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Argentine Security Policy

Argentine security policy is hardly a policy at all. The lack of a threat has bred a lack of attention to defense. The consolidation of a new defense policy was framed by a series of decisions focused on confidence-building measures in the regional arena which could enable to untangle the countrys historical conflicts with neighboring countries, mainly as to border demarcation and nuclear proliferation. These circumstances became more evident with Chile and Brazil, countries with which the Republic of Argentina had had historical conflicts susceptible to a military resolution, and with whom significant progress has been made in the area of cooperation.

The return to a democratic order in the Republic of Argentina created the political conditions necessary for a legally-constituted civil leadership to rethink national defense policy and, therefore, determine the new role of the Armed Forces under such framework.

After the brutal dictatorship that ruled Argentina between 1976 and 1983, in which the armed forces played a crucial role and commited systematic human rights violations, one of the main consensus of the countrys democratic system was that the military could no longer have the autonomy levels that it had during the 20th century. This drove the first post-dictatorship president, Raul Alfonsin, to issue a decree that reduced the autonomy of the army to make decisions regarding promotions, rewards and other issues, which would become a faculty of the Defense Ministry. The idea was to increase the political control on the defense forces. But this consensus that remained untouched since 1984 was altered by a new decree issued by President Mauricio Macri in June 2016, which gave back to the army the same autonomy they had during the dictatorship.

The bases to enable the re-institutionalization of the Armed Forces according to democratic rules especially in compliance with the principle of subordination to civilian control and the limited assignment of roles and responsibilities were laid down through the enactment of a series of laws comprising the corpus iuris of national defense, namely: National Defense Act 23,554 (1988), Domestic Security Act 24,059 (1992), Volunteer Service Act 24,439 (1994), Armed Forces Reorganization Act (1998) and National Intelligence Act 25,520 (2001).

Decree 1729/2007 by which the "Cycle of National Defense Planning" issued by the Executive on 27/11/2007 provides in Article 1 of Annex I is approved: "In fulfilling its mission, and in order to establish guidelines for guidance and strategic planning of the Defence Policy and Military Policy of Argentina, the National Executive, will give, in the form quadrennial and dated September prevail year of each presidential term, a directive of National Defense Policy (dpdn), which, at the proposal of the Ministry of Defense shall be signed by the President of the Nation. This document begins the cycle Defence Planning." The Project Planning Cycle Military Capabilities (PROCAMIL) and Military Capabilities Plan (PLANCAMIL) was drawn up, which then must permit the Investment Program for the Defense (PRIDEF) with consequent budgetary allocations.

The traditional model of defense organization and military institutions was shaped mainly in the second half of the 50s, consolidated during the 60s and continued until the 70s. It was based on a domestic-security (seguritista) concept of national defense, in a context also characterized by a protector projection of the Armed Forces as actors in the political system. The Armed Forces adopted an organization that could be called bifront.

This meant that, on the one hand, as the Armed Forces consolidated a tutelary role over the Argentine political system, an intelligence and domestic security structure was gradually shaped to exert control and a prospective direct action over opposing political and social actors.

Likewise, its architecture was designed around the possibility of a conventional military confrontation with a neighboring country. To that end, the Armed Forces embarked in expensive procurement programs that led to regional arms-races, the creation of large structures, the transformation of the empl oyment doctrine, and the capillary deployment of military units in such zones considered key in the event of a military confrontation of that type.

The main mission of the Armed Forces was to contribute to the national defense acting in dissuasive form or using means in effective form, in order to protect and to guarantee of permanent way the sovereignty and independence, territorial integrity, the capacity of self-determination, the life and freedom of the inhabitants and the resources of the Nation as opposed to the risks and possible threats of external origin.

The secondary mission of the Armed Forces is to participate in Operations of Maintenance of Peace and/or multinational coalitions under mandate of International Organisms. To participate in the development of measures of cooperation and confidence mutual, regional and within the framework international, for the prevention of conflict situations.

During the mid-1960s the armed forces began to interpret national security as being inextricably linked with national economic development. This premise provided the foundation for what subsequently became known as the National Security Doctrine.

After the 1966 coup that brought retired general Juan Carlos Ongania to the presidency, the Act of the Argentine Revolution reorganized the military's command structure based on the precepts of the nascent National Security Doctrine. "National security" was henceforth vaguely defined as the "situation" in which Argentine "vital interests" were safe from "substantial challenges or disturbances." In turn, "national defense" became the means to achieve the goal of "national security." The effect of the reorganization law was that the security of the state became tied to that of the regime in power; national defense became dedicated to the regime's preservation.

The institutional aspects of the reorganization were embodied in the National System of Security Planning and Action, under which two councils, the National Security Council and the National Development Council, were created. The two bodies stood at the apex of the state planning structure and, according to General Benjamin Rattenbach, one of the principal architects of the plan, constituted "the national government itself, at its highest level." All policies and strategies subsequently developed by the government were to be reviewed and coordinated in terms of their "two vital aspects, development and security."

Some scholars argue that the United States promotion during the 1960s of the concept of "internal defense and development" influenced the development of the National Security Doctrine. Measures advocated by the concept included civic action and other military-sponsored economic development programs as a means to contain insurgency. According to one authority on the development of the national security state in Latin America, the concept's introduction opened a Pandora's box as the military gradually assumed increasing responsibility for national development.

This new role merged with indigenous theories, many bearing Germany's early influence, on the organic nature of the state and geopolitics and together shaped the political beliefs subsequently embodied in the National Security Doctrine. By 1969 the armed forces institution viewed itself as the trustee of the nation's destiny, and the containment of "internal warfare" was officially added to the armed forces' mission.

When extremist political violence increased during the early 1970s, the doctrine became directly associated with the elimination of left-wing subversion and, after the implementation of the National Reorganization Process by General Jorge Rafael Videla's government in 1976, was used to justify repression carried out by the armed forces against broad segments of Argentine society in which thousands were murdered or "disappeared".

After Alfonsin assumed the presidency, the doctrine was no longer supported by the government, and the law that regulated national security planning was abandoned, according to the civilian administration, "by virtue of disuse".

The first step towards the creation of a new national defense policy under the democratic framework was made through the construction of a firm political and social consensus around the very concept of national defense, its relationship with, and differentiation from, domestic security, the role of the Armed Forces as military instrument of defense and the administrative-functional decision-making scheme.

The redesign of national defense policy also meant a strong commitment of Argentina in Peace-keeping Operations (PKO) under the United Nations mandate. Both the domestic security and national defense systems respond to assumptions unmistakably different and mutually exclusive in their implementation: the former, primarily responds to the prevention, pursuit, and punishment of illicit acts contained in the Criminal Code and in special laws, and the latter seeks to repel external aggression.

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Page last modified: 09-06-2016 19:05:32 ZULU