Country Listing

Ecuador Table of Contents



Organization and Equipment


Figure 18. Major Military Installations and Deployment, 1989

The army was the dominant service; its personnel strength of approximately 40,000 in 1989 was nearly four times the combined strength of the navy and air force, and its commander normally held the rank of four-star general. The army had four theaters of operation, commonly known as defense zones, with headquarters in Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca, and Puyo, respectively (see fig. 18).

The army's principal operational units consisted of twelve brigades, all odd-numbered, running in sequence from the first to the twenty-third. The first ("El Oro"), third ("Portete"), fifth ("Guayas"), seventh ("Loja"), and thirteenth ("Pichincha") brigades were infantry units with headquarters at Machala, Cuenca, Guayaquil, Loja, and Quito, respectively. The army deployed two jungle brigades in the Oriente (eastern region): the seventeenth ("Pastaza"), with headquarters at Mera, and the nineteenth ("Napo"), based at Puerto Napo. The ninth Special Forces brigade ("El Patria")--an outgrowth of a special paratroop detachment formed in 1960 to combat leftist guerrillas in the Oriente--had its headquarters at Latacunga. The eleventh armored brigade ("Galápagos") deployed from Riobamba. Three other specialized brigades, the twenty-first (logistics), the twenty-third (corps of engineers), and the fifteenth (army aviation), operated out of Quito. Originally confined to transport, communications, training, and geographic survey duties, the fifteenth brigade expanded into battlefield logistic support following the delivery in 1981 of French Puma, Super Puma, and Gazelle helicopters.

Combat brigades generally consisted of three battalions. Although not all brigades were at full strength, key units such as the Loja brigade near the Peruvian border had full complements or even additional reinforcements. States of readiness varied because personnel primarily consisted of one-year conscripts, some of whom received minimal training. Brigade commanding officers generally held brigadier general rank, although some were led by senior colonels. The commanders of the Pichincha, Guayas, Portete, and Pastaza brigades served concurrently as commanders of their respective theaters of operation.

The army's standard infantry weapons consisted of the Belgian FN FAL 7.62mm rifle and the Israeli Uzi 9mm submachine gun, the latter employed for counterinsurgency operations. The FN MAG 7.62mm was the standard machine gun, although the army still had .30- and .50-caliber machine guns of United States origin and 81mm mortars in its inventory. Armored vehicles included French-origin light tanks and four-wheeled reconnaissance vehicles, as well as Cascavel armored cars from Brazil (see table 20, Appendix). Most of the army's approximately 100 armored personnel carriers were French and Brazilian wheeled models, although it also had some tracked M-113s from the United States. A large order for obsolete medium tanks and armored personnel carriers from Argentina had to be cancelled in 1988 because of the deepening financial crisis.

Data as of 1989