Posts Tagged Colombia

Yemen: UAE Deploys It’s Colombian Mercenaries To Yemen

Very interesting news and I thought I would put this up on the blog incase someone has any other information to add to this news. I held off on talking about this when news of it first trickled out, all because I could not find any legitimate news group to confirm it. The New York Times was the group that originally broke the story about Reflex Responses and I put that up on the blog back in 2011. I haven’t heard much about it since.

I do know that the whole thing switched from a PMSC scheme with Reflex Responses as the recruiting company, to just a recruitment of Latin Americans directly to fight for the UAE armed forces. I talked about that transition here and here. It has been quite the drain on the Colombian market of force. Those guys must have been pretty bored all of these years.

Now that the UAE actually has a war to fight in Yemen, and they have lost a few of their own in that war, I am sure the idea of using more foreign troops to do that job will be more appealing to the locals of the UAE. The houthis and Saleh’s guys are definitely giving them a fight, and even launching ballistic missiles.

Back to the deployment of mercenaries in Yemen. What is interesting is that there is some history of mercenaries being used in that part of the world. Former SAS guys were recruited to fight there back in the sixties and did quite well. I imagine the current coalition will use these Colombian/Latin forces for basic infantry tasks, like guarding facilities or light patrolling. We will see how far they will go in their usage. Here is a quote about the make up of this force and what they are getting paid.

The Emiratis have spent the equivalent of millions of dollars equipping the unit, from firearms and armored vehicles to communications systems and night vision technology. But Emirati leaders rarely visit the camp. When they do, the troops put on tactical demonstrations, including rappelling from helicopters and driving armored dune buggies.
And yet they stay largely because of the money, receiving salaries ranging from $2,000 to $3,000 a month, compared with approximately $400 a month they would make in Colombia. Those troops who deploy to Yemen will receive an additional $1,000 per week, according to a person involved in the project and a former senior Colombian military officer.
Hundreds of Colombian troops have been trained in the Emirates since the project began in 2010 — so many that the Colombian government once tried to broker an agreement with Emirati officials to stanch the flow headed to the Persian Gulf. Representatives from the two governments met, but an agreement was never signed.
Most of the recruiting of former troops in Colombia is done by Global Enterprises, a Colombian company run by a former special operations commander named Oscar Garcia Batte. Mr. Batte is also co-commander of the brigade of Colombian troops in the Emirates, and is part of the force now deployed in Yemen.

I could not find Oscar’s company online and if anyone has a link, I will update it here. I did find him on Linkedin, but no mention of Global Enterprises. Interesting stuff and we will see how it goes for them. I imagine we will see more of this kind of thing amongst the wealthy gulf nations. ISIS and Al Qaeda are both expanding and morphing into hybrid terrorist armies, and Iran continues to meddle and cause trouble. The middle east will continue to require manpower for it’s wars and security, and private industry will certainly answer the call. –Matt


Emirates Secretly Sends Colombian Mercenaries to Fight in Yemen
NOV. 25, 2015
The United Arab Emirates has secretly dispatched hundreds of Colombian mercenaries to Yemen to fight in that country’s raging conflict, adding a volatile new element in a complex proxy war that has drawn in the United States and Iran.
It is the first combat deployment for a foreign army that the Emirates has quietly built in the desert over the past five years, according to several people currently or formerly involved with the project. The program was once managed by a private company connected to Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater Worldwide, but the people involved in the effort said that his role ended several years ago and that it has since been run by the Emirati military.
The arrival in Yemen of 450 Latin American troops — among them are also Panamanian, Salvadoran and Chilean soldiers — adds to the chaotic stew of government armies, armed tribes, terrorist networks and Yemeni militias currently at war in the country. Earlier this year, a coalition of countries led by Saudi Arabia, including the United States, began a military campaign in Yemen against Houthi rebels who have pushed the Yemeni government out of the capital, Sana.
It is also a glimpse into the future of war. Wealthy Arab nations, particularly Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Emirates, have in recent years embraced a more aggressive military strategy throughout the Middle East, trying to rein in the chaos unleashed by the Arab revolutions that began in late 2010. But these countries wade into the new conflicts — whether in Yemen, Syria or Libya — with militaries that are unused to sustained warfare and populations with generally little interest in military service.

