Monday, November 16, 2009

Venezuelan Military: OOB and TO&E

OK, here is a somewhat better Venezuelan OoB, as of 2008, provided through some stellar research my Mark Bevis. Rather than repost what he’s already turned up (and posted on the Yahoo TO&E Group), I’m going to attempt to synthesize the data at hand into a more consumable form. (Most of this information seems to come from the 2005 Military Balance, and “Venezuelan Armed Forces 1990-2000” by Jose-Mari Serrano. I’ve also added in data drawn from the SIPRI’s arms trade database).

Venezuela’s land forces total some 65,000 troops, 31,000 of which are National Guard and another 27,000 of which are 30-month conscripts. This gives the nation’s ground forces a professional military cadre of only some 7,000 soldiers, the majority of which, we may presume, are officers and/or technicians. The Army also has some 8000 reserves.

In terms of major ground units, Venezuela has 5 divisional headquarters – 4 infantry and 1 armored. There are 12 brigade-sized combat formations:

1 Armored Brigade
1 Motorized Cavalry Brigade
1 Light Armored Brigade
6 Infantry Brigades
1 Jungle Infantry Brigade
1 Light Infantry Brigade
1 Airborne Brigade

These are further broken down into:

11 Infantry Battalions
7 Cazador Light Infantry Battalions
5 Jungle Infantry Battalions
2 Airborne Battalions
3 Armored Battalions (82 AMX-30, 40 AMX-13 90)
2 Light Armored Battalions (80 Scorpion 90)
1 Mechanized Infantry Battalion (25 AMX VCI, perhaps some EE-11s)
3 Motorized Cavalry Groups (100 V-100s, 30 V-150s)
2 Mechanized Cavalry Groups (100 Dragoon 300s)
6 Field Artillery Groups (80 105mm)
1 Heavy Artillery Group (12 155mm)
1 Self-Propelled Artillery Group (10 155mm)
1 Multiple Rocket Launcher System Group (20 Self-propelled LARs)
1 Anti-Tank Missile Battalion (24 MAPATS)
2 Air Defense Artillery Groups
4 Engineer Battalions
2 Special Forces Groups
1 Army Air Regiment
3 Air Defense Artillery Batteries (these may have been expanded into Groups by now)
2 Motorized Cavalry Squadrons
1 Heavy Artillery Battery (155mm)
5 120mm Mortar Batteries

The Army’s reserves, consist of:

6 Infantry Battalions
1 Ranger Battalion
1 Armored Battalion (which is probably equipped with WWII-vintage M18s)
1 Combat Support Battalion (this may be artillery)

Marine ground forces include some 7,800 soldiers. Only 4000 of the Venezuelan Navy’s 18,300 effectives are conscripts, so we may assume that the Marines have a slightly higher level of elán and professionalism than the Army.

The Marines have a Divisional Headquarters which has 2 Marine Brigades These, in turn, contain:

6 Marine Battalions
1 Artillery Battalion (18 105mm towed artillery)
1 Air Defense Artillery Battery (6 twin 40mm self-propelled)
1 Amphibious Vehicle Battalion (25 EE-11, 10 Fuchs, 11 LVTP-7)
1 Engineer Battalion

This is primarily a paramilitary security and internal defense force, though there are some indications that Chávez wants to turn it into a Cuban-style people’s militia, armed with light anti-tank weapons, mortars and machineguns. Its 31,000 soldiers are divided into 9 Regional Commands, 3 Border Detachments and a Rural Commando Detachment.

Note that I’ve removed most “non-teeth” units from this list. Each brigade, for example, generally has a headquarters company and a logistics battalion and several other small units – electronic warfare companies, signal companies – are sprinkled about the army. As these units are generally only abstractly represented on the miniatures battlefield, I have not included them here. Units are grouped by division and brigade, with the home station of these larger units listed in parenthesis. Where possible. I’ve indicated what weapons units are armed with.

