Bolivarian National Guard (Guardia Nacional Bolivaria, GNB)
Armed Forces of Cooperation or National Guard
Fuerzas Armadas de Cooperacion or Guardia Nacional

President Chavez proposed significant "socialist" changes to the 1999 Constitution in a lengthy 15 August 2007 speech at the National Assembly. He specified that the Armed Forces would be composed of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and the Territorial Guard (then called National Guard) and the "Popular Bolivarian Militia" (then called the Military Reserve). Chavez proposal would convert the National Guard into "an essentially military body," parallel to the traditional branches of the armed forces.

The Bolivarian National Guard (GNB) is part of the Venezuelan armed forces and reports to the Ministry of Popular Power for Defense. The Venezuelan National Guard the Guard reports directly to President Chávez and controls Venezuela’s airports, borders, and ports. According to the law of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces, GNB units have dual reporting lines. Administratively, they report directly to the Minister of Defence. Operationally, they report to the Strategic Operational Commander, who is responsible for planning and directing all military operations. The Strategic Operational Commander, in turn, reports directly to the President.

The Bolivarian National Guard conducts the operations required for the maintenance of the internal order of the country, cooperate in the development of the military operations required to ensure the defense of the Nation, carry out the administrative police and criminal investigation activities attributed to it by the laws, as well as participate actively in the national development, in the territory and other geographic spaces of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

They provide support for drug investigations and anti-drug operations while also providing security at borders, ports, and airports. Checkpoints are common, especially during inter-city trips. They are generally operated either by local police or by the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB). Stopping at checkpoints is mandatory, and drivers should be prepared to show vehicle registration paperwork, proof of insurance, and an identity document (cedula, passport). Police or guardsmen may search vehicles stopped at checkpoints.

The mission of the Component is clearly defined in the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in its Articles:

Article 328: The FAN constitutes an essentially professional institution, without political militancy, organized by the State to guarantee the independence and sovereignty of the Nation and to ensure the integrity of the geographical space, through military defense, cooperation in the maintenance of internal order and participation Active in national development, in accordance with the constitution and with the law. In the performance of its functions, it is at the exclusive service of the nation and in no case the person or political bias. Its fundamental pillars are discipline, obedience and subordination. The FAN is composed of the Army, the Navy, the Aviation and the National Guard, which operate in an integral manner within the framework of its competence to carry out its mission.

Article 329 : The Army, Navy and Aviation have as essential responsibility the planning, execution and control of the military operations required to secure the National defense. The National Guard will cooperate in the development of such operations and will have as basic responsibility the conduct of the operations required for the maintenance of the internal order of the country. IN the past, the US provided advisors to the Venezuelan National Guard Riverine Forces.

The Armed Forces of Cooperation (Fuerzas Armadas de Cooperación - FAC) -- also known as the National Guard -- was a domestic paramilitary force that was incorporated into the FAN in 1954. Although an active branch of the military and subordinate to the minister of defense, the National Guard had arrest powers and was largely responsible for internal security, including maritime security, maintaining public order, guarding the exterior of key government installations and prisons, conducting counternarcotics operations, monitoring borders, and providing law enforcement in remote areas.

In 1990 the FAC numbered approximately 20,000, and by 2005 it had grown to 23,000. Its operational commands included the Logistics Command, the Air Operations Command, and the Operations Command. The tactical chain of command ran from Commander of the FAC downward through three regional commands headquartered at San Antonio de Tachira in the western Andean region, Maracaibo, and Caracas. Regional commanders, in turn, exercised authority over local battalion-sized detachments.

Eight mobile detachments functioned as a reserve force, available for deployment to any area of the country in response to threats to internal security or border security. FAC personnel also provided static defense of certain public buildings, oil installations, and penal institutions. In addition, the FAC patrolled the nation's highway system, functioning as a federal police force.

The FAC was equipped as a light infantry force, with the standard FN FAL assault rifle and mortars up to 81mm. Its armored assets consisted of forty armored personnel carriers. It also employed seventy-seven small craft for coastal and river patrol duties. Air assets included both fixed-wing craft and helicopters.

FAC recruits, all volunteers, underwent a one-year training course at the Ramo Verde School at Los Teques. Officer candidates were required to study for an additional four years at the Officers Training School in Caracas. Postgraduate studies for officers were available at the Advanced Officers School at Caricuao, near Caracas.

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