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Peru - Military Personnel

Between 1980 and 1990, the size of the FF.AA. increased by some 30 percent, from about 92,000 to about 120,000, with close to two-thirds made up of conscripts. In 1992 the total figure was 112,000. The Peruvian Army (Ejercito PeruanoEP) remained by far the largest service, growing from 70,000 in 1980 to around 80,000 in 1990, but declining to 75,000 in 1992. The Peruvian Navy (Marina de Guerra del PeruMGP) more than doubled in size during the decade, from 12,000 to 25,000, but declined to 22,000 in 1992. The Peruvian Air Force (Fuerza Aerea del PeruFAP) increased by about 50 percent, from 10,000 to 15,000 (its strength in 1992).

Peru's unprecedented economic crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s substantially reduced military salaries and maintenance capacity and began to threaten the excellent training and strong professionalism at all levelsofficer, technician, and noncommissioned officer (NCO)that had been gradually built up during the post-World War II period.

The FF.AA. 's close relationship with United States counterparts from the 1940s well into the 1960s contributed significantly to this professional and material development. Between 1947 and 1975, the United States military trained 930 Peruvian military personnel in the United States, 2,455 in facilities in the Canal Zone of Panama, and 3,349 in Peru.

The militarily connected population has developed into a significant national sector. Playing an ever more important social role, the military (los militares) has, in effect, emerged as a subsociety. Its special attributes and arrangements set it apart from other social classes as a powerful special interest elite, with its own allegiances and identity, sense of mission, and objectives developed in coherent, relatively independent ways from other national policy and planning processes. No other groups within the population, with the possible exception of the cabals of the oligarchy, can be so characterized.

The people involved in ancillary activities probably approached 1 million, or 4 percent of the nation's population by the early 1990s. Included in these activities were military industries, medical services, civilian business managers and employees, service and maintenance personnel, and members of family networks who benefitted from having one of their number in the armed forces.

Professionalization has involved areas that few have analyzed but that constitute the major reward system for professional career officers and noncommissioned personnel. These are the elaborate infrastructure and exclusive services for personnel and their families including beach resorts and hotels, consumer discoun cooperatives,casinos and clubs, schools of several types and levels, hospitals and general medical services, insurance coverages, recreational facilities, and a variety of other programs. In addition, there are extensive housing subdivisions in Lima for the officer corps and other military employees, named for the military branches that they serve. Members of the military also benefit from special retirement provisions and a plethora of other benefits that are unavailable to others in the society at large.

The sphere of military activities includes an extremely active internal social calendar of commemorative events that bond the members and their families more tightly to group interests. In sum, the Peruvian military constitutes a virtually encapsulated society within the larger one and competes with advantage for the public funds vis-a-vis other interests by operating its own industries, sponsoring its own research and advanced study, and engaging in civicaction programs that often replicate the assigned work civilians.

The Peruvian military long had the reputation of being a well-trained force. For example, Peruvian army officers spent about 30 percent of their active careers in school: four or five years in the military academy, one and one-half years in specialization school courses, two years in the ESG, one or two years in intelligence school or study abroad, a year at CAEM, and six months to a year in other special courses. Entrance to each service was based on highly competitive national examinations; advancement was also meritbased, and, in addition, course completion requirements had to be satisfied for promotion and for becoming a general officer. Each service also had technical training centers, such as the Army Advanced Technical School (Escuela Superior Tecnica del Ejercito ESTE) for preparing its noncommissioned skilled specialists, preponderantly volunteers rather than conscripts.

Draftees received basic training and were encouraged to reenlist after their two-year obligation if their abilities indicated possibilities for advancement through technical training. As of May 1986, women did not serve as officers in any of the services, but there were a few volunteer enlisted servicewomen in the navy and a significant number of competitive examinations, strict physical and health requirements, rigorous education and training, as well as promotion and advancement on the basis of proven performance combined to build a strong professional military institution in Peru.

Officer recruitment and training were the backbone of the armed forces. In terms of social origins, the officer corps was derived primarily from the middle class, with the army somewhat more from the lower strata and from smaller communities in the provinces; 56 percent of army generals promoted between 1955 and 1965 were born in the highlands or jungle. Both navy and air force personnel came more from the upper strata, even upper class, and from urban areas, particularly Lima; about 90 percent of naval officers and over 65 percent of air force officers fit this description. A large proportion of officers also came from military families; 59 percent of army officers promoted to colonel or general between 1961 and 1971 fit into this category. In addition, a significantly greater percentage of the most prominent military officers were of immigrant origin than was the case in the general population. Among cabinet ministers of the Velasco Alvarado military government, 31 percent from the army, 23 percent from the navy, and 64 from the air force were also of immigrant origin.

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