Sunday, December 31, 2017

Terror Prosecutors Win Partial Victories in Court

Chilean prosecutors have obtained mixed results in key cases of domestic terrorism, but even partial success is progress in a battle that has left few suspects in jail. In one case, a court convicted a man of terrorism in the 2014 bombing at a subway station. Two other defendants were acquitted, but getting at least one conviction was a positive step. Prosecutors called the verdict "historic." Meanwhile, prosecutors were dealt a serious setback when 11 people were acquitted in the deaths of an elderly couple who died in the fire bombing of their rural home nearly five years ago. However, an appeals court overturned the verdict, which means there will be a new trial. The violence by radical Mapuches may be spreading to Argentina. Investigators in that country are looking into links between the Mapuche communities in both nations after a series of attacks in Argentina.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

How Chile Is Aiding the Search for the Missing Argentine Submarine

Chile is providing some of the most sophisticated sensors in the search for an Argentine submarine that has been missing since Nov. 15. Chile's Navy sent one of its C-295 Persuader submarine hunters to the South Atlantic, where the U.S. Navy, Royal Navy, Brazil's navy and other nations have joined the search for ARA San Juan and its 44 crew members. A Chilean P-3 Orion sub hunter has been added to the search mission, Noticias FFAA Chile reported. Chile also has rushed the scientific research vessel Cabo de Hornos, which is equipped with ocean-floor scanners. The Navy offered the Type 23 frigate Lynch, which has the most advanced sonar in Latin America (the Thales S2087 active/passive sonar) and can carry a Cougar anti-sub helicopter, InfoDefensa reported. On its Twitter account, Chile's Air Force announced it is sending sonobuoys to drop in the search area. There are indications that an explosion occurred in the submarine, and the crew reported a problem with the batteries. If that's the case and the sub is destroyed, sonar is unlikely to pick up any trace of the San Juan. Submarines provide excellent stealth, which makes a rescue mission all the more difficult. The San Juan is one of three subs in Argentina's navy. The TR 1700-class boat was built in Germany and began operations in 1985.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Defense, Police Budgets to Increase 3% in 2018

Chile's defense budget is getting a 3% increase for 2018, to roughly $2.9 billion under currency exchange rates. That sum covers operational costs, payroll, vehicles, equipment, funds for military-owned companies and other expenses, but it excludes main weapons systems. Those are financed from a 10% tax on sales by the state-owned copper mining giant Codelco, which can greatly increase the military's purchasing power. Several billion dollars are believed to be socked away in that fund. But for the Army, Navy and Air Force, a total of $1.94 billion is budgeted, which is a drop of 0.5% from this year's outlays. Chile's police force is budgeted for a 2.7% increase for 2018, to about $1.8 billion in U.S. currency. The budget includes funds for 1,500 additional carabineros, replacement of 250 patrol vehicles and infrastructural improvements. The investigative arm (Policia de Investigaciones) is getting a 1.6% hike in expenditures to $507 million. That includes money for 1,200 more investigators. Chile's most serious security problems are internal, and it's the police agencies that are shouldering the burden of combating those. Police are battling a violent indigenous movement in the south, drug and auto crime along the Bolivian border, and sporadic attacks by anarchists and other extremists. The budget has been introduced in the legislature, which must pass it into law. But while the outgoing administration of President Michelle Bachelet crafted the spending plan, a new administration is taking office in March and will inherit the new budget. 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Was Chile Sending a Message in Armed Forces Parade?

In a rare break from tradition, the Sept. 19 Armed Forces Day parade saw the Army put some of is heavy armor on display. Armored units usually don't participate in the annual parade, which is mainly a showcase for the military academies and for patriotic celebrations. But this year, elements of the Third Armored Brigade based in Antofagasta took part, the first time since the bicentennial parade in 2010 that tanks roll in front of the military brass and the president. It was a modest assembly of just a few Leopard 2A4 tanks, Marder infantry fighting vehicles, M-109A5 self-propelled howitzers and engineering vehicles. But with Bolivia's leaders unrelenting in their anti-Chile rhetoric, perhaps Chile wanted to remind its neighbor of the potent enemy it would face if the two countries ever came to blows. The Third Armored Brigade, in fact, would be one of the first to face Bolivian troops. Still, the possibility of armed conflict remains remote, largely because Bolivia's military is so inferior and Chile would mobilize its Army only if it saw a real threat. A bigger problem with Bolivia is the smuggling, car theft and drug traffic along the border.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Chile Resorts to Anti-Terrorism Law in Mapuche Attacks

The radical indigenous movement operating in the south of Chile has stepped up its attacks, burning 29 trucks in a single assault and launching other attacks that have left dozens of trucks and logging machinery destroyed. Mapuche activists have long been targeting logging companies in a violent campaign to win back ancestral lands, a conflict that's only growing worse. Since 2010, more than 250 trucks have been burned, but the toll has risen sharply since last year. Some churches and government equipment have been targeted, too. Chile's government says it will combat the violence with its counter-terrorism laws, which limit certain civil rights. The attacks certainly aren't of the severity of global terror organizations such as ISIS. In another context, these would be just criminal acts, but the political overtones make them fall under the umbrella of organized terror. Years of conflict, ineffective policing and little progress on the central issue of land holdings have combined to create one of Chile's biggest security problems, and one with no quick solution. The latest wave of attacks comes amid the trial of 11 Mapuches accused in the killing of an elderly couple whose home was set ablaze in 2013. Truckers, meanwhile, have threatened to strike unless the government can provide better protection.UPDATE: Police arrested eight people in connection with the fires, including the spokesman of the Mapuche uprising. His home and others were raided in what police called a six-month investigation.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Chile Studies LORA Long-Range Missile

Chile is evaluating the Israeli Aerospace Industries Long Range Attack system, a weapon with a range of 400 km — far more than any artillery system currently in the country's arsenal and anywhere in Latin America. LORA is being considered for deployment in the next decade and would be based on a ship platform, according to a report in Jane's 360. This may end up like so many rumored acquisitions that never materialize. But if LORA does come to Chile, it would mark a shift in military strategy, and not just because of the extreme range. Installed on a warship or even a commercial vessel, LORA could be moved around the expanse of the southern Pacific, providing more mobility than if the system were based on land. LORA also has the potential to change Chile's deep-strike strategy. A missile with 400 km of range and GPS guidance would lessen the need for F-16 fighter jets and the risks that come with an attack into enemy territory. Looking further into the future, any fourth- or fifth-generation fighter to replace the current fleet of F-16s would be costly, and a surface-launched missile would offer another attack option. LORA could take the deep-strike role from FACh, at least in part. LORA is a 5-meter long missile launched from sealed canisters. It uses GPS guidance to reach its target and is accurate to within a 10-meter radius, packing a warhead capable of penetrating reinforced structures.