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Chile - Personnel

Every year some 125,000 young men reach conscription age. The military service age is 18-45 years of age for voluntary male and female military service, although the right to compulsory recruitment [Servicio Militar Obligatorio S.M.O. ] is retained. The service obligation - 12 months for Army, 22 months for Navy and Air Force.

Chile reformed its military servic practices in 2005 for military service by volunteers. On 04 April 2007 Chiles Armed Forces announced that the 16,050 new recruits for 2007 were all volunteers. Citing the new recruitment law which provided funding for marketing and better benefits for solders, over 40,000 applications were received for the available spots. Chile's armed forces were able to fill their ranks entirely with volunteers, though generally a process of conscription starts each October to select potential conscripts as a backup. Thus, in October 2008, 70,461 youth were chosen in the "sorteo general" (recruitment lottery) and had to report to the recruitment authorities, but in the end none were called for military service against his will.

In May 2010, more than 11,000 young, conscripted soldiers began their tour of duty the majority assigned to military reconstruction efforts all over the country. Their work momentarily refocused Chiles attention on its compulsory military service for young men. By October 2011, only 14,127 men and women, between 18 and 24 years old, had volunteered for military service, compared to 20,431 the year before. The military planned to recruit 11,340 soldiers by spring 2012 to fill in the current military ranks.

On Thursday 11 October, 75,249 names were drawn randomly out of 125,040 young men for Military Service to meet the formalities concerning the conscription of 2013. Between 16 October and 16 November, those drawn had the option of filing a claim in the county of his commune for exemption from military service, which was evaluated by a Special Commission on Accreditation (CEA), the to be established at the community level. From the universe of the 13.116 volunteer that had been presented by 13 March 2012, 74.5% of them were apt to be garrisoned, i.e. 7,635 youth, which therefore left a deficit of 2,613 fit young volunteers to fill the quota required by the Army to barrack this year, which is 10,248 youth.

Historically, the profession of military science has been regarded as an honorable one in Chile. The army and to an even greater extent the air force have traditionally drawn their officer corps from among the middle classes, with a large portion coming from military families. Social elitism has been a traditional characteristic only of the officer corps of the navy. In 1900 military service became compulsory for all fit male citizens between the ages of eighteen and forty-five. Traditionally, only a small proportion of those eligible would actually be drafted for one year of training in the army or air force or two years in the navy. The overwhelming majority of the approximately 30,000 conscripts selected annually would serve in the army. (Of the 121,000 who registered in 1993, only 29,400 were drafted.) Those not specifically exempted from service would have their names inscribed in a military register. Traditional government policy also dictated that 10 percent of the annual conscript intake should consist of illiterate citizens, who would be taught to read and write during their period of military service.

National Mobilization is the provision and preparation of the manpower and material resources to serve the State in order to deal with an armed conflict. Compulsory Military Service gives Chile enough forces to perform Defense tasks in peacetime and to generate trained reserves for any mobilization process. It consists of three stages: preparation, execution, and demobilization. The preparation takes place during the normal, non-emergency state, through the planning and enlisting of manpower, material, and industrial potentials. Preparation is decentralized and involves, among other matters, the organization of the entire State administration in Fields of Action.

In the event of a foreign armed conflict, considered in the Political Constitution of the Republic as an emergency state called a State of Assembly, the criteria for allocating resources to increase the forces are changed in response to emergency situations associated with the state of alert. National Mobilization is an attempt to prepare the country without producing obvious changes in the normal course of the countrys activities.

The ongoing preparation and updating of the mobilization documents and plans is the duty of the National Defense General Staff (EMDN), while the enlistment that includes the coordination and execution of the preparatory mobilization measures is the duty of the Head Office of National Mobilization (DGMN).

It recent years there has been a constant concern to modernize concepts and procedures in order to take the mobilization process to more realistic scenarios in keeping with its needs. For this reason, the DGMN implemented its Advance project, which essentially involves updating at all levels (EMDN, DGMN, Services General Staffs, operational units, naval zones, air bases, and Mobilization Base Units), the validation and control procedures of the reserve management, and requirements of the field of the national defense. The project also aims at improving the consultation, analysis and evaluation processes involved in the assignment of resources, ensuring effective, timely management of the data during the stage of preparation, and consequently, in the mobilization of the human potential.

