Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Details Emerge On Arms Budget Revamp

An overhaul of the weapons-acquisition process calls for four-year plans under which the military would spell out its shopping list and how much to spend. The spending outline would be reviewed annually, according to La Tercera. The plan eliminates the armed forces' principal arms-funding source -- 10% of the state-owned copper company's export sales. (In 2007, the set-aside amounted to $1.39 billion.) But there would be a spending floor, and the budget would be based on each branch's needs, rather than an equal division of dollars under the current system. One goal is to coordinate weapons systems among the three branches of the military. Basic costs such as food, salaries and maintenance would still come from the general budget. The revamp would also set up a position similar to the U.S. chairman of the joint chiefs, who would oversee combined operations but leave administration of each branch to its top commander. President Bachelet's administration will send the proposal to Congress in a few weeks. As far as the military brass goes, army chief Oscar Izurieta has cited "technical and fundamental" issues. But generally, commanders agree with the proposal.

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