Military Wiki
Chilean Army
Ejército de Chile
Coat of arms of the Chilean Army.svg
Army of Chile
Active 2 December 1810 – present
Country  Chile
Type Army
Size 45,000 (of which 12,700 conscripted)
Part of Ministry of National Defense (Chile)
Motto(s) Siempre vencedor y jamás vencido ("Always Victorious and Undefeated")
March Los viejos estandartes (The Old Standards) by Guillermo Bascuñán Dockendorff (music) and Jorge Inostroza (words)
Anniversaries 19 September (Army Day)
Engagements War of Arauco
Chilean War of Independence
Freedom Expedition of Perú
War of the Confederation
Chincha Islands War
War of the Pacific
1891 Chilean Civil War
Beagle conflict
Juan Miguel Fuente-Alba Poblete
Bernardo O'Higgins, José Miguel Carrera, Manuel Bulnes, Manuel Baquedano, Juan Emilio Cheyre

The Chilean Army (Spanish language: Ejército de Chile ) is the land arm of the Military of Chile. This 45,000-person army (12,700 of which are conscripts)[1] is organized into six divisions, a special operations brigade and an air brigade.

In recent years and after several major reequipment programs, the Chilean Army has become one of the most technologically advanced and professional armies of the Americas.[2][3]

The Chilean Army is mostly supported by equipment from Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United States, Israel, France, and Spain.


War of Arauco

19th. Century

The Army of the Kingdom of Chile was created on December, 2 of 1810 by order of the First National Meeting of Government of Chile.[4] The army participated actively in the independence war, which, was fought against royalist troops in battles such as Yerbas Buenas, San Carlos, Quechereguas, Rancagua, Chacabuco and Maipú. During this period national figures such as José Miguel Carrera, Bernardo O'Higgins and Argentinian General José de San Martín commanded the army toward definitive victory over the Spanish forces ultimately achieving independence for the country. The Army's first commander-in-chief was José Miguel Carrera.
After obtaining independence from Spain, the newly formed Republic tried to reorganize its military structure by inaugurating the War Military academy of Chile, which was founded by General O'Higgins in 1817.

Guardia Nacional

Diego Portales set up a civil militia, the Guardia Nacional, to end one of the worst stages of militarism in Chile's history. The militia was created in 1825 but Portales developed this parallel army to compensate the army's might.[5] The Chilean Conscription Law of 1900 marked the beginning of the end of the Guardia Nacional.[6]

The War of the Pacific

Prussian Influence

The Chilean Army admired the Prussian Army which proved successful in the Franco-Prussian War, and this led to the appointment in 1886 of Captain Emil Körner and 36 Prussian officers and NCOs to train officer cadets in the Chilean Military College. The Chilean Army soon gained such a good reputation that Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and El Salvador, between 1903 and 1913, requested Chilean officers to assist in the training their armies.[7]

20th. Century

Milicia Republicana

The Guardia Republicana or Milicia Republicana was created after the fall of the Socialist Republic of Chile in order to prevent another Coup d'Etat. On 7 Mai 20,000 militiamen marched past President Arturo Alessandri in the streets of Santiago. In Las Mercedes' plot, 1933, Commander-in-Chief of the Army, Pedro Vignola called "to resist the Milicia Republicana by any means" and he was removed of the army[8] She was dissolved in 1936.[8][9]

US Influence

The Army under Pinochet

1973, in a watershed event of the Cold War and the history of Chile, president Salvador Allende, was overthrown in a coup d’état by the Armed Forces.

Until May 2012, 76 agents of the military Government had been condemned for violations of human rights and 67 were convicted: 36 of the Army, 27 of Carabineros, 2 of the Air Force, one of the Navy and one of the PDI. Three condemned agents died and six agents get conditional sentences. The Chilean justice hold open 350 cases for "disappeared" persons, illegal detainees and torture during the dictatorial rule. In the cases are involved 700 armed forces personnel and civilians.[10]


In a massive operation (Operación de Contraguerrilla Machete) spearheaded by Chilean Army Para-Commandos, security forces involving some 2,000 troops.,[11] were deployed in the mountains of Neltume from June to November 1981,[12] where they destroyed two Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR) bases, seizing large caches of munitions and killing a number of guerrillas. In the various military operations carried out in the cities of Talcahuano, Concepcion, Los Angeles and Valdivia between 23 and 24 August 1984, the military and police forces deployed killed several MIR guerrillas and sympathizers.[13]

