Vice Admiral Hernando Wills Vélez
In the next five to ten years it is expected that Colombia will be in a post-conflict period, with a likely increase in economic activities in the maritime sector and growth in domestic and foreign investment. This will require the Colombian Navy (COLNAV) to focus its efforts on increasing control of our oceans and rivers and protecting the maritime and riverine environment through integrated maritime- and riverine-security strategies, contributing to national development, the preservation of the environment, and the security and prosperity of Colombian citizens. At the same time, we will continue developing the strategy of modernization and strengthening of naval capabilities to protect the sovereignty, independence, and integrity of the national territory.
The COLNAV will continue its work leading the fight against trafficking of illicit drugs, which, due to its transnational nature and response to market dynamics, is not limited exclusively to internal conflict. We recently updated our strategy, The Naval Web, which seeks to maintain the COLNAV as the service with the best results fighting this plague in the country and the region. Part of this strategy includes the regional initiative for an International Maritime Academic Center in Cartagena for counter-drug research and analysis, which aims to create through cooperation a safer maritime environment that contributes to the development of national, regional, and global prosperity.
It is precisely through international cooperation that the COLNAV hopes to strengthen regional and global maritime security. Today, no one navy can singlehandedly respond efficiently to the diversity of threats and challenges of the maritime domain. For this reason, the COLNAV has been developing a strategy of international participation that seeks to improve cooperation with partner navies, promote mechanisms of contribution, and propose regional initiatives for collective security, such as intelligence exchanges, training with the region countries, and the formation of “on-call” task-force organizations. These groups can be activated on short notice to respond to threats or emergencies and perform an essential role anticipating and responding appropriately to transnational threats and providing support for disaster-response and humanitarian-assistance efforts.
In this sense, Colombia is strengthening capacities that will facilitate our contributions to international maritime security through bilateral programs or the export of security-cooperation training—including exchanges of information, capabilities, and training in naval operations to confront transnational threats—and combined maritime-operations training. A more secure regional maritime environment in the Caribbean, the Pacific, and globally is the key to the development and prosperity of all nations.