National Bolivarian Armed Forces of Venezuela

The National Bolivarian Armed Forces of Venezuela are controlled by the Commander-in-Chief and a civilian Minister of Defense. In addition to the army, navy, and air force there is also a national guard and national militia primarily focused on internal security.
The armed forces primary purpose is to defend Venezuelan territory from attack, combat drug trafficking, provide search and rescue capabilities, aid the civilian population in case of natural disasters protection, as well as numerous internal security assignments., the armed forces had 123,000 active personnel and 8,000 reservists.


Independence era

The origin of an organized and professional armed forces in Venezuela dates to the Spanish troops quartered in the former Province of Venezuela in the 18th century. Politically and militarily until the creation of the Captaincy General of Venezuela in 1777, the Province of Venezuela depended on the Real Audiencia of Santo Domingo or the Viceroyalty of New Granada for the defense of the area. In 1732 the Spanish crown created a Military Directorate and established a number of battalions, and had a few units from infantry regiments based in Spain arrive in the area. Reform of the military in the colonies began a few decades later. The first squadrons of cavalry arrived from Spain in 1751. The first batteries of Artillery were officially raised just two years later. Both Creole whites and blacks were allowed to enter the ranks of the artillery companies. That same year, a Fixed Caracas Battalion was established. Until the creation of this battalion, defense had been based on small colonial militia companies, which initially only accepted whites. Gradually, this racist policy yielded and the entry of mixed-race people was allowed in the militias. It was from these various units that the bulk of the officers who fought in the battles of the Venezuelan War of Independence emerged. Among them were Generalissimo Francisco de Miranda, Simón Bolívar, General in chief Santiago Mariño, Rafael Urdaneta, among many other heroes. With the establishment of an independent captaincy general in the latter half of the 18th century, the Spanish troops quartered in the province passed to the direct command of Caracas. The troops in the other provinces of the country, under the command of local governors, were overseen by the Captain General of Caracas, who served as commander in chief of the armed services. In this way a series of autonomous units was created for the peoples of the area and for defense duties, open to all fit males regardless of color. Aside from these the Spanish Navy also operated naval bases in the Captaincy General's territorial coastline, open to both whites and blacks as well.
Already in the early 19th century, many of these Venezuelans who had formed the bulk of the officer corps at the start of the formation of the national armed forces began to arrive in the country after participating in military campaigns abroad in the American Revolutionary War, the French Revolution, or after completing their studies in Europe. With them came a number of mercenaries and volunteers of many different nationalities: English, Scottish, Irish, French, German, Brazilian, Poles, Russians, and others. It was only in 1810 in the aftermath of the coup d'état of 19 April that year that formally began the process of raising the national armed services. Several of the military officers of the colonial military forces supported the coup and the subsequent creation of a junta. That Supreme Junta later appointed Commander Lino de Clemente to be in charge of defense affairs for the Captaincy General, and thus the armed forces began to be formed through their efforts, including the opening of a full military academy in Caracas for the training of officers, later joined by a naval academy in La Guaira for naval officer education the following year.
It could be said that in the first two decades of the 19th century, the nascent Liberation Army and Navy, was in the midst of the intellectual training of their military cadres, in various attempts to unleash the revolutionary war, and trying to build a modern army and navy. In the midst of that task came the generalissimo Francisco de Miranda, and the Liberator Simón Bolívar, who called for immediate action to, once and for all, ensure the independence of the nation, achieved through the aforementioned 19 April coup of 1810 and later through the formal enactment of the 1811 Venezuelan Declaration of Independence. Bolívar surprised his military colleagues, when he rejected part of the Napoleonic military assumptions, habits and behaviors, took more British soldiers and those from other nations, and even through third parties requested the assistance of the British Crown for the formation of the regular army and navy for the growing republic. And he did made no mistake indeed: the 19th century, ultimately, was dominated by British and Prussian military influences. Once in battle, Bolívar began to develop his own tactics, military strategies and practices, whose legacy remains till this day in the National Armed Forces, and led to victory after victory and the full liberation of not just Venezuela, but of northern South America, through battles in both land and sea until the wars ended in 1824.

Military rule

During the second half of the 19th century, a school for officers continued, a standing Army, weapons, and creating new services including the Corps of Sappers. This phase of the Venezuelan Army, is marked by infighting and a domain of local militias with no training. The little outside help in military matters at this stage is limited to the British and the later Chilean military missions, which began the long modernization of the army and navy. The military figures of the armed forces who were the most important at this stage were Marshal Juan Crisóstomo Falcón, General in Chief Cipriano Castro, Brigadier General Ezequiel Zamora and Manuel Ezequiel Bruzual.
Already in the first half of the 20th century, President General in Chief Juan Vicente Gómez, who originally based on the plans of General in Chief Cipriano Castro, began a thorough modernization in the armed services, but does not create a new army as some historians point out. This modernization was done with the help of instructors and advisers from Chile, France, Italy and Germany. The late Prussian influence did not reach the Venezuelan Army from the Germans, but from the Chilean military instructors in 1910. One of the most important reforms undertaken during the Gómez regime of the National Armed Forces, which began in 1910 with the aim of making the national armed services uniform, modern and technically advanced in this era of the 20th century.
The reform coincided with the centennial anniversary of the Venezuelan Declaration of Independence, which contributed to the doctrinal and political cohesion of the army and the navy. The most important milestones of this reform were:
In 1910, operation of the Military Academy of Venezuela that was reformed in 1903 started, and within it, the Naval Academy, establishing the School of Application for Military officers in active service with the aim of upgrading their military expertise. In 1913 the Superior Technical Office responsible for the development of military doctrine, organization and training of the army, was founded.
In 1920 the Military Aviation School of Venezuela was established. It was located in Maracay and was inaugurated the first of January of the next year to train the nation's military pilots.
In 1923/1930 a new Code of Military law was adopted that superseded all previous military laws and responded to the new political and military situation in the country. This process was accompanied by the modernization of the infrastructure, provision of arms, equipment, uniforms and a sustained growth of the military budget, which was made possible by oil revenues. The reform had a strong German influence. This is due mainly to the fact the Prussian/German army was the most modern of the era and in this sense become a model internationally.
The most important political consequence of this reform, from 1913, was a sense of the rising political power of the Venezuelan military while retaining its traditional role as the defense forces of the State. Since 1914 Gomez always retained the post of Commanding General of the Army, even when not holding the presidency of the Republic. The power base of support of the regime after 1913, apart from the liberals and nationalists, was the armed forces, which became an essential element of repression to ensure public order and national progress.
At this stage the military and political figures more relevant, were General in Chief Eleazar López Contreras and Major General Isaías Medina Angarita, both Presidents of the Republic. With Angarita's ouster in 1945, civilians took over the government for the first time since 1922, albeit only briefly, but it was during those times that the Venezuelan Air Force was officially founded. The ouster of Angarita saw the participation of what is now today the 411th Armored Battalion "General in Chief Juan Francisco Bermudez", whose M3 Stuart light tanks and Jeeps saw action, and which foresaw the beginning of the modernization of the armed services.
The second half of the 20th century, was just as turbulent for the entire Venezuelan military, but it was projected into the future as a modern force for the coming years, though not yet cohesive. Already under the government of Major General Marcos Pérez Jiménez, who led the country as president and Commander in Chief from the early 1950s to 1958 and the American influence, which started with the 1944 arrival of the first US military mission, became more prominent then in the entire history of the armed forces. So jealous of the Venezuelan Army, over the subsequent decades, the armed forces kept a precarious existing French influence, as a balance to the overwhelming American influence in the armed forces. Between the years 1945 and 1952, there was a major program of military equipment purchases almost monopolized by the United States plus the military missions sent by that country, and later repeated again in the early years of the decade of the 1970s, albeit in a more balanced way by their countries of origin.

