Monday, April 4, 2011
Anxious Moments for the Generals
Chile's military brass faces the most drastic changes since perhaps 1990, when it relinquished power to an elected government. Cuts to its acquisition budget, greater scrutiny and generally more control by civilian leaders loom for the commanders. A new Council on Military Investments will have oversight over all defense spending. The so-called copper law, which has provided billions for military hardware over the past decade, is set to be replaced by a more modest budget. Some politicians are questioning how long Chilean peacekeeping troops will remain in the Haiti. So under a tense environment, the chiefs of each branch of the armed forces had a face-to-face with new Minister of Defense Andres Allamand. But there was a thaw after a proposal from Allamand. The minister suggested that the armed forces take control of various investigations on questionable deals, but deal with each one effectively, according to accounts of the meeting. Another interesting point in the meeting was Allamand's characterization of future defense spending: "Now, political criteria will have priority." In other words, expect the civilian government to frame Chile's arsenal and military objectives.