Sunday, November 11, 2007
Chile is nearly doubling the number of professional soldiers to 5,000 under a program to increase the armed forces' skill level. Soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who complete their military service can apply for a five-year position. The jobs pay 250,000 pesos, or about US$500, a month. Chile has a military draft, but few if any draftees are forcibly conscripted. Deferrals are easy to get, and the downsizing of the armed forces left just enough spots for those who want to take advantage of military service. As Chile's military technology increases, it's become more important to keep skilled people in uniform. The army is reducing its Leopard I fleet, ostensibly because those tanks are obsolete. But critics say the tanks (acquired less than 10 years ago) would be in better operating shape if the army had enough technicians.