The Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces (Spanish: Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias—FAR) consist of ground forces, naval forces, air and air defence forces, and other paramilitary bodies including the Territorial Troops Militia (Milicias de Tropas Territoriales—MTT), Youth Labor Army (Ejército Juvenil del Trabajo—EJT), and the Defense and Production Brigades (Brigadas de Producción y Defensa).
The armed forces has long been the most powerful institution in Cuba and high-ranking generals are believed to play crucial roles in all conceivable succession scenarios. The military controls 60 percent of the economy through the management of hundreds of enterprises in key economic sectors. The military is also Raúl Castro's base. In numerous speeches, Raúl Castro has emphasized the military's role as a people's partner.
From 1966 until the late 1980s, Soviet Government military assistance enabled Cuba to upgrade its military capabilities to number one in Latin America and project power abroad. The first Cuban military mission in Africa was established in Ghana in 1961. Cuba's military forces appeared in Algeria, in 1963, when a military medical brigade came over from Havana to support the regime. Since the 1960s, Cuba sent military forces to African and Arab countries; Syria in 1973, Ethiopia in 1978, the Cuban intervention in Angola from 1975–1989, and Nicaragua and El Salvador during the 1980s.
The Soviet Union gave both military and financial aid to the Cubans. The tonnage of Soviet military deliveries to Cuba throughout most of the 1980s exceeded deliveries in any year since the military build-up during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.
In 1989, the government instituted a purge of the armed forces and the Ministry of Interior, convicting Army Major General and Hero of The Republic of Cuba Arnaldo Ochoa, Ministry of Interior Colonel Antonio de la Guardia (Tony la Guardia), and Ministry of Interior Brigadier General Patricio de la Guardia on charges of corruption and drug trafficking. This judgment is known in Cuba as "Causa 1" (Cause 1). Ochoa and Antonio de la Guardia were executed. Following the executions, the Army was drastically downsized, the Ministry of Interior was moved under the informal control of Revolutionary Armed Forces chief General Raúl Castro (Fidel Castro's brother), and large numbers of army officers were moved into the Ministry of Interior.
Cuban military power has been sharply reduced by the loss of Soviet subsidies. Today, the Revolutionary Armed Forces number 79,000 regular troops. The DIA reported in 1998 that the country's paramilitary organizations, the Territorial Militia Troops, the Youth Labor Army, and the Naval Militia had suffered considerable morale and training degradation over the previous seven years but still retained the potential to "make an enemy invasion costly.". Cuba also adopted a "war of the people" strategy that highlights the defensive nature of its capabilities.
On September 14, 2012, a Cuban senior general agreed to further deepen military cooperation with China during a visit to Beijing. He said that Cuba was willing to enhance exchanges with the Chinese military and strengthen bilateral cooperation in personnel training and other areas.
Read more about Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces: Army, Special Forces, Cuban Revolutionary Air and Air Defense Force (DAAFAR), Cuban Revolutionary Navy (Marina De Guerra Revolucionaria, MGR), Air and Naval Air Bases
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