General James C. McConville, chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, visited the Chilean Army to deepen ties of friendship and cooperation between both institutions, the Chilean Army indicated in a statement. On the occasion, both armies were able to evaluate their cooperation activities.
“The United States through U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) keeps up relations and visits not only with Chile, but with several countries that are strategic partners that the United States, from the Pentagon’s viewpoint, recognizes,” Guillermo Holzmann, defense analyst and professor at the University of Valparaíso, Chile, told Diálogo on February 28. “All this considering the projection of the United States in the Pacific, its national interests, and international security.”
During the visit, General Javier Iturriaga, commander of the Chilean Army, presented Gen. McConville with the Victory Cross medal. This medal is awarded to those who contribute to closer and stronger military ties with the Chilean Army.
“Our partnership with Chile reflects our enduring commitment to the security of our hemisphere,” Gen. McConville said according to the Chilean Army statement. “There is tremendous value in the trust we build through the training, exercises, and security cooperation we conduct with our partners here in Chile […]. Together we are stronger.”
The Chilean and U.S. armies have a long-standing cooperation that includes the exchange of military attachés, academic training and joint exercise activities, including planning the annual Southern Star exercise.
“We met to discuss our commitment to collaboration and enhance cooperation between the U.S. Army and the Chilean Army,” Gen. McConville said via Twitter. “Great to see firsthand how we work together to strengthen our ability to ensure the security and prosperity of our hemisphere.”
Evidence of the excellent relations between both armies was Gen. Iturriaga’s official visit to the United States, November 6-11, 2022, to the 82nd Airborne Division. The Chilean officer also visited the Chilean Army mission in Washington, D.C., and met with his U.S. counterpart Gen. McConville and with Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Western Hemisphere Daniel P. Erikson.
“The decades-long relationship between the two institutions is very close in terms of training for artillery and special forces members, among others,” Holzmann said. “These trainings envision the standardization of military ground operations in terms of command, control, type of deployments, and operations to be carried out not only in times of war, but in operational changes involving disaster response, border control, and other types of actions.”
On January 27, 2023, the Chilean Senate approved a joint cooperation agreement for research, development, testing, and the evaluation of defense projects between Chile and the United States. The objective of this agreement is to strengthen existing military relations; to promote, facilitate, and develop scientific and technological cooperation in the defense sector through the respective Defense ministries and armed forces, Chilean news site El Mostrador reported.
“As such, Gen. McConville’s visit to the Chilean Army is framed in a purely military sphere, but it also has political meaning,” Holzmann said. “This, in terms of strengthening the agreement that was already ratified by the Chilean Congress and that obviously also includes the Army.”