Army HQ (Caracas)
  3rd Air Defence Group “GD Asencion Barreras” (Roland 2, 40mm AA guns)
81st Air Regiment “Gen. Leon Fabres Cordero” (Caracas)
  812 Air Transport Group (fixed wing aircraft)
  813 Assault & Support Group (7 A 109, 10 Mi35, 38 Mi17, 13 other transport helicopters)
  816 Air Reconnaissance Group (reserve)

1st Infantry Division (Maracaibo)
  102 Mechanized Cavalry Group “ GD Francisco Esteban Gomez” (50 Dragoon 300)
  103 MRLS Group “GB Jose Gregorio Monagas” (20 LAR-160 on AMX-13 hulls)
  105 Engineer Bn “Gen. Carlos Soubiette”
  104 Air Defence Group (Cadre – only 1 Battery – 40mm towed guns; Saab RBS-70 on 4x4s)
  Special Operations Unit “Montero”
11th Infantry Brigade (Maracaibo)
  1103 Air Defence Bty. (40mm towed guns)
  111 Infantry Bn. “ Cor. Atanasio Girardot”
  112 Infantry Bn. “ Cor. Francisco Aramendi”
  121 Infantry Bn. “Venezuela”
  114 Artillery Group (M101 105mm Howitzers)
13th Infantry Brigade (Barquisimeto)
  131 Infantry Bn. “Gen. Manuel Carlos Piar”
  132 Infantry Bn. “Gen. Jose Antonio Paez”
  134 Artillery Group (12 M56 105mm light howitzers)

2nd Infantry Division (San Cristobal de Tachira)
  203 Artillery Bn (Cadre. – only 1 battery – 155mm)
  205 Engineer Bn.
21st Infantry Brigade (San Cristobal de Tachira)
  2103 Air Defence Bty. (6 40mm towed guns)
  211 Infantry Bn. “Cor. Antonio Ricaurte”
  212 Infantry Bn. “Carabobo”
  231 Infantry Bn. “ Gen. Santiago Mariño”
  214 Artillery Group (12 M56 105mm light howitzers)
22nd Infantry Brigade (Merida)
  2201 Motorized Cavalry Sqn. “Cor. Leonardo Infante” (10 V-100/150)
  2204 Mortar Bty (12 120 mm Mortars)
  221 Infantry Bn. “Gen Justo Briceño”
  222 Infantry Bn. “Cor. Luis Maria Rivas Davila”
  224 Artillery Group (12 M56 105mm light howitzers)

3rd Infantry Division (Caracas)
  304 Air Defence Artillery Group “Gen. Jose Felix Ribas” (RBS-70)
73rd Light Infantry (Cazadores) Brigade (Maturin)
  312 Light Infantry Bn. “Cor. Genaro Vazquez”
  731 Light Infantry Bn. “ Gen. Pedro Zaraza”
  735 Light Infantry Bn. “Cor. Francisco Carvajal”
  733 Light Infantry Bn. “Cor. Juan J Rondon”
  734 Light Infantry Bn. “Cor. Vicente Campos Elias”
  732 Light Infantry Bn. “Cor. Celedonio Sanchez”
  736 Light Infantry Bn. “ Cor. Jose Maria Camacaro”
31st Infantry Brigade (Caracas)
  311 Infantry Bn. “ Lib. Simon Bolivar”
  302 Mechanized Cavalry Group “ GB Juan Pablo Ayala” (50 Dragoon 300)
  314 Artillery Group “Ayacucho” (12 M-101 105mm Howitzers)
  305 Engineer Bn.

4th Armored Division (Maracay)
  402 AT Missile Bn. “GD Ezequiel Zamora” (24 MAPATS ATGM)
  403 Divisional Artillery Group “Gen. Bartolome Salom” (12 M114 155mm Howitzers)
42nd Parachute Infantry Brigade (Maracay)
  421 Parachute Infantry Bn. “Gen. Jose Leonardo Chirinos”
  422 Parachute Infantry Bn. “Gen Antonio Nicolas Briceño”
41st Armored Brigade (Valencia)
  4104 Engineer Co. (Bridging)
  4106 Honor Guard Co. “24 de junio” (12 120mm Mortars – probably used to fire 21-gun salutes)
  41 Mechanized Infantry Bn. “GD Jose Antonio Anzoategui” (AMX-13VTT APC) *
  412 Armored Bn. “ Gen Jose Francisco Bermudez” (41 AMX-30)
  413 Armored Bn. “GD Pedro Leon Torres” (41 AMX-30)
  414 Armored Bn. “Bravos de Apure” (40 AMX-13-90)
  415 Self Propelled Artillery Group (10 AMX F3 155mm SP Howitzers)
43rd Motorized Cavalry Brigade (San Fernando de Apure)
  4304 Mortar Bty. (12 120mm Mortars)
  431 Motorised Cavalry Group “Vencedor de Araure” (40 V-100/150)
  432 Motorised Cavalry Group “Cor. Francisco Farfan” (40 V-100/150)
  433 Motorised Cavalry Group “ Cor. Julian Mellado” (40 V-100/150)
44th Light Armored Brigade (San Juan de los Morros)
  441 Armored Battalion “GB Ambrosio Plaza” (40 Scorpion 90)
  442 Armored Battalion “GD Jose Laurencio Silva” (40 Scorpion 90)
  444 Field Artillery Group “Cor. Jose Cornelio Muñoz” (12 105mm Light Howitzers)

