Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces

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Revolutionary Armed Forces
Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias
FAR emblem.png
Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces emblem
Founded 1959
Current form 1960
Service branches Army
Air and Air Defense Force
Navy
Paramilitary units
Civil Defense
National Reserves
Headquarters Havana
Leadership
Commander-in-chief Miguel Díaz-Canel
Minister of the FAR Corps Gen. Leopoldo Cintra Frías
Chief of the General Staff Álvaro López Miera
Manpower
Conscription 2 years
Available for
military service
3,134,622 males, age 15–49,
3,022,063 females, age 15–49
Fit for
military service
1,929,370 males, age 15–49,
1,888,498 females, age 15–49
Active personnel 90,000 (2015 est.)[1]
Reserve personnel 1,500,000[1]
Expenditures
Percent of GDP 3.8% (2006)
Industry
Domestic suppliers Union de Industrias Militares
Foreign suppliers  Russia
 China
 North Korea
 Kazakhstan
 Venezuela
 Bulgaria
 Poland
 Mongolia
 Spain
Former:
 Soviet Union
 United States (pre-1958)
 East Germany
Related articles
History Military history of Cuba
Ranks Military ranks of Cuba

The Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces (Spanish: Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias – FAR) consist of ground forces, naval forces, air and air defence forces, and other paramilitary bodies including the Territorial Troops Militia (Milicias de Tropas Territoriales – MTT), Youth Labor Army (Ejército Juvenil del Trabajo – EJT), and the Defense and Production Brigades (Brigadas de Producción y Defensa – BPD), plus the Civil Defense Organization (Defensa Civil de Cuba – DCC) and the National Reserves Institution (Instituto Nacional de las Reservas Estatales – INRE).

The armed forces has long been the most powerful institution in Cuba.[2] The military controls 60 percent of the economy through the management of hundreds of enterprises in key economic sectors.[3][4] The military has also served as Raúl Castro's base.[4] In numerous speeches, Raúl Castro emphasized the military's role as a people's partner.[5]

From 1966 until the late 1980s, Soviet Government military assistance enabled Cuba to upgrade its military capabilities to number one in Latin America and project power abroad. The first Cuban military mission in Africa was established in Ghana in 1961. Cuba's military forces appeared in Algeria, in 1963, when a military medical brigade came over from Havana to support the regime.[6] Since the 1960s, Cuba sent military forces to African and Arab countries – Syria in 1973, Ethiopia in 1978, the Cuban intervention in Angola from 1975 to 1989, and Nicaragua and El Salvador during the 1980s.

The Soviet Union gave both military and financial aid to the Cubans. The tonnage of Soviet military deliveries to Cuba throughout most of the 1980s exceeded deliveries in any year since the military build-up during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

In 1989 the government instituted a cleanup of the armed forces and the Ministry of Interior, convicting army Major General and Hero of the Republic of Cuba Arnaldo Ochoa, Ministry of Interior Colonel Antonio de la Guardia (Tony la Guardia), and Ministry of Interior Brigadier General Patricio de la Guardia on charges of corruption and drug trafficking. This judgment is known in Cuba as "Causa 1" (Cause 1). Ochoa and Antonio de la Guardia were executed. Following the executions, the Army was drastically downsized, the Ministry of Interior was moved under the informal control of Revolutionary Armed Forces chief General Raúl Castro (Fidel Castro's brother), and large numbers of army officers were moved into the Ministry of Interior.

Cuban military power has been sharply reduced by the loss of Soviet subsidies. Today, the Revolutionary Armed Forces number 39,000 regular troops.[1] The DIA reported in 1998 that the country's paramilitary organizations, the Territorial Militia Troops, the Youth Labor Army, and the Naval Militia had suffered considerable morale and training degradation over the previous seven years but still retained the potential to "make an enemy invasion costly."[7] Cuba also adopted a "war of the people" strategy that highlights the defensive nature of its capabilities.

On September 14, 2012, a Cuban senior general agreed to further deepen military cooperation with China during a visit to Beijing. He said that Cuba was willing to enhance exchanges with the Chinese military and strengthen bilateral cooperation in personnel training and other areas.[8]

History

Revolutionary Army (Ejercito Revolucionario)

Guards at the Mausoleum of José Marti, Santiago de Cuba
Soldiers of Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias on a motorbike

In 1984, according to Jane's Military Review, there were three major geographical commands, Western, Central, and Eastern.[9] There were a reported 130,000 all ranks, and each command was garrisoned by an army comprising a single armoured division, a mechanised division, and a corps of three infantry divisions, though the Eastern Command had two corps totalling six divisions. There was also an independent military region, with a single infantry division, which garrisoned the Isle of Youth.

