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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 ("Galpagos") 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.

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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