Fourth Republic government

At this time, the armed forces were composed of the traditional air force, army, navy and national guard.
The armed services made their mark in the 1960s in stopping anti-government actions and even two rebellions from within its very own ranks. The 1970s were also marked with the Carabobo Reorganizational Plan, aimed to enhance the capability of the Army and marked an increase of regular army units and materiel. The Air Force, Navy and National Guard increased their capabilities as well with modern equipment to satisfy all those who serve. Born again under a turbulent internal and external picture for the nation is the modern National Bolivarian Armed Forces, in the midst of the economic crises of the 1980s and the subsequent military coups of the early 1990s.

Bolivarian government

Under the governments of Hugo Chávez and his successor Nicolás Maduro, the armed forces have undergone significant changes, including in its name. There has also been a political change in partnerships switching from cooperation with the United States and its allies to expanded cooperations with Russia as the biggest of those new military allies.


The military doctrine of the armed forces today is based on policy laid out by the late Hugo Chávez. Chávez stated that the duty of the national military was to be "essentially patriotic, popular, and anti-imperialist." According to Chávez's policy, the military would also follow defense principles of a "people's war of resistance" against the enemies of the republic and to assist in "internal order," as well as participate in government economic development plans and programs for the benefit of the people of Venezuela.

Mission statement

According to the Article 3 of the Armed Forces Organic Law, the fundamental mission of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces is to ensure the independence and sovereignty of the nation and ensure the integrity of the geographical territories of the country, by means of military defense, cooperation in the maintenance of internal order and active participation in national development.

Organization and structure

The President of Venezuela is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces under constitutional provisions, thus he has overall supervision and control over it. He also appoints the Minister of Defense, the commandant of the Operational Strategic Command and the commanding generals of the service branches and has full authority over all uniformed personnel. In doing this, he is assisted by the Commander-in-Chief's General Staff.

Ministry of Defense

The Venezuelan Ministry of the People's Power for Defense is the federal-level organ responsible for maintaining the Venezuelan armed forces. As of November 2014, this ministry is headed by General Vladimir Padrino Lopez, who replaced Admiral Carmen Meléndez who was appointed Venezuela's first woman minister of interior. The ministry coordinates numerous counter-narcotics operations, organizes various civil protection measures and operations, and generally oversees the conventional military capabilities of Venezuela. The office of minister is filled by a general or flag officer of the armed forces with the rank of general or admiral in chief.

High Command Authorities and National Armed Forces Council

He or she is assisted in his functions by the Military High Command of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, which consists of the Minister of Defense, the Chief of Inspectorate General for Defense, the Commandant of the Operational Strategic Command, the Commanding General of the Army, the Commanding General of the Navy, the Commanding General of the Air Force, the Commanding General of the National Guard, and the Commanding General of the National Militia General Command. The National Armed Forces High Council is made by the Military High Command. It is the principal organ for consultation and advice of the President of the Republic, of the National Defense Council and Minister of Defense, on issues of organization, operation, development and employment of the Armed Forces, either in peacetime or in state of emergency. Per the 2014 amendments to the Armed Forces Organic Law, the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the OSC is now renamed as the National Armed Forces Senior General Staff Authority, and now has been expanded, led by the Minister of Defense and the Commandant of the OSC, and assisted by the Assistant Commandant and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, service branch commanding generals, commanding generals of the Integral Strategic Defense Regions, and a secretary general of the HCA.

Other decentralised directorates

Operational Strategic Command

The Operational Strategic Command is the highest organ of command of the National Armed Forces. It was created by the current Article 60 of the Organic Law of the National Armed Forces as amended in September 2005. It reports to both the President and to the Minister of Defense and is responsible for coordinating the action of military units belonging to the different service branches of the Armed Forces. The Commandant may or may not be also a concurrently serving Minister of Defense in some cases.
The newly created military regions are subordinate to the OSC, NBAF, alongside the air defense units of the Army, Air Force and Navy under the banner of the OSC Air Defense Forces Command, albeit being commanded by an Air Force general officer, as of 2017 Division General Juan Manuel Diaz.

