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Figure 12. Organization of the Armed Forces, 1989

Mission and Organization

The fundamental mission of the FF.AA. is to defend and preserve national independence, security, stability, sovereignty, and honor; ensure the rule of the Constitution; guarantee the stability of the legally constituted government; and cooperate in the national development of the country. According to the 1967 Constitution, military personnel may not deliberate on or perform any political action, although this provision was often disobeyed in the past. In 1989 the FF.AA.--consisting of the military high command and the army, air force, and navy--totaled 27,600 members. Conscripts accounted for about 19,000 armed forces members (army, 15,000; navy, 1,800; and FAB, 2,200).

The Constitution makes the president of the republic head of the military, with the title of captain general of the armed forces (see fig. 12). The president appoints the commander in chief of the FF.AA., the chiefs of staff of the three military services, and other commanding officers. The president also proposes military promotions to Congress. Operational command of the FF.AA. is exercised jointly by the chiefs of staff through the Committee of Chiefs of Staff, a component of the EMG. Using other military-related presidential powers, the president may declare-- with the approval of the Council of Ministers--a state of siege to deal with an emergency situation, but for a period not to exceed ninety days, except with the consent of Congress (see The Executive , ch. 4). Under a state of siege, the chief executive may increase the FF.AA., call up the reserves, collect taxes, or negotiate loans. In 1986 the Paz Estenssoro government declared a state of siege to counter strikes by mineworkers and teachers; Congress approved a ninety-day extension. President Jaime Paz Zamora (1989- ) gave orders to the FF.AA., on administrative matters only, through the minister of national defense (for the army, navy, and air force). Headed by the president, the CSDN also serves as a body through which senior military officers advise the president and cabinet on national security matters.

Another national security decisionmaking body, the National Security Council (Consejo Nacional de Seguridad--Conase), was under the EMG. In early 1989, Conase was directed by a general, who headed its Permanent Secretariat (Secretario Permanente).

Under the Paz Zamora government, the minister of national defense was responsible for administrative supervision of the FF.AA. On technical matters and in the event of war, the military receives orders through the commander in chief of the FF.AA., a position that has been rotated among the three services every two years. Each service is headed by a commander, aided by a chief of staff (Jefe del Estado Mayor) and an inspector general.

In November 1988, the military was pressing for constitutional reforms, involving nonmilitary as well as specifically military provisions. Proposals included defining the armed forces as "the fundamental institution of the state, charged with the mission of preserving Bolivia's national independence, sovereignty and honor, territorial integrity, peace, and internal and external security; guaranteeing the stability of the legally constituted government; and cooperating in the integral development of the country." Several leading politicians saw the reference to the internal security role as a backdoor attempt to reintroduce the national security doctrine that they claimed inspired most of the military coups.

The Ministry of National Defense was organized into a ministerial cabinet (gabinete ministerial) headed by the minister of national defense. Within the ministry were five general directorates: administration and budgets, logistics, territory, planning, and internal management control. In addition to the directorates were the Subsecretariat of Maritime Interests, the National Directorate of Civil Defense, six military regions, and sixteen (dependency divisions).

Data as of December 1989

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