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Chile Army - Modernization

With the widespread boycott of the military regime following the 1973 overthrow of Salvador Allende, Chile found many traditional sources of equipment closed. United States arms exports to Chile were formally terminated in 1976 after the adoption of the Kennedy Amendment in 1974. With the return of democracy in 1990, the Aylwin government assured the United States that it would continued to prosecute those responsible for the assassination of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier, an opponent of the military government, and his assistant, United States citizen Ronnie Moffit, in Washington in 1976. As a result of these assurances the embargo was lifted, and United States arms sales to Chile resumed.

The Chilean Army wanted to replace their M-101 and M-56, 105mm units. They considered replacing the 22mm cannons in the M-101 with 30mm cannons. The Army was also be looking for a replacement for the MAMBA missile system that can be distributed to their antiarmor units. The new system replacing the MAMBA may also be expected to replace the M-40 Al 106mm artillery units. According to an assessment made by Tecnologia Militar Magazine in its January 1994 issue, the Army is evaluating the M-113 because it needed to select an armored personnel carrier. Army evaluations rated its anti-aircraft capabilities as its weakest point. "Blowpipe" missiles and 20mm anti-aircraft cannons are likely to be replaced by a "fire and forget" missile to be selected. Several missile systems in this category are currently under review. While FAMAE had made some improvements to the SIG-542 rifle, the Army may also be in the market for new rifles for its infantry units. In the area of radars, the Chilean Army currently relies on the ELTA/M2l06 portable unit. The Army is likely to upgrade all of these units to the 2106 H standard and may decide to supplement the ungraded units with new equipment and capabilities.

The process of modernization involves transforming and improving the capacities, structures and management that will allow the Army to adapt to the demands imposed both by national and international events, as well as by rapid technological change. The process is basically oriented to developing a modern, highly specialized organization, with units of high performance and efficiency. It also seeks to increase the capacities of its personnel, helping them to acquire the skills required for using complex weapon systems. In this manner, the Army helps the country exercise an appropriate level of deterrence and, in turn, acquires the necessary skills to cooperate with UN missions. This process sometimes involves tasks requiring deep institutional changes at different levels, for the purpose of incorporating that specialization and attaining fluency and certainty in the decision-making process.

Therefore, the modernizing effort aims at gradually achieving a design of the forces that is realistic and based on the availability of economic resources. This means implementing periodic decisions that will allow the process to continue for the immediate term, and later lead to the changes foreseen for the year 2013. Thus, all activities that imply an organizational change, a change of facilities or mobilization of personnel will be founded on an integral feasibility study of the proper dimension and coherent with the service’s capabilities.

The elements that strengthen the modernization process – begun in 1992 – include Projection of Force. This concept refers to the purpose of achieving a usage capacity in different scenarios, quickly and for deterrence and cooperation effects, both in the national and international areas. Through this effort, the Institution evolves towards a more functional, flexible and modular structure. Interoperability aims at optimizing operational integration, both in the national field and with the armies of other countries that are part of peacekeeping forces, to operate effectively in a multifunctional context.

Vocational-Professional Model - soldiers share a spirit of service and professional performance as core elements for effectively executing their military function. The Army is integrated into society - it contributes to the country in peacetime, in emergencies, and in wartime, within the framework of an institutional doctrine that confirms its vocation of service. The Army is committed to constitutional principles - in other words, it is founded on the principles of an institutional system that are established by the Political Constitution and express the republican tradition of independent Chile.

The objectives that guide the modernization process of the Army are:

  • Strengthen the units’ rationalization, completion, and training, and incorporate a modern concept of structure and management into the organization.
  • Continue with the process of rationalizing the management of the financial resources allocated by the State.
  • Optimize the Institution’s human resources management systems by introducing new technologies and administrative procedures.
  • Complete the weapons and technical resources systems needed by the operational units, through the incorporation, replacement or reinforcement of the existing elements.
  • Restructure the educational and training system.
  • Improve the institutional infrastructure.
  • Contribute to United Nations peacekeeping operations in which the State decides to participate.
  • Strengthen the science and technology area.
  • Optimize the ways in which Military Service can be performed, according to the framework for the modernization of the SMO.
The Chilean Army is enforcing the provisions of the “Alcázar Plan,” the master document of the modernization process. In general, the main objective of this Plan is to rationalize and optimize the Institution’s human and material resources, in harmony with the country’s political, cultural and economic reality. Therefore, it includes the modernization efforts undertaken by the Army, and calls for the following development stages:
  • Stage I: Begun in 1992 and completed in 1998.
  • Stage II: Begun in 1998, and scheduled to last until 2013.
To accomplish the modernization process described above, the Army is carrying out two types of projects: global projects that benefit the institution as a whole and specific projects that directly support each of the High Agencies, Commands and Operational units. In this context, the following activities are at the following levels of progress:
  • Restructuring of the institutional educational and training system to increase the training level of the personnel and improve their professional efficiency in using new weapons systems.
  • The Military Academy, the War College and the Military Polytechnic College, under a new educational concept, are executing study programs and post-graduate and postdegree programs in the area of military sciences, some of which have the significant participation of civil professionals.
  • Reorganization of units, including the incorporation, replacement and completion of modern weapon systems and technical resources, under the concept of accomplishing tasks in a comprehensive sense during times of peace, crisis, war and natural disasters.
  • Optimization of technological research by institutional agencies, with the capacity for contributing to the nation’s development.
  • Development of logistical units and troop support systems, in accordance with the unit’s current and future capabilities.
  • Renewal and extension of the military, social and welfare infrastructure.
The Development of the Force involves a series of actions projected for the period from 2003 to 2006, designed to complete the units and achieve the Army’s new organization and force structure, ensuring their rationalization, and in turn, incorporate education, management and full integration of the administrative and logistical support subsystems into its overall duties Because it is impossible to have an accurate prediction of the different variables that may have an effect when conceptually scheduling for a long-term time horizon (2013), the decision was made to establish a consolidation phase from 2006 to 2010, which coincides with the bicentenary of Chile’s independence. After that year, that the strategies laid out in the “Alcázar Plan” for 2013 will most likely continue in effect. Jose Miguel Pizarro noted in 2010 that "The Chilean Army is currently in the final phases of completing an historical modernization process that it is almost exclusively focused on conventional warfare. Chilean main battle tanks, mechanized formations and heavy artillery provide a false sense of superiority that confuses political decisions -- about the eventual use of force -- with the urgent need to develop a military that is truly prepared for a myriad of asymmetric contingencies. While it is important that the implementation of maneuver warfare with heavy tank formations be subject to critical evaluation, the generalized disregard in the Chilean Army against Irregular Warfare (IW) is flawed and warrants a closer look.... the Chilean army prepared for tank battles with the Peruvian and Argentineans for more than four decades, yet rarely deployed to fight. The system worked because we were never forced to cross the border. This in turn created a self-perceived idea of invincibility that effectively eliminated the need to prepare for any other type of battle."

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Page last modified: 29-11-2012 20:18:47 ZULU