Military regions

The Integral Strategic Defense Regions or ISDRs were formally activated on 13 September 2008, in compliance with the provisions of the amended Organic Law of the National Armed Forces. Equivalent to a military district, these regional commands are mandated to serve the defense, social and economic needs of their respective areas of responsibility. These are divided into the Integral Defense Operations Zones or INDOZ subdivided into state commands and in the Maritime Region, 4 Maritime and Insular Integral Defense Operations Zones, created in July 2015.
A brand new region, the National Capital Region Command, was created on 7 July 2016.
Short nameNameStatesGeneral/Flag Officer Commanding
REDI CapitalNational Capital Integral Strategic Defense RegionVargas, Miranda, Capital District.
Major General Alexis Rodríguez Cabello, Venezuelan Army
REDI CentralCentral Integral Strategic Defense RegionAragua, Carabobo and Yaracuy.ADM Giuseppe Alessandrello Cimadevilla, Venezuelan Navy
REDI OccidentalWestern Integral Strategic Defense RegionFalcón, Lara and Trujillo.MGEN Elias Moreno Martínez, Venezuelan Army
REDI Los LlanosPlains Integral Strategic Defense RegionApure, Portuguesa, Barinas, Guarico and Cojedes.Major General Ivan Hidalgo Terán, Venezuelan Air Force
REDI OrientalEastern Integral Strategic Defense RegionAnzoátegui, Monagas and Sucre.Major General Sergio Marcano, Venezuelan National Guard
REDI GuayanaGuyana Integral Strategic Defense RegionBolivar and Amazonas.MGEN Carlos Leal Telleria, Venezuelan Army
REDI Marítima e InsularMaritime and Insular Integral Strategic Defense RegionDelta Amacuro, Nueva Esparta and Miranda Insular Territory plus the Federal Dependencies, with additional responsibility over the territorial waters of Venezuela.ADM Eladio Jiménez Rattia, Venezuelan Navy
REDI Los AndesAndes Integral Strategic Defense RegionMérida, Tachira and Zulia.MGEN Carlos Martínez Stapulionis, Venezuelan Army

Service branches

The armed forces is divided into six service branches, the Army, Navy, Air Force, National Guard, National Reserve and the Territorial Guard. The Army, Navy, Air Force and National Guard will serve under the Strategic Operational Command, the National Reserve and the Territorial Guard will serve under the National Reserve and Mobilization Command, since 2009 now called as the National Militia General Command.

Main branches


The Venezuelan Army, is made up today of roughly 130,000 troops. Its main function is planning, implementing and monitoring terrestrial military operations in coordination with the other components of the national armed forces, in pursuit of the Integrated National Defense mission.
Currently, it is organized in six operating divisions plus the other components: the Army Aviation Command, 6th Corps of Engineers, Army Logistics Command, and Army Education Command. It is composed of armored units, infantry, engineers, special forces and artillery, with resources that allow it to develop various types of airlift operations. It is the largest military branch of Venezuela's armed forces. Its current commanding general is Major General Juan de Jesús García Toussaintt.


The Venezuelan Navy and Marines primary mission is to implement, manage and control naval operations, naval aircraft, and the Coast Guard in support of Navy activities to ensure the execution of plans of employment.
The staff is estimated at 60,000 personnel including 12,000 Marines and 600 personnel from the Naval Aviation. There are five major commands: Naval Logistics Command, Naval Personnel Command, Naval Education and Training Command and the Naval Operations Command, which in turn is composed of the following commands: Fleet Forces Command, Riverline Command, Naval Aviation Command, Coast Guard Command and the Marine Division. Operationally, the country is divided into two Naval zones; Western Naval Zone and Eastern Naval Area that currently covers the Atlantic coast. The activation of the projected areas: Central Naval Area, Atlantic and South is currently in the planning stages.
Navy Day is celebrated on the date of Simon Bolivar's birthday, 24 July, the day of the final battle of the Venezuelan War of Independence, the Battle of Lake Maracaibo, in 1823. The Commanding General of the Navy is Admiral Franklin Montplaisier.

Air Force

Founded in 1946 through the merger of the army and navy aviation wings, the Venezuelan Air Force is organized the same as the other military components, with the following commands: Air Operations Command, the Air Defense Forces Command, the Airborne Command, the Air Logistics Command, the Air Personnel Command, including the Air Force Police and the Air Force Corps of Engineers, and the Air Education and Training Command, including the Air Force Academy, Air Personnel Training School, and the Air Power College. Its main objective is to protect the airspace of Venezuela in coordination with the other components of the National Armed Forces. In 2007, the Air Force was renamed as the Bolivarian National Military Air Force of Venezuela and has gone into an expansion and modernization program. The Commanding General of the Venezuelan Air Force, as of July 2015, is Major General Edgar Valentín Cruz Arteaga.

National Guard

The National Guard of Venezuela, according to the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, is a military corps with police functions. With roughly 70,000 troops, its organized into 9 regional commands and 24 state level zone commands, with plans to expand that number to fifteen commands. Additionally, there is the Coastal Surveillance Command, the Air Support Command, the Corps of Engineers, the Logistics Support Command, the National Guard Command School and the National Guard Academy and the various other institutions under its Education Command. It is planned to structure the National Guard in divisions, under the command of the Territorial Commands. In 2007, the National Guard was renamed as the Bolivarian National Guard of Venezuela, and was expanded even further to include the People's Guards Command in 2011 and the Anti-extortion and Sequestration Command in 2013, with a Social Action Division in the planning stage as of present. The Commanding General of the National Guard is Major General Nestor Luis Reverol Torres.

Other branches

National Militia

The Venezuelan militia traces its origins to both the long struggle against Spanish rule by the indigenous peoples of Venezuela and the militia battalions raised in the 18th century during the Spanish era, that later formed the basis of the armed forces upon the independence of the nation, and two militiamen from that period, Jose Maria España and Manuel Gual, began the long road towards national independence with their failed revolt of 1797. It was only in the 21st century that the militias were revived this time as a full branch of the armed services of Venezuela, formed on the basis of the various reserve commands of the National Armed Forces first as the Armed Reserve Forces, then as the National Reserve and Mobilization Command, and from 2008, as the National Bolivarian Militia.
Today the General Command of the National Boliviarian Militia is divided into two major commands:
1. The National Reserve Service, consisting of all Venezuelan citizens who are either not in active military service, have completed their military service, or serve voluntarily in the military reserve.
2. The Territorial Guard Component, consisting of all Venezuelan citizens who voluntarily serve to organize local resistance to any external threat to national independence in all levels of society.
A third component, the People's Navy Branch, created in 2013, serves as a naval militia component composed of volunteer national servicemen and women contributing to the defense of the nation's maritime waters and coastline. It is itself divided into the Naval Reserve and the Workers' Naval Employment Territorial Militias, part of the TGC.
At present the National Militia is organized on the basis of nine Reserve groupings, present throughout the national territory, dozens of Special Resistance Corps and territorial militia units nationwide, plus a newly created national guards brigade. It is an autonomous and auxiliary force for the Armed Forces' service branches, with its own chain of command and service arms, reporting directly to the President, the Minister of Defense and the Operational Strategic Command. It can be estimated at the present time about 400,000 men and women are on various training levels, but the target of its authorities is to reach 1,100,000 part-time national servicemen and women, including a newly raised youth cadet arm for university students and a women's militia component. Today more than 150,000 men and women serve actively in the militia, with plans to have a half-a-million-strong active militia force in 2015. And as part of its expansion the National Militia has been active in training exercises with the other service branches in preparation for the duties of national wartime defense.
In honor of the reservists' honorable service during 13 April 2002 coup d'état in defense of the presidency, armed forces and the people, that day, which also honors its formal foundation, is celebrated yearly as National Militia Day.
The commanding general of the National Militia is Major General Cesar Vega González, Venezuelan Army.

