Paola DiChiaro, Defense Ministry’s Secretary for Military Affairs and Strategy made a briefing on current challenges and development for defense policy in Argentina. These statements provide a broad and concrete snapshot of its status and also what the armed forces are investing in.
It has been interpreted by this administration that over 36 years after the last military dictatorship, the trend has started to shift from a negative view of the armed forces. Unfortunately, this outdated agenda was also pushed by officials of the Kirchner administration in previous years, so a recovery took longer and was more difficult than the actual society’s thoughts on it. This set up a priority on reconstructing credibility and a weakened bureaucracy in all Defense levels. Therefore, a lot is to be done regarding both efficiencies improvement and cyber defense development.
DiChiaro remarked the role of the recently published National Defense Policy Directive (known as DPDN) in assessing the situation with all the government structures as diplomacy, intelligence and the way all of them work together. Mistakes while making the document have been recognized by the Secretary but some of them were attributed to still existing decrees from the last military dictatorship, which ironically, limited the work being done. The Secretary, none the less, recognized that whoever will win the next elections can modify of replace the DPDN still.
This DPDN define a set of priorities including the defense of sovereign spaces also cyber defense, supporting the national security forces and foreign policy. There have been very good results on collaboration between the armed and security forces in northeast Argentina.
There is an acknowledgement of the Defense and the Armed Forces still unused potential to promote diplomacy. On recent years this has been done by deploying military peacekeepers. Today is not that simple, the Foreign Affairs Ministry has proposed instead of supporting individual deployments to incorporate argentine peacekeepers in existing allied missions such as Brazil has.
One main concern is upon the presence in the South Atlantic, to which is required a growing interagency commitment. To this purpose Prefectura Naval (Coast Guard) and the Navy will be directly operating in coordination with the national fishing secretary. Something that’s been challenged by those that feel that the main responsibility of the Argentine Navy as an armed force is being pushed to a second place.
The main and most controverted aspect is related to replace, sustain or upgrading military equipment of which, the Air Force, Army and Navy have defined their priorities. The main concerns for the Air Force are:
To commit on all pending payments for the T-6C Texan II trainers, to implement the C+ modification to use light training ammunition and to procure more aircraft and completely replace the EMB-312 Tucano. To continue upgrading existing IA-63 Pampa trainer jets to Phase II-40 standard and providing new Phase III aircraft. To close the deal with Korea Aerospace Industries for the FA-50 Golden Eagle as the new Lightweight Multirole Fighter.
On the other hand, the Army is completely committed in operation Integracion Norte (Northern Integration) which is supporting actions by the security forces in preventing drug trafficking and smuggling in the argentine northeast. Many of the current requirements will push for dual use equipment or directly military gear to contribute in this operation.
The Argentine Navy has allocated all the resources on receiving the OffShore Patrol Vessels (OPV) which are being built in France to provide protection of commercial and fishing resources in the argentine exclusive economic zone (EEZ). To continue the recovery of the Super Etendard aircraft by making use of recently purchased French surplus aircraft and spares and support. And for last to provide P-3C Anti-Submarine and Patrol aircraft still in use as “hot transfers” from the U.S. Navy. The argentine P-3B’s are in urgent need of being completely overhauled or replaced.
In conclusion, there is a need to develop new tools and accurately assess the threats and needs of the argentine defense system. It is every day more demanding of updated and new technological solutions, but the financial and political limitations only allow this to be addressed in the long term for an actual Defense modernization, as in bureaucracy, equipment and policy according to state and non-state aggressions. Upcoming elections should provide an insight on main candidates’ thoughts on this matter if actually fits their agendas, if not, we can all conclude that the actual commitment will be the same if not lesser