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UAE: Former Colombian Soldiers Talk About Life In The UAE Military

The truth is that this country, which is under construction and is home to 5 million immigrants, which the Arabs call “expatriates”, aims to grow as a nation, but not with the human material to do so. Their ability to self-protection is insufficient.
So the sheik (King Amir) have government to government agreements with Korea, France and Thailand.
“In UAE all people are equal. There Living Allowance, education and health care are free, military service is voluntary, professional expertise is valued and we, despite being Colombian, we can access all this because our contract includes a resident visa and cedula UAE, “said Camargo…

Pretty cool article and this is a follow up from a post I did on it awhile back. Although this was translated through Google Translator, so it is a little rough. But I was able to get the gist and here are some things that perked me up. The first is how well these guys are treated. They refer to this job as the ‘Arab Dream’ and here is a quote about pay and conditions.

In Colombia earned 800,000 pesos in bonus. In Abu Dhabi has a salary of $ 3,000 free, receiving room and board and free healthcare. Also learned English. In the afternoon, he and his companions travel on buses that are willing to travel to a mall, where they can buy cleaning supplies and, if they want food.

One result when you create an ‘Arab Dream’ or excellent living wage and conditions, is that you have competition for those jobs. So here is the quote that showed how hard it is to get in.

Every three months there interviews for new staff, but filters exceed four times the standard that is the security forces.
We present an average of 1,700 people, including officers and soldiers of all arms, including the police. The first filter is a safety study, training, units where work and experience. This step leaves a number of 700 men.
“Then come knowledge tests, and the group is refined in 400, passing even more detailed study that includes a certification in human rights and judicial situation daily. The final group is 200. That means nine passes one, “says Camargo.
Many do not know that in the last stage is one of the drug tests. It is the most expensive and can determine whether the person has used drugs in the past nine months. If positive, it is immediately rejected.

Not only that, but they are an equal opportunity employer with their latest move of recruiting women. Check this out.

The next addition, which is expected to be in June, aims to bring the first two women, a list of 200 candidates.

So far, according to this interview this force has not been used for anything other than training.  Although I imagine every Colombian in this force is aware of the Arab Spring and the threat by Iran. Interesting stuff. –Matt


The Colombian army serving in UAE
Jineth Bedoya Lima
February 16, 2013
They made history with operations against FARC. Better wages led them to seek the ‘Arab dream’.
“When I say here because I’m ready for the house, I know that within 48 hours I will hug my family. In the jungle, in Colombia, when I said I enlisted, could wait up to a month and did not pass nothing … “.
Camargo is a seasoned Special Forces man who had to choose between her love for the Army and the welfare of his wife and son. So over a year ago, he packed bags and went to the heart of the Arabian Desert, to wear the uniform of a foreign country that has accepted as a war hero.
Like him, 1,400 men retain staff and military doctrine of his former institution, but now serve the UAE government. Its commander is Mohamed Bin Sayed Al Nahyan, commander of the UAE armed forces, and now his mission is to provide security to the country’s infrastructure, which has only 850,000 inhabitants and is one of the largest oil producers in the world.
Long hours of fighting, sleepless nights, patrols and mines were lurking behind. The cambuches in the open now comfortable beds in rooms apartments and recognition “is not just a medal, but a living wage.”
At least that’s what I say all military consulted TIME.

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UAE: The UAE Military Is Recruiting 3,000 Colombians

The UAE has 80,000 square kilometers and have some military forces of around 50,000 troops. Because oil is one of the world’s richest nations. Although only 900,000 native citizens, has a population of 6 million people from countless nations. “What we realized the UAE, and is the reason why they are rapidly strengthening its army incorporating soldiers of different nationalities, is that they have several threats that make them very vulnerable. Our mission further includes different aspects ranging from urban defense against terrorist attacks and control civil uprisings and even be prepared against possible border conflict with Iran. “explains exoficial.
One reason why the government decided to accelerate UAE recently hiring former military around the world has to do with what has happened in countries hit by the so-called Arab spring, consisting of civil uprisings that ended with the overthrow governments in several countries in the Middle East.

Check this news out. This came through a Google Alert I set up, and I had to translate it in order to see what was up. The above quote is what grabbed my attention. The UAE is planning for a future where refugees and problems are streaming from other ‘collapsing’ countries, or even having to deal with internal rebellion or their own Arab Spring. That, and protecting oil infrastructure and pipelines requires a lot of muscle.

Not to mention that if Iran lashes back if they are attacked by Israel, then the UAE might be a potential target. Either way, they are wanting to recruit a bunch of foreign soldiers with combat experience.

Now this is a separate deal from the Reflex Responses gig, at least from what I can gather. The UAE military is directly recruiting these guys and paying them pretty good.

