Chair of the NATO Military visits Colombia

  • 19 May. 2024 - 23 May. 2024
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  • Last updated: 23 May. 2024 14:44

From 19 until 23 May 2024, Chair of the NATO Military Committee Admiral Rob Bauer visited Colombia upon the invitation of its Chief of Defence General Helder Fernan Giraldo Bonilla. Goal of the visit was to discuss the military cooperation between NATO and Colombia. This cooperation started in 2015 and intensified in 2017 when Colombia became a Global Partner for NATO. In 2021, Colombia became the first Partner to sign a NATO Individual Tailored Partnerships Programme. Today, the cooperation covers a wide range of issues, including cyber security, terrorism, the fight against corruption and maritime security. The NATO delegation was accompanies throughout the visit by the Colombian Ambassador to Belgium, Mr Jose Rojas Rodriguez, who is geared to be the new Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Minister of Defence of Colombia, Chair of the NATO Military Committee and Ambassador of Colombia to Brussels

Minister of Defence of Colombia, Chair of the NATO Military Committee and Ambassador of Colombia to Brussels

The visit started off with in depth briefings and discussions with the Chief of Defence, the Deputy Chief of Defence and the (Deputy) Chiefs of the Army, Air Force and Navy. Admiral Bauer highlighted that NATO commends the programme for the transformation of the Colombian Armed Forces, focusing on internal security while at the same time actively cooperating with international partners. This will enable Colombia to strengthen national security and at the same time continue their valuable contributions to UN Peace Missions and NATO operations. 

This was followed by a meeting with Minister of Defence Mr Iván Velásquez Gómez. Here too, Admiral Bauer praised the commitment of the Colombian Armed Forces to interact with peers around the world: “Allied Armed Forces are proud to work with them”.

The following day, Admiral Bauer received several demonstrations of the capabilities of the Colombian Armed Forces in Tolemaida. This included a hostage extraction by the Special Forces, as well as the detection and destruction of landmines by the demining units of the Colombian Army. In these fields, Colombia not only actively cooperates with NATO Allies but also works directly with other NATO Partners. Being a NATO Partner means that you have access to certain classified information and that you work according to the same military standards and protocols. This increases interoperability among Armed Forces. Colombia’s Demining Centre is part of the NATO Partnerships Training and Education Centres Network.

On Wednesday 22 May, the Chair of the NATO Military Committee received a demonstration of the Colombian Navy in Cartagena. This included a presentation of Colombia's naval force by the Caribbean Force Naval Commander, Rear Admiral Camilo Segovia, as well as a demonstration aboard the ARC Almirante Padilla vessel. Colombia's extensive area of responsibility in the Caribbean, the size of its naval fleet and active cooperation with Partners show the weight Colombia holds in guaranteeing regional security.  Admiral Bauer underlined the essential role of Partnerships, including when it comes to Maritime Security, as the threats we are facing are transnational nature, transcending boarders and affecting global security.

Upon concluding the visit, Admiral Bauer stated: “NATO’s Partnerships around the world are based on common values, reciprocity, mutual benefit and mutual respect. The exact nature of our cooperation is always tailored to what the respective Partner needs and wants. I am grateful for the opportunity to speak with Colombia’s political and military leadership about how we can strengthen our ties. How we can better learn from each other’s capabilities. And how we can all become stronger in a more dangerous world.”

During the visit, General Giraldo awarded Admiral Bauer the prestigious ‘Fe en la Causa’ medal, for his contributions in strengthening the ties between NATO and Colombia.