Uribe calls on Santos to strengthen armed forces

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe called on his successor Juan Manuel Santos to reinforce the military’s intelligence capacity and air force.

The outgoing president’s comments came while on a visit to the Larandia military base, the launching pad for recent successes against the FARC. Uribe stated that operations carried out from the base had avoided many “tragedies” within the police and armed forces and had made Colombia a safer place.

The Larandia base, which is located in the Caqueta department, a traditional FARC stronghold, is the headquarters of the Omega task force, which was responsible for the successful operations “Checkmate” and “Chameleon.”

“Operation Checkmate,” which took place in July 2008, saw the liberation of former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, three American security contractors as well as eleven Colombian soldiers and policemen.

In “Chameleon,” Omega troops freed General Luis Mendieta, the highest ranking police officer ever held hostage, and three other members of the armed forces.

The Colombian government claims that the task force is responsible for decimating numerous FARC units over Uribe’s term.

Uribe will hand the presidency to President-elect Juan Manuel Santos on August 7.

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