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Re: FOR EDIT - Cat4 - Ven - cleaning house in the armed forces

Released on 2012-03-05 09:00 GMT

Email-ID 122005
Date 1970-01-01 01:00:00
none of those dismissed were generals. going to hold on this until I can
get more info either way. there will be other triggers to explain the
restructuring of the armed forces in any case
thanks for checking me on this
----- Original Message -----
From: "George Friedman"
To: "Analysts"
Sent: Friday, April 16, 2010 12:04:05 PM GMT -06:00 US/Canada Central
Subject: Re: FOR EDIT - Cat4 - Ven - cleaning house in the armed forces

It is standard practice in the us and other military to dismiss officers
who aren't promoted. The dismissal of 173 non promotable officers in a
military the size of venezuelas doesn't strike me as significant. Every
year thousands of american officers are dismissed, usually in may and june
as postings are up.

You are trying to say that this is politically significant rather than the
routine functioning of a militay. Certainly cubans are involved but they
have been involved for years. There is no battle underway for control of
the military. Chavez and the cubans won that years ago.

In order for this story to work you either have to show that chavez's hold
was slipping or that these particular people were selected because of
politics rather than routine operations of any military

You need to look at the people let go. They may be key political figures
or half wits eating up the budget

This could be significant but the fact that these guys failed promotion
and were dismissed is not by itself important.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T


From: Reva Bhalla
Date: Fri, 16 Apr 2010 11:54:51 -0500 (CDT)
To: analysts
Subject: FOR EDIT - Cat4 - Ven - cleaning house in the armed forces

In the latest illustration of Venezuelan President Hugo Chaveza**s
Cuban-inspired plan to subdue dissent within the armed forces, the
Venezuelan Armed Forces discharged 173 members that failed to achieve
promotions during the past three years, El Universal reported April 15.
Notably, no generals were on the list of those whose jobs had been
terminated. The list included 59 members of the Army, 45 members of the
Territorial Guard 43 members of the Navy and 26 from the Air Force. Under
the July 2008 Organic Law of the National Armed Forces, military personnel
have a maximum period of two years after the end of their mandatory
minimum service to obtain a promotion, or else they are forced into

The organic law essentially redefined the Venezuelan Armed Forces from a
politically non-aligned professional institution (as stated in the 1999
constitution) to a patriotic, popular and anti-imperialist body. Chavez,
not wanting to be caught off guard again by his generals as he did in an
April 2002 coup attempt, came up with the Organic Law of the National
Armed Forces with the help of his Cuban advisors in order to develop a
Bolivarian military whose primary purpose is to protect and defend the
regime. The Cuban government, wanting to ensure Venezuelan dependency on
Cuban security, also had a role in one of the more controversial articles
in the organic law, which allows for foreign nationals (read: Cubans) who
have graduated from Venezuelan defense institutions to earn the rank of
officer in the Venezuelan armed forces.

For Chavez to feel more politically secure, some internal housecleaning in
the armed forces was to be expected. The clause in the organic law that
forces officers into retirement if they are not promoted after two years
is designed to do just that. Chavez and his military elite have been
running a system in which political allegiance frequently supercedes
military merit when it comes to awarding promotions. If, however, an
officer is deemed as ideologically opposed to the regime, he is often
forced into retirement.

While the regime has made considerably headway in cleaning house in the
army, navy and air force, the National Guard has long been a point of
contention for the Venezuelan leader. This is primarily because out of all
the military services, the National Guard has historically had the
strongest relationship with the United States. This relationship dates
back to the 1980s, when Caracas and Washington were cooperating on
countering narcotrafficking. CIA and DEA trainers were operating in
Venezuela at the time and worked closely with the National Guard. Chavez
envisioned breaking up the National Guard completely and replacing it with
his own version of a Territorial Guard comprised of hundreds of thousands
of civilian military reservists and active duty military personnel who
could engage in a**asymmetrical wara** against an external threat like the
United States. The National Guard fought its abolition by invoking the
1999 Constitution that lists the National Guard as one of the four
elements of the Armed Forces. However, the internal security force is
still subject to periodic purges. Notably, when Chavez decided to
restructure the Armed Forces into five strategic defense regions, he
assigned the National Guard commander to the Western region that consists
of the states of FalcA^3n Lara, Trujillo, MA(c)rida, TA!chira and Zulia.
This is an area where the political opposition in Venezuela is
concentrated, which allows Chaveza**s military allies to more easily
designate officers as political supporters or dissenters when it comes
time to promote or force members into retirement.

Chavez has attempted to make up for any lingering dissent within the armed
forces through the creation of the National Bolivarian Militia (NBM) in
2007 out of some 110,000 reservists, and has since reportedly grown the
force to roughly 300,000. Efforts are also underway to bolster the NBM
with peasant recruits and the possible formation of a marine militia
The purpose of the militias is to essentially act as a security orce at
the behest of the president. However, the incorporation of the NBM into
the Armed Forces structure has caused substantial consternation amongst
several within the military elite. STRATFOR sources have reported on how
the defense ministry in particular has resisted the deployment and
armament of these militias. For now, the militia training exercises are
used as photo opportunities to demonstrate a military force ideologically
bound to the regime. If the president chooses to put them to use, however,
he could face significant opposition from within the military elite. A
STRATFOR source claims that the defense ministry has kept tabs on the
militiaa**s activities by maintaining physical control over their weapons
arsenal, which consists mainly of AK-103 and AK-104 assault rifles
acquired from Russia.

With economic conditions worsening, an electricity crisis turning critical
and the political opposition beginning to rise to the occasion, Chavez is
walking a careful balance between bolstering his internal security force
and keeping his generals in check. Any significant use of the militias
would likely be an option of last resort for the regime, which will depend
primarily on cash handouts to maintain support. It thus becomes all the
more critical for the government to ensure that revenues keep flowing from
the countrya**s oil production, but that strategy may also be running into
trouble, as illustrated by recent strikes by PDVSA contract workers in
the northeastern state of Monagas who are demanding that the state oil
firm pay wages that were due in January. If PDVSA finances are in serious
trouble, then the countrya**s main source of revenue a** and thus
political insurance a** would also be in jeopardy. Meanwhile, Cuba is
well-positioned to further entrench itself in the Venezuelan security and
intelligence apparatus as the Chavez governmenta**s vulnerabilities
continue to rise.