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Cuba Army - Order of Battle - Introduction

There is relatively little public information available with respect to the organization of the ground forces within the three armies, let alone the equipment that pertains to each of these commands. It was deployed regionally in the Western Army, Central Army, and Eastern Army. In addition, the Isla de la Juventud Military Region was garrisoned by forces equivalent to an infantry brigade [Brigada de Infantería].

As of 1979, DIA reported tha Army was organized into three armies and four corps. The Western Army controled Pinar del Rio Army Corps, composed of units in Pinar del Rio Province. The Western Army also directs the Havana Garrison, which is an administrative headquarters for units in the Havana City Province area - it does not appear to be a combat command. The Las Villas Army Corps, subordinate to the Central Army, controls the units in Villa Clara, Cienfuegos and Sancti Spiritus Provinces. The Eastern Army controls the Camaguey Army Corps composed of units in Camaguey and Ciego de Avila Provinces, and the Holguin Army Corps, whose units are located in Holguin and Las Tunas Provinces. All foreign deployments were controlled by M1NFAR Headquarters.

The Western, Central and Eastern Armies are the largest units in the Cuban Army. There is no standard organization for the three armies. The Western and Eastern Armies are much larger than the Central Army. The representative army [as of 1979] consists of seven infantry divisions (three of which are reserve), a mechanized infantry division, an armored division, a corps, as well as combat support and combat service support units, totaling about 71,500 personnel. There does not appear to be any standard organization for the corps. The representative corps in Cuba [as of 1979] was comprised of three infantry divisions, two of which were reserve, plus combat support and combat service support units totaling about 17,300.

Combat forces under the control of an army consist of infantry, mechanized infantry and armor units. All combat units are modeled along Soviet organizational principles, but with reduced manning and equipment levels - hence units are ambiguously designated as "divisions" [their nominal echelon] or "brigades" [their actual strength]. The full establishment of a mobilized Cuban infantry division is 5,900 members; a mechanized division, 8,200; and an armored division, 6,200. A Cuban infantry regiment numbers 1,010 personnel, and each of its two battalions numbers 349 soldiers. Armored regiments consist of 720 personnel; each of their three tank battalions has about 110 soldiers and 21 tanks; artillery regiments have about 975 personnel.

The military region, subordinated to the Army, is the tactical-operative territorial grouping of forces and means designed to defend an operating region, generally, the province. Its leadership exercises the command of the subordinate units, and extends its competence to other formations. This in turn is subordinated to the head of the Army in the territories. For the fulfillment of peacetime missions and tasks, the head of the military region establishes working relations with the Provincial Assembly and the Administration Council, organs and entities of the territory. Its mission is to plan, organize and control the application of the policy regarding the defensive preparation of the territory. The chief is empowered to coordinate and organize the tasks to fulfill the established military obligations.

The military region is structured by the military sectors. These generally correspond to the political-administrative division at the municipal level. Their basic mission is to carry out, from a time of peace, the activities related to the preparation for the defense of the population and subordinate units; control the use of human potential and advise the president of the Municipal Assembly of People's Power, in his capacity as Chief of Civil Defense at his level. Always in coordination with the organisms, entities and social and mass organizations.

In 2001, Library of Congress reported that the Army was divided into three Regional Commands: Western (most important), Central, and Eastern, each with three army corps. Army units include four or five armed brigades, nine mechanized infantry brigades (each with three mechanized infantry, one armored, one artillery, and one air defense artillery regiment), one airborne brigade, fourteen reserve brigades, and one border brigade.

In early 2006, Library of Congress reported that the army had four or five armored brigades [Brigada Blindada], nine mechanized brigades [Brigada Mecanizada], one airborne brigade, and one artillery group. In addition, the army included between 12 and 14 reserve infantry brigades. By another accounting, the Army included 3 Regional command HQ, 3 army command HQ, with 1 Army frontier brigade; 14 (reserve) brigades, up to 5 Armored brigades, 9 Mechanized Infantry Brigades (each with: 1 armored regiment, 1 artillery regiment, 1 ADA regiment, 3 mechanized infantry regiment), 1 Airborne brigade, 1 ADA regiment, 1 SAM brigade.

At that time, the Revolutionary Army Command included an airborne brigade and an artillery division. The Western Army included two mixed security regiments: one consisted of four divisions (brigade equivalents); the other, called the 2nd Pinar del Río Army Corps, consisted of three infantry divisions (brigades). The Central Army comprised three mixed security regiments, four infantry divisions (brigades), and the 4th Las Villas Army Corps, which consisted of three infantry brigades. The Eastern Army included 10 divisions (brigades), the Guantánamo Frontier Guard Brigade (comprising two infantry regiments), the 5th Holguín Army Corps (comprising one mechanized and four infantry divisions/brigades), and the 6th Camagüey Army Corps (consisting of one mechanized brigade and three infantry brigades).

