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Bolivia: Army
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > The Armed Forces > Army


The army had a reported 20,200 members in 1989, including some 15,000 conscripts. Its equipment consisted mainly of light tanks, armored personnel carriers, towed artillery, and recoilless rifles.

There were six military regions (regiones militares -- RMs) in the army. RM 1, headquartered in La Paz, encompassed most of La Paz Department. RM 2, headquartered in Sucre, included Cochabanba Department and most of Chuquisaca Department. RM 3, based in Tarija, consisted of Tarija Department and eastern Chuquisaca and Santa Cruz departments. RM 4, headquartered in Potosí, covered Oruro and Potosí departments. RM 5, based in Trinidad, contained most of Santa Cruz and Beni departments. RM 6, based in Cobija, encompassed Pando Department and parts of La Paz and Beni departments.

The army was organized into ten divisions consisting of eight cavalry groups: five horse units, two motorized units, and one assault group; one motorized infantry regiment with two battalions; twenty-two infantry battalions, including five infantry assault battalions; three artillery "regiments" (battalions); five artillery groups, including the Artillery and Antiair Defense Group (Grupo de Artillería y Defensa Antiaérea -- GADA); one paratroop "regiment" (battalion); and six engineer battalions. These units included two armed battalions, one mechanized cavalry regiment, and one Presidential Guard (Colorado) infantry regiment under direct control of the army headquarters in the Miraflores district of La Paz.

Division headquarters were located in Cochabamba (the largest), Camiri (Santa Cruz Department), Oruro, Potosí, Riberalta (Beni Department), Roboré (Santa Cruz Department), Santa Cruz, Trinidad, Viacha (La Paz Department), and Villamontes (Tarija Department). In 1987, however, the Ninth Division was established in Rurrenabaque in Ballivián Province of Beni Department. Each of the divisions, with the exception of Viacha, occupied a region generally corresponding to the administrative departments, with some overlapping.

The town of Riberalta had three military bases. Two new bases were under construction in 1989 at Puerto Rico, near Riberalta, and at Porvenir, near the Brazilian border. Others, including those in Riberalta and at the departmental capital of Trinidad, were being modernized.

The FF.AA. in the late 1980s continued to be incapable of adequately defending the country's extensive borders with Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, and Paraguay. If attacked, Bolivia would have to seek assistance from friendly states. It was a member of the Inter-American Defense Board and a signatory of the Inter-American Treaty for Reciprocal Assistance of 1947 (also known as the Rio Treaty). Although no major border conflict had occurred since the Chaco War, Conase was concerned that all of Bolivia's contiguous neighbors had geopolitical objectives that threatened Bolivia's territorial integrity. The intentions of Brazil and Chile were particularly worrisome to Conase.

Data as of December 1989

Last Updated: December 1989

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Bolivia was first published in 1989. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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