Colombia’s military signaled readiness to deploy troops to Afghanistan as it hopes to expand its role abroad in international peacekeeping missions through NATO and the UN, reported El Colombiano newspaper on Sunday.
The National Army commander General Alberto Jose Mejia claimed “we have been offered [by NATO] to participate in a deployment in [Afghanistan]… there are opportunities for first-line combat, training and capacity-building missions.”
The general’s idea aims to have 5,000 troops from the National Army at the service of the UN and NATO, and possibly the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) active in Afghanistan.
Juan Manuel Santos will present before the General Assembly in September a proposal to send Colombian special forces and tactical instructors to Afghanistan and other regions of the world, according to the commander.
“There he will present his vision of Colombia’s intention to export security,” said Mejia. “The main idea is to ensure that other countries do not suffer what Colombia has suffered.”
However, many of Colombia’s rural farmers would disagree with the general’s view that the suffering is in the past.
Regional governors and human rights defenders have been vocal about the national army’s apparent failure to take control over territory abandoned by demobilized FARC guerrillas as the security situation has deteriorated in certain regions of the country since last year.
Critics are pointing to the army’s lackluster response following the FARC’s demobilization as the primary reason for the increased violence in areas previously under guerrilla control.
In addition to Caqueta, Guaviare and Putumayo, the country’s Pacific Choco region is perhaps the hardest hit by the security forces’ apparent ineffectiveness to take control following the FARC’s demobilization.
The country’s Ombudsman said that at least 1,200 people in Choco have been displaced since the start of 2017, in addition to a rise in hostage-taking, threats against social leaders and forced recruitment for illegal armed groups, as well as a growing dispersal of landmines.