President Santos continues to restructure Colombia’s military leadership amid growing security concerns, as five more generals are removed from service.
Last month the president announced that all but one of his high ranking security officers were to be replaced, with Juan Carlos Pinzon appointed as the new Defense Minister. His sweeping reforms have continued, with five high ranking generals now removed from active military service.
The group includes Rafael Neira, who was the commander of the 18th brigade when one of its members had confessed to the rape of a 13 year old girl and remains on trial for the suspected subsequent murder of her and her two brothers. Seven army officers were suspended from duty following the incident for failing to control the men in their command. Neira issued an official apology to the childrens’ father on behalf of the military, and he had been working as the military’s head of recruitment prior to Tuesday’s announcement that he would be removed from office.
Jorge Eliecer Pinto was also removed from office in yesterday’s announcement. He had been serving as commander of the 23rd brigade, who were in operation in the south-western Colombian department of Nariño.
The remaining three generals removed from the armed forces are former head of logistics Antonio Pinilla Molano, Ernesto Jorge Perez Rodriguez and Luis Eduardo Arango.
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 changes have been made as part of government efforts to halt the country’s worsening security situation as the violence associated with left-wing rebels like the FARC and ELN in the south, neo-paramilitary groups in the north, and country-wide drug grangs increases.