Saturday, July 7, 2012
'National Strategy' Sharply Broadens Military's Role
Chile's armed forces appear to take a much larger role in internal security affairs under a strategic framework developed by President Sebastian Piñera's administration. The National Strategy for Security and Defense for the first time specifically puts security problems such as drug trafficking, organized crime and piracy under the broad umbrella of national defense. These unconventional threats have fundamentally changed how Chile views its security needs, the president says. Some exist on an international scale, which is of particular importance to Chile as it positions itself as global trade partner. Some politicians have criticized the plan, saying it expands the military's power into areas that aren't part of its mandate, and the policy could violate the constitution. Since the end of military rule in Chile, the Carabineros and Policia de Investigaciones have been tasked with safeguarding internal security. The National Strategy, which now goes to a legislative review, is characterized as a companion piece to the new military budget law, which is on its way to final approval. Indeed, some military acquisitions such as UAVs and maritime patrol aircraft have been made with an eye toward patrolling border areas and the vast territorial waters. The Navy, of course, has long been responsible for security of the littoral area and the exclusive economic zone.