A U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency assessment in the first half of 1998 said that the army's armour and artillery units were at low readiness levels due to 'severely reduced' training, generally incapable of mounting effective operations above the battalion level, and that equipment was mostly in storage and unavailable at short notice.[10] The same report said that Cuban special operations forces continue to train but on a smaller scale than beforehand, and that while the lack of replacement parts for its existing equipment and the current severe shortage of fuel were increasingly affecting operational capabilities, Cuba remained able to offer considerable resistance to any regional power.[11]

2002 organization

In 1999 the Revolutionary Army (Ejercito Revolucionario) represented approximately 70 percent of Cuba's regular military manpower. According to the IISS, the army's estimated 45,000 troops including 6,000 active and 39,000 members of the Ready Reserves who were completing the forty-five days of annual active-duty service necessary for maintaining their status, as well as conscripts who were fulfilling their military service requirement.[12]

The IISS reported in 1999 that the army's troop formations consisted of four to five armored brigades; nine mechanized infantry brigades; an airborne brigade; fourteen reserve brigades; and the Border Brigade. In addition, there is an air defense artillery regiment and a surface-to-air missile brigade. Each of the three territorial armies is believed to be assigned at least one armored brigade-usually attached to the army's headquarters-as well as a mechanized infantry brigade. As well, it is known that the Border Brigade in Guantanamo and at least one ground artillery regiment (attached to a mechanized infantry brigade), based in Las Tunas, are under the Eastern Army's command.[12]

1996 organization

In 1996, according to Jane's Information Group, the army was organized into three Territorial Military Commands with three Armies, one army for each command.[13] At the time, there were an estimated 38,000 army personnel.[14]

Revolutionary Army Command:

  • Airborne brigade consisting of 2 battalions (at Havana and its immediate environs)
  • Artillery division (at Havana and its immediate environs)
  • SAM Brigade[15]
  • An anti-aircraft artillery regiment[15]

Western Army (deployed in the capital and the provinces of Havana and Pinar del Río)

2nd (Pinar del Río) Army Corps:

  • 24th Infantry Division
  • 27th Infantry Division
  • 28th Infantry Division

Central Army (Provinces of Matanzas, Villa Clara, Cienfuegos and Sancti Spiritus)

  • 81st Infantry Division
  • 84th Infantry Division
  • 86th Infantry Division
  • 89th Infantry Division
  • 12th Armored Regiment/1st Armored Division
  • 242nd Infantry Regiment/24th Infantry Division

4th (Las Villas) Army Corps:

  • 41st Infantry Division
  • 43rd Infantry Division
  • 48th Infantry Division

Eastern Army (Provinces of Santiago de Cuba, Guantánamo, Granma, Holguín,

Las Tunas, Camagüey and Ciego de Avila)

  • 3rd Armored Division
  • 6th Armored Division
  • 9th Armored Division
  • 31st Infantry Division
  • 32nd Infantry Division
  • 38th Infantry Division
  • 84th Infantry Division
  • 90th Infantry Division
  • 95th Infantry Division
  • 97th Infantry Division
  • Guantanamo Frontier Brigade
  • 123rd Infantry Division/former 12th Infantry Division
  • 281st Infantry Regiment/28th Infantry Division

6th (Holguín) Army Corps:

  • 50th Mechanised Division
  • 52nd Infantry Division
  • 54th Infantry Division
  • 56th Infantry Division
  • 58th Infantry Division

6th (Camagüey) Army Corps:

  • 60th Mechanised Division
  • 63rd Infantry Division
  • 65th Infantry Division
  • 69th Infantry Division

Equipment

Infantry weapons

Name Country of origin Type Notes
PM  Soviet Union Semi-automatic pistol
APS Machine pistol
APS underwater rifle Underwater Assault Rifle Used by special forces.
SKS Semi-automatic carbine Mostly limited to use as a ceremonial weapon.
AKM Assault Rifle
RPK Light machine gun
SG-43 Medium machine gun
KPV Heavy machine gun
PKM General-purpose machine gun
PM-63 RAK  Poland Sub-machine gun used by some MTT units.
M16A1  United States Assault rifle

Possibly captured sometime during the Cold War.

