Contingent of the Cuban `Black Wasps’ paraded in front of the Venezuelan pavilion. Photo: Operational Strategic Command of Venezuela.
Carlos E. Hernández
The National Armed Forces (FAN) carried out, between September 22 and 29, a combined exercise in which a huge amount of material was deployed along with some 100,000 troops, as well as Chinese, Cuban and Russian soldiers. The Combined Strategic Operation 2018 was carried out, “along the 2,219 kilometers of border between Colombia and Venezuela”, as part of the commemoration of the 13th anniversary of the Operational Strategic Command of the FAN (Ceofan)
“Venezuela is a democratic social state of law and justice and its Armed Forces are in constant training to raise the operational readiness,” said Ceofan’s commander, Admiral in Chief Remigio Ceballos Ichaso. He added that the four components of the FAN (Army, Navy, Military Aviation and National Guard) and the Bolivarian Militia participated in the operations, as well as confirming the presence of military elements from China, Cuba and Russia. “It is a combined operation, involving several countries,” he said.
In the official images disseminated there were no large movements of troops and equipment, but the timely deployment of systems of the Comprehensive Aerospace Defense Command (Codai), among others, the missile S-125 Pechora M2 short-range, and BUK M2E, of medium range, in addition to mobile radars.
The Military Aviation, for its part, deployed Lockheed Martin fighter jets F-16A / B Block 15 Fighting Falcon and Sukhoi Su-30MK2; training aircraft / light attack Hongdu K-8W Karakorum and Embraer EMB-312 Tucano; transport aircraft Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules and Shaanxi Y-8F-200W; and helicopters Airbus AS332B2 Super Puma / AS532AC Cougar.
The Army Aviation, for its part, showed off its multipurpose helicopters Mi-17V-5 and attack M-35M2, while the 42nd Parachute Infantry Brigade was airlifted to the border in Military Aviation planes.
Reaffirmation of sovereignty in the gulf
At the beginning of the exercises, the transport ship Los Monjes (T-94), type Damen Stan Lander 5612, moved Norinco 8×8 VN1 amphibious armored vehicles, tactical vehicles and other materials of the Marine Infantry, from the naval base `Contralmirante Agustín Armario, located in the coastal center region, to the port of La Ceiba, on the eastern coast of Lake Maracaibo, Trujillo state.
Subsequently, Task Group 10.1 was formed with the frigate Almirante Brión (F-22), type Lupo / class Mariscal Sucre; the oceanic Kariña patrol boat (PO-14), type Navantia Avante 2400 / class Guaiquerí; Patria (PC-15) combat patrol vessel, Vosper type 37-m / Constitution class, a contingent of marines, and the commanding general of the Navy, Admiral Giuseppe Alessandro Alessandrello Cimadevilla, aboard the F-22. Task Group 10.1 conducted a patrol in the waters of the Gulf of Venezuela and then the commander of the Navy and the marines disembarked in the archipelago of Los Monjes, at the entrance to the gulf and where the Secondary Coast Guard Station is located. Captain Felipe Batista, to reaffirm sovereignty in that strategic and vital Venezuelan area.
The marines, when disembarking, deployed light and heavy weapons, as well as Igla-S portable anti-aircraft missile systems.
The Cuban ‘Black Wasps’
As indicated at the beginning of this note, Ceofan confirmed the participation of China, Cuba and Russia in the Combined Strategic Operation 2018. However, the participation of Chinese and Russian military personnel, but of Cubans was not detailed.
As for Russia, it must be remembered that, as reported by Infodefensa, last August Venezuela was in advance of the strategic air group of the Russian Aerospace Force, to participate in a coordination meeting, prior to the combined exercise.
Regarding China, as Infodefensa also reported, from September 22 to 29 he visited the country in a Daishan Dao hospital ship (T-AH 866) on a scale other than his Harmonious Mission international tour and Ceofan framed his presence in the Strategic Operation Combined 2018; However, during his stay in Venezuela, the ship remained anchored in the port of La Guaira, providing humanitarian medical assistance.
In the Cuban case, the Ceofan was more specific indicating the participation of a contingent of the Special Forces (`Avispas Negras’) of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba, and with the publication of photos on Twitter. According to official information, the Cuban military acted with units of the Codai and the Special Actions Forces (Faes) of Venezuela.
One of the Ceofan notes posted on Twitter said: “Integrating to beat”; Faes de Venezuela “strengthened their knowledge, skills and military skills for the Integral Defense of the Nation,” in the Combined Strategic Defensive Operation “with the Special Forces of Cuba` Black Wasps’ of the FAR. “