Presidential Honor Guard

The is the joint service military unit mandated to ensure the immediate security of the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and his First Family and for the performance of public duties in the most important places in the country. The most distant antecedents of the Presidential Honor Guard go back to the Hussars Troop of Bolivar, of the Venezuelan War of Independence and of the larger Spanish American wars of independence, raised in June 1815 and part of a more bigger guards brigade targeted for the immediate security of the Liberator, and the early 20th century 1st Cavalry Regiment "Ambrosio Plaza" that until the 1950s, albeit reduced to squadron size, provided the ceremonial security of the President and was modeled on the Prussian practices of the late 19th century. The Presidential Honor Guard Brigade is composed today by the personnel from both the five service components of the National Armed Forces and the civil security services, and is commanded by a brigadier general or colonel or equivalent. At the moment, it is a unit of Brigade size. The Brigade provides the honor guard to the President in State Arrival Ceremonies at the Miraflores Palace and to the President in every activity held in the grounds and at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Carabobo Field, Valencia Municipality, Carabobo, in honor of its participation in one of the final two battles of the Venezuelan War of Independence, the Battle of Carabobo on 24 June 1821, fought at the very grounds where the tomb is located, where a Guard Mounting ceremony is held daily in the midday hours. And from 2013 onward the Brigade is also charged with mounting the guard at the tomb of the late President Hugo Chávez at Fort Montana in Caracas plus in Bolivar's renovated mausoleum in the National Pantheon of Venezuela complex, also in Caracas, with guard mounting duties done daily, with all of them open to the public.
The dress uniform used by the Presidential Honor Guards mirrors the uniform of Bolivar's Hussar Troop during the Venezuelan War of Independence: red short jacket polo with black trousers or pants with sabre and scabbard, long black belt, black boots and a busby hat. The Mounted Platoon wears the Sabretache with the dress uniform when mounted in appropriate occasions like military parades. In both cases the brigade personnel carry sabres and lances with the full dress uniform. Red berets with the distinctive unit insignia are worn with the service dress green and combat dress uniforms except by personnel from the Venezuelan Air Force who are part of the brigade.
The Commanding General of the Presidential Honor Guard Brigade is Brigadier General Jesus Rafael Salazar Velasquez.

Military Intelligence

The general directorate of military intelligence, is the bureau in charge to collect all the strategic intelligence data, and to coordinate the diverse institutions or departments of military intelligence of the service components of National Armed Forces and the National Militia.
The chief of the general directorate is Brigadier General Ivan Hernandez Darlan as of 20 January 2014.


According to the law of the approved budget for the 2012 Fiscal year, the budget allocated to the defense sector, is US$4.959 billion, which represents 6.5% of Venezuela's gross domestic product. Another source indicates that the amount is $4.508 billion. This amount does not include the additional credit granted by the Russian Federation of $4 billion, half of which will be used in fiscal year 2012, and the other half in fiscal year 2013, which would bring the official FY2012 total to $6.5 billion. The Bolivarian government increased salaries annually for members of the armed forces with a 505% increase in pay between 1999 and 2014.
Venezuela's continued economic collapse has drastically curtailed, among other things, its military spending. According to the Stockholm International Research Institute, a research body whose data is used by the World Bank, Venezuela's military spending has been plummeting rapidly since 2012. Military spending was only $2.3 billion in 2016. This is a minuscule number compared to even Peru's military spending, despite Venezuela having several times as many men under arms as Peru.

Military justice

According to the article 76 of the Organic Law of the National Armed Force, the system of military justice consists of
Article 77 of the same Act specifies the support logistics and financial of the same: the Ministry of defence will provide the human, financial, material and technical resources for its proper functioning. Likewise, will seek the administrative and financial autonomy of each of the members of the system of military justice.


All men and women that are citizens of Venezuela have a constitutional duty to register for military service at the age of 18, which is the age of majority in Venezuela.

Requirements for military service

The military educational system, according to the concept of military strategy of the National Armed Forces, has a mission to educate, train and develop professionals pro-active, responsible, aware of the commitment with the defense in depth and its participated actively in the development of the country, achieving a comprehensive and interdisciplinary training that enable them to interact with the management of public or private; the education system will be geared towards a sound humanistic, scientific, research and spiritual culture that promotes leadership and educational self-management, development of competences, which facilitates the adaptation of their knowledge to the continuous transformation of science and technology, with emphasis on the observance and respect of human rights and international humanitarian law.

