Friday, June 13, 2014

Five Key Points from the President's Defense Plan

President Michelle Bachelet released an accounting of major defense policies, which was part of her report to Congress on the state of the nation. Here are the most interesting points:
  • Several steps are being taken to solidify Chile's sovereignty in Antartica, including adding resources to the bases in that territory. The Navy's current icebreaker, due to be retired next year, will remain in service until 2020, when a new ship should be ready. The government-owned Asmar shipyard is capable of building the ship at a cost of $160 million, the document states.
  • Electronic reconnaissance assets will be combined into an integrated system for all armed services. Electronic warfare, UAV, intelligence, satellite and cyberwarfare units will come under the umbrella of the new system.
  • Chile continues to forge military ties with some Central American nations. Under a program started last year and financed by Canada, Chile has been transferring know-how to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, specifically for peacekeeping missions and disaster and humanitarian aid. As part of the exchange, troops from El Salvador and Honduras have joined Chile's peacekeeping battalion in Haiti. Separately, Bachelet praised military cooperation with Argentina and urged closer ties with Peru.
  • For the Air Force, Bachelet cites a requirement to acquire advanced jet trainers "in the coming years," but doesn't spell out any specifics. A capitalization plan for its financially troubled Enaer aerospace company has been worked out, but figures weren't given.
  • The mine-clearing work is not even halfway done. At the end of 2013, 42.3% of landmines had been destroyed. That's 19 minefields, 3.68 million square meters, 52,563 antipersonnel mines and 25,963 antitank mines.

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