Military education in Ecuador and its changes since 2013

La educación militar en Ecuador y sus cambios a partir de 2013


*Brigadier General SP. Master in Security Science. Professor of the Department

of Security and Defense. Universidad de las Fuerzas Armadas ESPE. Sangolquí, Pichincha

**PhD in Economics. Professor of the Department of Economic, Management and Trade Science

Universidad de las Fuerzas Armadas ESPE. Sangolquí, Pichincha

***PhD in Geography. Director of the Department of Security and Defense

Universidad de las Fuerzas Armadas ESPE. Sangolquí, Quito


Jorge Oswaldo Miño Vaca*


Angie Fernández Lorenzo**


Humberto Aníbal Parra Cárdenas***







          Introduction: Military education is one of the pillars of the Ecuadorian Armed Forces since it contributes to the development of competence and skills both in the troops and in the officers, guaranteeing the operation of the forces in tune with the current advance of the military science. Objective: The present paper aims to tackle the evolution of the military education in Ecuador, according to the transformation of the Escuela Politécnica del Ejército “ESPE” in the Universidad de las Fuerzas Armadas ESPE in 2013. Methods: To accomplish the goal were applied different theoretical research methods, especially the historic method, which allowed describing the historic development of military education in Ecuador, which combined with the systemic and dialectic methods, favoured the identification of fundamentals of this type of teaching and its peculiarities in the current development of the higher education in the country. Results: The historic analysis allowed identifying the main stages of the military education in Ecuador, especially the transformations from year 2013. Likewise, the application of the rest of the logic research methods favoured the characterization of the military structure system in the country, with emphasis in the fundamentals and peculiarities of this type of teaching level. Conclusions: As conclusion, the knowledge of the historic development of the military education in the country is important as a way to reinforce the quality of the military formation system according to the advances of the national development of the higher education.

          Keywords: Military education. Armed Forces. Military science. Officers. Troops.



          Introducción: La educación militar constituye uno de los pilares de las Fuerzas Armadas Ecuatorianas, al contribuir al desarrollo de competencias y destrezas tanto en los cuadros de tropa como oficiales, garantizando la operatividad de las fuerzas acorde a los actuales avances de la ciencia militar. Objetivo: El objetivo del presente artículo es abordar la evolución de la educación militar en el Ecuador, en concordancia con la transformación de la Escuela Politécnica del Ejército “ESPE” en la Universidad de las Fuerzas Armadas ESPE en el año 2013. Métodos: Para el cumplimiento del objetivo se aplicaron varios métodos teóricos de investigación, en especial el método histórico el cual permitió describir el desarrollo histórico de la educación militar en el Ecuador, que combinado con los métodos sistémico y dialéctico, contribuyó a la identificación de fundamentos de este tipo de enseñanza, y las particularidades que asume en el contexto actual de desarrollo de la educación superior en el país. Resultados: El análisis histórico desarrollado permitió identificar las principales etapas en el desarrollo de la educación militar en el Ecuador, en especial las transformaciones a partir de 2013. Igualmente la aplicación del resto de métodos lógicos de investigación, permitió caracterizar el sistema de formación militar en el país, con énfasis en los fundamentos y particularidades de este tipo de enseñanza. Conclusiones: Se concluye sobre la importancia del conocimiento del desarrollo histórico de la educación militar en el país como vía para reforzar la calidad del sistema de formación militar de acuerdo a los avances en el desarrollo nacional de la educación superior.

          Palabras clave: Educación militar. Fuerzas Armadas. Ciencias Militares. Oficiales. Tropa.



Recepción: 18/06/2016 - Aceptación: 24/11/2016


1ª Revisión: 21/10/2016 - 2ª Revisión: 19/11/2016


Lecturas: Educación Física y Deportes, Revista Digital. Buenos Aires, Año 21, Nº 222, Noviembre de 2016. http://www.efdeportes.com/

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    The Ecuadorian military education, from its origins was scattered and disorganized with an independent planning in each of the institutions of the Armed Forces; that is to say Army, Navy and Air Forces, each one complying their own needs and the relations and influence of different countries, whose doctrines were assimilated by their military academic formation. The Army signed an agreement of parallel courses between the Escuela Politécnica del Ejército ESPE and the Escuela Superior and Colegio Militar “Eloy Alfaro” (ESPE, 1982), giving origin to the university formation of military officers. For its part, the National Council of Universities and Polytechnical Schools (CONUEP in Spanish) considers year 1982 as the official start of the degree in Military Science (CES, 2015).