Bolivarian Military University of Venezuela

The Bolivarian Military University of Venezuela, was created by initiative of the National Federal Government, through the efforts of the late President Hugo Chávez, with the firm intention to promote a strategic vision for the country and accelerate the thinking and the military national strategy inspired by the ideologies of Simón Bolívar, Simon Rodriguez and Ezequiel Zamora. The university was formally launched by presidential orders on 3 September 2010, 200 years from the day of the founding of the Military Academy of Venezuela, one of the oldest military academies in Latin America, to help understand the issue of safety in a holistic manner and to respond in complex form, thru the complete integration of all 5 service academies of the National Armed Forces. The VBMU promotes the integration and educational interaction of all five service branches. Also, the military civic integration also recognizes both dimensions as a condition sine qua non for the guarantee of the security of the Venezuelan State. This University System has the mission of educating integrally all its cadets, with ethical, moral, spiritual and socialist values, to prepare them for the duties of being an officer in the National Bolivarian Armed Forces' various service arms and the militia, through a process of humanistic, scientific, technical and sporting skills, to fulfill the tasks inherent to all 5 service branches in national defence and security as well as in contributing to national development. Headquartered in Fort Tiuna in Caracas with branches in Catia del Mar and Maracay, Divisional General Alexis Jose Rodriguez Cabello serves as its president as of 2016.
The University System is composed of the following service academies and schools:
Service academies
The National Experimental University of the Armed Forces is a Venezuelan public university associated with the Venezuelan armed forces. Founded in 1974 as the National Armed Forces Higher Polytechnical Institution, it was renamed by the Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez in 1999 to its current name. Its mission is the training of civilian personnel in the NAF and all military personnel, plus civilians in educational skills, and it also offers doctoral programs and post-graduate studies.
Its president, as of 2015, is Vice Admiral Elisa Amelia Di Tizio, Deputy Minister of Education for National Defense.

Modernization and capability building projects for the Armed Forces

Mission Miranda

Mission Miranda, one of the Bolivarian Missions that were a legacy of the late President Hugo Chávez, was launched in 2004 to prepare all reserve and part-time national servicemen and women of the National Armed Forces for the important tasks of national total defense, security and economic progress.
The main goal of the armed forces, under this mission, are to organize, recruit, record, monitor, and re-train the Armed Forces Reserve and National Militia personnel with the aim of defending the integrity of the country through military defense, cooperation in maintaining internal order, and active participation in the national development.
  1. Form a structural organization of adequate reserves for the needs of the FAN.
  2. Procure the required infrastructure for the various commands of the reserve in each of the components.
  3. Procure equipment and materials for storage to be used by members of the Reserve of the Armed Forces:
  4. Develop an effective registration and monitoring program to ensure the identification, recording and location by region of the personnel of the Armed Forces Reserve.
  5. Meet the curricular plans and instructional programs for academic activities and skills of the staff of the Armed Forces Reserve.
  6. Meet the curricular plans and instructional programs for retraining of staff of the Reserve of the Armed Forces during periods of field drills.
  7. Logistically support all the processes that must be met in the organization of the Armed Forces Reserve
  8. Planning, procuring and implementing the annual budget required for the operation and maintenance of reserve units.
  9. Ensure the employment of staff that makes up the Armed Forces Reserve in the different scenarios of action foreseen in the Federal Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
  10. Incentives to seek the staff of the Reserve of the Armed Forces and the National Militiia for their recruitment.

    Mission Negro Primero

Named after the nickname of Venezuelan independence hero Pedro Camejo, this mission, another legacy of the Chávez administration, and now upgraded by President Nicolás Maduro to a Grand Mission, is aimed at upgrading the combat capabilities of all service personnel of the National Armed Forces and to strengthen the performance of the duties of national defense. Part of it is the acquisition of modern weapons and building of modern facilities and upgrading of existing buildings in all military installations.

Women in the Armed Forces

The integration of Venezuelan women in the NBAF has been completed; for the year 2014 all the service academies have the female students as well as the military high schools that previously been co-educational since the 1980s and 1990s, and today there are already women pilots and aircrews, female crew members of ships, and female personnel in combat duty in the Army, and they have reached the highest military ranks as well. The late President Hugo Chávez said in July 2012 about it: "not only is the promotion to a hierarchy, but the promotion that gives Venezuelan people. All women say that they feel proud to be in a country that promotes the inclusion of women". Currently the 4 components that make up the NBAF: the Army, Navy, Air Force and the National Guard, plus the National Militia and the Presidential Honor Guard Brigade as well, have women who choose a military career for their professional development part of their ranks as either enlisted personnel, non-commissioned officers and officers. Within these service branches, the Venezuelan military woman has achieved important positions.
Boys and girls also join together as students of the various educational institutions jointly operated by the service branches of the National Armed Forces through their foundations and the Ministry of Education from pre-school to the secondary level.
Historical dates of the achievements of the Venezuelan women in the National Bolivarian Armed Forces:
During the National Independence Day Armed Forces Promotions ceremony at the Fort Montana Barracks in Caracas on 5 July 2013, also marking 4 months after the sudden death of Hugo Chávez, President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro announcement that Admiral Carmen Teresa Meléndez Rivas, the first-ever Venezuelan female admiral in history and by then the current Presidential Secretary, would be appointed as the first-ever female Minister of Defense in the nation's history as well as in its military history. She was later promoted as the very first female 4-sun flag officer of the Venezuelan Navy and of the National Armed Forces as a whole before officially taking over her ministerial duties.

Ranks, uniforms and insignia

Military ranks

The most important reform in more than one century, was in 2008, with the enactment of the reform of the Organic Law of the National Armed Forces, which established, among many innovations, the transformation of the non-commissioned officer level "technical officer" to commissioned officer status. As part of the same reform, the rank of Major General, intermediate rank that comes after Divisional General and before the rank of General in Chief, was officially created. In the case of the Navy, the rank of Admiral in Chief, created also by the same reforms, is now equivalent to General in Chief. Thus the officer rank system used today is more compatible to those used by most armed forces.
Since 2011 the officer corps is divided into Commissioned Candidate, Regular Commissioned, Troop and Command Corps officers, the latter three, alongside the Technical Officers Corps, forming the regular officer corps and the former being composed of civilian commissioned officers.
Article 62 of the Organic Law of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces has the full order of ranks of military officers, and their equivalents in the Navy, while Article 63 of the Organic Law lists the full order of ranks for non-commissioned service personnel and Article 69 of the said law provides the military hierarchy of the enlisted personnel and ratings of the National Armed Forces.
Amendments made in 2014 for the Organic Law of the National Bolivarian Armed Forces officially give the following as the highest rank for the following officer corps:
The rank of Major General, a rank immediately below the General in Chief and above Divisional General, was established in the year 2007 in the aftermath of the Armed Forces Organic Law amendments and in the Navy, Admiral and Admiral in Chief are the equivalents today. These officers are assigned mostly to the leadership of military regions, Commanders General of Components, General Inspectorate, vice-ministers, and temporarily as Chief of the NBAF-OSC, if the Minister of Defence is an official asset, with the officeholder having the rank of General in Chief or Admiral in Chief. Before 2007 the 3 sun rank belonged to Generals in Chief and Admirals, and is equivalent to the rank of lieutenant general or vice admiral in most countries.
One must not confuse this rank with the General staff rank of Major General used in most of the armed forces of the world, which is equivalent to the second rank of general officers in most armies and several air forces.

