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Defense Organization and Civil-Military Relations in Latin America

  • Author(s): Pion-Berlin, David;
  • et al.
Abstract

This study examines how defense institutions and personnel are formally organized in Latin America. In a region long plagued by praetorian armies, it is especially important that organizational designs ensure that civilians maintain institutional control over armed forces. For this to occur, it is argued that those designs must incorporate certain principles: (a) enhance the civilian presence in key defense institutions, (b) empower defense ministries, (c) lower the military's vertical authority along the chain of command, and (d) unify civilian power while dividing military power. Based on an examination of legal documents and other data for sixteen Latin American democracies, findings show three general organizational patterns: an ideal—typical defense structure that achieves all four objectives, a second best defense structure that still leaves too much military power unified, and a dual command structure that is least desirable for weakening the defense ministry while coalescing military might high up the ladder of influence.

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