The Choco War

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When faced with major economic uncertainties and dwindling support from the civilian population, some governments can sub come to the pressure and take extreme measures to overcome the perceived weaknesses within their country. The Choco War between Bolivia and Paraguay provides an outstanding example of how an overconfident country can fail to take their enemy seriously and cause them to not only lose a war, but to make their situation worse. For Bolivia, their main economic worry was the fact that they were a landlocked country due to a previous war that took place from 1879 – 1884. The War of the Pacific was devastating because when Chile defeated them, Bolivia not only took a major blow to their pride, Chile annexed their entire costal…show more content…
Bolivia boasted one of the most powerful aerial arsenals in the region. Paraguay featured a much smaller air threat in terms of size. But their pilots had more experience. Bolivia fumbled the opportunity to maintain absolute air superiority in not only terms of air to air battle, but also with the fact that their ground troops had organic air defense at the division level using the SEMAG-Becker 20mm anti-aircraft guns. The Bolivians commanders completely misused the reconnaissance intelligence brought back by pilots. Sometimes they even flat out ignored them. Bolivians trusting the pilots’ recommendations of attacking obvious outposts of Paraguayan Soldiers through the air could have saved them the daunting task of moving personnel and equipment through the merciless landscape. More importantly it could have saved many of their Soldiers’…show more content…
During the final months prior to the outbreak of war, Paraguayan diplomats secured a secret loan from Argentina. Unlike Bolivia, Paraguay had almost no standing army and no peace-time budget for mobilization stockpiles. While their troops fought the first skirmishes of the war armed with machetes and one castoff Argentine Mauser rifle for every 3-7 men. A civilian purchasing commission frantically shopped the arms bazaars of Europe for bargain equipment. Ironically, the inexperience of the men selected for the task and the crippling, national lack of funds now proved fortuitous. While Bolivia 's professionals spent lavishly on "serious" weapons, like heavy Schneider howitzers, water-cooled heavy machineguns, tanks and he all but useless little Vickers mountain guns. The Paraguayan amateurs bought poor man 's artillery—light, cheap, Stokes-Brandt mortars, three of which could be had for the price of one field gun—and Madsen light machineguns. Cartridges and artillery shells could be had clandestinely, free of charge, from the Argentine army, and grenades were in production in Paraguay itself. In the heat, dense brush, and mud of the Chaco, lightness, mobility, and a high trajectory were the dominant requirements. Mortars, grenades, and light automatic weapons so dominated the battlefields that Bolivia was forced to return to Vickers for large quantities of both. Later in the war, when Paraguay 's funds were exhausted, she
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