Four-sun ranking

Since the age of the independence war in Venezuela, the most senior officer is designated as general-in-chief. From its creation, the rank was represented by three mythical suns, but with the creation in 2008 of the rank of Major General, four mythical suns are used. If used in the Navy, it is called as admiral in chief since 2008, uses the same 4 suns in the shoulder board, and the sleeve insignia used mirrors that of a full Admiral of the Fleet in the Royal Navy.

Commander-in-Chief rank and insignia

The office of the Venezuelan military supreme commander in chief has always been held by the President of Venezuela as per constitutional requirements. However, with the new law sanctioned in 2008, the "Comandante en Jefe" rank is not only a function attributed to the executive branch but a full military rank given to the president upon taking office. Upon assumption he receives a saber, epaulette, shoulder knot, shoulder board and sleeve insignia and full military uniform to be used in military events while performing the duties as president. The shoulder insignia mirrors Cuban practice but is derived from the German-styled officer rank insignia.

Rank insignia


Professional and enlisted other ranks


s are worn by some units in the National Armed Forces, with distinctive colors for some units or functions. The beret colors are as follows:
blackVenezuelan Army general issue berets.
blackVenezuelan Army Special Forces Battalions
blackVenezuelan Marine Corps.
maroonVenezuelan National Guard general issue berets.
forest greenArmy jungle infantry troops.
forest greenArmy mountain troops.
forest greenArmy irregular/counter-irregular infantry.
redPresidential Honor Guard Brigade.
redArmed Forces and Ministry of Defense General Headquarters Battalion.
red42nd Airborne Brigade.
red311th Infantry Battalion "Simon Bolivar". Wears the red beret as the one of the first and oldest active infantry battalions of the Army to be raised in the modern era.
blueVenezuelan Air Force Infantry Units and personnel of the Air Force Police.
dark blueArmy Headquarters Battalion.

Modernization program

The Venezuelan government has embarked on a massive military purchase programme. This has included negotiations for German submarines and transport aircraft, several agreements with Russia, transport aircraft and naval vessels from Spain, radars from China, home-made and designed armored light vehicles and rocket launchers, studies for Russian main battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, amongst many others. Most if not all European military hardware have not been delivered to Venezuela due to the U.S. embargo.

Surveillance radars, AK-103s and helicopters: Mi-17, Mi-26 and Mi-35

Venezuela in 2005 acquired 3 JYL-1 long range 3D surveillance radars from China at a cost of $150 million. The 3 JYL-1s, which are truck mounted, were all delivered by 2007.
Also that year, Venezuela bought 51 military helicopters from Russia, by 2008 all 51 had been delivered to the Venezuelan armed forces, the helicopters acquired were: 40 Mi-17, 3 Mi-26 and 8 Mi-35.
Then in 2006 the country purchased 100,000 Russian AK-103 assault rifles, all delivered in that same year. Chávez also claimed to have acquired a license to manufacture Kalashnikovs in Venezuela,

Su-30s and missiles

In 2006 Venezuela purchased 24 Su-30MK jet fighters also from Russia, all delivered by 2008. In order to equip those fighters the country bought a large assortment of missiles, it is estimated that Venezuela acquired: 200 laser-guided bombs types KAB-500 and KAB-1500, 50 Kh-29 air-to-surface missiles, 50 Kh-31A1 anti-ship missiles, 50 Kh-59ME TV-guided cruise missiles, 100 Vympel R-27 medium-range air-to-air missiles and 150 Vympel R-73 short-range air-to-air missiles.

Night vision equipment, sniper rifles and submarines

In 2007, the Belarusian military optics industry agreed to supply the Venezuelan army with night vision devices, and install on, as Hugo Chávez described, "every single rifle in the Venezuelan army." The deal is valued at $3–$24 million. Later that year, Chávez announced plans to purchase of 5,000 Dragunov sniper rifles from the Russian Rosoboronexport, adding that Venezuela must ready itself for a "possible U.S. invasion." It is not clear whether that deal was completed. In all, from 2005 to 2007 Venezuela purchased more than $4.4 billion in weapons from Russia.
After signing an "initial contract", Venezuela was expected in June 2007 to finalize the acquisition of five diesel Project 636 Kilo class submarines, and at a later date finalize the acquisition of four diesel Project 677 Amur class submarines. In spite of the expectations, Chávez didn't sign the deal. Ten months later in April 2008,
Venezuela decided to negotiate with Russia a loan of about $800 million for the acquisition of 4 diesel Project 636 Kilo class submarines. During that time Venezuela was also considering the purchase of 12 Il-76 transport aircraft. The submarines plus the aircraft were going to cost a total of $1.5 billion. However, this acquisition deal wasn't completed either. The negotiations for the purchase of the submarines broke down and 6 submarines that were once planned for Venezuela are now being offered to Vietnam.

Russian loans and the Chinese K-8W light jet

In September 2008, Russia provided Venezuela with a $1 billion loan to buy Russian weapons. A Kremlin source said "The Russian side has made the decision to extend to Venezuela a $1 billion loan for a military cooperation program." There is a lot of speculation about which weapons will be bought with that loan. Venezuela has shown interest on the following weapons: TOR-M1 SAM systems, T-72 tanks, Su-35 jet fighters and Il-76 military cargo aircraft. Despite of the interest and the Russian credit line, no deal has been finalized. In October 2008 Rosoboronexport informed that Venezuela was close to buying among other things a "large shipment of BMP-3" infantry fighting vehicles. However, that deal too wasn't finalized.
Also in September Chávez confirmed that Venezuela purchased 24 K-8 Karakorum trainer jets from China. The deal, which is estimated to be worth between $72–$84 million, was the biggest Venezuelan arms deal of 2008.
On 21 July 2010, one K-8W crashed during a training flight. A statement by Venezuelan Air Force commander blamed engine failure. Both pilot and assistant ejected.
Venezuela acquired an undisclosed number of SA-24 Igla-S man-portable surface to air missiles. The SA-24 Igla-S is the most advanced version built in Russia. This acquisition was only confirmed after 50 SA-24 Igla-S were paraded by soldiers in Caracas in April 2009. In reaction to the acquisition the US State Department declared: "We are concerned about Venezuelan arms purchases that exceed its needs and are therefore potentially destabilizing."
In September 2009 Russia agreed to loan Venezuela over $2 billion to finance the purchase of weapons including tanks and advanced anti-aircraft missiles. It was stated that because of lower crude prices, the country needed to borrow the money for defence spending to avoid cuts in education and health. The deal includes orders for 92 T-72 tanks and the Buk-M2, S-125 Neva/Pechora missile system and S-300 air-defence systems and also the BM-30 Smerch rocket artillery system. President Hugo Chávez stated that "Venezuela has no plans to invade anybody, or to be aggressive towards anybody," and "with these rockets it's going to be very difficult for foreign planes to come and bomb us". Chávez repeated Venezuela's commitment to developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes with the help of Russia and reiterated his strong opposition to nuclear weapons.

