Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced Tuesday that the country’s entire military command has been replaced amid growing concerns about increased violence by illegal armed groups.
Earlier in the day, Santos announced that Admiral Edgar Cely had been replaced by General Alejandro Navas as commander of the Armed Forces.
Navas’ position as Army commander was taken over by General Sergio Mantilla Sanmiguel.
Santos, who on Monday swore in new Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon, also appointed Admiral Roberto Garcia Marquez as Navy commander and General Tito Saul Pinilla as Air Force commander. Jose Javier Perez Mejia will be the armed forces’ Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
National Police director Oscar Naranjo is the only high security official who was not replaced.
“I am sure that this team — well known among themselves and to me, because I worked with them as minister of defense and now as president — will be a top team that will be next to the minister and at the head of the Armed Forces, giving a peace of mind to the country,” the president said at a press conference in Bogota.
Apart from the personnel change, the Santos administration had already announced it would allocate an extra $550 million from wealth tax revenues to the Armed Forces.
The radical change in the military top follows criticism on the worsening security situation caused by left-wing rebels like the FARC and ELN primarily in the south of the country, neo-paramilitary groups in the north and country-wide operating drug gangs.