Republic of Colombia
The region today known as the Republic of Colombia (República de Colombia) was originally inhabited by the indigenous Muisca, Quimbaya, and Tairona peoples. When the Spanish arrived in 1499 they initiated a period of conquest and colonization resulting in the creation of the Viceroyalty of New Granada (comprising modern-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, the northwest region of Brazil and Panama) with its capital in Bogotá. Independence from Spain was won in 1819, but by 1830 the region then known as Gran Colombia had collapsed with the secession of Venezuela and Ecuador. What is now Colombia and Panama emerged as the Republic of New Granada. The new nation experimented with federalism as the Granadine Confederation (1858), and then after a two-year civil war the United States of Colombia (1863), before the Republic of Colombia was finally declared in 1886. The Thousand Days War (1899 to 1902) was another civil conflict within the nation, pitting the ruling Conservative Party against the Liberal Party and its radical factions. The Conservative party came out victorious, but they did not prevent the secession of Panama in 1903 under pressure to fulfill financial responsibilities towards the United States government to build the Panama Canal.
The period of the 1940s and 1950s was wracked by violence between the Liberal and Conservative parties again, with several guerilla groups emerging during this period - most notably the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) and Movimiento 19 de Abril (M-19) - all of whom were dominated by Marxist doctrines. Additionally, powerful drug cartels would emerge during the 1980s and 1990s, most supported by their own paramilitary organizations. The country has continued to struggle against he effects of the illegal drug trade and political insurgencies.
The Military Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Militares de Colombia) consist of three primary services: Ejército Nacional de Colombia (Army), Armada Nacional de Colombia (Navy - including Marines and Coast Guard), and the Fuerza Aérea Colombiana (Air Force). Together the three services comprise nearly 300,000 active duty personnel. The Policia Nacional (National Police) are a true gendarmerie, and have been heavily involved in both counter-insurgency and counter-narcotics operations.
Colombian Camouflage Patterns
- The earliest Colombian camouflage pattern was a duck hunter design based around the original US m1942 spot pattern of the Second World War. Introduced in the 1970s, variations of the pattern were worn by all branches of the armed forces until the early 1990s. There have been several versions produced, some predominantly tan and some predominantly green, although due to production standards it is more correct to define the pattern in terms of a wide spectrum of variations. Colloquially the pattern is known as Tigrillo, which is the same for a spotted leopard (Oncilla) that inhabits South America.
- Beginning in the early 1990s, the Colombian Armed Forces universally adopted a copy of the m81 woodland camouflage pattern, gradually phasing out the former duck hunter spot pattern. As with the earlier camouflage, production standards and different manufacturers have produced several minor variations over the years.
- As an active member of the Military Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai, there are members of the Colombian Army in continuous rotation there. Although conventionally clad in their old duck hunter pattern camouflage, during the mid-1990s some units were deployed with a copy of the US tricolor desert pattern.
- Special Mountain Warfare units of the Army, the Unidades de Alta Montaña del Ejército, did at one point in the 1990s wear a variation of the woodland camouflage design having a grey/black colorway with a white background.
- A special unit of the Army, the Comandos Urbanos (urban commandos), have deployed in a grey-dominant variation of the standard US m81 woodland camouflage design, seen below.
- Following in the footsteps of Canada and the United States, in 2006 Colombia adopted its own pixelated camouflage designs in both a woodland/temperate and a desert version. These are referred to colloquially as camflado pixelado and will gradually replace the old woodland camouflage design.
- The pixelated design seen here is in use with units of the Colombian Air Force, and incorporates a unique overprint feature that makes the design appear to have mesh over it. The colorway incorporates various shades of grey with black patches interspersed throughout. This pattern appears to have been adopted circa 2015.
- Also introduced circa 2015 for the Infanteria de Marina de Colombia or Colombian Marines, is a pixelated design similar to that adopted by the Air Force. The Marine design incorporates shades of forest green, black, and khaki on a very light sand-colored background.
- The National Agency responsible for incarceration and rehabilitation of convicted criminals in Colombia is the Instituto Nacional Penitenciario y Carcelario (INPEC), or National Penitentiary and Prison Institute. Members of this organization wear a woodland-derivative camouflage design incorporating, black, dark brown and olive green shapes on a pinkish-khaki background.
- More recently, INPEC personnel have been documented wearing a pixelated camouflage design with a blue colorway, as seen here. This design is worn concurrently with the brown pattern seen above, but may be replacing it ultimately.