Armed Forces of Guatemala

(Redirected from Guatemalan Army)

The Guatemalan Armed Forces (Spanish: Fuerzas Armadas de Guatemala) consists of the National Army of Guatemala (Ejercito Nacional de Guatemala, ENG), the Guatemalan National Defense Navy (Marina de la Defensa Nacional, includes Marines), the Guatemalan Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Guatemalteca, FAG), and the Presidential Honor Guard (Guardia de Honor Presidencial).

Armed Forces of Guatemala
Fuerzas Armadas de Guatemala
Service branches
Commander-in-Chief Alejandro Giammattei
Minister of National Defence Henry Reyes Chigua
Chief of the General Staff Hugo Roberto Urbina Marroquín
Military age18
Active personnel106,114
Reserve personnel90,000
BudgetUSD $120 million (FY99)
Percent of GDP0.6% (FY99)
Related articles
RanksMilitary ranks of Guatemala

The Ministry of National Defence is the agency of the Guatemalan government responsible for the budget, training and policy of the armed forces. Based in Guatemala City, the Defence Ministry is heavily guarded, and the President of Guatemala frequently visits. As of 2017 the Minister of National Defence is Major General Luis Miguel Ralda Moreno.[1]

The Minister of Defense is responsible for policy. Day-to-day operations are the responsibility of the military chief of staff and the national defense staff.


Guatemala is a signatory to the Rio Pact and was a member of the Central American Defense Council (CONDECA). The President of the Republic is commander-in-chief.

Prior to 1945 the Defence Ministry was titled the Secretariat of War (Secretaría de la Guerra).

An agreement signed in September 1996, which is one of the substantive peace accords, mandated that the mission of the armed forces change to focus exclusively on external threats.[2] Presidents Álvaro Arzú and his successors Alfonso Portillo, Óscar Berger and Álvaro Colom, have used a constitutional clause to order the army on a temporary basis to support the police in response to a nationwide wave of violent crime, a product of the Mexican criminal organizations going across the north-west region.

The peace accords call for a one-third reduction in the army's authorized strength and budget — achieved in 2004 — and for a constitutional amendment to permit the appointment of a civilian minister of defense. A constitutional amendment to this end was defeated as part of a May 1999 plebiscite, but discussions between the executive and legislative branches continue on how to achieve this objective.

In 2004 the army has gone beyond its accord-mandated target, and has implemented troop reductions from an estimated 28,000 to 15,500 troops,[3] including subordinate air force (1,000) and navy (1,000) elements. It is equipped with armaments and material from the United States, Israel, Taiwan, Argentina, Spain, and France. As part of the army downsizing, the operational structure of 19 military zones and three strategic brigades are being recast as several military zones are eliminated and their area of operations absorbed by others. The air force operates three air bases; the navy has two port bases.[4]

The Guatemalan army has a special forces unit (specializing in anti-insurgent jungle warfare) known as the Kaibiles. In 2011, a Guatemalan court convicted four members of the Kaibiles, of killing more than 200 civilians in the Dos Erres massacre in 1982.[5] Each man was sentenced to 6,050 years in prison. Their convictions for their roles in the massacre nearly 30 years prior, in which soldiers killed more than 200 men, women, and children, would not have happened if not for the courage of victims of violence and Guatemala's attorney general, Claudia Paz y Paz. After the convictions of the Dos Erres four, based on a Guatemalan government's commitment to reorganize its special forces units, the U.S. Department of Defense resumed military aid.

Armed Forces DayEdit

The Día del Ejército (Army Day or Armed Forces Day) is celebrated on 30 June, although if it occurs on a Tuesday or Wednesday it is celebrated on the prior Monday, and if it occurs on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday it moves to the following Monday.[6]


The Armed Forces today number at around 39,000 active personnel.


Service branchesEdit


The Army or Land Forces are the oldest military branch of the armed forces. In the middle of the 19th century, General Rafael Carrera promoted it with the triumph in the Battle of San José La Arada, dated to 2 February 1851, a date that is today commemorated as the day of this branch.


The Navy was founded on 15 January 1959, by the then President Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes, due to the need to protect the country's marine resources, which at the time were the object of illegal predation by fishing boats from neighboring countries. It is a state entity with functions as a police agency for seas and rivers.

Air ForceEdit

The Guatemalan Air Force (Spanish: Fuerza Aérea Guatemalteca; FAG) constitutes the aviation portion of the Guatemalan Army. Founded in 1921, it is organized, equipped and trained to plan, conduct and execute the actions imposed by the State Military Defense in relation to the use of air power.

Honor GuardEdit

The Presidential Honor Guard of Guatemala is a branch of the Guatemalan Land Forces, responsible for the care and protection of the President of the Republic, as well as the Vice President.


Members of the Parachute Brigade of the Guatemalan army in Puerto San José.

