Nonaligned, Third World, and Other Ground Armies: A Combat Assessment

By Colonel Reuven Gal; Richard A. Gabriel | Go to book overview

The determinative forces underlying Cuban military policy transcend the conventional imperative of territorial defense. The three most important of these forces are the mutual distrust characterizing U.S.-Cuban relations, Havana's status as a Soviet ally and its economic dependence on the USSR, and, lastly, Castro's desire to remain a leading figure in the Non-Aligned Movement. These factors are peculiar to Cuba.

Over the past decade, under Soviet tutelage and with Soviet-supplied equipment, Castro's ground forces have developed into a formidable power. The troops have had valuable combat experience in Africa. Organizationally, the army has demonstrated flexibility, sophisticated command and control techniques, and an ability to effectively coordinate logistics efforts with the Soviets. Training, logistics, and reserve systems appear to be competently administered and have been improved since the early 1970s. On the other side of the coin, however, the army's most glaring deficiency continues to be its lack of independent long-range transport capabilities. While the Cuban Army is exceptionally large for a nation with a population of only 10 million, the potential employment of troops remains limited by size constraints as well.

Following the Angolan intervention, it is generally believed that the Soviets were less a cause than a constraint on Cuban military behavior. Whether this remains true today, or will be true in the future, is not as certain. Indeed, the trends suggest otherwise. Amidst this lack of certainty only one development is clear, and that is the post-Ethiopia improvement in Cuba's mix of forces and capabilities. This improvement can be attributed to natural bureaucratic forces toward expansion. More than likely, however, it signals that the Cuban ground troops, regardless of the dynamics involved in the deployment decision, have not seen their last foreign soil.


Notes
1.
The Houston Post (UPI release), September 24, 1981, p. 1.
2.
Jorge I. Dominguez, Cuba: Order and Revolution ( Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1978), pp. 341-42.
3.
Unless otherwise specified, the principal source of the information contained in this section is the Defense Intelligence Agency's Handbook on the Cuban Armed Forces, DDB-2680-62-79, April 1979 (hereafter cited as DIA Handbook).
4.
The Military Balance, 1980-1981 ( London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1980), p. 81.
5.
William J. Durch, "The Cuban Military in Africa and the Middle East: From Algeria to Angola," Paper No. 201, Center for Naval Analyses, September 1977, pp. 34-35.
6.
Ibid., p. 34.
7.
Dominguez, Cuba, p. 353.
8.
Durch, "The Cuban Military in Africa," p. 46.
9.
Dominguez, Cuba, p. 46.

-241-

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Nonaligned, Third World, and Other Ground Armies: A Combat Assessment
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Maps, Figures, and Tables ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Preface xv
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Introduction xix
  • India and Pakistan 3
  • Bibliography 26
  • China 29
  • Bibliography 53
  • Vietnam 55
  • Notes 74
  • Notes 76
  • Thailand 79
  • Notes 97
  • Bibliography 100
  • North Korea 103
  • Notes 124
  • Notes 125
  • South Korea 127
  • Bibliography 150
  • Japan 153
  • Bibliography 172
  • Australia 177
  • Note 190
  • Bibliography 190
  • Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) 191
  • Bibliography 207
  • South Africa 209
  • Notes 221
  • Notes 222
  • Cuba 225
  • Notes 241
  • Notes 243
  • Yugoslavia 247
  • Notes 259
  • Notes 261
  • Index 263
  • About the Contributors 275
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