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Ejercito Ecuatoriano / Fuerza Terrestre
Ecuadorian Land Force (Fuerza Terrestre Ecuatoriana, FTE)

The army was the dominant service; its personnel strength of approximately 40,000 in 1989 was nearly four times the combined strength of the navy and air force, and its commander normally held the rank of four-star general. The army had four theaters of operation, commonly known as defense zones, covering the north-central region, the northwestern coastal region, the southern region and the jungle region of the east with headquarters in Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca, and Puyo, respectively.

The Ist, IInd, and IVth Zones were each garrisoned by a Division, each of which consisted of one Brigade and support units in peacetime, while the IIIrd Zone containing three nominal Divisions. There were also both a Cavalry and a Special Forces Brigade outside the divisional structure. In the mid 1990s each Military Zone became an Army Division and an Artillery, an Army Aviation, an Engineer and a Logistic Support Brigade were formed.

The army's principal operational units consisted of twelve brigades, all odd-numbered, running in sequence from the first to the twenty-third. The first ("El Oro"), third ("Portete"), fifth ("Guayas"), seventh ("Loja"), and thirteenth ("Pichincha") brigades were infantry units with headquarters at Machala, Cuenca, Guayaquil, Loja, and Quito, respectively. The army deployed two jungle brigades in the Oriente (eastern region): the seventeenth ("Pastaza"), with headquarters at Mera, and the nineteenth ("Napo"), based at Puerto Napo. The ninth Special Forces brigade ("El Patria")--an outgrowth of a special paratroop detachment formed in 1960 to combat leftist guerrillas in the Oriente--had its headquarters at Latacunga. The eleventh armored brigade ("Galápagos") deployed from Riobamba. Three other specialized brigades, the twenty-first (logistics), the twenty-third (corps of engineers), and the fifteenth (army aviation), operated out of Quito. Originally confined to transport, communications, training, and geographic survey duties, the fifteenth brigade expanded into battlefield logistic support following the delivery in 1981 of French Puma, Super Puma, and Gazelle helicopters.

Combat brigades generally consisted of three battalions. Although not all brigades were at full strength, key units such as the Loja brigade near the Peruvian border had full complements or even additional reinforcements. States of readiness varied because personnel primarily consisted of one-year conscripts, some of whom received minimal training. Brigade commanding officers generally held brigadier general rank, although some were led by senior colonels. The commanders of the Pichincha, Guayas, Portete, and Pastaza brigades served concurrently as commanders of their respective theaters of operation.

The army's standard infantry weapons consisted of the Belgian FN FAL 7.62mm rifle and the Israeli Uzi 9mm submachine gun, the latter employed for counterinsurgency operations. The FN MAG 7.62mm was the standard machine gun, although the army still had .30- and .50-caliber machine guns of United States origin and 81mm mortars in its inventory. Armored vehicles included French-origin light tanks and four-wheeled reconnaissance vehicles, as well as Cascavel armored cars from Brazil. Most of the army's approximately 100 armored personnel carriers were French and Brazilian wheeled models, although it also had some tracked M-113s from the United States. A large order for obsolete medium tanks and armored personnel carriers from Argentina had to be cancelled in 1988 because of the deepening financial crisis.

Army conscripts received their training in the units to which they were assigned. The quality of basic training depended greatly on the importance attached to it by the brigade commander. In an effort to standardize unit training, the Department of Instruction was created in army headquarters in 1988. Special ranger, underwater demolition, parachute, and other similar courses were given at brigade level. Upon attaining the rank of corporal, conscripts accepted for enlistment for further service could apply to one of several NCO schools. Each school included a core curriculum accompanied by training in a military occupational specialty at such facilities as the armor school at Riobamba or the engineers' school at Esmeraldas. The intense competition and the difficulty of the courses produced a high dropout rate among NCO candidates.

Cadets preparing for commissioning as army second lieutenants studied at the Eloy Alfaro Advanced Military School (Escuela Superior Militar "Eloy Alfaro") in Parcayacu, approximately fifteen kilometers north of Quito. Candidates had to complete the ninth grade of school and pass a battery of written examinations, interviews, and psychological screening. In 1987 approximately 130 cadets graduated from the school's three-year course of study, which corresponded to the final three years of high school. The Eloy Alfaro school offered separate curricula for cadets opting for combat arms (infantry, armor, artillery, engineers, and signals), service branches (administration, supply, transportation), and service support branches (health, military justice, cartography). Observers considered the school's quarters, sports facilities, and training areas to be excellent. Additional construction was expected to allow enrollment to climb from 500 in 1987 to 800 cadets by 1989. Prior to promotion, lieutenants and captains each attended separate nine-month courses at the Advanced Training Institute (Escuela de Perfeccionamiento). Courses covered tactical operations, integration of the various service arms, and branch-oriented training. Total enrollment was about 165 in the late 1980s.

The Army War Academy (Academia de Guerra del Ejército), located in a southern suburb of Quito, prepared majors for command and general staff posts or for assignments to service elements at brigade and higher echelons. The study material corresponded to that of the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The academy offered a two-year program for officers of combat arms and a one-year program for service and service support officers. Enrollment in 1987 was forty-five in the combat arms track and seventy in the service tracks.

The Army Polytechnic Institute (Escuela Politécnica del Ejército--Espe), located in Quito, combined the functions of a technical training school, a technical college, and a postgraduate scientific and engineering university. Espe included undergraduate departments of civil, mechanical, and electronic engineering as well as geography. A graduate-level program consisted of industrial and systems engineering. Although administered along quasi-military lines, Espe had a largely civilian faculty and student body. Military attendees ranged from soldiers from the enlisted ranks through mid-level officers. Several Espe dependent institutes offered nondegree courses in basic sciences, languages, computer programming and systems analysis, and industrial administration. One Espe branch at Latacunga, the Advanced Technical Institute of the Armed Forces, offered practical training in automotive mechanics, electronics, telecommunications, and automatic data processing.

The Institute of Higher National Studies at Quito offered a one-year course for ranking military officers of all three services and for civilian officials. Comparable to the National Defense University in Washington, the institute offered a curriculum focused on the planning and execution of policies at the highest levels of government. The NSC supervised the operation of the institute. Each of the services operated a number of schools for children in the first through the ninth grades. Although originally intended to help families of military personnel avoid difficulties arising from divergent school calendars in the Costa (coastal region) and the Sierra, the schools also accepted children of civilians on a tuition basis. Ecuadorians rated these schools highly; as a result, competition for admission was keen. Graduates of the armed forces schools had an advantage in applying for admission to one of the service academies.

The Army entered a process of reconstruction by the Joint Command (CC.FF.AA.), which began in January 2011 and will finish in December 2013. This reorganization is based on: Adaptation of the military organization to changes the strategic stage; Alignment to the process of democratic reform of the State; Inclusion in the modernization of the defense sector; Compliance with policies, standards and instruments technicians to improve the quality, productivity and competitiveness of services public to optimize and take advantage of resources of the State. This restructuring process envisages four stages which are:

  1. The first, analysis and revision of the model management which aims to conduct a study and consideration of the type of management, establish its impact on the army and adapt it to the institution.
  2. The second, development and implementation of the management model which seeks to design the management and implant it in the army [it is important to mention that this model is designed to align and link processes with strategy, taking a step important in the process management].
  3. The third, development of the organizational model, that you are intended to develop and implement the new organizational system, on the basis of elevated processes.
  4. Fourth, monitoring and evaluation, to would appreciate the institutional changes in order to optimize and improve the institutional management .

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