No Colombian Army Reduction; New Focus: Criminal Gangs in Zones FARC Vacates
Colombia’s army will strengthen its efforts to combat crime gangs pushing into regions displaced by Marxist FARC rebels, a high-ranking official said on Friday, as it scrambles to prevent an increase in drug trafficking and violence.
Critics of a peace agreement signed late last year with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have warned of a weakening of the military apparatus that has battled the rebels for more than 50 years.
But army commander General Alberto Jose Mejia said the peace agreement would not lead to a reduction of troops or their steady offensive against illegal armed groups.
“These 1,200 new professional soldiers are part of a group of more than 5,000 who are graduating this year and will be deployed to the most critical areas of Colombia,” Mejia said as he presided over the graduation of new professional soldiers in Nilo, central Colombia. “The purpose is to occupying unstable areas.” Reuters