    In the Navy something similar happened with the creation of the Navy University “Comandante Rafael Morán Valverde”, which in 2006 was appointed as university by the state and in the Air Force were signed accords with private universities for the academic university formation of its cadres, in the 1980s, creating a separate and disperse system for the formation of officers and troop personnel.

    As part of the re-structure of the higher education system in Ecuador from 2007, were redefined the quality standards of the educative institutions, developing a process of closure of universities and polytechnic schools that did not count on the minimum requirements to function, for which 14 out of the 47 public and private institutions existing in 2013 were closed (CEAACES, 2013).

    For the higher military education system, June 26, 2013, is a historic date with the creation of the Universidad de las Fuerzas Armadas ESPE, joining the academic systems of the three forces (Universidad Naval “Comandante Rafael Morán Valverde”-UNINAV, the Instituto Tecnológico Superior Aeronáutico -ITSA, and the Escuela Politécnica del Ejército –ESPE). This change implied an evolution in terms of methodology, minimum requirements, thinking and attitude in the military academic formation that adapts to the requirements and standards the Secretariat of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (SENESYCT in Spanish) has introduced in these years of academic transformation in the country.


    Taking into account the objective of the present paper, the historic method was very useful since it allowed determining the evolution of the military education in Ecuador from its origins and the transformations since 2013. There were applied the procedures of analysis and synthesis to analyze the process in parts and establish relations among them. Besides, there were applied the dialectic and systemic logical methods. The former turned out to be very important to establish the links of the evolution of the military education process with different periods of history, and especially to establish the new requirements according to the current state of the development of higher education in the country; for which were applied the abstraction and induction-deduction procedures. For its part, the systemic method allowed orienting the work towards the characterization of the military teaching system of the country and the identification of some of its basics.

Results and discussion

    The main results of the application of theoretical methods are focused on the antecedents of the military education, as well as the origins of this type of teaching in Ecuador until 2013, a stage from which are assessed the transformations produced with the creation of the Universidad de las Fuerzas Armadas ESPE. Likewise, it is carried out an analysis of the military training system, with emphasis in the characterization of the formation, training and postgraduate centers, as well as the fundamentals and peculiarities of this type of teaching.

1.    Antecedents of the military education

    Military education exists since the very moment when peoples organized to have educated individuals to defend and preserve the inhabitants, the belongings and the land. The profession of soldier as a military man is as ancient as history itself. This is also valid of the army of the pharaohs 1400 B.C, the soldiers of the first Chinese emperor two and a half centuries ago and for the Roman troops half a millennium ago (Wood, 2008). On the other side, Sparta was the only one in ancient Greece, given its social system and constitution, completely focused on a military training of excellence.

    As the Spartan men began their military training at the age of seven under the Agoge (Hodkinson y Powell, 2009) system, designed to foster discipline, physical endurance and focus on the importance of Sparta as a state, given its military superiority, Sparta was acknowledge as leader of the Greek forces combined during the Greco-Persian wars (Cassin-Scott, 1977).

    Thus the military education continued to evolve regardless of the status quo of the government of a country, since education and the superiority of the military men of every nation was decisive for the survival, development and prosperity as a State (Donagan, 1995; Abbe y Halpin, 2010; Stiehm, 2010). In the past, the higher military education, due to its exclusiveness, was a privileged profession and included different social classes, mostly the elites (Barnett, 1967) and then became a way to improve the social class after the duty per se (Holder y Murray, 1998:81-90). Also, there are references of how sometimes the evolution of the doctrine and the military education changed the policy of the State (Franke, 1999; Masland y Radway, 2012), the way to keep peace (Cheney y Taylor, 1997) and the cooperation among states (Cope, 1995).

    The contemporary military education is characterized by its extreme adaptation to the specific circumstances of the political development in areas of conflict or disputes not related to war, but with security and defence issues, like for example taking part in activities to mitigate disasters caused by natural and atrophic threats, participate in search and rescue of missing people in the mountains, in the rainforest, woods, etc. This way of action different from the regular or ancient academic training is taking place in the armed forces of the world. As an example, we have the last Olympic Games held in Brazil, which counted on a huge military contingent to patrol some areas and be alert on possible cases of extreme leftist bombings.

