Military Forces of Colombia

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Military Forces of Colombia
Fuerzas Militares de Colombia
Escudo Fuerzas Militares de Colombia.svg
The tri-service badge
Service branches  Colombian National Army
Flag of the Colombian Navy.png Colombian National Navy
  Flag of the Colombian Naval Infantry.png Colombian Naval Infantry
 Colombian Air Force
Commander-in-Chief President Iván Duque Márquez
Minister of Defense Luis Carlos Villegas
Commander General General Jose Alberto Mejia Ferrer
Military age 18
Conscription 18 months Army and Air Force, 24 months Navy, 12 Months National Police
Available for
military service
23,287,388 (2008 est.)[1], age 15–49 (2005 est.)
Fit for
military service
17,976,288(2008 est.)[1], age 15–49 (2005 est.)
Reaching military
age annually
875,595[1] (2005 est.)
Active personnel 470, 634 (2014)[2]
Budget COL$17.699 billion (US$12.1 billion) (2017)[3]
Percent of GDP 3.3% (2012)[4]
Domestic suppliers Indumil
Foreign suppliers  United States
 South Africa
 United Kingdom
Related articles
History Military history of Colombia

The Military Forces of Colombia (Spanish: Fuerzas Militares de Colombia) are the unified armed forces of the Republic of Colombia. The Colombian military is the second largest in the Western Hemisphere in terms of active personnel, behind the United States Armed Forces.[5] The President of Colombia is the military's commander in chief, and helps formulate defence policy through the Ministry of National Defence (MinDefensa), which is in charge of day-to-day operations. The Colombian military consists of the National Army of Colombia, Colombian Navy, Colombian Air Force and the Colombian Naval Infantry. Although the National Police of Colombia is technically not part of the military, it is controlled and administered by the Ministry of Defense, and has a highly militarized structure not found in most of the world's law enforcement agencies, such as a distinction between enlisted and officer ranks, and the regular use of heavy military equipment. Colombian citizens presenting themselves for conscription may also join the National Police instead of the other armed forces. This makes the National Police a de facto branch of the military.

The Colombian military has its roots in the independence 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. The Colombian military was operationally involved in World War II and was the only Latin American country to send troops to the Korean War. The Colombian Army has been the main military branch involved in the Colombian conflict. The military of Colombia has the third largest expenditure in the Americas, after the United States and Brazil respectively.[6] Recently it has participated in counter-piracy efforts in the Horn of Africa under Operation Ocean Shield and Operation Atlanta.


The Colombian Constitution (Spanish: Constitución Política de Colombia) includes two overlapping definitions of what could be defined as 'armed forces' in English:

  • Public Forces (Spanish: Fuerza Pública): Includes the Military Forces proper and the National Police (Title VII, chapter VII, Art. 216)
  • Military Forces (Spanish: Fuerzas Militares): Includes only the 3 major military services: Army, Navy and Air Force (Title VII, chapter VII, Art. 217)

This is a subtle yet important distinction, both in terms of emphasizing the civil nature of the National Police, but also adapting the national police to function as a paramilitary force which can perform military duties as a result of the Colombian Conflict. This has led to some of the most important police units adopting military training and conducting special operations alongside the Colombian Army, Air Force and Navy. Therefore, the functions of the Colombian Police in practical terms similar to those of the Spanish Civil Guard and the Carabineros de Chile, which maintain military ranks for all police personnel.


The Colombian armed forces consist of:
Military Forces:


Public Force strength as of April 2014.[7]

Force Service Officers Total
Military Colombian Army 10,094 246,325
Military Colombian Navy 2.481 33,824
Military Colombian Air Force 2.679 13,928
Public Colombian National Police 6.924 176,557
Total 22,178 470, 634

Military strength


  • Military Medical Corps ('Sanidad Militar') - Medical and Nurse Corps
  • Indumil (Industrias Militares - INDUMIL) - Military Industry Depot
  • Military Sports Federation (Federación Deportiva Militar - FEDECODEMIL)
  • Military Printing (Imprenta Militar)
  • Military Museum (Museo Militar) - History of the Armed Forces of Colombia
  • Superior War College (Escuela Superior de Guerra (Colombia) ESDEGUE)


In 2000, Colombia assigned 3.9% of its GDP to defense.[8] By 2008 this figure had risen to 4.8%, ranking it 14th in the world.[9] The armed forces number about 250,000 uniformed personnel: 145,000 military and 105,000 police. These figures do not include assistance personnel such as cooks, medics, mechanics, and so on. This makes the Colombian military one of the largest and most well-equipped in Latin America. Many Colombian military personnel have received military training assistance directly in Colombia and also in the United States. The United States has provided equipment and financing to the Colombian military and police through the military assistance program, foreign military sales, and the international narcotics control program, all currently united under the auspices of Plan Colombia.

World factbook statistics

  • Military manpower - military service age and obligation: 18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; conscript service obligation - 24 months (2004)
  • Military manpower - availability:
    • males age 18-49: 10,212,456
    • females age 18-49: 10,561,562 (2005 estimate)
  • Military manpower - fit for military service:
    • males age 18-49: 6,986,228
    • females age 18-49: 8,794,465 (2005 estimate)
  • Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
    • males age 18-49: 389,735
    • females age 18-49: 383,146 (2005 estimate)

Rank Insignia

See also

References and notes

  • ^ Includes 435 sub-officers Spanish: Suboficiales and 3,125 agents Spanish: Agentes
  • ^ Includes 123,125 executive personnel Spanish: Nivel Ejecutivo and 23,562 Auxiliary conscript Spanish: Auxiliares
  1. ^ a b c "The World Fact Book - Colombia". CIA. 2009-03-05. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
  2. ^ "Logros de la Política Integral de Seguridad y Defensa para la Prosperidad - PISDP - Septiembre 2013" (PDF) (in Spanish). Republic of Colombia Ministry of National Defense. September 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-04-13. Retrieved 2013-11-22.
  3. ^ Cite error: The named reference was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  4. ^ "Military expenditure (% of GDP)". Retrieved 2013-12-15.
  5. ^ "Total Available Active Military Manpower by Country". Retrieved 2017-07-30.
  6. ^ "Defense Spending by Country". Retrieved 2017-07-30.
  7. ^ "Pie de fuerza aumentó en 42 mil efectivos - El Nuevo Siglo Bogotá". Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  8. ^ "Cálculo del Gasto en Defensa y Seguridad – GDS" (PDF). Ministerio de Defensa Nacional. Ministerio de Defensa de Colombia. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  9. ^ "Military expenditure (% of GDP)". The World Bank. The World Bank. Retrieved 19 August 2016.

External links

  • Ministerio de Defensa de Colombia – Official Ministry of Defense site (in Spanish)
  • Comando General de las Fuerzas Militares – Official Armed Forces General Command (in Spanish)
  • Ejército Nacional de Colombia – Official Army site (in Spanish)
  • Ejército Nacional de Colombia – Official Army site (in English)
  • Armada Nacional de Colombia – Official Navy site ((in Spanish) and (in English))
  • Fuérza Aérea Colombiana – Official Air Force site (in Spanish)
  • Policía Nacional de Colombia – Official National Police site (in Spanish)
  • UNFFMM – Unofficial site of the Colombian Military Forces

Other Links

  • Colombian Military expenditure (in Spanish)
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