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Chile A Modern Deterrent?
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
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    Neither terrorism nor foreign military aggression posed a significant threat to Chilean national security in early 1994. The establishment of democratic governments in both Argentina and Chile has resulted in unprecedented economic, political, and even military cooperation between the two countries. By early 1994, both countries had ratified the Tlatelolco Treaty, which bans the development of nuclear weapons.

    Nevertheless, many Chileans believe there is a constant threat from neighboring countries. Consequently, Chile is attempting to maintain a credible deterrent force. Occasional border disputes still occur, so Argentina, Chile, and Peru attempt to be prepared to use military force, if necessary, in defense of their perceived national interests. The overall situation of the Chilean Armed Forces in early 1994 was positive, but modernization of their forces had become a priority. Despite the lifting of the arms embargo, modernization was continuing to a significant extent within the framework of the national arms industry and indigenous technology. At the same time, the armed forces were looking to the European and United States arms markets for more advanced equipment to compete, for example, with the sale of thirty-six United Statesmade A-4M Skyhawk bombers to Argentina. It would be ironic, however, if the democratic governments in Argentina and Chile were to become involved in an arms race over mutual fears that the other side had a slight military supremacy.

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    Agustín Toro Dávila's Síntesis histórico militar de Chile provides a good summary of Chile's military history from the earliest times to the 1891 Civil War. Frederick M. Nunn's The Military in Chilean History and Chilean Politics, 1920-1931 are highly recommended. Despite its unwieldy Victorian title, Theodorus B.M. Mason's The War on the Pacific Coast of South America Between Chile and the Allied Republics of Peru and Bolivia, 1879-81 (published in 1883) provides a concise history of the War of the Pacific. A much more recent and well-documented study is William F. Sater's Chile and the War of the Pacific. Roberto Querejazu Calvo's weighty Guano, salitre, y sangre is probably the best single-volume history of the War of the Pacific, despite a slight pro-Bolivian bias.

    Daniel Prieto Vial's Defensa Chile, 2000 provides an interesting insight into at least one geostrategist's views of the direction that Chile's defense policies should take. A somewhat conflicting view of the subject from an ostensibly economic viewpoint is Fernando Bustamente, Miguel Navarro, and Guillermo Patillio's ¿Cual debe ser el gasto militar en el Chile de los 90? The best global treatment of the contemporary Chilean defense structure is Raúl Sohr's Para entender a los militares. The same author's study of Chile's defense industry in La industria militar chilena is also definitive.

    On the subject of the Chilean Army, the "Chile" section of John Keegan's World Armies is useful, and Cuatro siglos de uniformes en Chile by Alberto Márquez Alison and Antonio Márquez Alison, in addition to being the definitive work within its own field, provides a wealth of historical information beyond the limitations implied by its title. The same may be said of R.J. Bragg and Roy Turner's Parachute Badges and Insignia of the World and, to a lesser degree, of Bert Campbell and Ron Reynolds's Marine Badges and Insignia of the World. Emilio Meneses Ciuffardi's El factor naval en las relaciones entre Chile y los Estados Unidos, 1881-1951 is essential reading on modern Chilean naval history and is much broader in scope than its title implies. Rodrigo Fuenzalida Bade's four-volume historical work, La armada de Chile desde la alborada al sesquicentenario, 1813-1968, is unmatched by any comparable history of the army or air force. The history of the Carabineros remains to be written.

    Even the English-language professional and technical press tends to ignore the subject of Latin American defense, and the best sources of current and relatively objective information on the subject are the Spanish monthly journal Defensa Latinoamericana and the German-published, Spanish-language journal Tecnología Militar, which also has an English version, Military Technology. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

    Data as of March 1994

    NOTE: The information regarding Chile on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Chile A Modern Deterrent? information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Chile A Modern Deterrent? should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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Revised 10-Nov-04
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