2.     Origins of military education in Ecuador

    Before colonization, the American continent was populated by several native civilizations and cultures with special and own features (Bouchard, 1989; Salazar, 1995; Caillavet y Pachón, 1996).

    For that reason Ecuador has a faithful wealth of native peoples that by instinct of preservation and survival had influence in the adoption of support, protection methods and defence and tools for attack, as the national history describes, which leads to the origin of the first fighters and the creation of an organization that eventually became the Ecuadorian Army, which needed, of course, a structure and a system to form officers, starting the military education. The FFAA (armed forces) were created and strengthened throughout some historical events in 1830 such as:

  • The presence and pressure of some military leaders that claimed power.

  • The murder of Marshal Antonio José de Sucre, in Berruecos.

  • The definitive restraint of Simon Bolivar from political campaigns

  • The aspiration of leaders interested in establishing a Republic independent from Spain.

  • Appointment of General Juan José Flores as first president of Ecuador.

  • The creation of the First Constituent Assembly which proclaimed the constitution of the Ecuadorian Army as part of the Ecuadorian Armed Forces (FF. AA) (Macías, 2008).

    Since it is a historical and relevant event, it is worth mentioning that on March 8, 1838, subscribed by president Vicente Rocafuerte, was issued the corresponding executive decree that officially established the Military School in the capital of the Republic and from which second lieutenants would graduate (COMIL, 1837).

    In regard to military education, the country counted with support for the formation and training with the military mission in Chile 1886, although as result there were a few well trained officers left (Macías, 2008).

    In 1892, president Luis Cordero implemented a firm change on the military system with the introduction of educative reforms in the Military School, whose purpose was to exploit the cognitive skills of the cadets (Macías, 2008).

    The second foreign military mission of the country in 1920 came from Italy (Bravo, 2014); hired with the purpose of reinforcing and modifying the innovating proposals of the Chilean predecessor and had the opportunity to open the Academy of War and create and boost the formative and training activities of the schools of arms and service improvement (Macías, 2008).

    In the second decade of the previous century began a process to build the Artillery School, a solid base of the future University of the Armed Forces.

    On June 16, 1922 was organized the first special course of Engineers in the new School of engineer officers and the graduation ceremony took place on March 12, 1925. On October 22, 136, by initiative of General Alberto Enríquez Gallo, and under the signature of Officer Federico Páez, in charge of the Manso Supremo of the Republic of Ecuador, was created the Artillery and Engineering School (Bravo, 2014).

    Only in 1951 was recognized the creation of the Military University of the Armed Forces, as an academic system, becoming afterwards the technical School of Engineers, appointed in a public event by the university of the country, was shown as a university given its academic quality (Bravo, 2014).

    The institutional modernization process of the Armed Forces in the Security and Defense areas, that began early this century, influenced in the update of the educative model of the Military Schools, guaranteeing a comprehensive formation according to the new national and international requirements and especially of the Armed Forces.

3.     Ecuadorian military education since 2013

    The military education in Ecuador made an important turn on June 26, 2013, with the creation of the Universidad de las Fuerzas Armadas ESPE and the union of three centres of higher studies:

  • Universidad Naval “Comandante Rafael Morán Valverde”-UNINAV.

  • Instituto Tecnológico Superior Aeronáutico -ITSA.

  • Escuela Politécnica del Ejército –ESPE.

    By resolution RPC-SO-24-No 248-2013 of the Higher Education Council on June 2013 was approved the statute of the Universidad de las Fuerzas Armadas ESPE.

    Article 47 of the statute states that “The Rector will be appointed by the Chief of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces of the shortlist of three candidates of each force to which corresponds the rectorate, which will be by order of origin of the Forces, for a five year term”.

    Article 1 of the Statute of the Universidad de las Fuerzas Armadas ESPE (coded) status: “The Universidad de las Fuerzas Armadas ESPE is a non-profit institution of higher education, with legal capacity, public right and academic, administrative, financial, organic autonomy and self-heritage. As a higher education institution of the Armed forces depends of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces in: constitutional policy in the higher education area, designation of executive authorities; and appointment of the necessary military personnel for the work of the University, in conformity with the present statute”.

