Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Riverside

UC Riverside Previously Published Works bannerUC Riverside

Defense Organization and Civil-Military Relations in Latin America


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.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View