The death of Raul Reyes, one of the top leaders of the FARC, has inspired the predictable, reflexive, pointless discussion about command hierarchies in a revolutionary organization: Who will be the new #2?
Of course, that question presupposes that Reyes was the #2 leader in the FARC. He was certainly close to Tirofijo, the top man in the FARC. Reyes was the "public face" of the FARC, a member of the governing directorate, and Tirofijo's confidant. But in what sense was he #2?
In most revolutionary organizations, there is no #2. Instead, there are leaders with different roles. In Al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri is the top "operational" person. He is not, however, the "public face" of Al Qaeda in the same fashion as Suleiman Abu Gaith. Abu Mohammed al-Masri often has a more direct role in Al Qaeda operations, even though he's nominally not as high-ranking as Zawahiri. Meanwhile, with Osama bin Laden in hiding, with less freedom of action than he had before the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, it's hard to see what being the #1 guy in Al Qaeda really means.
Organizations with parallel military and political arms only confuse matters. How would you rank Gerry Adams' role as the head of Sinn Fein, when the IRA was still pursuing the "armed struggle"? Was he #2 by virtue of being the head of the political wing, or did he have less influence within the overall IRA/Sinn Fein organization than other military leaders?
Other terrorist and guerrilla groups have different roles, with more or less power in the hands of the top leader, and different responsibilities (fund-raising, operations, policy, propaganda, etc.) distributed across the top leaders. It's hard, therefore, to find any organization like the FARC or Al Qaeda in which #2 is a meaningful designation.
I don't know the origins of the "Who will be #2?" question. Maybe the people asking it assume that terrorist or guerrilla groups operate in the same fashion as SPECTRE, with a clear top Bond villain and an equally clear trusted lieutenant. (Which means that US agents will have to kill the lieutenant before they can duke it out with the top leader. And they have to be ready for the top leader to appear dead, only to suddenly make a last, desperate lunge for his gun, laser cannon, or earth-penetrating drill.) Or maybe it's from watching the old BBC series, The Prisoner, in which the question, "Who is #2?" had special meaning.
In any case, it's a pretty stupid question. Reyes had a particular role in the FARC. Judge the effects of his death based on that reality, instead of some goofy shorthand for people who can't bother to research the news stories they're covering.