An active soldier in Colombia earn on average 950,000 pesos a month. Figure down to 690,000 when they are pensioners. Being part of the UAE Army soldier to that pay almost 5 million pesos. The figures are based on range. A lieutenant, who earns approximately 1,400,000 pesos in Colombia, is tempted to go for a salary of 6 and a half million pesos a month. The offer for a colonel in Colombia perceived 5,500,000, can reach $ 18,000.

Colombia is probably a little worried that the UAE will draw all of their top tier retired guys, or even motivate some folks to leave the military just to join this crew. I also imagine Colombians will be popular contract soldiers in Mexico, now that Nieto has won and his ‘security adviser’ is a retired Colombian general. lol –Matt


Former members of the homeland to the United Arab
June 30, 2012
More than 800 former military nation Colombians, many of them elite, have enlisted in the Army in the UAE. We pay up to $ 18,000 a month. One that does not stop bleeding.

For the past year, dozens of the best soldiers in the country are leaving the ranks of the Colombian Army. Most of them are seasoned experienced military who fought in elite units and special forces, among others. The reason why many have decided to hang up their uniforms after ten or 15 years of service is as exotic as controversial. Resigned from the army of his country to travel and sign up to join the Army and military in the UAE.

The matter has not been away from controversy and in some sectors of the disbanded army has caused discomfort. “They have recruited experienced soldiers in combat, men with years of valuable service and that the Army also has invested heavily in their training. It is certainly a loss for the Army. But there’s not much you can do because it is not nothing illegal, “said to Semana a general. What says the officer summarized the official position of the Armed Forces, who are powerless such recruitment. “The trouble is we can not do anything to retain and prevent the lower request because it is a matter of supply and demand. To go to UAE are paid wages that are five to ten times more than they earn here,” says the general.

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Law Enforcement: Colombia’s Legendary Police Chief Heads To Mexico

Very interesting news. If Nieto wins the election in Mexico, this would be the guy he would be using for battling the cartels. Naranjo has the track record of cleaning up Colombia, and he is a foreigner in Mexico. Which makes me wonder how Mexicans would view this move? Will this be a boost or negative when it comes to votes? –Matt



Colombia’s legendary police chief heads to Mexico
June 16, 2012
A signature trophy that Gen. Oscar Naranjo has carefully displayed in glass at Police Intelligence headquarters is odd by any measure: the neatly folded uniform of a rebel commander slain in 2008, clearly showing the holes from the shrapnel that killed him.
The four-star general, who retired as Colombia’s police director this week, is proud of that and the others that line a hallway at the Police Intelligence Directorate in northern Bogota. They are testament to an intelligence empire he built that is unrivaled in Latin America.
Naranjo, 55, has played a central role in the capture or death of nearly every top Colombian drug trafficker, beginning with Pablo Escobar. The dismantling of the Medellin and Cali cocaine cartels and the splintering of successor trafficking organizations into ever-smaller groups was, as much as anyone’s, Naranjo’s doing.
On Thursday, Mexican presidential front-runner Enrique Pena Nieto said Naranjo has agreed to serve as his adviser on fighting drug trafficking if Pena Nieto wins the July 1 election.
The candidate has pledged to reduce violent crime affecting ordinary people in Mexico’s drug war, a contrast to President Felipe Calderon’s strategy of going after drug kingpins. Analysts have said Pena Nieto’s strategy could mean that drug dealers who conduct their businesses discreetly will be left alone.
But Naranjo, standing with Pena Nieto at a news conference, said all cartels should be treated equally because “there can’t be inequalities in the treatment of criminals.”

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Colombia: Oil Companies Say Security Is Government’s Job, And The Defense Minister Disagrees

“It’s impossible to maintain any longer our current security plan–one that was effective years ago when there were very few oil companies and fields to care for,” the minister said Tuesday. “There are now 130 oil companies out there.”

Very interesting news in Colombia. Lately there has been a spike in energy sector attacks by ELN and FARC. They are successful because they have reduced the size of their attack forces, which then helps them to attack more targets and thin out the government forces assigned to stop them. The ‘few and the many’ from the new rules of war comes to mind. Also, it is very easy for this few and many force to go on the offensive and cause damage. Just look at what MEND was able to accomplish in Nigeria?

“Before there were movements that were more massive,” Gutierrez said. “Now clearly it’s more individuals and cells, which is a different presence from what it used to be.”

Now combine these tactics with a highly dispersed government force trying to cover down on 130 oil companies and all of their infrastructure/people, and you can see why the defense minister would want the oil companies to pay for their own security. To help the government out because there are just too many people and things to protect against such a dispersed force.

