Monday, August 30, 2010

Does Multirole Ship Make Sense for Chile?

In a sign that Chile is getting serious about acquiring a multi-role ship, the navy is entertaining offers from France and Italy. France is offering to sell the Siroco, a 12,000-ton ship, according to reports. France's DCNS, meanwhile, is proposing to build a new Mistral-class multirole vessel. That option that no doubt would be more costly, but the navy has expressed interest in such a project. Italy is trying to sell Chile two San Giorgio-class vessels built in the late 1980s. Chile's navy is still dusting itself off from the major 8.8-magnitude earthquake in February, which seriously damaged some naval facilities. But the disaster also underscored the need for ships that can move rescue and relief materials to ports or shores. Chile's unsual geography makes the country vulnerable to earthquakes or volano eruptions that can cut off the major north-south highways. At the same time, most cities and towns are within a reasonable drive of the coast, which makes it feasible for multirole ships to carry major loads to afflicted areas. Such vessels also would support peacekeeping operations, with the capacity to move a battalion-sized force and helicopters to distant locations. A multirole ship, however, would not be an aircraft carrier. Multirole ships are designed to carry a handful of helicopters, not carrier-borne fighter jets. In a pinch, a vertical take-off jet could use one of these ships. But Chile has no plans to acquire any.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

FARC Linked to Mapuche Extremists, Communists

The Colombian rebel group FARC is training Mapuche radical activists in Chile, officials in Colombia have warned. FARC's involvement goes back to 2001, and evidence show their tactics being adopted by  Mapuche extremists. Moreover, several communist party leaders in Chile have ties with FARC, the dossier from Colombia says. The communist leaders admitted their involvement, though they maintain the connections are purely political. That caused an uproar, and President Sebastian Pinera said anyone with ties to the terrorist organization owes the country explanations. For years, Mapuche radicals have mounted a campaign of violence that includes setting fire to ranches and trucks and taking over lands. Their activities pose one of the largest security problems in Chile. Their cause: reclaiming ancestral lands taken in the 1980s. Mapuches have denied any links to FARC.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Chile, Peru Seek Agreement on Arms Deals

Chile and Peru, which have been at odds over their borders and Chile's military spending, are cooperating on a joint agreement on weapons acquisitions. The two governments would disclose weapons programs to each other and set agreements on their defense purchases under a diplomatic effort now underway. Last month, the defense ministers of both nations met in July in the first step toward such an agreement. They are to meet again this month in Lima. The pact would be similar to one Chile already has with Argentina. Peru has repeatedly complained about Chile's arms modernization over the past decade. Economic difficulties forced Peru to cut back its defense budget, and only in recent years has begun to upgrade its forces. In 2008, it filed a case in the World Court seeking to expand its territorial waters into areas that today belong to Chile.