* Note: Most sources say that Venezuela has 25 AMX 13VTT APCs. However, the country received 66 from France back in 1972, along with 6 mortar carriers on the same hull. Perhaps only 25 are left in running condition, but Venezuela seems to have maintained its other French equipment intact during this period, so feel free to give the mech battalion a full complement of APCs.

5th Infantry Division (Ciudad Bolivar)
  507 Special Operations Unit
  505 Engineer Bn.
51st Infantry Brigade (Luepa)
  5102 Motorized Cavalry Sqn “ Cor. Hermenegildo Mujica Ramos” (10 EE-11s?) *
  5104 Mortar Bty. (12 120mm Mortars)
  511 Jungle Infantry Bn. “Mariscal Antonio Jose Sucre”
  512 Jungle Infantry Bn. “GD Tomas de Heres”
  513 Jungle Infantry Bn. “GD Mariano Montilla”
52nd Jungle Infantry Brigade (Caicara del Orinoco)
  5204 Mortar Bty. (12 120mm Mortars)
  521 Jungle Infantry Bn. “Gen. Rafael Urdaneta”
  522 Jungle Infantry Bn. “Gen. Francisco de Miranda”

*Note: Venezuela ordered 30 EE-11 Urutus from Brazil in 1984, though most sources say that they have 35. 25 of these are with the Marines. Given that the 5102 Squadron is attached to a Jungle Infantry Division and given that the EE-11 was precisely built for jungle recon, my guess is that if the other 5-10 Urutu’s exist outside of the Marines, they’re with the 5102.

Reserve Command (Caracas)
  1st Reserve Infantry Bn “Batalla de la Victoria” (Caracas)
  2nd Reserve Infantry Bn. “Combate de Maracaibo” (Maracaibo)
  3rd Reserve Infantry Bn. “Combate de los Horcones” (Barquisimeto)
  4th Reserve Infantry Bn. “Batalla de Boca Chica” (Maracay)
  5th Reserve Armored Bn. “Batalla de Vigirima” (Valencia)
  6th Reserve Combat Support Bn. “Batalla Queseras del Medio” (Caracas)
  7th Reserve Infantry Bn. “Maturin” (Maturin)
  8th Reserve Infantry Bn. “Tachira” (San Cristobal)

Note that the 816 Air Reconnaissance Group, apparently a special forces unit based in Caracas, is also part of the Reserves.

Marine Division (Meseta de Mamo)
  Special Operations Group “Generalísimo Francisco de Miranda”
  Engineer Battalion “TN Gerónimo Rengifo”
  Marine Artillery Battalion (18 105mm towed artillery)
  Marine Air Defense Artillery Battery (Saab RBS-70 on 4x4s)
1st Marine Brigade (Meseta de Mamo)
  Marine Infantry Battalion “G Rafael Urdaneta”
  Marine Infantry Battalion “Generalísimo Francisco de Miranda”
  Marine Infantry Battalion “CA Renato Beluche”
  Amphibious Vehicle Battalion “CC Miguel Ponce Lugo” (25 EE-11, 10 Fuchs, 11 LVTP-7)
2nd Marine Brigade (Meseta de Mamo)
  Marine Infantry Battalion “G Simón Bolívar”
  Marine Infantry Battalion “G José Fco. Bermúdez”
  Marine Infantry Battalion “Mcal Antonio José de Sucre”

"To what lengths will Chávez go to get his name in the news?"

