Guillermo E. Barrera, Select One

Adm. (ret.), Colombia

Professor and Distinguished International Fellow International Programs
Admiral Barrera photo

Biography

Adm. Barrera was Commander of the Colombian Navy (CNO) from 2006-2010 and a 40-year veteran of the Colombian Navy. Under the leadership of President Álvaro Uribe, he was part of the team that changed Colombia from the brink of failure to stability and prosperity. During his military career, he received 64 awards and decorations, including the highest Military decoration Order of Boyacá, the Order of Democracy of the Colombian Senate, and the U.S. Legion of Merit. Upon retirement in 2011, he returned to the U. S. Naval War College - where he graduated in 1993 to be the first CNO Distinguished International Fellow. Today Adm. Barrera is Professor and Distinguished International Fellow.

Contact Information

Areas of Expertise

  • Asymmetrical Warfare
  • Civil-Military Relations
  • COIN
  • Conflict Resolution
  • Counterdrug Operations
  • Counterterrorism
  • Electronic Warfare
  • Ethics
  • Geopolitics
  • HA/DR
  • Human Rights
  • Immigration
  • Information Operations
  • International Relations
  • Irregular Warfare
  • Joint Operations
  • Latin America
  • Leadership
  • Littoral Warfare
  • Maritime Strategy
  • Military Planning
  • Military Theory
  • National Security
  • Operational Warfare
  • Peace Operations
  • Policy
  • Rules of Engagement
  • Security Cooperation
  • Surface Warfare
  • Terrorism
  • UNCLOS
  • WWII

Professional Highlights

1971

Ensign

Commissioned as SWO, served on eight surface ships. Shore assignments: Colombian Naval Academy, Ops Officer Caribbean Force, Construction Communications Project Auditor for Naval Base ARC Málaga, Director of Communications of the Navy, and Flag Secretary for Commander of the Navy.
1992

U.S. Naval War College

He graduated with the Naval Command College, class of 1993.
1994

Commanding Officer, Frigate ARC Almirante Padilla

Executed combined drug interdiction operations with JIATF-South and other countries in the Pacific and Caribbean, as well as UNITAS exercises. ARC Armirante Padilla was the last of his three commands, the other two were ARC Fritz Hagale, a riverine gun patrol boat, and the buoy tender ARC Gorgona.
1996

Commander Colombian Coast Guard

He was the second Commander of the Colombian Coast Guard, one of the Navy’s components. ADM Barrera continued the implementation of the strategic plan for development of the Coast Guard, the creation of stations, and the preparation of material and personnel.
1997

J5 Chief of Joint Integrated Action, Colombian Joint Military Staff

For three years he served as D5 (Joint Psyops), and executed the transformation of D5 to J5 (Joint Integrated Action). In November 2001, produced the Strategy of Integrated Action for the Military Forces, which was subsequently incorporated into President Uribe’s “Whole Government Approach” in 2003.
2002

Commander Colombian Naval Forces Caribbean

During three years, implemented President Uribe’s “Democratic Security” at the operational-level, correlating economic success and security based on “serving the people.” Since then, kidnappings, attacks on towns, and other terrorist actions were eliminated. Maritime interdiction also improved.
2005

Chief of Operations Colombian Navy

As third in the Chain of Command in the Navy, he contributed to the development of plans for adapting to the continuously changing threats that terrorism, narco-trafficking, and TOCs presented to Colombia and the region. By direction, he led a team that created the “Integrated Humanistic Formation.”
2006

Commander Colombian Navy

For four years, he was part of the most successful period of the administration of President Uribe and Minister of Defense Santos. He developed for the Navy the “Consolidation Strategic Plan,” accelerated the modernization of the navy, and improved security substantially.
2010

Defense Attaché to de Embassy of Colombia

Defense Attaché to de Embassy of Colombia, Washington D.C.
2011

U.S. Naval War College

ADM Barrera was the first CNO Distinguished International Fellow, and since 2013 is Professor and Distinguished International Fellow. He assists the Deans of International Programs, Academics, Leadership & Ethics, and Maritime Operational Warfare. He also teaches electives.

