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Military


Ministry of Defense

Under Chiles system of presidential government, the highest Defense institution is subordinate to the President of the Republic. Other bodies that perform varied duties according to the laws of our country are the National Congress, the National Security Council, and the Superior Council of National Security. As a whole, these State institutions and agencies that act at the highest level of conducting the defense constitute what is known as the superior structure of the Defense. The armed forces are constitutionally subordinate to the President through an appointed Minister of Defense but enjoy a large degree of legal autonomy. Since the transition to civilian government in 1990 the president has had little actual control over the military, and the Ministry of Defense has lacked any effective control of the services and the Carabineros. Most notably, the President must have the concurrence of the National Security Council [Cosena] to remove service chiefs.

1996 Organization The positions of the minister of defense and the subsecretaries remained effectively unchanged under the Aylwin government. However, the Subsecretariat of the Carabineros and the Subsecretariat of Investigations are subordinate to the minister of defense rather than to the minister of interior, as was formerly the case. However, new laws call for the Ministry of Interior to coordinate the actions of the security forces. The Carabineros (the uniformed national police) had primary responsibility for public order and safety and border security. The civilian Investigations Police are responsible for criminal investigations and immigration control. Both organizations--although formally under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defense, which determines their budget--were under operational control of the Ministry of Interior. Some alleged perpetrators of human rights abuses during the military regime remained on active duty in the army.

In addition to Cosena, two other bodies, whose functions are specifically limited to the advisory level, deal with matters of national defense and security: the Politico-Strategic Advisory Council (Consejo Asesor Poltico-Estratgico--CAPE) and the Internal Security Advisory Council (Consejo Asesor de Seguridad Interior--CASI). CAPE consists of six military and four civilian members and is entrusted with long-range planning of the defense and external security of the state. CASI, which consists of the minister of interior and seven military members, deals with internal security planning.

The Minister of National Defense is the direct and immediate collaborator of the President of the Republic for governing and administrating the area of defense. The Minister governs the Defense Ministry in accordance with the policies and directions given by the President. The Ministers general task is to plan and direct the activities of the Ministry, and to provide direct and immediate advice to the President about national defense conduct, during peace and war. The Minister of National Defense performs his duties with the advice of the Board of the Commanders in Chief of the Services (JCCJ), which act as the Ministers main advisory body in these issues. It also has the support and advice of the National Defense General Staff (EMDN), an agency of the Ministry of Defense, and of ad hoc organizations that deal with specific matters: the General Advocate Committee, the Personnel Directors Committee, and the Health Directors Committee. Other agencies, some under one of the Undersecretary Offices or the National Defense General Staff, are the Office of National Mobilization (DGMN), the National Academy of Political and Strategic Studies (ANEPE), the Superior Council of National Defense (CONSUDENA), and others.

Created in 1980 by Chiles Political Constitution, the mission of the National Security Council (COSENA) is to advise the President of the Republic on national security issues as requested by the President. It is empowered to provide the President, the Congress or the Constitutional Court with its opinion on any event, action or subject that it believes to be a serious threat to the foundations of the nations institutional system or which may compromise its national defense. Among its other powers, the Council may also gather, from the authorities and officers of the State administration, any information related to the countrys external and internal security.

The Council is chaired by the President of the Republic, and is comprised of the following authorities, all of which have the right to vote:

  • President of the Senate
  • President of the Supreme Court
  • Comptroller General of the Republic
  • Commander in Chief of the Army
  • Commander in Chief of the Navy
  • Commander in Chief of the Air Force
  • General Director of the Police Force
The following authorities are also part of the COSENA, but without the right to vote:
  • Minister of Internal Affairs
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Minister of National Defense
  • Minister of Economy
  • Minister of Finance
This Council may be convened by the President of the Republic, or at the request of its members, and its agreements are adopted by absolute majority of the members with the right to vote. Its Secretary is the Chief of the National Defense General Staff.

The Superior Council of National Security (CONSUSENA) was created by legislative Decree 181 in 1960, to advise the President on issues related to the nations security and maintaining the countrys territorial integrity. In addition to its advisory function, the CONSUSENA is responsible for analyzing and proposing measures to coordinate the work of the different ministries in implementing the decisions and guidelines of the President of the Republic. In this task, the Superior Council will determine the national defense needs and enforce all measures established by the President to increase the countrys economic and defensive potential and decide how to use the countrys resources in emergencies. It shall also determine the National Defense needs and request, from the appropriate agency, the funds needed to create, develop and maintain the essential power and operational capabilities of the Armed Forces. It is also responsible for reviewing and approving the national or primary documents of the national defense.

The Superior Council consists of the President of the Republic and the following authorities:

  • Minister of State
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Minister of National Defense
  • Minister of Economy
  • Minister of Finance
  • Commander in Chief of the Army
  • Commander in Chief of the Navy
  • Commander in Chief of the Air Force
  • Director of State Borders and Limits
  • Chief of the National Defense General Staff
Its Secretary is the Secretary of the Superior Council of National Defense (CONSUDENA). The Superior Council is exclusive an advisory body; the President of the Republic has the exclusive right to accept or reject the resolutions of the Council. In this issue, it differs politically from the National Security Council, that adopts its resolutions by agreement of its voting members.

The National Defense General Staff is the permanent advisory, working and coordination agency of the Minister of National Defense in all issues related to the preparation and use of the Armed Forces. This is a joint agency, comprised of representatives of the three services under the command of the Chief the National Defense General Staff. The EMDN also acts as the working and coordination agency of the Superior Council of National Security (CONSUSENA) and the Board of the Commanders in Chief of the Services (JCCJ).

The position of Chief of the National Defense General Staff is a Division General, a Vice-admiral or a General of the Air Force, filled for twoyear terms on a rotating basis by each of the services. The National Defense General Staff also has a Vice Chief, a position filled on a rotating basis by a General (Army or Air Force) or a Rear Admiral, and the Special Directorates and Departments listed in its internal regulations. In addition, there are permanent or temporary Advisory Councils and Committees under the Chief of the National Defense General Staff established by executive decree or by ministry orders.

The Ministry was formed by the Offices of the Undersecretaries of War, of the Navy, of the Air Force, of the Police Force (Carabineros de Chile), of the Investigations Police, and the National Defense General Staff (EMDN), in addition to the organizations mentioned in the preceding chapter. The institutions of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy and Air Force) and those of Public Order and Security (Carabineros and Investigations Police) were under the Ministry of National Defense.

In 2010, the Ministry of Defense was restructured and a new Joint Staff was created. The Joint Staff advises the Minister of Defense on military issues, in conjunction with the service chiefs. His role is more specific than that of his U.S. counterpart. Lieutenant General Mardones commands and controls all military operations in times of crisis and conflict. He also establishes joint doctrine, organizes and trains forces in joint employment, and controls forces actually deployed in peacekeeping operations. The Joint Staff also operates two joint commands (in the north and south of Chile) and a Peacekeeping Operations Training Center (CECOPAC) in Santiago.




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