Sunday, December 18, 2011

Army Reorganization Targets Defense of the Andes

While its northern borders command most of Chile's defense efforts, the Andes mountains are the focal point of a new restructuring in the Army. The 3rd Army Division is being renamed 3rd Mountain Division and it will combine regiments that specialize in defending the massive mountain range. The 3rd Mountain Division, with headquarters in the southern city of Valdivia, will bring together three reinforced regiments, two infantry regiments (of roughly 400 troops each), one artillery, one armored cavalry, one communications and one logistics regiment. All units are based in central and southern areas of Chile, with the southernmost being Reinforced Regiment No. 9 in Osorno. The three reinforced regiments are comprised primarily of a mountain infantry battalion and a mountain engineer battalion, with one regiment (in the Los Andes community) also equipped with an artillery unit. The crest of the Andes largely marks the border with Argentina and Bolivia, so it's a major piece of Chile's security considerations. The new reorganization is designed to better coordinate defense and disaster-relief operations in mountainous areas, rather than cope with a specific threat. Argentina and Chile are on quite friendly terms, and the Andes form a natural barrier with that country and with Bolivia.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Blastoff! Chile's New Satellite In Orbit

Chile's new satellite was launched into orbit the evening of Friday, Dec. 16 from a facility in the French Guiana. The FASat-Charlie satellite is a joint military-civilian program in which the 117-kg spacecraft will be used for mapping, agricultural monitoring, environmental research, management of natural resources, and of course to peek into neighboring countries' military installations. Reports say FASat-Charlie's sensors are powerful enough to detect submarines on the surface. The $72 million satellite, built by Europe's Astrium, is considered the most powerful in South America. It is scheduled to be in orbit for five years. Chile's Air Force will operate a ground control station at the El Bosque air base. FASat-Charlie is not the first satellite Chile has put in space. The first project, in 1995, was a failure after the satellite never separated from its booster rocket. The second spacecraft, launched in 1998, operated for three years.