Thousands, Not Millions, of Colombian Munitions Missing

The Colombian President, Gustavo Petro, stated that over 1.3 million rounds of ammunition had disappeared from military bases in the Cundinamarca and La Guajira provinces on Tuesday, claiming that the missing ammunition was due to corruption within the Colombian armed forces. However, according to the military report obtained by Reuters, the number of missing munitions is truly in the thousands.

Missing Supplies Amid an Internal Conflict:

Petro originally stated on Tuesday that over 1.3 million rounds of 5.56, two Spike anti-tank missiles, and 37 Nimrod missiles, along with 550 rocket-propelled grenade launchers and thousands of grenades and mortar munitions, were declared missing from the bases. However, following an inspection of the military report by Reuters, the news outlet found that only 131,000 pieces of missing ammunition and under 6,000 explosive munitions were declared missing, with no reports of missing missiles surfacing. Both President Petro and the Defense Ministry declined to comment following a request from Reuters.

Two officials spoke to Reuters, stating that President Petro mistakenly read from a separate column of the report.

Following this revelation, the Colombian military launched an investigation into the missing munitions, with officials beginning their investigation by tracing those responsible for overseeing the supplies, while more investigations into the country’s inventory of military supplies are also being planned.

While investigations are currently underway, General Helder Giraldo, who is the commander of the Colombian military, told reporters that a number of soldiers have already been removed from their posts in connection with the scandal, while many face criminal proceedings, and more are sure to follow.

Analysis:

The disappearances of key munitions are likely in connection with a number of cases of corruption within the Colombian military, wherein both senior and junior military personnel sell military equipment to the various armed groups active in Colombia, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), and Clan del Golfo, also known as the AGC, who are Colombia’s premier cocaine producers.

While the overstatement of lost munitions may be a mistake on Petro’s part, there remains a possibility that the President purposely overstated the amount of lost supplies in order to draw public attention away from the President’s controversial pension, healthcare, and education reforms. Petro may also be attempting to overstate the amount of corruption within the armed forces and draw attention to the various armed groups with which Petro has reengaged following the dissolution of a peace treaty in March.

Trent Barr
Trent Barr
Trent Barr is an Intelligence Analyst for Atlas News. He has over ten years of experience and is trained in open source intelligence gathering. Trent Barr specializes in Latin American, German, and Vatican affairs while also holding an interest in Europe as a whole.

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