Military Forces of Colombia
Fuerzas Militares de Colombia
The tri-service badge
Service branches
HeadquartersMinistry of National Defense, Bogota D.C.
Commander-in-ChiefPresident Gustavo Petro
Minister of DefenseIván Velásquez
General CommanderMajor General Helder Fernan Giraldo
Military age18
Conscription18 months (Army and Aerospace Force)
24 months (Navy)
12 Months (National Police)
Active personnel293,200[1]
Reserve personnel34,950[1]
BudgetUS$10.6 billion (2018)[2]
Percent of GDP3.2% (2018)[2]
Domestic suppliersIndumil
Foreign suppliers United States
 South Africa
 United Kingdom
Related articles
HistoryMilitary history of Colombia
RanksMilitary ranks

The Military Forces of Colombia (Spanish: Fuerzas Militares de Colombia) are the unified armed forces of the Republic of Colombia. They consist of the Colombian Army, the Colombian Navy and the Colombian Aerospace Force. The National Police of Colombia, although technically not part of the military, is controlled and administered by the Ministry of National Defence, and national conscription also includes service in the National Police, thus making it a de facto gendarmerie and a branch of the military. The President of Colombia is the military's commander in chief, and helps formulate defense policy through the Ministry of National Defence, which is in charge of day-to-day operations.

The Military Forces of Colombia have their roots in the Army of the Commoners (Ejército de los Comuneros), which was formed on 7 August 1819 – before the establishment of the present day Colombia – to meet the demands of the Revolutionary War against the Spanish Empire. After their triumph in the war, the Army of the Commoners disbanded, and the Congress of Angostura created the Gran Colombian Army to replace it, thus establishing the first military service branch of the country.

The Colombian military was operationally involved in World War II and was the only Latin American country to send troops to the Korean War. Ever since the advent of the Colombian Conflict, the Colombian military has been involved in combat, pacification, counter-insurgency, and drug interdiction operations all over the country's national territory. Recently it has participated in counter-piracy efforts in the Horn of Africa under Operation Ocean Shield and Operation Atlanta.

The military of Colombia is the third largest in the Western Hemisphere in terms of active personnel and has the fourth largest expenditure in the Americas, behind the United States Armed Forces, the Canadian Armed Forces and the Brazilian Armed Forces respectively.[3][4]


The Colombian Constitution includes two overlapping definitions of what could be defined as 'armed forces' in English:

This is a subtle yet important distinction, both in terms of emphasizing the civil nature of the National Police, but also adapting the national police to function as a paramilitary force which can perform military duties as a result of the Colombian Conflict. This has led to some of the most important police units adopting military training and conducting special operations alongside the Colombian Army, Aerospace Force, and Navy. Therefore, the functions of the Colombian Police in practical terms are similar to those of a gendarmerie, like the Spanish Civil Guard and the Carabineros de Chile, which maintain military ranks for all police personnel.


The Colombian armed forces consist of:
Military Forces:


Public Force strength as of April 2014.[5]

Force Service Officers Total
Military Colombian Army 10,094 246,325
Military Colombian Navy 2,481 33,824
Military Colombian Aerospace Force 2,679 13,928
Public Colombian National Police 6,924 176,557
Total 22,178 470, 634
Military strength



In 2000, Colombia assigned 3.9% of its GDP to defense.[6] By 2008 this figure had risen to 4.8%, ranking it 14th in the world.[7] The armed forces number about 250,000 uniformed personnel: 145,000 military and 105,000 police. These figures do not include assistance personnel such as cooks, medics, mechanics, and so on. This makes the Colombian military one of the largest and most well-equipped in Latin America. Many Colombian military personnel have received military training assistance directly in Colombia and also in the United States. The United States has provided equipment and financing to the Colombian military and police through the military assistance program, foreign military sales, and the international narcotics control program, all currently united under the auspices of Plan Colombia.

World factbook statistics

Rank Insignia

See also

References and notes

  1. ^ a b IISS 2018, pp. 397
  2. ^ a b Tian, Nan; Fleurant, Aude; Kuimova, Alexandra; Wezeman, Pieter D.; Wezeman, Siemon T. (28 April 2019). "Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2018" (PDF). Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2022-10-10. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  3. ^ "Total Available Active Military Manpower by Country". Retrieved 2017-07-30.
  4. ^ "Defense Spending by Country". Retrieved 2017-07-30.
  5. ^ "Pie de fuerza aumentó en 42 mil efectivos - El Nuevo Siglo Bogotá". Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Cálculo del Gasto en Defensa y Seguridad – GDS" (PDF). Ministerio de Defensa Nacional. Ministerio de Defensa de Colombia. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  7. ^ "Military expenditure (% of GDP)". The World Bank. The World Bank. Retrieved 19 August 2016.

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