Education

B.S., Colombian Naval Academy, Cartagena, 1979, Naval Engineering – Electronics.
B.A., Colombian Naval Academy, Cartagena, 2000, Naval Sciences.
M.S., U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA, 1983, Electrical & Electronic Engineering.

Related Credentials

The Law of Armed Conflict Course, Canadian Forces, Cornwall, Canada, 1996.
Advanced Management, University of Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia, 1996.
Management of Conflict and Negotiation Skills, NEST, Bogotá, Colombia, 1997.
Staff Officer Course, Colombian Joint War College, Bogotá, Colombia, 1989.
Military Instructor Program for International Humanitarian Law, ICRC, Bogotá, Colombia, 1998.
Advanced Military Studies, Colombian Joint War College, Bogotá, Colombia, 1999.
Advanced Management, La Escuela Superior de Administración Pública, Bogotá, Colombia, 1999.
Senior International Defense Management Course, Defense Resource Management Institute, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA, USA, 2005.
Advanced Business Management Program, INALDE Business School, University of La Sabana, Bogotá, Colombia, 2006.

Research Contributions

Books

'Las Cartas del Comandante' ('The Letters of the Commander' from Jun 2007 to Aug 2010), 2010
Editor: Grupo Asesor Comando Armada
Publisher: Revista Armada de Colombia, Bogotá

Journal Articles
  • Editorials
    'A La Mar' (Colombian Navy) Bogotá, Colombia, from September 2006 to August 2010.
  • 'The Vision of Regional Navies for the XXI Century' 
    Proceedings, U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, MD, USA, 2008.
  • 'How is the Global Economic Downturn Affecting the Maritime Strategy, Operations and Force Structure of the Colombian Navy?'
    Proceedings, U.S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, MD, USA, 2009.
  • Three Papers: 'Colombia Naval Strategy,' 'The Strategy Against Drug Trafficking: Closing the Gap,' and 'The XXI Century Naval Education.'
    Revista de las Fuerzas Armadas, Escuela Superior de Guerra, Bogotá, Colombia, 2008-09.
  • Three Papers: 'Colombian Maritime Development in the XXI Century,' 'The Naval Strategy of Colombia,' and 'Quality in the Navy.'
    Revista Liga Marítima Colombiana, Bogotá, Colombia 2007-2008.
  • 'The Department Archipelago of San Andrés, Providence and Santa Catalina: Heart of the Colombian Caribbean Sea.'
    ECOS Magazine, Bogotá, Colombia 2007.