SVD  Soviet Union Semi-automatic sniper rifle
Alejandro Sniper Rifle  Cuba Bolt-action sniper rifle
Mambi AMR Anti-material rifle
RPG-7  Soviet Union Rocket-propelled grenade
SPG-9 Recoilless gun
AGS-17 Automatic grenade launcher
LPO-50 Flamethrower
RGD-5 Hand grenade
F1

Light and medium tanks

Name Country of origin Quantity Notes
PT-76  Soviet Union 50 [16]

Main battle tanks

Name Country of origin Quantity Notes
T-54/55  Soviet Union 800 T-55Ms active[16]
T-62 380 T-62Ms active[16]

Reconnaissance armoured vehicles

Name Country of origin Quantity Notes
BRDM-2  Soviet Union 100

Infantry fighting vehicles

Name Country of origin Quantity Notes
BMP-1  Soviet Union 120[17]

Armoured personnel carriers

Name Country of origin Quantity Notes
BTR-40  Soviet Union 100
BTR-50 200
BTR-60 Various versions of this vehicle. Including one with a 100 mm gun and a modified T-55 turret.
BTR-152 150

Towed artillery

Name Country of origin Quantity Notes
A-19  Soviet Union
D-20
D-30 Mostly used as guns for Self-Propelled Artillery together with modernized A-19 122 mm.
M-30 Used as saluting guns firing 21-gun salutes.
M-46 This 130 mm long range gun is used also as a Self-Propelled Artillery Piece in 6x6 truck called Jupiter-V and there is also a version mounted on a T-34 chassis.

Self-propelled artillery

Name Country of origin Quantity Notes
2S1 Gvozdika  Soviet Union 60
2S3 Akatsiya 40

Multi rocket launchers

Name Country of origin Quantity Notes
BM-21  Soviet Union
P-15 Termit

Mortars

Name Country of origin Quantity Notes
M-38/43  Soviet Union
M-41/43

Anti-tank weapons

Name Country of origin Quantity Notes
AT-3 Sagger  Soviet Union Mounted on the BTR-60
AT-4 Spigot
T-12

Anti-aircraft guns

Name Country of origin Quantity Notes
ZPU-4  Soviet Union 200
ZU-23-2 400
ZSU-23-4 36
ZSU-57-2 25
KS-19
M-1939 300
S-60 200

SAMs

Name Country of origin Quantity Notes
SA-6 Gainful  Soviet Union 12
SA-7 Grail
SA-8 Gecko 16
SA-9 Gaskin 60
SA-13 Gopher 42
SA-14 Gremlin
SA-16 Gimlet
S-75 Dvina 144
S-125 Neva/Pechora 60

Self-propelled SAMs

Name Country of origin Quantity Notes
S-75 Dvina  Soviet Union 25 On T-55 chassis.
S-125 Neva/Pechora On T-55 chassis. This missile was seen in the Cuban Military Parade of 2006.

Cuban Revolutionary Air and Air Defense Force

Cuban MiG-21MF from the 1970s
CIA map showing the estimated range of Cuban MiG-29 Fulcrum jets.

The Cuban Revolutionary Air and Air Defense Force (Spanish: Defensa Anti-Aérea Y Fuerza Aérea Revolucionaria) commonly abbreviated to DAAFAR in both Spanish and English, is the air force of Cuba.

Former aircraft include: MiG-15, MiG-17, MiG-19, North American B-25 Mitchell, North American P-51 Mustang, and the Hawker Sea Fury

In the 1980s, Cuba with the help of the Soviet Union was able to project power abroad, using its air force, especially in Africa. During that time Cuba sent jet fighters and transports for deployment in conflict zones such as Angola and Ethiopia.

In 1990, Cuba's Air Force was the best equipped in Latin America. In all, the modern Cuban Air Force imported approximately 230 fixed-wing aircraft. Although there is no exact figure available, Western analysts estimate that at least 130 (with only 25 operational[18]) of these planes are still in service spread out among the thirteen military airbases on the island.

In 1996, fighters from the DAAFAR shot down two Cessna aircraft based in Florida which were incorrectly suspected of dropping leaflets into Cuban airspace. The air force was criticised for not giving the pilots of the aircraft options other than being shot down. One aircraft escaped.[19]

In 1998, according to the same DIA report mentioned above, the air force had 'fewer than 24 operational MIG fighters; pilot training barely adequate to maintain proficiency; a declining number of fighter sorties, surface-to-air missiles and air-defense artillery to respond to attacking air forces.[20]

By 2007 the International Institute for Strategic Studies assessed the force as 8,000 strong with 41 combat capable aircraft and a further 188 stored. DAAFAR is known now to have integrated another MiG-29 and a few MiG-23s which makes it 58 combat aircraft in active service which are listed as 6 MiG-29s, 40 MiG-23s, and 12 MiG-21s. There were also assessed to be 12 operational transport aircraft plus trainers which include 8 L-39C and helicopters which are mainly Mil Mi-8, Mil Mi-17 and Mil Mi-24 Hind. Raúl Castro ordered in 2010 that all MiG-29 pilots had to have full training, they now have from 200–250 hours of flight annually together with real dogfight training and exercises. Up to 20 MiG-23 units also have this kind of training but the other 16 MiG-23 units spend more time in simulators than real flight. MiG-21 units have limited time in these training exercises and spend more time in simulators and maintain their skills flying with the commercial brand of the air force Aerogaviota.

