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Chilemarker's armed forces are subject to civilian control exercised by the president through the Minister of Defense. Military service of 12 to 24 months is mandatory for all male citizens upon turning 18. This conscription service can be postponed for educational or religious reasons. In recent years and after several major reequipment programs, the Chilean Armed Forces have become one of the most technologically advanced and professional of the Americas.

Structure

Army

The current Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Army is Gen. Óscar Izurieta Ferrer. The 45,000-person army is organized into seven divisions and one air brigade. The army operates German Leopard 1 and 2 as main battle tanks. The recent purchase of 140 second hand Leopard 2A4 from the German army is under delivery. It must be noted that the Chilean Army has never lost a war. This is stated in their main statement "siempre vencedor y jamás vencido", with English translation: "always victorious and never defeated".

Navy

Admiral Rodolfo Codina Díaz directs the 18,000-person Chilean Navy, including 4,800 Marines. Of the fleet of 66 surface vessels, eight are major combatant ships and they are based in Valparaísomarker. The navy operates its own aircraft for transport and patrol; there are no fighters or bomber aircraft but they have attack helicopters. The Navy also operates four submarines based in Talcahuanomarker.

Air Force

Gen. Ricardo Ortega Perrier heads 11,000 strong Chilean Air Force. Air assets are distributed among five air brigades headquartered in Iquiquemarker, Antofagastamarker, Santiagomarker, Puerto Monttmarker, and Punta Arenasmarker. The Air Force also operates an airbase on King George Island, Antarctica.

Carabineros de Chile

Carabineros de Chile are the uniformed Chileanmarker national police force and gendarmery, created on April 27, 1927. Their mission is to maintain order and create public respect for the laws of the country. They depend on the Ministerio de Defensa Nacional (Ministry of National Defense) through the Undersecretary of Carabiniers and the Ministerio del Interior (Ministry of the Interior). The current mission of the "Carabineros" is to maintain or re-establish order and security in Chilean society through civic education, service to the community, police work, and in a war situation, to act as a paramilitary force (all their members have military training). Under the current Chilean constitution the Carabineros are integrated directly into the armed forces in a state of emergency to better guarantee order. They also have a SWAT-kind special forces for counter operations called GOPE (Grupo de Operaciones Policiales Especiales - Special police operations Group). There is also an Elite Corps in charge of security in the La Monedamarker Palace and of the President.

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