Country Listing

Venezuela Table of Contents




Figure 10. Structure of the Armed Forces, 1990


Figure 11. Officer Ranks and Insignia, 1990


Figure 12. Enlisted Ranks and Insignia, 1990


Army troops with riot-control helmets and Uzi submachine guns
Courtesy Embassy of Venezuela, Washington


Inmates at the San Juan de los Morros Penitentiary gathering corn
Courtesy United Nations (J. Littlewood)

According to Article 190 of the constitution of 1961, the president serves as commander in chief of the National Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Nacionales--FAN). The day-to-day administration of the FAN, however, falls to the minister of national defense, traditionally a senior general officer. Other officials with responsibilities for the entire FAN were the FAN's inspector general and comptroller general.

The National Security and Defense Council, established in the 1970s, functioned as a planning and advisory body for the president on military and security matters. Its membership included the minister of national defense, the minister of interior, the minister of foreign affairs, the minister of finance, the inspector general of the FAN, the chief of the joint general staff of the FAN, and other ministers designated by the president. The council recommended policy to the president, prepared measures for its implementation, drafted mobilization and demobilization orders, and coordinated the defense efforts of national, state, and local authorities. The president appointed a permanent secretary of the council, who administered a political committee, an economic committee, a social committee, a military committee, a mobilization committee, and other committees that might be created by the president. The National Intelligence Service was a functional department of the council.

The military chain of command extended downward from the president to the minister of national defense to the commanders of the individual services (see fig. 10). The Superior Board of the FAN was a purely military organization that advised the president, the National Security and Defense Council, and the Ministry of National Defense on security and defense matters. The board consisted of the minister of national defense, the inspector general, the chief of the Joint General Staff, and the service commanders. The chief of the Joint General Staff acted as the secretary of the board. The approval of the board was required for major weapons acquisitions.

The Joint General Staff of the FAN did not exercise operational control over the services. It functioned as an advisory body and as the planning organ of the National Defense Ministry under the direction of the minister of national defense and the Superior Board. The Joint General Staff prepared strategic planning, logistics, intelligence, training, and educational policies and plans for the entire FAN. It did not have budget authority, however; each branch of service handled its own budget planning.

The assets of the FAN were assigned and deployed in five geographically defined military regions, which functioned as unified commands. Most of the forces were deployed in Military Region One, headquartered in Caracas. Military Regions Two, Three, Four, and Five were headquartered in San Cristóbal, Maracaibo, San Fernando, and Ciudad Bolívar, respectively. All air and naval assets were located in either region one or region two (San Cristóbal).

Data as of December 1990