Chile's National Secretary of Defense, Marcos Robledo Hoecker, and Argentina's Secretary of Military Affairs, Angel Pablo Tello, met in Buenos Aires to discuss a bilateral agreement for 2016-2017 that will be signed by the defense ministers of both countries. According to information from Chile’s Undersecretariat of Defense, the meeting's goal was to develop an action plan based on the agreement to outline a joint effort and cooperation program, but both parties highlighted they will publish a document on the steps the two countries have taken on matters of defense and historic examples of bilateral cooperation between them.
Historically, the two countries have successfully developed a series of joint initiatives through various agreements and treaties that have strengthened the ties and trust between their armed forces.
Chile-Argentina Permanent Security Committee
The authorities discussed the establishment of an ad hoc task force within the Chile-Argentina Permanent Security Committee (COMPERSEG, for its Spanish acronym) to address defense and security issues. “COMPERSEG has created a sense of fraternity that can be seen not only in political terms but also through the permanent relationship between both countries' Armed Forces,” Secretary Robledo said.
COMPERSEG is an important mechanism in Chilean-Argentine bilateral relations. It was created in 1995 as part of the 1984 “Peace and Friendship Treaty” between the two and signed solely by both to discuss strategic issues affecting them in terms of defense and integration, both bilaterally and within South America. Comprising the deputy ministers of both countries' ministries of Foreign Relations and Defense, COMPERSEG has helped develop a mutual, trusting, and working agenda between Chile and Argentina over more than two decades.
Secretary Robledo noted that COMPERSEG “is one of the most in-depth mechanisms with Argentina, and I think that in regional terms it is, too. The results have an impact on a shift in the countries' strategic relationship and have also contributed to transforming the regional environment.”
'Southern Cross' Combined Joint Peace Force in the UN
At the meeting, the authorities also emphasized that the joint efforts of Argentina and Chile have gained international support through the creation of the "Southern Cross" Combined Joint Peace Force within the United Nations (UN).
Created by the two countries in 2006, Southern Cross represents the most ambitious cooperation project on defense and security in South America. The Joint Peace Force has assets from three components: the Navy, consisting of mechanized infantry battalions; the Army, consisting of an ocean patrol unit, an onboard helicopter, and a ship; and the Air Force, which has four Chilean helicopters and four Argentine helicopters, two each from the Air Force and two each from the Army. Troop deployment only occurs when both countries agree.
The Joint Peace Force is placed at the UN's disposal to act anywhere worldwide within the United Nations Stand-By Arrangement System (UNSAS). It also may be deployed at the UN's request, with both countries' approval in the event of any conflict that has been ongoing for more than 90 days, granting the international agency enough time for the given operation.
Southern Cross consists of distinct decision-making and execution levels, with the Bilateral Policy Direction Group at the force's top level and operating as a civil entity that exerts political control over the execution of a joint military deployment.
Since operations commenced, Argentina and Chile have been involved in two Southern Cross initiatives, in addition to actions by other South American nations including Uruguay, Ecuador, and Peru, which have each taken part in one operation.
2016 Solidarity Exercise
The meeting ended by highlighting the potential successful completion in October of the "2016 Solidarity Exercise," which seeks to practice preventive measures and disaster-response situations.
This joint activity takes place every year with the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces of Chile and Argentina.