Presentations
  • The Colombian Experience on the War on Terror.
    Symposium on Terrorism and Narco-trafficking. U.S. Special Operations Command, Tampa, FL, Oct 2005.
  • Where Are Our Seas?
    Keynote Speaker at the Second Symposium of Naval Design and Engineering. Cartagena, Colombia. 2006.  
  • Progress on International Cooperation in Operations against Drug Trafficking Today.
    Speaker at the NCC 50th Anniversary. U.S. Naval War College, Newport, RI, June 2007.
  • Colombia and Naval Power: Facing the Present and Envisioning the Future.
    Panelist, 18th International Seapower Symposium, USNWC, Newport, RI. October 2007.
  • Development of the (Colombian) Navy in the XXI Century.
    Keynote Speaker at the Third Symposium of Naval Design and Engineering. Cartagena, Colombia 2007.
  • The Present and Future of the (Colombian) Navy. 
    Keynote Speaker for the First Forum on 'Our Armed Forces.' University of 'Los Andes'. Bogotá, 2007.
  • Naval Strategy against Drug Trafficking at Sea.
    Keynote Speaker at 'First International Symposium of the Americas on Maritime Drug Trafficking at Sea.' Cartagena, Colombia. 2008.
  • Ethical Responsibility of Naval Officers to the Population They Serve.
    Keynote Speaker to the Officers of the Navy of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo, February 2009.
  • Drug Trafficking - A Challenge for International Naval Cooperation.
    Panelist 19th International Seapower Symposium, USNWC. Newport, RI, October 2009.
  • Simulation to Support Maritime Domain Awareness.
    Keynote Speaker at the 6th Regional Alumni Symposium of the USNWC. Cartagena, Colombia 2010.
  • International Cooperation: The Best Naval Strategy Against Drug Trafficking.
    Keynote Speaker at the 'Second International Symposium of the Americas on Maritime Drug Trafficking at Sea'.  Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 2010.
  • Issues Related to Strategy and Naval and Maritime Development.
    Keynote Speaker at the Colombian Joint War College for Courses of Advanced Military, Staff, National Defense Information, and Masters in Defense and Homeland Security, Bogotá, 2006-2010.
  • Integrated Action as a National Strategy for Peace.
    Keynote Speaker at the University of La Sabana, Bogotá, Colombia 2007, 2008 and 2009.
  • Colombian Maritime Power.
    Keynote Speaker at the Seminar on Maritime Power, Colombian Joint War College, Bogotá, Colombia 2007-2009.
  • Application of Military Principles and Values to Civilian Sectors
    Keynote Speaker at the Annual Summit of Royal Hotels Latin America, Paipa, Colombia, October 2010.
  • Colombia - Precision and Success
    Keynote Speaker at the Precision Strike Annual Review, Precision Strikes with Coalition Partners. Fort Walton Beach, Florida, February 2011.
  • Inter-Institutional Cooperation in Combating Terrorism.
    Keynote Speaker at the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, National Defense University, Washington, DC, June 2011.
  • Colombia: From the Brink of Failure to Stability and Democracy.
    Keynote Speaker for the Body of Students, USNWC, Newport, RI, February 2012.
  • On Leadership and Ethics
    Keynote Speaker U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Corps of Cadets, New London, CT, March 2012.
  • Colombia - The Rule of Law in International Struggle
    Law and Policy Program, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, April 2012.
  • Colombia and Democracy.
    Rotary Club, Newport, RI, April 2012.
  • Colombia - Understanding the Game: From Political Warfare to Integrated Action.
    Panelist at the Center on Irregular Warfare and Armed Groups 'Exploiting Seams and Closing Gaps' Symposium. USNWC, Newport, RI, June 2012.
  • We Are All the Same: Experiences from Former Colombian Navy CNO to US Sea Services.
    Keynote Speaker at the Association of Naval Services Officers Conference. San Diego, CA August 2012.
  • Colombia's Struggle Against Insurgency and Terror.
    Keynote Speaker in Counterinsurgency for Joint Military Operations Senior Class, USNWC, Newport, RI, October 2012–2016.
  • Colombia's Struggle Against Terrorism.
    Combating Terrorism Center of the U. S. Army. U. S. Military Academy, West Point, NY, October 2012.
  • US Navy Birthday Ball Speaker.
    Keynote Speaker at the 237th Navy Birthday Ball, Miami, FL, October 2012.
  • Origins of the Concept of 'Integrated Action' in Colombia.
    William Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, National Defense University, Washington, DC, January 2013.
  • Transcendental Motivation for War Fighters in Colombia.
    The English Speaking Union (Newport Branch), Newport, RI, March 2013.
  • No Lost Causes: How Colombia Changed the Future Against All Odds.
    Keynote Speaker for the Body of Students, USNWC, Newport, RI, March 2013.
  • Colombia - Narco-Insurgency and Counterinsurgency.
    Keynote Speaker for Joint Military Operations Intermediate Class, USNWC, Newport, RI, March 2013–2016.
  • Colombia: All Initiatives Depend on Available Resources
    Panelist at the Center on Irregular Warfare and Armed Groups 'Afghanistan and Beyond' Symposium, USNWC, Newport, RI June 2013.
  • On Information and Other Angles for Today's War Fighters.
    Keynote Speaker for the Second Anniversary of the 8th Military Information Support Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, NC, August 2013.
  • Graduation Speaker.
    Strategy & Policy Reserve Officers Course, USNWC, Newport, RI, September 2013.
  • Drug Interdiction's Current Challenges.
    Guest Speaker for the Unmanned Vehicle Maritime Summit, USNWC, Newport, RI October 2013.
  • Graduation Speaker.
    Surface Warfare Officers School Command, Graduation of the International 'Joint Maritime Tactical Development' and 'Division Officer' courses, Newport, RI, multiple occasions since 2013.
  • How Colombia Changed the Future Within the Law: Back to Basics!
    Keynote Speaker, Defense Institute of International Legal Studies, Law of Armed Conflict and Human Rights Course, Newport RI, December 2013.
  • No Lost Causes: How Colombia Changed the Future Against All Odds.
    Guest Speaker for Body of Students on multiple occasions at USNWC, Newport, RI, February 2014-2016.
  • Graduation Speaker
    Colleges of Naval Warfare and Naval Command and Staff, USNWC, Newport RI, March 2014.
  • Personal Development and Other Angles for War Fighting Leaders of the Future.
    Keynote Speaker for the Naval Academy Preparatory School, Newport, RI, March 2014.
  • Regional Maritime Agreements and Global Opportunities: Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES).
    Speaker at the 21st International Seapower Symposium, Newport, September 2014.
  • On Strategy and Related Matters
    Keynote Speaker to the Naval Power Seminar, Colombian Navy, Bogotá, Colombia, October 2014.
  • The Future of Coalition Warfare
    Panelist at the Global Special Operations Forces 'Anticipate the Future' Symposium in St. Pete Beach, Florida. February 2015.
  • Regional Maritime Agreements and Global Opportunities: Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES).
    Speaker at the 11th Regional Alumni Symposium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil May 2015.
  • Regional Maritime Agreements and Global Opportunities: Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES).
    Speaker at the 12th Regional Alumni Symposium (Africa), Newport, RI, August 2015.
  • Matching Policy and Strategy in Colombia in Preparation for Deployment to Colombia.
    Guest Speaker, 7th Special Forces Group, Company Alpha, First Battalion, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. February 2016.
  • International Perspectives on Maritime Strategy: The Western Hemisphere.
    Panelist for the 'Maritime Strategy Conference,' USNWC, Newport RI, March 2016.
  • Panel Moderator 'Migrant Interception Operations.'
    13th Regional Alumni Symposium, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, April 2016.
  • Matching Policy and Strategy in Colombia in Preparation for Deployment to Colombia.
    Guest Speaker, 7th Special Forces Group, Third Battalion, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, June 2016.
  • Narco-Terrorism in Colombia
    Panelist for the 14th Regional Alumni Symposium, Lima, Peru, March 2017.
  • Panel Moderator, 'Maritime Regional Threats and Challenges for International Cooperation,' for the 14th Regional Alumni Symposium, Lima, Peru, March 2017.