    With the creation of the University was created the plan for the strengthening of the military careers, which are part of the national academic system, from the technological, graduate and postgraduate levels in the military formation and improvement; allowing that the three forces: land, sea and air are correctly balanced in the academic and professional training of its staff.

    The creation of this institution have had influence in the fact that Ecuador counts on an updated and innovating system of military training assuming a curricular design by competence similar to other western countries (Dornbusch, 1955; McNally, Gerras y Bullis, 1996), which allows the graduate soldiers to have a better performance by having an educative model exclusive for the Armed Forces. The aforementioned is supported by the policy of curricular redesigns defined in the technological, graduate and postgraduate levels, where all the higher education institutions are immersed.

3.1.     Military formation system in Ecuador

    As part of the National System of Equalization and Admission (SNNA) of the country, the young high school graduates that wish to join technological or graduate military careers, must fulfil the chronogram established in the training schools for soldiers and officers candidates, with a schedule demanding tasks and activities, especially in the physical, academic and psychological aspects.

    The high school graduates selected for the soldier formation schools enter the institutions of the Army, the Navy or the Air Force and after two years of study they reach the rank of private and the academic degree, acknowledged by the SENESYCT as technologist in Military Sciences.

    The degree formation stage (third level) takes place in the Higher Military Schools, where young men and women begin their academic military training for four years and then graduate with two degrees both military and of higher education.

    The military formation degrees are:

  • Second Lieutenant of the Army

  • Ensign

  • Second Lieutenant of the Navy

    With the academic-technological training guaranteed by the Universidad de las Fuerzas Armadas-ESPE, the officers also receive the degree of bachelor in Military Sciences, after in-person courses in each of the following military schools:

  • Escuela Superior Militar Eloy Alfaro “ESMIL”.

  • Escuela Superior Naval Comandante Rafael Morán Valverde “ESSUNA”.

  • Escuela Superior Militar de Aviación Cosme Renella “ESSMA”.

    The academic military formation comprises a curricular axis of military formation in science, military culture, humanistic culture, science and technology and physical culture; each area includes specific subjects according to the necessities of the military institution that obeys to its own professional characteristics (CCFFAAA, 2012).

    The degree military education –third level- is planned through a curricular design by competence, which allows the cadet or naval officer to prepare to develop the planned competences of:

  1. Command.

  2. Manage assigned resources.

  3. Instructor educate the subordinates in the military area.

  4. Assess and participate in the national development.

  5. Represent the commander of the unit at a local level; the institution and the unit in national and international courses and the country in peace missions.

  6. Maintain the prestige of the institution with ethics and integrity.

    The study program valuates the importance of the exigency level required in the academic formation, given the risk and responsibility of the functions to carry out by the graduates such as: land, sea and air patrols, handle special weapons, use explosives, participate in anti-crime actions and more military operations of big risk and other activities that demand technical, practical and academic training. It is worth mentioning that the English language is a graduation requirement according to the standards of higher education, however due to the importance of the mastery of this language, the military schools count on a staff of teachers of English for their training.

3.1.1.     Formation and Training Centres of the Armed Forces

    In the Armed Forces there are centres for the formation and training of soldiers (Army), naval officers (Navy) and soldiers (Air Force): the Escuela de Formación de Soldados Nativos de la Selva “IWIAS” and the Escuela de Formación de Soldados del Ejército “Héroes del Cenepa - ESFORSE”.

    These institutions grant the degree of Technologist in Military Science, simultaneously with the soldier’s degree, with which they begin their military career and then promotion courses in schools of arms and services of the Army.

    The Centro de Tecnología Naval CETNAV is the Higher Institute that grants the degree on naval technologists in different specialties.

    The crew of the Navy are trained in the Escuela de Grumetes –ESGRUM and the Escuela de Infantería de Marina –ESDEIM, which include seaman recruit courses of Arms, Services and Specialists which just as the training schools of the Army, grants a degree of technology to start a military career.

    An essential aspect that shows the evolution of the military formation system in the country is the definition of a unique educative model for the three forces by the Direction of Education and Military Doctrine of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces.

