Invincible Soldiers of the Sea
By Geraldine Cook/Diálogo December 18, 2017
The Chilean Marine Corps is an elite force of the Chilean Navy made up of 3,000 men. It’s a special force with unique strategic mobility to conduct amphibious operations on hostile ground. Its high level of training, high capability, and potential for rapid and discrete positioning, are among its main qualities.
The corps will celebrate its bicentennial in June 2018. Diálogo interviewed Chilean Marine Corps Rear Admiral David Hardy Videla, commander of the Chilean Marine Corps and general commander of the Expeditionary Amphibious Brigade, during a visit to Viña del Mar, Chile, to discuss the corps’ mission, projects, and plans for 2018.
Diálogo: What is the mission of the Chilean Marine Corps?
Rear Admiral David Hardy Videla, commander of the Chilean Marine Corps and general commander of the Expeditionary Amphibious Brigade: The main mission of the Chilean Marine Corps is to help project Chile’s interests at sea, meaning defend Chilean shores, protect its waters, and primarily, help with everything related to the protection of shared interests in the region, within Latin America and particularly in South America.
Diálogo: What is the most important project you are pushing forward?
Rear Adm. Hardy: The main project concerns everything having to do with the area of interoperability. It’s important to be able to work with other navies, institutions, and security forces in the region. That’s why we’re working on an important project involving doctrinal development, common procedures, and, above all, training for the new types of threats emerging in the Latin American security environment.
Diálogo: What kinds of security threats are you referring to?
Rear Adm. Hardy: Our area is a quiet zone of peace, but we have to guard it to ensure that it remains that way. There are threats such as narcotrafficking, illicit trafficking, and human trafficking, but we also have nontraditional threats, such as those caused by nature. We have a lot of experience in everything related to supporting the community during earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, etc.
Diálogo: How do you work on the concept of interoperability with your country’s other service branches?
Rear Adm. Hardy: We have the Joint Chiefs of Staff (EMCO, in Spanish), which allows us to have a common doctrine and common procedures. Interoperability is a more complex topic. More than an interchangeable team that can communicate with each other, it’s having the same mindset, designing and working in institutional management. With EMCO, we work to achieve a common doctrine in the region. We work hard, and have friendships and ties with the U.S., Argentine, Brazilian, and Colombian militaries, which are our main partners.
Diálogo: What kind of exchanges do you have with other countries?
Rear Adm. Hardy: We have exchanges of officers and non-commissioned officers. Officers come from Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and the United States to exchange experiences. We also send officers and non-commissioned officers to those countries. We have exercises, some of which are coordinated by U.S. Southern Command.
Diálogo: What are the Chilean Navy’s net results for 2017?
Rear Adm. Hardy: The year 2017 has been good for the Chilean Navy because we had several institutional changes, but mainly because we accomplished several development projects in technology, training, and resource investment. We started celebrating our bicentennial. The Chilean Navy, which the Marine Corps falls under, started celebrations for our 200th year as an institution, with several activities that will continue throughout 2018.
Diálogo: In almost 200 years, what has been the Marine Corps’ key contribution to Chile?
Rear Adm. Hardy: The Navy has had the very important job of guarding the seas, making the seas safe, and also connecting the southern zone from the Strait of Magellan to the desert in northern Chile along the coast. The Navy has been a conveyor of Chilean culture and lifestyle.
Diálogo: What are the plans for 2018?
Rear Adm. Hardy: Our bicentennial celebration. We’re also working on developing our personnel’s human capacities. The most complex part is training the youth who enter our institution. That’s why we look for new projects to educate our personnel so they become valuable citizens in today’s world, and can operate at home and abroad.
Diálogo: You took command of the Marine Corps in late 2014. What has been your greatest source of satisfaction?
Rear Adm. Hardy: Ours is a very tight-knit organization and we know each other. The more we know each other, the higher the trust—that makes us more efficient. It’s been an honor to serve with the Chilean marines. I’ve spent 37 years in this institution, which is an entire lifetime. I’m also very grateful to my superiors and especially to my subordinates, who’ve been loyal, hardworking, and committed to successfully lead this organization.
Diálogo: How does the Marine Corps deal with gender issues?
Rear Adm. Hardy: We’ve made a lot of progress in that area, as we now have institutional and national policies in the field of defense that allow women to participate in every professional activity within any institution. Of course, although it might seem strange, the only places without women are the submarine force and the Marine Corps.
Diálogo: Why is that?
Rear Adm. Hardy: There are two key reasons. There are many volunteers who want to go into the Marine Corps, but there hasn’t been much interest from women to enter this institution. It’s a very small organization, and women who join the Navy generally choose another field, such as being on a surface ship, in navy planes, etc. But I think that, in the future, we’ll have women in our marine corps.
Diálogo: What is your message to the marine corps of the region?
Rear Adm. Hardy: We have common interests, challenges, and threats that can’t be overcome unless we work together. Navies and marine corps generally look beyond their own countries. That’s why it’s essential that we know each other and share our concerns and experiences.