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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Oscar Moreno-Martinez

Oscar Moreno-Martinez
Oscar Moreno-Martinez
Politics and International Relations School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh United Kingdom EH1 1LZ
Research Interests
Technology and Innovation Studies, Colombian Armed Conflict, Military-Technical Change, Insurgency & Counter-Insurgency, United States Foreign Security Policy, War Studies

PhD Title

Technological innovation in the Colombian war. Insurgency, Counterinsurgency, and Terror (1993–2012)

Research Summary

An effective understanding of the promulgation of the 50-year war between the Colombian State and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the current promising peace talks in Cuba needs to attend to processes of technological innovation on both sides. In the mid-1990s, on the one hand, FARC accentuated their military side. In the words of Pizarro (2011), they went from a peasant guerrilla group to a ‘war machine’. This development hardened their military capacity and enabled their largest attacks against the Military Forces of Colombia (MFC). From 1998, on the other hand, MFC responded with an institutional reorganization and technological modernization supported by Plan Colombia, the principal plan of military technology transfer in the contemporary history of Latin America driven by the United States (US). With this modernization MFC recovered the tactical initiative previously lost and started an unprecedented offensive achieving an overwhelming strategic victory. Although FARC drew back considerably in the 2000s, they were not entirely defeated; their capacity of adaptation allowed them to resist and extend the war up to the current peace talks.

FARC’s ‘war machine’, key for their mid-1990s attacks and 2000s resistance, is the topic of my first line of inquiry. The aim here is to explain not only why the oldest insurgent group in the world and the only one remaining in Latin America hardened and its ability to resist and extend the confrontation, but also how technology and innovation work in contexts of insurgency/illegality. MFC’s technological modernization, vital for their 2000s devastating offensive, is the object of my second inquiry. This, in turn, will allow me to analyse not only why one of the most protracted confrontations in the world is about to end and why Plan Colombia was partially effective –in the long and not very successful history of US interventions in small wars–, but also how technology and innovation operate in contexts of counterinsurgency/legality.


Professor Robin Williams and Dr Graham Spinardi