Awards and Decorations

Colombia‘s National Military Awards

  • Order 'Boyacá', promoted to Grand Cross rank.
  • Order 'San Carlos' Great Cross.
  • Order of Military Merit 'Antonio Nariño,' promoted to Grand Cross rank.
  • Order of Military Merit 'José María Córdova,' promoted to Grand Cross rank.
  • Order of Naval Merit 'Admiral Padilla,' promoted to Grand Cross rank.
  • Air Force Cross to the 'Aeronautical Merit,' promoted to Grand Cross rank.
  • Sanitary Order of Merit 'José Fernández Madrid,' promoted to Grand Cross rank.
  • Order 'National Police Star,' promoted to Official rank.
  • Medal Distinguished Services in 'Public Order,' first award.
  • Order of Merit 'Colonel Guillermo Fergusson,' Commander.
  • Military Medal 'Francisco José de Caldas,' in the categories of Merit, Dedication and Effort.
  • Medals of 35, 30, 25, 20 and 15 years of service.
  • Medal 'South Campaign.'
  • Medal 'National Defense Ministry,' promoted to Grand Cross Distinguished Services category.
  • Distinguished Service Medal to the General Command of the Military Forces.
  • Distinguished Service Medal to the Colombian Navy.
  • Distinguished Service Medal to the Surface Force.
  • Distinguished Service Medal to the Marine Corps.
  • Distinguished Service Medal to the Submarine Force.
  • Distinguished Service Medal to Naval Aviation.
  • Distinguished Service Medal to the Coast Guard.
  • Distinguished Service Medal to Naval Intelligence.
  • Distinguished Service Medal to Naval Engineering.
  • Rear Admiral Rafael Tono Logistics and Administrative Medal of Merit.
  • Distinguished Service Medal to DIMAR (Maritime Directorate).
  • Distinguished Service Medal to Military Criminal Justice.
  • Colombian War College Medal.
  • Reserve Merit of the Armed Forces Medal.
  • Froylan Valenzuela Medal, Colombian Naval Academy.
  • Distinguished Service Medal to the Colombian Naval Academy.
  • Distinguished Service Medal to the Naval Enlisted School.
  • Distinguished Service Medal to the Enlisted Marines School.
  • Lancers School Medal (Colombian's Ranger School equivalent).

