Honduras Table of Contents
The Army of Honduras (Ejército de Honduras--EH) came into its modern form when changes were made in the previous militia system during the 1940s and 1950s. With assistance from the United States, the First Infantry Battalion was created in 1947 as a traditional infantry unit, and the Second Infantry Battalion was formed during the 1950s as a counterinsurgency unit. These two battalions remain important military commands and were headquartered near the capital city, Tegucigalpa, in the early 1990s.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the number of army combat units expanded dramatically, and major changes occurred in the organization of the ground forces. Some of these changes were politically rather than militarily motivated, as, for example, when General López Arellano created the First Infantry Brigade in 1971 to serve as his own private guard. In 1970 the army had grown to three infantry battalions complemented by an engineering battalion and an artillery battalion, which had been created immediately after the 1969 conflict with El Salvador. By the end of the 1970s, the number of infantry battalions had increased to ten, and a signal battalion had been added.
By 1983 troop strength had grown to 13,500. The army had three brigades, each composed of two infantry battalions and one artillery battalion. In addition, there were six independent infantry battalions varying in size from 400 to 1,000 men. Two of the infantry battalions formed the Presidential Honor Guard, which was based in Tegucigalpa and under the personal command of the president. There was also an engineering battalion, an armored car regiment, and a special forces unit of battalion size.
The army continued to grow in size and strength and complexity during the 1980s, reaching a peak of 15,400 in 1989. Beginning in 1990, because of severe reductions in the government's military budget, the army began to cut its troop strength, dropping to 14,500 in 1991 and then to 14,000 in 1993. (See Defense Budget , this ch.) The downward trend is expected to continue. Currently, the army is composed of three infantry brigades totaling ten regular infantry battalions, a special jungle group, one artillery battalion, one engineer battalion, and a signal battalion. A single armored calvary regiment is made up of four armored car squadrons, one reconnaissance squadron, a tank squadron, and one artillery battalion. General Army Headquarters has direct control of territorial force composed of one special forces (airborne qualified) battalion, one infantry battalion, one regular airborne battalion, the Honduran Military Training Academy, the Francisco Morazán Military Academy, the Commando School, and the Officer Candidate School.
The principal infantry weapons are Belgian FAL automatic rifles and United States-manufactured M-16s. The tank squadron is equipped with twelve British-made Scorpion light tanks, which have a 400- kilometer range and travel seventy-two kilometers per hour. These tanks give the army some rapid armored mobility because of their air transportability and high speed on the ground. The army is also equipped with towed artillery pieces, including twenty-four 105mm howitzers and four 155mm guns. Air defense capabilities are provided by thirty highly effective M167 Vulcan guns (see table 8, Appendix A).
Data as of December 1993