Compulsory Military Service was established in Chile by means of Law 1362 on Army and Navy Recruits and Replacements, passed on 05 September 1900. Though its application is nationwide, in other words, based on the compulsory, binding nature of the public obligation, the cost of this model of recruiting is very high and not in keeping with the current needs of the National Defense. During most of the 19th Century, it was applied selectively, through a recruiting system designed to select troops from the conscript base. This system has been maintained over time with some variations, giving rise to a model known as a compulsory-selective recruiting model.

Throughout the century in which compulsory military service was in force, Chilean society underwent a significant and important process of changes, to which this service to the country has had to adapt from time to time. The new social, economic and cultural realities, mainly since the 1960s, as well as Chiles defense needs deriving from the changes in the international and strategic arena, especially after the end of the Cold War, made a substantial modernization of compulsory military service advisable.

In 1994 the country began to modify the military service, to introduce some elements to compensate for the compulsory-selective nature of its recruiting, without affecting its military foundations. In a second stage in 2000, a National Forum on Compulsory Military Service was held, with the participation of several organizations representing civil society and State agencies and institutions, particularly the Armed Forces. On 05 September 2000, Executive Decree 81 of the Ministry of National Defense approved a proposal to modernize the Compulsory Military Service, based mainly on a series of ideas outlined in this forum.

The proposal mainly considers designing a recruiting system that promotes voluntary enlistment to perform this service to the country, to be complemented by a selection of the percentage of troops not covered by voluntary recruits, through a public, universal lottery mechanism. Some of the innovations to be introduced are related to the objectivity and transparency of the recruiting system, the establishment of automatic enrollment in the Military Registries of all Chilean citizens, the improvement of types of service and the creation of a control and supervisory system for the entire selection and recruitment process. The intention is also to strengthen and improve the legislative and institutional treatment of the rights and responsibilities of the recruits, and to regulate the causes of exclusion more precisely. It also promotes voluntary military service for women.

The amendments included in the bill that modernizes compulsory military service, submitted to the Legislature in December 2001, meet the needs of the Armed Forces on the one hand, and, on the other, respond to the universal aspirations of civil society. However, this did not mean that the obligatory nature of the military service as established in Article 22 of the Constitution was changed.

The objective of the governments policy is to make voluntary enlistment the preferred means of troop selection. This initiative was included in a schedule of several stages until full implementation of the new compulsory military service model in 2005. This modernization of the compulsory military service involved modifying laws and regulations, adapting the structures of the National Defense institutions, and assigning more resources and incentives to facilitate the goal of significantly increasing the recruitment of volunteers.

On April 6, 2006, President Michelle Bachelet announced a new plan to professionalize Chiles Army and abolish obligatory military service within the next five to ten years. The program was part of a general trend to modernize Chiles entire Armed Forces. The three-pronged plan proposed by the president would, first, increase the number of professional soldiers within Army ranks. This means 2,000 more soldiers will be enlisted every year, starting with 500 new recruits on 01 May 2006. The second measure aimed to entice more voluntary conscripts by improving Army benefits. Reforms to the recruits housing, education and salaries were to be implemented. A soldiers salary of $19,000 pesos a month (US$36) would increase to $26,000 (US$49) and $38,000 (US$72) for those stationed abroad. Finally, the number of conscripts undertaking military service will gradually be reduced so that within five to 10 years she expected to have a fully professional Army.

The new recruitment system left ineffective the obligation of young citizens to attend to the Recruitment Canton of their borough to enroll for the military service. In replacement of this method, it stipulates the implementation of an automatic inscription system in the Military Registries, in the year turning 18 years of age, by means of data transfer from the Civil Registry & Identification Service to the General Direction of National Mobilization(DGMN, for its acronym in Spanish). The DGMN must publish and issue annually, in April, with the respective Conscription Base for the year, made up by the members of the aforementioned Military Register and by the young citizens available from the former year.

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