International Military Awards
  • Naval Order of Merit, Federal Republic of Brazil, Grand Officer.
  • Military Medal 'Minerva,' Chilean Naval War College.
  • Order Medal of Honor 'Naval Merit,' Dominican Republic Navy, First Class.
  • Order 'Naval Merit' for Distinguished Service, Dominican Republic Navy, First Class.
  • Naval Peruvian Merit Order, Grand Cross category with white ribbon.
  • Legion of Merit, United States of America, Commander Grade.
  • Order 'Naval Merit' Second Class, Venezuela.
  • Order of Merit 'Star of Carabobo,' Army of Venezuela, single class.

Other Honors

  • Grand Order 'Merit to the Democracy,' Senate of Colombia, Grand Commander Rank.
  • Order of Democracy 'Simón Bolívar' House of Representatives of Colombia.
  • Order 'Dignity and Homeland,' Second Commission, House of Representatives of Colombia.
  • Distinguished Service Medal, National Police, Commander and Knight Categories.
  • Order 'Merit Presidential Security' in the degree of Commander.
  • Order of 'Agricultural Merit' Medal 'Grand Official' degree.
  • 'Civic Merit' Medal, DAS (Colombian National Intelligence Agency), Bronze category.
  • 'Civic Merit' Medal, Colombian Civil Defense, Bronze category.
  • Order 'Rafael Nuñez' Bolívar Governor, Grand Cross, and Grand Officer Degrees.
  • Civic Order Cundinamarca, 'Antonio Nariño' Grenadine degree.
  • Order 'Marshal Sucre,' Sucre Governor.
  • Civic Medal 'Cartagena,' Grand Cross rank.
  • Civic Order of Merit 'Cartagena Historic and Cultural Heritage of Humanity,' Council of Cartagena, GrandOfficer Degree.
  • Merit Medal, Corps of retired Generals and Admirals.
  • 'General Rafael Reyes' Medal of ACORE (Colombian Association of Retired Officers), second award.
  • 'Military Club' Medal.
  • 'Heroes of Korea' Medal, Colombian Association of Korean War Veterans, Grand Commodore rank.
  • Lanceros Grand Cross Medal.
  • 'Distinguished Service' Medal, Naval Center Pocigüeica.
  • Merit Medal, FENALCO (Colombian National Federation of Merchants).
  • Merit Medal Order 'Amigos 80.'
  • 'Civic Exemplary' Medal, City of Barranquilla, Great Gold Collar.
  • 'Almirante Colon' Medal, Naval High School Cartagena, Colombia.

External Memberships and Associations

(Past Memberships and Associations)
  • 'ETA KAPPA NU ASSOCIATION” Electrical Engineering honor society, Chapter 'DELTA THETA Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey USA, for excellent scholarship and other attainments manifested in the profession of Electrical Engineering, 1983.
  • Colombian Commission of Oceanography. Committee on Tsunami Warning.
  • Rotaract Club of Cartagena, Past-President.

News, Media, & Events

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U.S. Naval War College Graduation: June 2019

Jun. 14, 2019
10:00 a.m.
U.S. Naval War College, 686 Cushing Road, Newport, RI 02841
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U.S. Military Strategy Must Return to the Basics

Nov. 16, 2018
The National Interest
Article Publication

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