Contract with China for modernization of the Venezuelan Marine Corps

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said in 2012 that his government will buy amphibious tanks from China for its military. Chávez isn't saying how many of the armored vehicles Venezuela intends to buy, but says the deal signed Tuesday calls for a Chinese company to begin delivering the tanks next year. He announced the deal in a speech to troops, saying the $500 million cost will be financed through loans that China has offered Venezuela in exchange for oil shipments.
The new armored equipment arrived in the country in 2014 and are now at the service of the Venezuelan Marine Corps.

The Russian Federation gives new credit and interest in the Su-35

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said he was interested in buying Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E multirole fighter jets from Russia to enhance his country's defense capabilities. "I have already sent a statement to the government of Russia that we are ready to consider buying in the next few years Su-35 fighters to modernize and enhance our defense powers" Venezuela's national radio quoted Chávez as saying.
Russia and Venezuela have signed an agreement on a $4 billion loan for the oil-rich Latin American partner to buy Russian weaponry. "Two billion will be provided next year and another two billion in 2013," Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said.

Controversy with the United States

These acquisitions and other projects have been greeted with criticism from the United States, which opposes the government of President Hugo Chávez. The U.S. accuses Venezuela of starting an arms race, which they claim will destabilize the military equilibrium in South America. Venezuela is also accused of supplying small arms to neighboring Colombian guerrilla organizations including FARC, which is sympathetic to Chávez.
United States criticism is met with skepticism by Venezuelan authorities, who claim the weapons are needed to update the basic equipment in the armed forces. In some cases, Venezuelan armaments like the FN FAL have been in service more than 50 years. The government also claims that the U.S. has been the one to initiate arms races and de-stabilize countries by supplying subversive groups in Latin America throughout the past century.Venezuela however has publicly acknowledged its own role in the supplying of thousands of FN Fal rifles, heavy antitank weapons and air support to the Sandinista uprising in Nicaragua during 1978–1979.
In the 1990s Venezuela requested a batch of F-16C/Ds to update its F-16 fighter fleet, but the U.S. government blocked the request. In October 1997 the U.S. government approved the sale of the two crash replacement F-16s, but subsequently halted the sale. In 2005 a contract with Israel Aircraft Industries to upgrade Venezuela's F-16s was frozen following U.S. pressure. Chávez subsequently accused the U.S. of delaying the sale of spare parts to maintain Venezuela's F-16s. After remarks by Chávez that he would sell or lend the 'unused' F-16's to any country that wanted them, including Iran, the U.S. Government agreed to supply the spare parts; however, the shipment was detained at the Customs Office in Maiquetia International Airport due to security concerns.

U.S. military embargo

In May 2006, the government of the United States announced an embargo of military material and equipment to Venezuela; no American-made weapons or technology can be sold to Venezuela by any country or company. This embargo has harmed several Venezuelan purchases, as not only are U.S. technology goods unavailable, but other nations friendly to the U.S. have been pressured to block sales of arms to Venezuela, as well. This is also considered one of the reasons Venezuela has turned to Russia and China for arms, in a move reminiscent of the Cold War.
In 2005 Venezuela signed agreements with Spain to procure 12 naval transport and reconnaissance aircraft and eight naval patrol vessels. The deal is worth $1.5-2 billion dollars to the Spanish defense industry, as well as an estimated 900 new jobs, but was cancelled due to the U.S. embargo. The cancellation does not affect the eight naval patrol vessels.
Below is a list of acquisitions frustrated directly or indirectly by the U.S. embargo:
However, the Russian Federation has continued sending arms to Venezuela despite the US embargo. Russia has agreed to sell more than $4 billion worth of armaments to Venezuela since 2005 and disclosed that Mr Chávez wanted new antiaircraft systems and more fighter jets.

Caracas acknowledges problems with Iran by U.S. embargo

The Venezuela President, Hugo Chávez, acknowledged that the joint production between his country and Iran cars, has been affected by the embargo that United States keeps on the Islamic country.

Spanish Defense Minister, defends arms sales to Venezuela

The Spanish Minister of Defense, Pedro Morenes, has defended the sale of military equipment to Venezuela, and reported that a delegation from the public company Navantia has traveled to the capital of the country, Caracas, to try to sell new products to the Chávez government. Morenes has made these statements during a speech at the plenary session of the Congress to reply to an interpellation by the spokesman for Izquierda Unida, Jose Luis Centella, on the Ministry of defence plans for the coming years and the Spanish missions abroad.

Pre-military education controversy

In 2014, El Impulso reported that at Lieutenant Vicente Landaeta Gil Air Base, Venezuelan military officials forced high school students of Mary Help of Christians School participating in pre-military activities to say the following cadence:
"Quiero bañarme en una piscina llena de sangre, de sangre gringa." or, "I want to bathe in a pool of blood, of gringa blood."

This is the very example of one of the many military cadences used by the NBAF during outdoor marches and/or runs. As El Impulso reported, that cadence used during the JROTC-style activities there was anti-US in content.

