Military of GuatemalaGuatemala is a signatory to the Rio Pact and is a member of the Central American Defense Council (CONDECA). The president is commander in chief. The Defense Minister is responsible for policy. Day-to-day operations are the responsibility of the military chief of staff and the national defense staff.
An agreement signed in September 1996, which is one of the substantive peace accords, mandated that the mission of the armed forces change to focus exclusively on external threats. However, both former President Arzu and his successor President Portillo have used a constitutional clause to order the army on a temporary basis to support the police in response to a nationwide wave of violent crime.
The accord calls for a one-third reduction in the army's authorized strength and budget--already achieved--and for a constitutional amendment to permit the appointment of a civilian Minister of Defense. A constitutional amendment to this end was defeated as part of a May 1999 plebiscite, but discussions between the executive and legislative branches continue on how to achieve this objective.
The army has met its accord-mandated target of 28,000 troops, including subordinate air force (1,000) and navy (1,000) elements. It is equipped with armaments and materiel from the United States, Israel, Yugoslavia, Taiwan, Argentina, Spain, and France. As part of the army downsizing, the operational structure of 19 military zones and three strategic brigades are being recast as several military zones are eliminated and their area of operations absorbed by others. The air force operates three air bases; the navy has two port bases.
Military branches: Army, Navy (includes Marines), Air Force
Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 3,186,894 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 2,080,504 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 140,358 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure: $120 million (FY99)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 0.6% (FY99)
- See also : Guatemala