Personal equipment[citation needed]

Firearm Country of origin Type Variant Number in service
.38 Special United States 644
AR-10 United States Battle rifle 350
AKM Soviet Union Assault rifle
AK-74 Soviet Union Assault rifle AKS-74U
Beretta 92 Italy Semi-automatic pistol
Beretta M12 Italy Submachine gun
Browning Hi-Power Belgium/United States Semi-automatic pistol Mk III
CAR-15 United States Assault rifle CAR-15 Colt Commando

Colt Model M733

Colt Model 723

Colt Model 727

CETME Model C Spain Battle rifle
FMK-3 submachine gun Argentina Submachine gun
FN F2000 Belgium Bullpup assault rifle
FN Five-seven Belgium Semi-automatic pistol
FN MAG Belgium General-purpose machine gun Model 60-20
FN P90 Belgium Personal defense weapon FN P90 TR 20
IMI Galil Israel Assault rifle AR\SAR\SAR339\MAR\Kjell 50,000
IWI Jericho 941 Israel Semi-automatic pistol
IWI X95 Israel Bullpup assault rifle
Glock 19 Austria Semi-automatic pistol
M1 Garand United States Semi-automatic rifle
M2 Browning United States Heavy machine gun
M3 United States Submachine gun
M4 carbine United States Carbine M4/M4A1/Colt Model 933 200
M16 rifle United States Assault rifle M16A1/M16A2/M16A3 16,200
M20 Super Bazooka United States Antitank rocket launcher
M72 LAW United States Light anti-tank weapon
M79 grenade launcher United States Grenade launcher
M203 grenade launcher United States Grenade launcher module 1,000
M1911 pistol United States Semi-automatic pistol 709
M1919 Browning United States Medium machine gun
MAC-10 United States Machine pistol
MAC-11 United States Machine pistol
Madsen M-50 Denmark Submachine gun
Mini Uzi Israel Machine pistol
SIG Sauer P226 Germany Semi-automatic pistol
Star Model BM Spain Automatic pistol
Thompson submachine gun United States Submachine gun 233
Uzi Israel Submachine gun
Valtro PM-5/PM-5-350 Italy 12 gauge pump-action shotgun
Vz. 58 Czechoslovakia Assault rifle
Walther P38 Germany Semi-automatic pistol
GPS Systems United States
Night Vision Goggles United States


All data from World Military Intelligence[citation needed]

Armoured vehicles

Photo Name Origin Type Number Notes
M41   United States Light tank 12[7][8]
Armadillo[9]   Guatemala Armoured personnel carrier 70[citation needed]
Cadillac Gage Commando   United States Armoured personnel carrier 7-12 V-100[citation needed]
Dando 6x6 (Tapir)[citation needed]   Guatemala Armoured personnel carrier 1
M113   United States Armoured personnel carrier 15
M8 Greyhound   United States Armoured car 12 Modernised
RBY MK 1   Israel Armoured car 25
Humvee   United States Armoured car "On loan" from the United States[10]

Utility vehicles

Photo Name Origin Type Number Notes
Abir[citation needed]   Israel Transport truck
Business Class M2   United States
Freightliner Columbia   United States
Hino 500 Series   Japan 34+ Donated by United States.[citation needed]
Hyundai H930C   South Korea Backhoe loader
Hyundai Robex   South Korea Excavator
International 7000-MV   United States Truck
Jeep CJ-7 4x4   United States
Jeep J8 APV   United States Patrol truck Donated by United States[citation needed]
M35 2½-ton cargo truck   United States 2+12-ton cargo truck
M37   United States 3/4 ton truck
M151 Truck, Utility, 1/4-Ton, 4×4   United States 1/4 ton vehicle
Sakai America SV520 Series   United States Road roller SV520DF
Toyota Hilux   Japan Pickup 25+


Towed artilleryEdit

  • 12 M-101 105mm (United States)
  • 8 M-102 105mm (United States)
  • 56 M-56 105mm (Yugoslavia)
  • 12 M-116 75mm (United States)


  • 55 M-1 81mm (United States)
  • 12 M30 107mm (United States)
  • 18 ECIA 120mm (Spain)

Recoilless riflesEdit

Air defenceEdit

Naval boatsEdit

  • 1 110 ft Broad class patrol boat: GC-1051
  • 1 40 ft Dauntless class patrol boat: Iximche
  • 2 85 ft Sewart Seacraft patrol boats: GC-851 Utatlan, GC-852 Subteniente Osoho Saravia
  • 6 Cutlass 65 ft (Halter Marine) class patrol boats: GC 651-656
  • 11 small patrol launches
  • 1 ferry
  • 2 sail training boats
  • 2 Machete class personnel landing craft (Halter Marine)

Notable military personnelEdit


  1. ^ "Alto Mando del Ejército de Guatemala" (in Spanish). Ejército de Guatemala. Archived from the original on 2013-12-31. Retrieved 2014-01-07.
  2. ^ "Agreement on the Strengthening of Civilian Power and on the Role of the Armed Forces in a Democratic Society: Guatemala: Peace Agreements: Library and Links: U.S. Institute of Peace". Archived from the original on 2008-08-13. Retrieved 2008-08-18.
  3. ^ "Cancelarán 12 mil 109 plazas en el Ejército". Prensa Libre. April 2, 2004. Archived from the original on July 10, 2007.
  4. ^ "Background Note: Guatemala". Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, US Department of State. February 2009.
  5. ^ Center for International Policy, Security Assistance Monitor
  6. ^ "Así quedarán los feriados en Guatemala para el 2020 – Prensa Libre" (in Spanish). Prensa Libre. 28 Apr 2020. Retrieved Sep 16, 2020.
  7. ^ Foss, Christopher F. (2005). Jane's Armour and Artillery 2005-2006. London: Jane's Information Group. pp. 186–194. ISBN 978-0-7106-2686-8.
  8. ^ "Trade Registers". Retrieved 2013-06-20.
  9. ^ "HISTORY OF THE ARMADILLO". Retrieved 2017-03-19.
  10. ^ "Combat Pickup Trucks: The Resurrection of the Technical as a Combat Mobile Platform in Irregular Warfare and Urban Combat". Retrieved 2017-03-19.

External linksEdit