2013 colonel (retired) Conrado García and captain (retired) Enrique Sandoval Arancibia are being processed in Valdivia for killing of Eugenio Monsalve Sandoval, Próspero Guzmán Soto and Patricio Calfuquir Henríquez. The lawyer solicited also to withdraw immunity of deputy Rosauro Martínez (member of Renovación Nacional). He was the commander of the Army unit.[14]

The Chilean army today

As a result of tensions with neighbors during the conflictprone 1970s and early 1980s, the Chilean army refined existing strategic concepts and eventually formulated a plan to restructure the army’s forces. Though wars were avoided, the threats from the 1970s and 1980s encouraged the army to address more effectively its major defense disadvantage: lack of strategic depth. Thus in the early 1980s it looked to outward for a model of army organization that would best advance defensive capabilities by restructuring forces into smaller, more mobile units instead of traditional divisions. The resulting Plan Alcazar, envisions three military zones in Chile, with the bulk of forces concentrated in the north, and reinforces the center and south. The plan was implemented in stages, and the first began in 1994. Thus Alcazar, based on threat scenarios of the past, is one of the most durable “lessons” of the past. Even with the resolution of almost all remaining territorial disputes, the restructuring agenda remained on track and structurally reinforces a conflict-based mindset in the army.[15]


  • 1964-2013 UNFICYP
  • 1969 El Salvador-Honduras conflict (Misión OEA).
  • 1978-2013 UNIFIL
  • 1989-1992 ONUCA
  • 1991-1992 UNIKOM
  • 1992-1993 UNTAC
  • 1992-1995 ONUSAL
  • 1995-1999 MOMEP (Military Observers Mission in the Ecuador-Peru conflict)
  • 1996-1998 UNSCOM
  • 1997-2002 UNMIBH
  • 2000-2002 UNTAET
  • 2000-2003 UNMOVIC
  • 2000-(2013) UNMIK
  • 2001-(2013) UNFICYP
  • 2002-2003 UNMISET
  • 2003-2006 DPKO
  • 2003-(2013) MONUC
  • 2003-2004 UNAMA
  • 2004-(2013) EUFOR - ALTHEA
  • 2004-(2013) MIFH (Fuerza Multinacional Interina par Haití)
  • 2004-(2013) MINUSTAH
  • 2007-(2013) UNLOG (UN Logistics Base in Brindisi, Italy)


Structure of the Chilean Army (click on image to enlarge)

Order Of Battle

Army Commandant Office in Santiago, where the main decisions of the Chilean Army are given

Army Ground Operations Command, headquartered in Concepcion, the HQ garrison of the Chacabuco 7th Reinforced Regiment

  • I Army Division Regions II and III, with headquarters in Antofagasta.
  • II Motorized Division Regions IV, V, VI, VII and Santiago Metropolitan Region with headquarters in Santiago de Chile. This is the largest of the six Army Divisions, serving five regions and is where the Army Headquarters is located alongside some of the military academies that the Army operates in the Santiago Metropolitan Region and nearby Valparaiso Province.
  • III Mountain Division Serving Regions VIII, IX, XIV, and X with headquarters in Valdivia
  • IV Army Division Region XI with headquarters in Coyhaique
  • V Army Division Serving Region XII with headquarters in Punta Arenas, the division assigned to protect the Chilean Antarctic and the world's southernmost city.
  • VI Army Division Serving Regions I and XV, with headquarters in Iquique.
  • Army Aviation Brigade with headquarters in Rancagua. (Brigada de Aviación del Ejército) It is the Army's aviation forces, composed of 4 battalions and a logistics company.
  • Special Operations Brigade "Lautaro" with headquarters in Peldehue (Brigada de Operaciones Especiales "Lautaro")It is the Army's special forces brigade, named after one of Chile's national heroes.

Army Institution and Doctrine Command (Comando Instituto y Doctrina)

  • Army Schools Division (Division Escuelas)
  • Army Education Division (Division de Educacion)
  • Army Doctrine Division (Division de Doctrina)

Army Force Services Command (Comando Apoyo de la Fuerza)

  • Army Logistics Division. with headquarters in Santiago (División Logística del Ejército)
  • Army Engineering Command
  • Army Communications Command
  • Army Infrastructure Command
  • Army Military Engineering and Industry Command

Army Independent Commands

  • Army General Garrison Command in Santiago, serving the Santiago Metropolitan Region, reports directly to Army Headquarters
  • Army Medical Command in Santiago
  • Army Administration Command

Army General Staff Office (Estado Mayor General del Ejercito)

  • Chilean Military Mission to Washington
  • Directorate of Intelligence
  • Directorate of Operations
  • Finance Directorate
  • Logistics Directorate

Military Equipment

The Chilean Army has acquired a number of new systems with the goal of having a completely modernized, and largely mechanized army by 2015. The military has also modifying the operational structure, creating armoured brigades throughout the entire territory, and a new special operations brigade while conserving the current divisional scheme.