Role of the military in Venezuelan politics

From 1810 up to the 1819 Angostura Congress that created Gran Colombia, and into the era of national independence since 1831, the National Armed Forces helped shaped the political, economical, social and national affairs of Venezuela, with so many military led-governments that led the nation until the late 1950s, several of them under strong military dictators. After Marcos Perez Jimenez left in 1958, the military role in government affairs ended with the framing of the 1961 Constitution and the replacement by civilian leaders of the military anti-Jimenez government that took power after the 1958 coup. However, the years that followed saw 2 coup attempts by military personnel with the help of groups disillusioned by government policies in the 1960s, and military repressions of student and civil rallies and actions from the late 60s onward, all these happening while fighting rebel groups present in the national territory and on the Venezuelan-Colombian border region. All these led up to the events of the 1989 Caracazo, in which National Guardsmen crushed anti-government actions and riots in the capital area with great severity, causing the deaths of hundreds, which in turn resulted in the coup attempts of 1992 and 1993.
By the time Hugo Chávez assumed the presidency in 1999, retired armed forces personnel who served with him were appointed to several cabinet posts and were given seats in the National Assembly. Chávez only allowed retired military personnel to run for elective posts at all levels as well as to serve in appointive government positions except for the Ministries of Defense and the Interior, per tradition led by active generals of the armed forces.
One of the advances achieved in the new Bolivarian Constitution of 1999 was to allow the right to vote in the elections to all service personnel of the armed forces without any limitation whatsoever, thus bringing it in line with other countries that allow the practice. This is the right enshrined in article 64 of the said Constitution.

Venezuelan military coup d'états

The NAF were involved in many coup d'états in national history:
Some organizations have questioned the level of politicism and influence of the armed forces in national political affairs.

Role in Venezuelan society

Humanitarian relief

The tragedy of Vargas in December 1999, brought with it several lessons, that the Government knew how to assimilate, one of them was the quick action of the FANB to assist populations in danger, and the reconstruction of devastated areas. Since then, Venezuela through the FANB, participated in numerous actions of humanitarian assistance, in several countries of the world.
It is a unit created in order to attend immediately to populations affected by natural calamities, both nationally and internationally. Task forces of this unit have provided support to countries like Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, Cuba, Haiti, Mali, among others.
It is a unit of civilian and military doctors who assists medical in remote areas of national and international geography. Between international actions that this unit has had civic-military, this medical assistance to the people of Haiti.

Military industry

Venezuela currently shows an industrial development in the defence sector, that sector still far from compared to countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Colombia or Mexico in the region, if it has meant a noticeable advance respect to the last decade of the 20th-century Venezuelan. In the opinion of Francisco Arias Cardenas : "in the 13 years of management of the current Government there has been an armed forces industry of its own, having the autonomy that lacked in the Fourth Republic, when transnational corporations controlled the military sector of the country. This advance of the Venezuelan military industry gives us a range of greater encouragement, that is what we need, and the possibility of applying our inventiveness to the development of technologies that give us genuine autonomy to defend our territory."
It was planned that Venezuela would manufacture all-terrain vehicles, trucks, ammunition, rifles, unmanned aircraft, grenades, assembled ships of small and medium-sized ports among other products, produced by state corporations, however, most of these are unable to operate due to lack of personnel, resources, and even in some cases lack of support from the government, these corporations are:


IBIDIFANB, shall develop all projects that have much impact in what is maintain operational sizing in the FANB, maintain equipment and also has the possibility of supporting the national development with the generation of some research projects, some technological lines can do good for the people of Venezuela


CAVIM is the national corporation owned by the Ministry of Defense charged with developing a national military industry by producing weapons, ammunition, uniforms and other products to be utilized by the service personnel of the National Armed Forces. It has currently demonstrated capabilities in the development and production of rifles, grenades, shotguns, unmanned aircraft, explosives for industrial use, ammunition, bulletproof vests, kevlar helmets, among other products, weapons, logistics and various utensils for use by the NAF. The company puts forward a project for the identification of munitions delivered to the defence and the country's security agency.
In January 2011, an explosion of unidentified causes and the subsequent fire scorched five CAVIM arms and ammunition depots in the state of Aragua, leading to one official fatality and nearly 10,000 people being evacuated.
On 12 February 2013, the United States Government sanctioned Venezuela's Military Industries Company, as well as other 12 foreign companies, including four Chinese firms, for the sale of arms and military technology to Iran, North Korea or Syria.


DIANCA, is the state shipyard of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. It was created in 1905 in the city of Puerto Cabello, Carabobo state.


UCOCAR is responsible for the repair, maintenance and construction of ships, equipment, systems, helmet and structures up to 1,000 tonnes, in support of the armed forces, public firms and private sector entities. Several boats have been designed, and the company has an agreement with the Dutch shipyard firm Damen, to assemble some ships to be used by the Venezuelan Navy. This firm also produces the Guardian G-25 riverine craft boats being used by both the Navy and the National Guard.


CIDAE is a scientific center making helmets for pilots.
There have been upgrades of radar, and is involved with CAVIM, in the development of unmanned aircraft among other developments. Also this research center this trying time of short-range, solid fuel rockets. Likewise, the CIDAE has designed and built a Flight Simulator for the T-27 Tucano aircraft, as well as a simulator of flight to aircraft Cessna 208 Caravan, shooting simulators, and the recovery of the test benches of PT6 engines, with 80% of Venezuelan technology, not only in the design but in the software installation and the use of materials. CIDAE participa en el proyecto del satélite Simón Bolívar con China.


ASTIMARCA. As part of the agreements between the Governments of Cuba and Venezuela, there is this joint venture. It is a shipyard overhaul, for small and medium-size vessels.


CENARECA is the manufacturer of the vehicle family all-terrain and high mobility Tiuna, manufactured in serious to the Venezuelan armed forces, and donated in small quantities to Governments of the ALBA as Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bolivia.


MAZVEN C.A. makes heavy trucks, under a joint venture with the Belarusian company MAZ. It manufactures five models of trucks including trucks for military use.

G&F Tecnología

G&F Tecnología is a Venezuelan company that develops an endogenous model of architecture technology oriented solutions derived from the design, development, implementation and operation of projects of telecommunications, information, aeronautics and electronics with increasing added value of applied knowledge. Specifically is a company manufacturer of unmanned aircraft, as well as communication equipment, and other electronic product.

Military corporations of the Ministry of Defense

In addition, the Ministry of Defense operates the following nationally owned corporations aside from CAVIM: