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Chile Command Structure
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
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    Figure 13. Organization of the Armed Forces and Security Forces, 1993

    Under the 1925 and 1980 constitutions, the president is the head of the armed forces, with the ability to order the disposition of the air, sea, and land forces with the advice of the military commanders. In case of war, the president may declare war and assume the supreme military command of troops directly. The minister of defense, assisted by the subsecretaries of defense for the army, navy, and air force, is responsible for the armed forces' administrative control (see fig. 13). However, since the transition to civilian government in 1990 the president has had little actual control over the military, and the Ministry of Defense has lacked any effective control of the services and the Carabineros.

    The chief executive appoints, for four-year terms, commanders in chief of the army, navy, and air force and the director general of the Carabineros "from among the five senior generals who have the qualifications required as per the respective constitutional statutes for such posts" (Article 93). However, the president may not remove any of these appointees from their posts during their four-year terms, unless there are proven criminal charges against them, in which case Cosena must approve the president's disciplinary action. The president, through the minister of defense, prepares all decrees giving officers of the armed forces and Carabineros their promotions. To remove an officer, the president must refuse the officer's promotion, after the candidate has spent a maximum number of years in the current grade. Officer assignments and qualifications are made by the military command in accordance with the law and regulations of each service. The army commander, General Pinochet, has resisted all executive branch attempts to amend the constitutional article that prevents the president of the republic from removing the armed forces' commander in chief.

    The positions of the minister of defense and the subsecretaries remained effectively unchanged under the Aylwin government. However, the Subsecretariat of the Carabineros and the Subsecretariat of Investigations are subordinate to the minister of defense rather than to the minister of interior, as was formerly the case. However, new laws call for the Ministry of Interior to coordinate the actions of the security forces. The Southern Military Region (Regi�n Militar Austral), including the two provinces of Magallanes and the Chilean Antarctic Territory (Territorio Ant�rtica Chileno), are also directly subordinate to the Ministry of Defense.

    In addition to Cosena, two other bodies, whose functions are specifically limited to the advisory level, deal with matters of national defense and security: the Politico-Strategic Advisory Council (Consejo Asesor Pol�tico-Estrat�gico--CAPE) and the Internal Security Advisory Council (Consejo Asesor de Seguridad Interior--CASI). CAPE consists of six military and four civilian members and is entrusted with long-range planning of the defense and external security of the state. CASI, which consists of the minister of interior and seven military members, deals with internal security planning.

    A combined National Defense Staff (Estado Mayor de la Defensa Nacional--EMDN) is also largely an advisory body. The position of chief of the EMDN rotates biennially among the army, navy, and air force. Each of the armed forces also maintains its own General Staff (Estado Mayor General), which carries out standard generalstaff functions with regard to its own service.

    The more recently established Supreme Command of the Armed Forces (Comando Supremo de las Fuerzas Armadas--CSFA) is primarily a coordinating body, concerned with introducing the maximum possible degree of standardization in procurement policies and the elimination of duplication of effort at the administrative level. It largely superseded the Council of Commanders in Chief (Junta de Comandantes en Jefe). The latter entity, established in the late 1950s but nonoperational under the military regime, consisted of the three commanders in chief of the armed forces, together with the chief of the EMDN.

    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 Command Structure information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Chile Command Structure should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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Revised 10-Nov-04
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