Cuba Conducts Defensive Military Exercise

bastionA previous post saw Cuba’s November 9th announcement of its “Bastion 2016” military exercise as an immediate reaction to the U.S. election of Donald Trump. A Cuban source, however, rejects this interpretation. It says that such exercises are held every four years in November, that this year’s exercise was announced in April 2016 and that these exercises involve “the training and massive mobilization of troops, reservists and civilians throughout the island to face the possibility of military aggression, which already had a [U.S.] failed attempt in April 1961 [at the Bay of Pigs].”[1] (Emphasis added.) In April 2016, however, Cuba knew that November 9th was the day after the U.S. presidential election.

The start of the defensive “Bastion 2016” military exercise on November 16 was celebrated in Granma, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Cuba, which said it “will involve . . . the Party, the Government, agencies of the central state administration, enterprises, institutions and units of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, the Interior Ministry and the population. The exercise will consolidate the conception of the war of all the people and at the same time reflect a higher step towards strengthening the military invulnerability of the country.”[2]

Moreover, according to Granma, the exercise will “demonstrate efficiency, conservation status and modernization of combat technique and inseparable part of the Cuba campaign that mobilizes our country and the world ‘against the economic, commercial and financial US blockade against our country.’” (Emphasis added.)

During the five days of the exercise, Granma brought reports of success from around the island and of its review by a meeting of the country’s National Council of Defense’s Social Economic Body, which was led by Raúl Castro and attended by several Politburo members, vice presidents, ministers and other government officials and top leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and Ministry of Interior.[3]

At the conclusion of the exercise, the Political Bureau of the Party’s Central Committee proclaimed that the objectives of the exercise were met across the country with quality and enthusiasm.[4]

On November 19 and 20, Cuba celebrated the National Days of Defense with tactical troop maneuvers. For example, on the northwestern coast of the island the Western Army simulated a response to a hypothetical air and naval invasion with launches of anti-aircraft missiles while its Revolutionary Navy deployed special formations to obstruct the entrance to port facilities. Nevertheless “the adversary created the conditions for landing reinforcements and ‘capturing’ the bay.” However, the enemy was totally neutralized.[5]

These public sources, however, do not provide sufficient details about the exercise that would enable an outsider to assess the quality and magnitude of Cuba’s defense capabilities.


[1] Manzaneda, Stronghold and new media manipulation against Cuba, CubaDebate (Nov. 16, 2016).

[2] Bastion 2016 Strategic Exercise Starts (+ Video), Granma, Nov. 16, 2016).

[3] Martinez, Cienfuegos began Bastion in full combat readiness, Granma (Nov. 16, 2016); Veloz, No space for routine, Granma (Nov. 16, 2016); Borrero, True to its patriotic tradition Granma strengthens its fighting capacity, Granma (Nov. 16, 2016); Farińas, Western army enlists their defensive components, Granma (Nov. 16, 2016); Ventura de Jesus, et al, All for the Fatherland, Granma (Nov. 16, 2016); Romero, More prepared to defend the country, Granma (Nov. 16, 2016); Labrador, A bastion for the defense of the homeland,Granma (Nov. 16, 2016); Hernandez, Youth olive green, useful in its time, Granma (Nov. 16, 2016);Romero, Machado Ventura noted progress of the Strategic Exercise in Artemisa, Granma (Nov. 18, 2016); Raúl presides meeting of the Social Economic Council Body of National Defense, Granma (Nov. 17, 2016); González, Protect fighting, Granma (Nov. 18, 2016); Voloz, Look at squad, Granma (Nov. 18, 2016); Borrego, Vitality and preparation, the maximum Sancti Spiritus, Granma (Nov. 18, 2016); Romero, Before a possible enemy landing, Granma (Nov. 19, 2016).

[4] Rodriguez, Bastion 2016 has achieved its objectives, Granma, (Nov. 19, 2016).

[5] Rodriguez, The Homeland contemplates you proud! (+ Photos), Granma (Nov. 20, 2016).

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As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

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