Country Listing

Paraguay Table of Contents




Figure 10. Organization of the Armed Forces of Paraguay, 1988

Article 180 of the Constitution names the president as commander in chief of the armed forces and provides that actual command may be delegated to a general officer. As of late 1988, however, President Stroessner had not exercised this option, but rather had retained direct command over the armed forces since 1954.

The president was assisted by the minister of national defense, who was by tradition an active-duty or retired army general officer. The minister of national defense was not in the direct chain of command, and the ministry's duties were limited to administrative matters, including finance, military justice, and inspection (see fig. 10). The ministry also had responsibility for defense industries, civil aviation, and the National War College.

The president exercised command through the armed forces general staff, the chief of which was always an army general officer. The general staff office had sections that handled and coordinated matters concerning the army, the navy, and the air force.

The Presidential Escort Regiment also came under the direct command of the president. Personnel assigned to this elite unit numbered some 1,500 in 1988, all of whom were screened for personal loyalty to the president. The unit's headquarters and assets were located in the capital. Administratively part of the army, the regiment was primarily an infantry element, but was also equipped with a small motorized police unit. It was assigned to protect public officials, including the president.

Below the chief of the armed forces general staff were the commanders of the army, navy, and air force. These three commanded all tactical and support units of their respective service. Each service had its own staff made up of the usual sections: personnel, intelligence, operations, and logistics.

The nation was divided geographically into six military regions. The first military region had its headquarters at Asunción and covered the Central, Cordillera, and Paraguarí departments (see fig. 1). Within it were located the headquarters of all three services, the Presidential Escort Regiment, and most training establishments and combat support units. The bulk of naval and air force assets were also located there, as were historically powerful cavalry, and infantry division and artillery battalions. The second military region, headquartered at Villarrica, comprised the departments of Guairá, Caazapá, and Itapúa. The third, headquartered at San Juan Bautista, covered the Ñeembucú and Misiones departments. The fourth military region included the Amambay, San Pedro, and Concepción departments and was headquartered at Concepción. The fifth had its headquarters at Puerto Presidente Stroessner and covered the Caaguazú, Alto Paraná, and Canendiyú departments. The sixth military region, headquartered at Mariscal Estigarribia, encompassed the departments of Presidente Hayes, Boquerón, Nueva Asunción, Chaco, and Alto Paraguay. The armed forces had an extensive training program for both officers and NCOs. The senior school for officers of all three branches was the National War College, which was run by the Ministry of National Defense. Established in 1968, it offered courses designed to prepare officers for command of larger units. The curricula also included the study of political, social, economic, and military problems of national importance. Located in Asunción, the National War College also admitted senior civil servants.

Two army-run establishments also trained officers from all three branches. The first was the Command and Staff School at Asunción. Long-held plans to establish a separate naval command and staff school continued to be frustrated by financial constraints as of 1988. The army also ran the Francisco López Military College, the nation's triservice military academy. The academy offered a fouryear program of military studies and graduated commissioned officers. Entrance to the academy was by examination and, because of the opportunities available to military officers, competition for acceptance was keen. Many cadets attended a four-year military preparatory school, the Liceo Militar, before matriculating to the academy.

Reserve officers of all three services were trained at the army's Armed Forces Officer Training School. The army also ran the Military Instruction Center for Reserve Officer Training, where military personnel from all three branches, as well as civilian officials, received instruction in internal security and publicorder issues.

Because most of the lower ranks were filled by two-year conscripts, the necessity for a highly trained cadre of career NCOs was well recognized. Most NCOs were trained primarily in their respective service, although specialists in a few fields, including medicine, studied at triservice schools.

Conscripts, who were trained in their respective service, received much of their basic instruction in Guaraní, the language of the indigenous Guaraní Indians (see Indians , ch. 2). About 95 percent of the nation's population was of mixed Guaraní and Spanish descent, and an estimated 90 percent of the population spoke Guaraní. The military's use of the language was believed to have strategic value because during the Chaco War, the Bolivian military could not understand messages sent in Guaraní.

Since the mid-1950s, the armed forces establishment has been most strongly influenced by Brazil and Argentina, both of which maintained military missions in the nation and supplied most of the country's military equipment. The United States also maintained a military attaché in Asunción, but United States military influence was limited. During the 1980s, United States military assistance was confined to grants under the International Military Education and Training program, under which Paraguayan officers studied in various United States military schools. Paraguayan military officers also regularly attended the Inter-American Defense College in Washington, D.C. During the 1980s, Paraguay purchased a small quantity of military equipment from the United States under the Foreign Military Sales program. This matériel consisted principally of communications equipment and spare parts intended to be used for disaster relief, search and rescue, and the interdiction of narcotics traffic.

Paraguay joined the Inter-American Defense Board in 1942, which maintained a headquarters and staff in Washington, D.C., and acted as a military advisory group to the Organization of American States, of which Paraguay was also a member. The nation also joined with the United States and twenty other Latin American nations in 1945 to sign the Act of Chapultepec, in which each agreed to consult on any aggression against a cosignator. In 1948 Paraguay became a signatory to the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (Rio Treaty), in which the United States and other Latin American and Caribbean countries committed themselves to work toward the peaceful settlement of disputes and collective selfdefense in the Americas. Paraguay was also a signatory to the 1967 Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America (Tlatelolco Treaty). In 1970 it signed the Treaty on the NonProliferation of Nuclear Weapons and in 1975 accepted the Biological Weapons Convention, which prohibits the development, production, or stockpiling of such weapons.

Data as of December 1988

Country Listing

Paraguay Table of Contents