Colombia's No. 2 military officer, Gen. Javier Florez, is leaving his post as chief of the general staff to become part of the government delegation to peace talks with leftist FARC guerrillas, the army said Monday.

Florez was chosen to be the head of the delegation of active-duty military personnel who last Friday traveled to Havana to join the negotiations, the armed forces commander, Gen. Juan Pablo Rodriguez Barragan, said.

Regarded as a hardliner in the fight against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, Florez became head of the general staff in February, when a corruption scandal spurred a shakeup in the high command.

Vice Adm. Henry John Blain Garzon will succeed Florez as chief of the general staff.

Rodriguez said this latest change in the top military command comes in response to a "reorganization due strictly to the needs of the service and the presidential order to form a subcommittee for the end of the conflict."

The military panel has as its objective "to begin the discussion of different options and models for the laying down of arms, demobilization and cease-fire that would only be implemented if a final accord is signed" with the FARC.

President Juan Manuel Santos says the presence of military personnel at the peace talks "is a fact that exalts, that dignifies" the armed forces and is a guarantee for the country. EFE