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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 February 2006, 06:35 GMT
Venezuela gets 2m reserve troops
By Greg Morsbach
BBC News, Caracas

Venezuelan National Guard soldier
Venezuela will need to buy more weapons to equip its reservists
Venezuela has increased the number of reservists in its military to a total of two million men and women.

Army high command spokesman Col Herrera Jimenez said that around one-and-a-half million Venezuelans had recently signed up to become reservists.

He said the kind of war Venezuela wanted to fight was a people's war like in Iraq, "where an entire population is rising up against a foreign aggressor".

The news may alarm the US and countries neighbouring Venezuela.

Since last November, Venezuela's armed forces have been carrying out a massive recruitment drive for new reservists.

Boosting defences

Col Jimenez, who is in charge of the military's recruitment programme, said that the country's two million reservists would serve in the territorial guard and the reserve of the army, air force and navy.

"We fully expect these reservists be armed and to be able to fight in the front line if and when required," he said.

He said the four months of basic training would start in the first week of March.

Venezuela's military high command and indeed President Hugo Chavez himself say they want to boost the country's defences to repel any potential threat or attempt to invade the country.

His decision to increase the reservists from 500,000 last year to two million means that around one in five Venezuelan adults could be called up for military service in the event of war.

Rifle deal

President Chavez has repeatedly accused the US of aggressive behaviour towards Venezuela.

The US has a military reserve roughly half the size of the one being assembled in Venezuela.

However Venezuela only has enough rifles to equip its professional army of around 80,000 soldiers.

But last year President Chavez announced the military was purchasing a further 100,000 Russian assault rifles.

The government is also studying the possibility of manufacturing many more of these Kalashnikov rifles in Venezuelan factories.




SEE ALSO:
Venezuela 'to buy more weapons'
05 Feb 06 |  Americas
Venezuela expels US naval 'spy'
02 Feb 06 |  Americas
Chavez accuses US embassy 'spies'
31 Jan 06 |  Americas
Venezuela officers 'spied for US'
26 Jan 06 |  Americas
Chavez angry with US over jet row
11 Jan 06 |  Americas


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