At San Antonio de los Baños military air field, south west of Havana, several aircraft are visible using Google Earth.[21]

Cuban Revolutionary Navy (Marina de Guerra Revolucionaria, MGR)

Naval Jack of Cuba
Naval Jack of Cuba
The helicopter carrier patrol vessel Rio Damuji n° 390 in Havana (July 2011)

In 1988, the Cuban Navy boasted 12,000 men, three submarines, two modern guided-missile frigates, 1 intelligence vessel, and a large number of patrol craft and minesweepers.[22] However, most of the Soviet-made vessels have been decommissioned or sunk to make reefs. By 2007, the Cuban Navy was assessed as being 3,000 strong (including up to 550+ Navy Infantry) by the IISS with six Osa-II and one Pauk-class corvette. The Cuban Navy also includes a small marine battalion called the Desembarco de Granma. It once numbered 550 men though its present size is not known.

After the old Soviet submarines were put out of service, Cuba searched for help from North Korea's experience in midget submarines. North Korean defectors claimed to have seen Cubans in mid to late 1990s in a secret submarine base and appeared in public view years later a single picture of a small black native submarine in Havana harbour. It is rumored to be called 'Delfin' and is to be armed with two torpedoes. Only a single boat is in service and the design appears original, even if influenced both by North Korea and Soviet designs.[23]

The Cuban Navy rebuilt one, large ex-Spanish Rio Damuji fishing boat. BP-390 is now armed with two C-201W missiles, one twin 57 mm gun mount, two twin 25 mm gun mounts and on 14.5 mm machine gun. This vessel is larger than the Koni class, and it is used as a helicopter carrier patrol vessel. A second unit (BP-391) was converted and entered service in 2016.[24]

The Cuban Navy today operates its own missile systems, the made-in-Cuba Bandera (a copy of the dated Styx Soviet missiles) and Remulgadas anti-ship missile systems, as well as the nationally

The Cuban naval Aviation roundel

produced Frontera self-propelled coastal defence multiple rocket launcher. The navy's principal threats are drug smuggling and illegal immigration. The country's geographical position and limited naval presence has enabled traffickers to utilise Cuban territorial waters and airspace.[25]

The Cuban Navy's air wing is an ASW helicopter operator only and is equipped with 2 MI-14 Haze helicopters.[26]




Air and Naval air bases

Active bases
Inactive bases

Fleet

Current

Fleet equipment
Ground forces organization
  • 2 amphibious assault battalions.
  • 1 coastal defense field artillery regiment
  • 1 coastal defense missile artillery regiment
  • 1 light armored battalion (amphibious)
Naval Ground forces equipment
  • 122 mm artillery.
  • M-1931/3 artillery.
  • 130 mm: M-46 artillery.
  • 152 mm: M-1937 artillery.
  • ≈10 SSC-3 surface-to-surface missile systems.
  • 18–24 Remulgadas coastal defense surface multiple missile launchers
  • 20 Bandera coastal defense surface multiple missile launchers
  • 12 RBU-6000 Frontera coastal defense multiple rocket launchers
  • 18–22 PT-76 light tanks
Cuban naval aviation
Aircraft Origin Type Notes
Mi-14 Haze USSR ASW has 2

The border guards have: 2 Stenka class patrol boats and as of 2007 approximately a dozen, down from 30/48, Zhuk patrol craft. Cuba makes Zhuk patrol craft and some are seen with an SPG-9 mounted on front of the twin 30mm guns.[28] [29]

Historic

  • 1 Soviet Foxtrot-class submarine with 533 mm and 406 mm torpedo tube (non-operational); 3 transferred
  • 2 Soviet Koni-class corvettes with 2 Anti-Submarine Weapon Rocket Launcher (non-operational); 3 transferred
  • 4 Soviet Osa I/II-class missile boats with 4 SS-N-2 Styx surface-to-surface missile+
  • 1 Soviet Pauk II-class fast patrol craft, coastal with 2 anti-submarine weapon rocket launcher, 4 anti-submarine torpedo tube
  • 1 Soviet/Polish Polnocny-class medium landing ship, capacity 180 troops, 6 tanks (non-operational)

