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Venezuela Military - 2024


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Military and security forces

Bolivarian National Armed Forces (Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana, FANB): Bolivarian Army (Ejercito Bolivariano, EB), Bolivarian Navy (Armada Bolivariana, AB; includes marines, Coast Guard), Bolivarian Military Aviation (Aviacion Militar Bolivariana, AMB; includes a joint-service Aerospace Defense Command (Comando de Defensa Aeroespacial Integral, CODAI), Bolivarian Militia (Milicia Bolivariana), Bolivarian National Guard (Guardia Nacional Bolivaria, GNB)

Ministry of Interior, Justice, and Peace: Bolivarian National Police (Policía Nacional Bolivariana, PNB) (2024)

note 1: the Bolivarian Militia was added as a "special component" to the FANB in 2020; it is comprised of armed civilians who receive periodic training in exchange for a small stipend

note 2: the National Guard, established in 1937 and made a component of the FANB in 2007, is responsible for maintaining public order, guarding the exterior of key government installations and prisons, conducting counter-narcotics operations, monitoring borders, and providing law enforcement in remote areas; it reports to both the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Interior, Justice, and Peace

note 3: the PNB is a federal force created by Hugo CHAVEZ in 2008 as a “preventative police force,” separate from state and local ones; the PNB largely focuses on policing Caracas’ Libertador municipality, patrolling Caracas-area highways, railways, and metro system, and protecting diplomatic missions; the PNB includes the Special Action Forces (Fuerzas de Acciones Especiales, FAES), a paramilitary unit created by President MADURO to bolster internal security after the 2017 anti-government protests; it has been accused of multiple human rights abuses    

Military expenditures

5.2% of GDP (2019 est.)
4.4% of GDP (2018 est.)
2.9% of GDP (2017 est.)
2.2% of GDP (2016 est.)
1.8% of GDP (2015 est.)

Military and security service personnel strengths

information varies; approximately 125-150,000 active military personnel, including about 25-30,000 National Guard; approximately 200-225,000 Bolivarian Militia; approximately 45,000 National Police (2023)

note: in December 2022, President Nicolas MADURO announced that the National Police would be increased to 100,000 in 2024

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the FANB inventory is mainly of Chinese and Russian origin with a smaller mix of mostly older equipment from Western countries, including the US; in recent years, suppliers have included China, the Netherlands, and Spain (2023)

note: the US prohibited the sale or transfer of military arms or technology to Venezuela in 2006

Military service age and obligation

18-30 (25 for women) for voluntary service; the minimum service obligation is 24-30 months; all citizens of military service age (18-50) are obligated to register for military service and subject to military training, although “forcible recruitment” is forbidden (2023)

Military - note

the armed forces (FANB) are responsible for ensuring Venezuela’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity but also have a domestic role, including assisting with maintaining internal order and law enforcement, contributing to national socio-economic development, and providing disaster/humanitarian assistance; the military conducts internal security operations in large parts of the country and has been deployed against illegal armed groups operating in the Colombian border region and other areas to combat organized crime gangs involved in narcotics trafficking and illegal mining

the military has a large role in the country’s economy and political sectors; between 2013 and 2017, Venezuela established at least a dozen military-led firms in economic areas such as agriculture, banking, construction, insurance, the media, mining, oil, and tourism; military officers reportedly lead as many as 60 state-owned companies; as of 2023, 14 of 32 government ministries were controlled by the military, including the ministries of agriculture, food, petroleum, and water

the FANB is deployed throughout the country in one maritime and seven geographical regional commands known as Integral Strategic Defense Regions (Regiones Estrategicas de Defensa Integral or REDI) that are mandated to provide for the defense, security, social, and economic needs of their respective areas of responsibility; the REDIs are further broken down into zones and state commands; the Army has six divisional headquarters and approximately 20 combat brigades spread amongst the seven REDIs; the brigades are a mix of armored, artillery, infantry, military police, motorized cavalry, and special operations forces; some infantry brigades are mechanized or are specialized for airborne, jungle, mountain, or security operations; the Army also has an aviation brigade; the Navy is a coastal defense force and includes commands for operations, aviation, and the coast guard; the operational readiness of the Navy’s ship inventory has been affected by Venezuela’s economic problems; its principal operational warships include two frigates and approximately four ocean-going patrol ships; it also has two attack submarines although they are not assessed to be operational; the Navy has a marine infantry force that includes several amphibious or riverine brigades and a special operations brigade; the Air Force has less than 50 US- and Russian-made fighters and multirole fighter aircraft

the National Guard is organized into nine regional commands which control battalion and regimental size units; the Bolivarian Militia is reportedly divided into a reserve service, a territorial guard component comprised of local battalions and detachments, and a coastal guard force

members of the terrorist organizations National Liberation Army (ELN) and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia dissidents (FARC-People's Army and Segundo Marquetalia - see Appendix T) operate in Venezuela, mostly in the states of Amazonas, Apure, Bolivar, Guarico, Tachira, and Zulia; the ELN is assessed to be present in 12 of Venezuela’s 23 states; the groups are particularly active in Apure state; the Venezuelan military has been deployed to the border region to patrol border crossings and has clashed with both the ELN and the FARC dissident groups (2023)

NOTE: The information regarding Venezuela on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Venezuela 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Venezuela 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.