Another thing I wanted to mention is that these oil companies need to realize that Colombians are paying for their protection, as they make oodles of money selling that stuff all over the world. That world market for oil will increase if Iran is attacked or nations fall to revolution.

So to me, this is a classic case where the oil industry will fight to keep getting their good deal and ‘free government security’.  I say make them pay for their own security so the government’s police and military can focus on serving the people and not just serving oil companies. Just a thought.

Also, these attacks coincide with another big development. Colombia is auctioning off 109 oil blocks to international oil companies. The value of those blocks depend upon how secure they are. Who wants to buy an oil block that is in a dangerous area, which would then equate to more risk and more cost?  So security of these sites is crucial to Colombia in order to get more action and attention in these auctions. The FARC and the ELN know this, hence why they are increasing attacks.

But back to private security. Colombia should continue to press the issue of getting PSC’s back in the game there. The companies should be investing in their own security. I compare it to these shipping companies that want the government to pay for all of their security in pirate infested waters, or depending on government to save the day. Hopefully Colombia’s defense minister can press the issue. –Matt


Oil companies in Colombia say security is government’s job
Wednesday, 10 August 2011
Dan Molinski
The head of an association of multinational oil companies operating in Colombia said Wednesday it’s the government’s job, and not that of the companies themselves, to provide security to oil workers and infrastructure against rebel attacks.
“We as a sector understand very clearly that security will be provided exclusively by the state,” Alejandro Martinez, president of the Colombian Oil Association, told Caracol Radio.
Martinez’s comments come one day after Defense Minister Rodrigo Rivera said the sharp growth in Colombia’s oil sector has made it impossible for military and police to adequately protect all oil installations, many of which are located in remote regions near guerrilla strongholds.
The defense minister said oil companies need their own private security forces to help government troops combat a wave of attacks and kidnappings by Marxist rebels that has threatened to derail the oil industry’s four-year growth spurt.

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Colombia: Alfonso Cano, Leader Of The FARC, Killed In Raid

The air force attacks on the Cañon de Limon and the army incursion of the valley just north of the town of Chaparral forced the FARC leader to move out of the Tolima highlands, first southward and ultimately into the more western Cauca department.
Military sources told weekly Semana that this operation was the beginning of the end of Cano, who had been protected against Army and Air Force by the extreme cold and almost constant fog in the mountain valley.
Following the attack, the military created a militarized corridor from north to south, preventing provisions and reinforcements from the FARC’s Eastern Block to reach Cano’s Central Block, Semana said. This forced Cano to seek reinforcements from the Western Block which had been enforced over the year’s with some of the best guerrilla fighters.

This is fantastic news. Cano did have a bounty on his head, but as you can see from the quote up top, this was purely a military operation. I think this is also a very interesting operation in terms of smoking out tough opponents located in hard to reach zones.

Cano was in a great location, because the fog and terrain was limiting the effectiveness of aircraft, and probably drones for that matter. Although I am sure they were able to get some ISR going up in those hills. Perhaps reconnaissance teams were the best option for locating and targeting?

But the big component here to this operation, looks to be the militarized corridors that were north and south of that position. To basically deny Cano supplies and reinforcements, and force him to move in order to operate. Couple that with the constant bombing runs on his camps, and that was a great combination for getting him out in the open.

Perhaps there are some lessons here for the hunt for Joseph Kony in Africa? Perhaps the strategists in this operation had a metaphorical ‘Trojan Horse’ to defeat Cano with, hence the Odysseus operation name? I would have to think that if you could get one mole into Cano’s group up in those mountains, then you could get the kind of information that could be advantageous. Good job to the Colombians! –Matt


Alfonso Cano, leader of Colombia’s FARC rebels, killed in raid
By Juan Forero
November 5, 2011
The bookish communist intellectual who led the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, one of the world’s oldest insurgent groups, was killed Friday in a military strike in the biggest blow against that organization in its 47-year history.
Guillermo Saenz Vargas, who was better known to Colombians and American military advisers by the nom de guerre Alfonso Cano, was shot in a firefight with Colombian security forces during an operation in which the military bombed his position and deployed elite commandos, military officials said early Saturday morning.
The death occurred outside the town of Suarez in Cauca, a mountainous state in Colombia’s southwest that for years has been an epicenter of conflict between the armed forces and the FARC.
“The death of Alfonso Cano, the No. 1 commander of the FARC, has been confirmed,” President Juan Manuel Santos said in a brief nationally televised address shortly after midnight. “It is the biggest blow against the FARC in all its history.”

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