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Territorial Militia Troops / Milicias de Tropas Territoriales

By far the largest paramilitary force is the Territorial Troops Militia (Milicia de Tropas Territoriales—MTT), which is often described as having 1 million reservists. The MTT is organized into about 200 regiments comprising approximately 1,000 battalions. Primarily an infantry force, the MTT includes mounted units and some artillery and antiaircraft elements.

The Territorial Troops Militia (Milicias de Tropas Territoriales - MTT), a body composed exclusively of civilian volunteers, was established on May 1, 1980, and placed under the command of the MINF AR. Its creation is recognized as having marked the beginning of Cuba's official embrace of the military doctrine of the War of All the People, which has remained in force since then. Like the MNR (National Revolutionary Militia) of the early 1960s, the MTT's formation reinforced the notion of the popular will to defend the Revolution.

Most members of the MTT are women, the elderly, or retirees. Male teenagers who are too young or have not yet been called for military service are also eligible to join the MTT, as are men who are not obligated to serve as reservists. The MTT expanded from 500,000 members in 1982 to l.2 million by mid-1984. The size of the force has remained at about 1 million, despite the economic crisis.

The MTT's mission during a crisis would be to fight alongside, and provide replacements for, the personnel of the regular armed force; to help protect such strategic infrastructure as bridges, highways, and railroads; and to carry out any other measures that might be needed to immobilize, wear down, or ultimately destroy the enemy. By the beginning of the 1980s, MTT members were extensively involved in the construction of tunnels throughout the island, which would be used as shelter for the population in the event of an attack. As a result of Cuba's continuing economic difficulties during the 1990s, the time that MTT members have spent in training and preparing for their various defense-related activities has been reduced. The reduction includes a decrease in the time that MTT members have spent in carrying out joint exercises and maneuvers with regular FAR troops.

The MTT is supported through the MINFAR's budget as well as through "voluntary" donations made by citizens. Most of these donations come from workplace contributions, which are paid through weekly deductions from workers' salaries. According to the MINFAR, between 1981 and 1995, the expenses incurred for the MTT's training averaged approximately 35 million Cuban pesos (the value of the peso was typically twenty pesos for one United States dollar in the mid to late 1990s) per year. During this same period, popular contributions toward the force averaged about 30 million pesos per year. Just over half of the training expenditures went toward the purchase of study supplies and other training materials; just over one-third were dedicated for the purchase of weapons, communication equipment, uniforms, and spare parts. Other organizations also set annual funding goals with respect to their own MTT contributions. Among such organizations were the CDR (Committee for the Defense of the Revolution), the Federation of Cuban Women (Federacion de Mujeres Cubanas - FMC), the National Association of Small Farmers (Asociacion Nacional de Agricultores Pequenos - ANAP), and even the Organization of Jose Marti Pioneers (Organizacion de PionerosJose Marti - OPJM).

According to reforms for allocating MTT funds made in the system in 1995, the funds collected for the MTT are no longer sent to a central government account but remain within each municipality to support local MTT activities. Despite the country's economic hardships, the amount of funds collected through popular contributions to the MTT continued to increase after the beginning of the Special Period in the early 1990s. As of 1995, the MINFAR was paying only 14 percent of the MTT's total expenditures.

Cuba's paramilitary units -- the Territorial Militia Troops [Milicias de Tropas Territoriales], the Youth Labor Army [Ejército Juvenil del Trabajo] devoted to agricultural production, and the naval militia -- have suffered considerable degradation of morale and training since the end of the Cold War. However, their core personnel still have the potential to make an enemy invasion costly.

Soon after taking power, Castro came to doubt, with reason, the loyalty of the Army to the course the Revolution had taken on achieving power. The militia were therefore established as an alternative armed support for the regime. The original units were composed of Castro's most ardent followers. In time, however, the militia was so greatly expanded by recruitment under pressure that its revolutionary zeal was considerably diluted. By 1961 Castro transferred his favor and reliance to the newly organized Rebel Youth, who were by then his most fanatical followers.

In general, the militia is a part-time force with only light arms which are issued to them only on occasion. They are not capable of sustained combat, but are effective for controlling and coercing the general public. In addition, some selected units of the militia are specially armed and trained and are, in effect, army units specially dedicated to Fidel Castro.

Cuba cannot have solely professional soldiers because the defense is task of all, and each Cuban must reach the required military preparation; but in addition, the country does not have the enormous financial resources required to recruit soldiers by means of the economic stimulus.

The military power of the only potential enemy and the relatively small size of the population and the Cuban economy, require the national defense cannot be exclusive of a group of people, but a task of all. For that reason, one of the main missions of the Active Military Service [Servicio Militar Activo] is to prepare the citizens to fulfill his duty towards the defense of the country from the rows of the Military Service of Reserve [Servicio Militar de Reserva], the Military services of Territorial Troops [Milicias de Tropas Territoriales], the Brigades of Production and Defense [Brigadas de Producción y Defensa] or any other responsibility that are entrusted to him.

The Brigades of Production and Defense constitute the armed organization which arranges the Defense council of the Zone to develop the massive participation of the citizens in the the basic tasks, during the exceptional situations, of production and the defense. In addition they fulfill measures of civil defense and internal procedure. The Brigades of Production and Defense are created in time of peace in the centers of work and the places of residence of the population. They are integrated by the citizens who voluntarily express their desires to participate in the activities of the production and the defense during exceptional situations and that for different reasons do not belong to the regular troops, to the Military services of Territorial Troops, the organs and units of the Department of the Interior or to the organs of work of the Defense councils. Over 3.5 million citizens are members of more than 60,000 Brigades of Production and Defense.

Another main mission of the Active Military Service is to contribute to the men and women trained and in perfect physical training conditions, able to fulfill, in composition of the regular troops of the Officers' Revolutionary Armed Forces, the mission of a protective shield of the mobilization deployment of the country and vanguard of the great army of the town.




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