Military schools

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c International Institute for Strategic Studies: The Military Balance 2015, p. 392
  2. ^ "The Cuban military and transition dynamics" (PDF). 
  3. ^ "Challenges to a Post-Castro Cuba" (PDF). Harvard International Review. 
  4. ^ a b Carl Gershman and Orlando Gutierrez. "Can Cuba Change?" (PDF). Journal of Democracy January 2009. 20 (1). 
  5. ^ Claudia Zilla. "The Outlook for Cuba and What International Actors Should Avoid" (PDF). 
  6. ^ John Williams, "Cuba: Havana's Military Machine", The Atlantic, August 1988
  7. ^ Bryan Bender, 'DIA expresses concern over Cuban intelligence activity,' Jane's Defence Weekly, 13 May 1998, p. 7
  8. ^ Cuba and China strengthen military cooperation – Armyrecognition.com, September 16, 2012
  9. ^ English, Adrian J., "The Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces," in Ian V. Hogg (Ed.), Jane's Military Review, Jane's Publishing Company, 1985.
  10. ^ Bryan Bender, 'DIA expresses concern over Cuban intelligence activity', Jane's Defence Weekly, 13 May 1998, p. 7
  11. ^ " "The World Factbook". Retrieved 24 April 2016. 
  12. ^ a b "About this Collection" (PDF). The Library of Congress. Retrieved 24 April 2016. 
  13. ^ "Cuban Armed Forces Review: Territorial Military Commands". Archived from the original on 12 January 2008. Retrieved 24 April 2016. 
  14. ^ IISS Military Balance 2007, p. 70
  15. ^ a b "Armies of the world Arsenal". Retrieved 24 April 2016. 
  16. ^ a b c "Cuban Tanks". Cuban Aviation • Rubén Urribarres. Retrieved 24 April 2016. 
  17. ^ International Institute for Strategic Studies: The Military Balance 2015, p. 393
  18. ^ Cuban Armed Forces Review: Air Force Archived 2009-02-10 at the Wayback Machine.
  19. ^ Sections 3.18, 3.19 and 3.20 of the Resolution on the Cuban Government's Shootdown of Brothers to the Rescue Adopted by the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) at the Twentieth Meeting of its 148th Session on 27 June 1996 [1]
  20. ^ Jane's Defence Weekly, 13 May 1998
  21. ^ https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=22+52%2728.40%22+N+82+30%2726.04%22+W&ll=22.874643,-82.506809&spn=0.004557,0.006899&t=h&z=17 Google Earth imagery of San Antonio de los Baños airfield
  22. ^ https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1988/08/cuba-havanas-military-machine/305932/
  23. ^ "Delfin". hisutton.com. 10 October 2016. Retrieved 4 January 2018. 
  24. ^ granma. 28 August 2017 = Un baluarte sobre el mar http://www.granma.cu/cuba/2017-08-28/un-baluarte-sobre-el-mar-28-08-2017-22-08-47?page=2 = Un baluarte sobre el mar Check |url= value (help). Retrieved 4 January 2018.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  25. ^ "Global Security on Cuban Navy". 
  26. ^ Cuban Armed Forces Review: Air Force Archived 2009-02-10 at the Wayback Machine.
  27. ^ "Delfin". hisutton.com. 10 October 2016. Retrieved 4 January 2018. 
  28. ^ "Zhuk class". Retrieved 9 December 2012. 
  29. ^ "Cuban Border Guard". Retrieved 9 December 2012. 

Further reading

  • Jane's Intelligence Review, June 1993
  • Piero Gleijeses: Kuba in Afrika 1975–1991. In: Bernd Greiner /Christian Th. Müller / Dierk Walter (Hrsg.): Heiße Kriege im Kalten Krieg. Hamburg, 2006, ISBN 3-936096-61-9, S. 469–510. (Review by H. Hoff, Review by I. Küpeli)
  • Defense Intelligence Agency, HAndbook on the Cuban Armed Forces, DDB-2680-62-79, April 1979

External links

  • (in Spanish) Official site of the Revolutionary Armed Forces
  • Foro Militar General (Cuban military forum)
  • (in Spanish) Cuban Air Force
  • (in Spanish) Secretos de Generales on Granma site
  • Cuban Armed Forces Review
  • Latin American Light Weapons National Inventories
  • Map showing AFBs in Cuba
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