Here’s my best shot at sussing out the Venezuelan’s battalion and company-level OoBs. This is mostly based on old data from the ‘90s, guesswork, extrapolations off of other South American militaries and clues gleaned from the SIRPI database.

Infantry Battalion – 1990s
HQ & Service Co.
Support Co.
  AT Platoon:
    6 106mm RR
  Reconnaissance Platoon
  Mortar Platoon:
    6 81mm Mortars
3 Infantry Companies
3 Infantry Platoons (est.)
1 Weapons Platoon (est)

Notes: Mark scared this one up. I’m not sure from which source. It shows that Venezuela, like most South American militaries, seems to have used the U.S. army of the 1950s and ‘60s as a template. It’s anyone’s guess what the Reconnaissance Platoon is armed with. It’s probably a safe bet that at least all of the 11 regular infantry battalions are provided with truck transport or could commandeer it in relatively short order. My guess is that the Cazador, Marine, Airborne and Jungle Battalions follow this same general pattern, though with less motorization, foot-mobile recon units and perhaps no AT platoons (at least in the Jungle Battalions). Company-level TO&E is just a guess. I would presume that the weapons platoon has the usual machineguns and light mortars and it’s a pretty good bet that the infantry in general will be armed with RPGs.

Mark Bevis comments: Infantry Company TOE, I suggest...

CHQ: 2(8 man) squads
3 platoons at 4(9 man) squads
       3 GPMG, 1 or 3x 84mm Carl Gustav, 4-12x 84mm AT-4 (M136) disposable LAW
1 platoon
       2-3x 60mm Brandt mortars, 2x MMG (FN-MAG on tripod)
 Purely guesstimate!  The Infantry Battalion Recce Platoon is more than likely just 3 sections of 2x Jeeps armed with GPMG at best - could be 2 sections, or even 3 sections of 3 Jeeps. For gaming purposes allow 1x AT-4 LAW per Jeep.

Thad notes: Venezuela also has some 30 old M-8 scout cars as well, according to some sources. If these are still operational, they cound very well be in the Infantry Battalion Reconaissance Platoons as 2-3 per platoon, plus jeeps. This is another plausible fielding option.

Armored or Light Armored Battalion - 2005
HQ & Service Co.
  1-2 Command tanks
3 Tank Companies
  1 Command Tank
  3 Platoons of four tanks each

Notes: This is just a guess. The Venezuelan armored units all have 40-41 tanks, so I presume that they either have this structure or four companies of ten tanks each. I’m leaning towards the above structure due to circumstantial evidence. In the first place, both the French and the Americans, whose equipment the Venezuelans use or whose TO&E templates they’ve copied, use larger platoons. Furthermore, even if the Venezuelans use a ten company tank structure, maintenance issues, especially with older weapons, would reduce the number of vehicles they could effectively field. I thus feel better with 9 maneuver unit battalion than with a 12 maneuver unit battalion.

Mark Bevis says: At 41 tanks to a battalion it would be Bttn HQ of 2 tanks and 3 Companies each of 13 tanks. Now the French use 4 platoons of 3 tanks as much as 4 tank-platoons, and my gut instinct is to go with that, but 3 platoons of 4 tanks is equally plausible for the reason you state. The two tank Battalions also have 2x AMX-30 ARV each. (Thad sez: I kept non-tooth units out of the listings for the most part).

Mechanized Battalion - 2005
HQ & Service Co.
Support Co.
  AT Platoon:
    6 106mm RR or MAPATS ATGM
  Reconnaissance Platoon
    4 APCs
  Mortar Platoon:
    6 81mm self-propelled mortars
3 Mechanized Companies
  1 Command APC
  3 Platoons of four APCs each

Notes: This is also a guess, though SIPRI registers that the Venezuelans did buy enough AMX13 APCs to outfit the whole battalion and a battery of self-propelled mortars.

Mark Bevis suggests: I would also have the Mechanised Companies as...
CHQ: 1x VCI, 1 squad
3 platoons with 4(9 man) squads each
       4x AMX-VCI, 3 GPMG, 3x 84mm Carl Gustav, 1x 60mm mortar, 8x AT-4 LAW

Artillery Group - 2005
HQ & Service Bty.
2 Artillery Batteries
    3 sections, 2 guns each.

