The Chilean Navy: At the Forefront of Maritime Protection

The Chilean Navy: At the Forefront of Maritime Protection

By Dialogo
January 01, 2011




DIÁLOGO: One of the issues discussed during EXPONAVAL was maritime
protection. What is theNnavy doing in this role today, and how do you see the
evolution of this role (technology, regional cooperation, peacekeeping, mine
removal)?
Adm. Edmundo González Robles: A gradual and increasing
interoperability can be perceived in the evolution of this role, with other civilian
and police agencies that may have common interests with regard to threats coming
from the sea, in both the national and the international sphere.
This evolution in the Navy’s development has been founded on a national
project based on the concepts of deterrence and cooperation, as well as also on the
strategy adopted by the Navy, based on developing the capacity to contribute to the
national defense, ensuring the normal course of maritime activities, among which
transport is essential, and finally, international cooperation, in benefit of the
country’s greater interests.
Our national heritage, our marine resources, and in general, the maritime
interests they generate are an ongoing concern, and it is for this reason that there
are a series of projects, completed and currently under way, such as the
incorporation of helicopters, patrol boats, and launches, intended to protect and
ensure the normality of the activities carried out. In this reality, maritime
transport stands out, given that our nation’s prosperity and economic development
are founded on the freedom of globalized trade, the pillar of which is this true
uninterrupted flow, which reinforces the need to protect it beyond our
borders.
This last aspect is absolutely consistent with our institutional strategy. In
effect, due to the extension, complexity and particularities of the spaces where we
should be fulfilling our mission, it’s imperative to further those trends that
promote the achievement of international cooperative security in areas such as
maritime vigilance, safeguarding human lives at sea and joint training, to mention a
few.
DIÁLOGO: What is the chief security threat facing Chile
today?
Adm. González Robles: Undoubtedly, the chief threats to maritime
security today are actions linked to drug traffickers, which in Chile’s case still
prefer to use terrestrial alternatives to reach customers. In the area of national
security, relations with our neighbors are always factors of care and concern, in
which regard Chile is making ongoing efforts so that they may be overcome in time.

DIÁLOGO: What role does the Chilean Navy have in maritime drug
interdiction and how do the other branches of the Armed Forces and the security
forces support it?
Adm. González Robles: The Chilean Navy’s maritime authority has
numerous legal foundations, all of which are part of the legal order of the Chilean
state and provide the basis for the tasks it is responsible for carrying out as a
maritime police force.
Some of the legal supports related to maritime authority and the fight
against drug trafficking have emanated from legislative initiatives of the state
itself in view of the need to provide police activity in the maritime sphere with
the necessary legal framework. Nevertheless, other regulations have been
incorporated into the national legal framework for carrying out these police
activities, given the various international commitments the country has made in its
ongoing interest in contributing to the fight against this illicit
activity.
As a result, maritime interdiction, understood nationally as a maritime
authority role, is fully supported by the legal provisions which apply to its
activities in jurisdictional waters, as is the case of our territorial
waters.
Finally, the Chilean state, as a party to the United Nations Convention
against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and the
Convention on the Law of the Sea, has signed multilateral agreements for the purpose
of carrying out maritime interdiction procedures in nonterritorial waters in cases
of suspected drug trafficking.
DIÁLOGO: The United states and Chile have participated in
numerous regional naval cooperation exercises, with PANAMAX being the largest. What
benefit do these exercises have in the fight against regional threats?
Adm. González Robles: In effect, the Chilean Navy, with the
support of [U.S.] Southern Command, was a pioneer in carrying out exercises of this
kind, selecting Panama as an area of reference due to the major impact this
important inter-oceanic passage has on Chilean trade. Chilean foreign trade often
travels the Panama Canal, making Chile its fourth-largest customer if we consider
the cargo originating in or bound for Chile that passes through the canal.
There have been many benefits, from promoting greater interoperability with
the participating navies to a greater conviction that the maritime threats of this
globalized world require a multinational effort. On the political level, it has been
understood that new threats cannot be compartmentalized, but on the contrary require
international complementary efforts, and for this reason, navies with ocean-going
capabilities (blue-water navies) are required. On the strategic level of the Armed
Forces, although we’ve concentrated on the role of navies, there’s a greater
consciousness every day that multiagency action is also desirable and necessary due
to the danger and dynamism of the threats, something that creates possible scenarios
for adding flexibility to the legal provisions in effect. On the operational level
there has been a gain in interoperability that encompasses both material aspects,
and perhaps more importantly, procedures for attaining greater
effectiveness.
And finally, these exercises have enabled greater familiarity among navies,
from their authorities to their resources, which in the regional sphere has a
considerable value for the sake of winning mutual trust, a factor that helps to
consolidate peace, the main objective of the Armed Forces.
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