3.1.2.     Postgraduate training

    Once graduated as second lieutenant or ensign, the young professional spends nearly seven years using the knowledge acquired and continues to prepare themselves academically through military training courses to reach the next rank of Captain or Lieutenant and then Major or Lieutenant Commander.

    With the rank of Lieutenant Commander, the officer enters the academy in the Joint Chiefs of Staff course, in which will be granted the degree of officer of the Chiefs staff and fourth level postgraduate degree in the following programs:

  1. Mastery in Land Military Strategy.

  2. Mastery in Sea Military Strategy.

  3. Mastery in Military Sciences, Air Force Strategy.

    With the master degree, the officers of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will be ready to ascend to the ranks of Lieutenant Colonel or Commander. This is one of the most important ranks for officers, since they will have the opportunity to command military areas, to provide military advisory, serve in every institution and the country in different posts and tasks included in the laws and regulations in force. A reason for which their academic training is operative and military strategic, being completed by subjects and academic conferences that allowed them fulfil the appropriate profile to become a commander of a military section.

    All over the world, the military structure is organized in a pyramid, since all along the military career there is a separation of officers from the force for different reasons, until just a few officers end their military career with the highest ranks, and it is here where Colonels or Captains pass the last level of the higher studies in the Instituto Nacional de Defensa “INADE”, graduating as Officer of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and at a university level as Specialist in Strategic Defense Studies, an official degree that allows them to certificate the competence and conditions to participate in other activities for the rank of Brigadier General or Rear Admiral. In the following years, they can also take part in the selection process in order to reach the ranks to command one of the forces or being considered in the corresponding Chiefs of Staff or in similar tasks. The officer studying in the INADE when exchanging experiences with other officers can learn of the joint planning to FACE different threats described in the in-force laws and regulations.

    That is to say that the officer will be able to reach the following academia degrees during his career:

  1. Bachelor in Military Science.

  2. Master in Military Strategy.

  3. Specialist in Strategic Defence Studies.

    One of the strengths of the academic formation is precisely the fact of having a teaching staff with a high professional, scientific and pedagogical level. Figure 1 shows a summary diagram of the military formation system in Ecuador

Figure 1. Military formation system in Ecuador

4.     Some fundamentals of the military education

    Military education must be understood as “a system of knowledge, skills and values the Armed Forces delivers to its members all along their career through a process of formation, improvement, specialization and permanent training that prepares them to assume new responsibilities, not only making them agents of the process, but capable of accept it and make use of it” (CCFFAAA, 2012).

    The success in the academic military training is also due to the permanent revision of the planning and the solution of problems with a correct professional training at all levels, as well as professionalism and the permanent effort for the wellbeing of the most vulnerable social groups, especially those located in deep places of the national geography, fulfilling the government’s policies (SENPLADES, 2013). in which the three military institutions participate actively, led from the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces, and where the link of the university with the society is a pillar.

    The academic military formation in the country has worked as a civilian-military system, making use of the existence of a university of the Armed Forces oriented towards formation, training and improvement, which constitutes an exclusive icon in Ecuador unlike in other countries.

    See that there are careers in the Universidad de las Fuerzas Armadas ESPE, where most students are civilians and a minor percentage are military personnel in active duty, this is a multiplying factor for civilian students to understand what is the role of the soldier in the society and to exchange academic opinions and about the national reality.

    According to the legal standard in force, every five years takes place a curricular redesign based on the career competence, essential to update the curriculum according to the evolution and knowledge and considering good practices of other armed forces in the region and the world.


    Throughout history, military education has been a boost for the development of the army, the navy and the air force, evolving based on the necessities of the nations and with the influence of the scientific and technical progress.

    The continent has made the necessary efforts through bilateral meetings for the mobilization of teachers and military consultants in each of the institutions of the Armed Forces. For that reason, it could be affirmed that the military doctrine is in constant update, through the training and research of science and military art.

    Military education is one of the main priorities of the Ecuadorian Armed Forces, oriented towards the development of competence and skills, based on update knowledge that guarantees the effective operation of the forces.

    Military education in Ecuador is aimed at both officer recruits and troop staff recruits, with the possibility of distance learning in some careers and in-person classes for priority careers in the institutions of the Armed Forces. That is one of the strengths of the Universidad de las Fuerzas Armadas ESPE, a center that focuses its actions in aware discipline with an identity formed with ethical values and leadership for the service of the community.


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