Since assuming command in March 2018, Army General Ricardo Martínez Menanteau, commander of the Chilean Army, has focused on an institutional challenge: to continue professionalizing his personnel to confront future challenges. Transforming the curriculum of officers and noncommissioned officers (NCOs) and continuous capacity building are his priorities. Diálogo spoke to Gen. Martínez to learn about his goals, the institution’s interoperability, and participation in regional training events, among other topics.
Diálogo: What is your most important challenge as chief of the Chilean Army?
Army General Ricardo Martínez Menanteau, commander of the Chilean Army: Leading an institution of more than 40,000 men and women who joined the Army to serve their country as their professional vocation. The most relevant capability of the Chilean Army is not its weapons or operations systems, it’s the quality of its human resources. The capability officers, NCOs, and soldiers have to meet the demands they’re entrusted with is our institution’s greatest value. Likewise, it’s important to me that Chileans respect and value the institution.
Diálogo: You’re committed to institutional modernization and good practices. What developments have you made in this respect?
Gen. Martínez: The Army initiated a process of transformation and modernization almost two decades ago; the structure of the land force was consolidated and we now have a professional army with an updated doctrine. The professionalization of officers and NCOs is one of my main objectives, that is why we updated the training curriculum in the main academies for officers and NCOs to train the type of officers and NCOs needed for future decades. Similarly, the Chilean Army is committed to having better control over its human and financial resources to assure the nation that our resources are used properly, thus raising the levels of integrity and transparency.
Diálogo: What type of interagency work does the Chilean Army conduct by way of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (EMCO, in Spanish)?
Gen. Martínez: EMCO is responsible for the joint training of the Chilean Armed Forces, and the Army cooperates with means to achieve those objectives. We’re part of the National Humanitarian Demining Commission, which coordinates demining efforts according to Chile’s agreements in the Ottawa Convention, under which the military is committed to clearing the national territory of antipersonnel mines by 2020. Additionally, we support EMCO in assisting the population and advising civil authorities in a catastrophe.
Diálogo: How are you organized to confront these catastrophes?
Gen. Martínez: We have more than 1,000 soldiers ready to deploy from Arica to Porvenir, for example, to respond to forest fires. We have 34 relief and military rescue patrols; 35 fundamental emergency units; command posts ready to be deployed for use by civilian and military authorities, who are responsible for responding to these emergencies; a modular field hospital; and medical posts.
Diálogo: In addition to peacekeeping missions, in what other international efforts is the Army involved in?
Gen. Martínez: The Army, like Chile’s other institutions in the Armed Forces, cooperates with military observers in the India-Pakistan conflict, in the Middle East or wherever Chile has commitments. In that sense, we have a standby force ready to deploy in a joint and combined way with Argentina known as Southern Cross, with land, naval, and air components in order to undertake peacekeeping missions.
Diálogo: What type of combined efforts does the Chilean Army conduct with the U.S. Army, specifically with U.S. Army South (ARSOUTH)?
Gen. Martínez: The United States is our main ally. Our relationship has been very solid for many years. We coordinate through EMCO, but we also work directly with ARSOUTH. We participate in Exercise Southern Star, and we have a training agreement with the U.S. 7th Special Forces Group. We also participate in PANAMAX, Fuerzas Comando, and Rim of the Pacific, among others. And this year, we will be at the Leapfest parachute competition for the first time. We also have scientific exchanges with the U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command. In sum, a large part of our instruction and training budget is with the United States.
Diálogo: What are the benefits of working with the United States and countries of the area to combat common threats?
Gen. Martínez: The importance of these combined and joint exercises is having a common doctrine to consolidate a common language. Having different countries understand the same thing in order to conduct any activity is very relevant. Being able to conduct exercises in Chile, the United States, or in other countries of the Americas helps us update the doctrine, verify what the training is, establish parameters with equipment, and standardize procedures.
Diálogo: What’s your message for regional army commanders?
Gen. Martínez: The Chilean Army considers all armies of the region as comrades in arms who have the great responsibility of instructing and training our soldiers for the needs of the state and the region, and particularly of supporting citizens in case of a catastrophe.