The Tables of Organization and Equipment (TOE) of Cuban combat and combat support units are modeled on conventional Soviet tactics with significant adjustments for differences in equipment and lower strength levels. In practice, there are significant variations in the manning, equipment and composition of units. The TOE of units in the five provinces of Havana, Havana City, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin and Guantanamo are better represented by the conventional Soviet models than the TOE of units in the other provinces. In combat situations, Cubans tailor their units in order to adapt to the local enemy and terrain conditions.

Ravi Rikhye wrote in "Concise World Armies 2009" that "Information on the Cuban Revolutionary Army is scarce.... Cuban formations/units tend to be smaller than their Soviet style counterparts. While we have assumed that all divisions have been reduced to brigades, it is possible that on mobilization some division HQs will be reactivated.... only 5 Armoured and 3 to 9 Mechanized Divisions appear to have been fully formed. The other 21 to 26 Infantry Divisions remained essentially foot-slogging formations, with limited armoured support and soft-skinned motorized transport.

"Little is published on the deployment of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and in particular both the true designations and the locations of all units is a closely guarded secret. Every independent unit and formation of the Revolutionary Armed Forces is identified by a four-digit Military Unit (“UM”) number. The first digit of these invariably appears to refer broadly to arm of service: 1 = Assault Troops (Armored, Mechanized and possibly Airborne); 2 = Logistic Support troops (Ordnance, Supply, Transport, Medical and probably Military Police); 3 = Defensive Troops (Infantry); 4 = Technical Troops (Engineer, Signals, Chemical/NBC and probably Maintenance); 5 = Combat-Support (Artillery, Missile, Anti-Tank and Anti-Aircraft). Comparison of the numerical designations of positively identified formations and units appears to support this theory.

"Divisions are identified by a two-digit number (a zero being placed before the unit number in the case of formations with single-digit designators (e.g. most Armoured Divisions)). Numbers in the 1000 plus series identify armies and Army Corps. "Based on the known composition of the tactical formations, there would appear to be at least 78 Infantry Regiments, 2 paratroop battalions; 1 special forces battalion, 3 frontier battalions and 22 Armoured Regiments plus 15 to 20 independent armoured and 16 to 19 motorized reconnaissance battalions; 41 Artillery Regiments, 12 to 20 Air Defence Regiments, 7 anti-armour battalions and 15 to 20 Engineer Battalions.

"The overall strength is considerably less than that indicated by this relative proliferation of units, the establishments of the units being somewhat less than in normal practice. A Cuban Infantry Regiment, at full peace establishment, numbers only 1,010 all ranks and a battalion 360. Armoured regiments consist of only 720 all ranks and tank battalions muster a mere 110....

"Generally the first digit of the numerical designation of a Division/Brigade indicates the Army or Corps to which it belongs. Armoured and Mechanized Divisions/Brigades however do not invariably follow this pattern and Armoured Divisions/Brigades, in particular, seem to be regarded as Army HQ level formations and are deployed in response to operational requirements. The 38th Infantry Division/Brigade is an anomaly, its designation indicating its origins in the defunct Matanzas Army Corps although it is now located in the Eastern Army area. The foreign service expeditionary forces seemed also to have some relationship with the Eastern Army and both the 50th Mechanized and the 56th Infantry Divisions were noted in Angola during the Cuban intervention..."

MINFAR uses several methods of unit identification. Its armies and corps, as well as the principal MGR and DAAFAR commands, usually are identified by a name which corresponds to either a geographical or territorial region or province (examples: Western Army, Las Villas Army Corps, Western Naval Flotilla and Western Air Brigade). The armies and corps in Cuba may also be identified by a one-digit number (example: the First (I) (Eastern) Army). Most of the ground force units below army and corps may also be identified by Arabic numbers of one, two or three digits (example: the 50th Division).

MINFAR uses another method of unit identification, modeled after the Soviet military system, in which each military unit is assigned a four- or five-digit Arabic numeral called a Military Unit Number (MUN). MUNs are the most common designation used and most of the troops know their unit only by the MUN. Numbers in the 9,000 series are for major combat service support units which MINFAR designates as "paramilitary" units. They are subordinate to units of the General Staff, armies and corps, MGR and DAAFAR. Examples include: the General Staff's Directorate of Military Commerce, and the MGR's General Repair Depot. Numbers below 9,000 are assigned to regular and reserve units which are battalion size or larger, as well as to independent, specialized or headquarters units down to platoon size. Five-digit MUNs are assigned to the paramilitary EJT. In some cases, the only information known about a unit is its MUN.

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Page last modified: 21-02-2019 18:43:08 ZULU