Tuesday, September 30, 2008

'The Economist' On Chile's Army Reform

Chile's army won't be fully accepted as a part of democratic society until questions about its human rights past are settled, Gen. Oscar Izurieta says in an article in this week's The Economist. But to continue seeking recrimination doesn't necessarily help the country, he added. The article discusses other aspects of the army's reform, such as its growing peacekeeping role and the shift from conscription to a professional force. (These issues have been covered in this blog.) Check out "A force for good, now: A newly streamlined army polishes its democratic credentials."

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.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Air Force Gets Its 767

FACh took delivery in August of a 767-300 purchased from a Portugese company. The aircraft will be used for various transportation tasks, including ferrying the president on long-range trips. The air force's plan is to acquire two of the 767s. With a Boeing 707 and Hercules C-130 planes at advanced ages, FACh is trying to update its transportation fleet.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

FARC Involved in Mapuche Movement?

The government confirmed communications between the Colombian rebel group FARC and Chile's indigenous Mapuche activists. Emails found in the captured laptop of Raul Reyes -- the No. 2 FARC leader killed in a raid inside Ecuador last March -- sought training for Chilean activists groups, including Mapuches. The links heighten fears that foreign groups are aiding Mapuche radicals. But Interior Undersecretary Felipe Harboe said there's nothing to indicate an active role by FARC in the indigenous movement.