 1405 de 2010 Nuevos Grados Militares" (in Spanish). Retrieved 26 April 2011. 
  16. Ejército de Colombia (15 March 2011). "Grados y distintivos del Ejército" (in Spanish). Retrieved 26 April 2011. 

External links

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