Notes: Venezuelans batteries seem to have six guns and a distinction is made between artillery groups and battalions. It’s my guess that groups have two batteries while battalions have 3 or 4.

Mechanized Cavalry Group - 2005
HQ & Service Sqd.
3 Mechanized Cavalry Squadrons
  1 Command Dragoon
  3 Troops, each with 1 Dragoon APC, 2 Dragoon 90s and 1 Dragoon 81mm mortar carrier

Notes: There are two of these and there may be an additional independent squadron as well, all equipped with Dragoon 300s.Venezuela apparently has 11 Dragoon C3 vehicles, 25 Dragoon APCs, 42 Dragoon 90mm, and 21 Dragoon mortar carriers. Extrapolating off of the Brazilian Cavalry Squadron, we can presume that each troop has 1 APC, 2 Dragoon 90s and a mortar carrier. This would work out, roughly, to the TO&E above,

Motorized Cavalry Group - 2005
HQ & Service Sqd.
3 Motorized Cavalry Squadrons
  1 Command V-150
  3 Troops, each with 3 V-100s and 1 V-150 mortar carrier

Notes: Venezuela has 3 motorized cavalry groups and 2 independent squadrons. One or more of the independents may be armed with amphibious Brazilian EE-11s. The rest have a total of 100 V-100 and 30 V-150 armored cars divided between them. It may be that the V-150s are in fact mortar carriers, which would jibe with the general armored cavalry pattern in many South American countries. Thus the TO&E above.

As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, Hugo feels threatened and has recently gone on a weapons shopping spree. So far, this has netted him some nice SU30 Flankers and a bunch of Russian helicopters, as well as a load of new small arms and munitions. Hugo’s attempt to purchase 24 new Tucano ground attack aircraft from Brazil was blocked by the U.S., however, and there still seems to be some doubt as to whether the 90 T-72s and the BM-30 MRLs he ordered from Russia have been delivered or if he will ever receive the 135 BMP-3s he wants.

If you want to play with an up-graded Venezuelan military, though, here’s my best guess as to how this new equipment will be integrated into the Army.

The 90 T-72s will replace the elderly AMX-30s in the 412th and 413th Armored Battalions. The 414th will probably continue to use its newer AMX-13 90s, however. At least some of the surplus AMX-30s will go to Ecuador, but it’s possible that Venezuela could keep some or all of them for its reserve armored battalion.

The new MRLS will probably replace the LARS, though they may be made into an entirely new artillery group. In any case, they will probably be attached to the 4th Armored Division in any future conflict.

The 411th Mechanized Battalion will obviously receive some of the BMP3s, but there will be enough left over to arm one and possibly two other battalions. Rather than re-equip two existing battalions, it’s my guess Hugo will go for raising two new battalions, seeing as how he’s claimed several times that he wants to expand the size of the army. If this occurs, the 43rd and 44th brigades will probably be re-designated as part of a new 6th division – possibly a Light Armored or Cavalry Division. Alternatively, the 4th Armored Division could be continue as a four brigade unit, perhaps with 3 brigades each having a mechanized and armored battalion as well as a motorized cavalry group. Meanwhile, the fourth brigade would hold the 2 Airborne and Light Armor battalions. This option would allow the Venezuelan Army to use the 4th Armored Division as a sort of shock corps. In any case, we can presume that the 4th will be the spearhead of any invasion of Colombia.


  1. Global Security.Com indictes that Venezuela had x4 Infantry Divisions, and that the 5th is known as the 1st Cavalry Division @ San Juan de los Morros. SJdlM is located 80 kay S.W.of Caracas and 50 kay S. of Maracay. GS further indicates that a 6th division was to be added but did not specify location. I had previously been under the impression that VNA 5th Division was located @ Ciudad Boliver in Military Region-5.

  2. VNA ranks are unique, except for field grade and company grade officers. There are only three (3) ranks for general officers and seventeen (17) NCO/enlisted ranks. The general officers are: General en Jefe, General de Divicion, and General de Brigada.

  3. Police force, fire brigade, security services and government jobs normally do have a vacancy for military retired people. Reading minds