Colombia has made the news in recent years for their involvement in training West African security forces. The Colombian military and national police have grown to be considered world class institutions after decades of conflict. With significant U.S. aid and military support Colombia has recently wrapped up a decades long conflict with Marxist guerrillas that at one time were poised to wrest cities from government control.
Today, Colombians are training tens of thousands of foreign police and military personnel from across Latin America and, now, West Africa. This is part of an increasing Colombian global military presence that includes the more controversial deployment of Colombian mercenaries to Yemen.
Why are Colombians training West Africans? It makes sense that Latin America’s most successful contemporary military would be relied upon to train the forces of friendly regimes in its own region but traditionally only larger global powers and states with strong overseas ties have been employed to offer security assistance cross-continentally.
Colombia is becoming a destination for high level military and security training and assistance for countries across the globe. Even Chinese personnel have been sent to Colombia to train with Colombian forces in Tolemaida, according to a Chinese colonel.
Police personnel from several West African nations have trained in Colombia for Port Security per the U.S. Department of Defense. Language from the DoD seems to indicate a growing reliance on Colombia, and to a lesser extent other Latin American partners, to participate in U.S. led capacity improving missions and security assistance efforts globally. Perhaps the U.S.’ decades of effort in support of Colombia are not only paying off in a secure, prosperous neighbor but also more concretely in the assistance of a world class, friendly military in the U.S.’ global endeavors. Colombian troops have been deployed to Afghanistan to good effect as well. If current trends continue, Colombia will become an increasingly influential global player in the field of security and counterinsurgency.