Weapon Caliber Origin Notes
Pistols and Submachine Guns
CZ-75 9x19 mm NATO  Czechoslovakia Pistol
FAMAE FN-750 9x19 mm NATO  Chile Main pistol
HK MP5 9x19 mm NATO  Germany
FAMAE SAF 9x19 mm NATO  Chile Standard issue submachine gun. Locally designed variation on the SG 540.
FAMAE SAF-200 9x19 mm NATO  Chile Testing. Tactical variation of the regular SAF.
Assault Rifles, Battle Rifles and Carbines
SIG SG 540 5.56mm NATO  Chile Built under license by FAMAE. Standard issue rifle.
SIG SG 542-1 7.62mm NATO  Chile version of the SG 540. Manufactured in Chile by FAMAE. For use by mountain troops.
M4 carbine 5.56x45mm NATO United States Special Forces
SIG SG 543 5.56x45mm NATO  Chile
SIG SG 556-1 5.56x45mm NATO  Chile
Sniper Rifles
FAMAE FD-200 7.62 x 51 mm NATO  Chile Locally produced version of the SG 540 modified as a sniper rifle
Barrett M82A1M 12.7 x 99 mm NATO United States
SIG-Sauer SSG 3000 7.62mm NATO   Switzerland
Machine Guns
Heckler & Koch HK21 7.62x51 mm NATO  Germany Magazine-fed light machine gun
FN MINIMI 5.56x45 mm NATO  Belgium Light machine gun
MG3 7.62x51 mm NATO  Germany General-purpose machine gun
M60E4 7.62x51 mm NATO United States General-purpose machine gun
FN M2HB-QCB 12.7 x 99 mm NATO United States Heavy Machine Gun
Grenade Launchers
M203 40x46 mm United States Designed to be attached to a rifle
Milkor MGL 40x53 mm  South Africa Automatic grenade launcher
Mk 19 Mod 3 40x53 mm United States Automatic grenade launcher

Infantry Support Weapons

Quantity Weapon Origin Notes
Anti-tank Guided Missile Launchers
2,700 Spike  Israel MR/LR/ER missiles
Anti-tank Recoilless Rifles

Carl Gustaf M2 Recoilless Rifle

 Sweden 84 mm
- M40 recoilless rifle United States 106 mm / some of them are mounted on Jeeps
- M67 recoilless rifle United States 90 mm
Anti-tank Rocket launchers
AT4  Sweden 84 mm
M72 LAW United States 66 mm
300+ FIM-92 Stinger United States 84 mm


Quantity Type Origin Notes
172 Leopard 2A4CHL  Germany 120 mm gun
100 Leopard 1V  Germany
105 mm gun
Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs)
280 [16] Marder 1A3  Germany
319 AIFV-B/YPR-765  Belgium
Some equipped with missiles Spike LR
Armored personnel carrier (APCs)
427 M113A1/A2 United States
280 MOWAG Piranha  Chile Built under license in Chile FAMAE, in various configurations.
Armored Wheeled Vehicles
200+ HMMWV United States
180 Land Rover Defender
400+ AIL Storm  Israel
Self-propelled Artillery
8 LAR-160  Israel
24 M109A5 United States
24 M109 KAWEST United States


Quantity[17] Aircraft Origin Service versions
Fixed Wing
2 C-212 Aviocar  Spain C-212-300 Aviocar
3 CN-235  Spain CN-235 M-100
3 Cessna 208 Caravan United States Cessna 208B Grand Caravan
1 Cessna 680 Citation Sovereign United States Cessna 680 Citation Sovereign
4 Aerospatiale SA 330 Puma  France Aerospatiale SA-330L Puma
12 Eurocopter AS532 Cougar  France Eurocopter AS-532AL Mk-1 Cougar
4 Eurocopter AS350  France Eurocopter AS-350B3 Ecureuil
1 Eurocopter AS355  France Eurocopter AS-355N Ecureuil 2
9 McDonnell Douglas MD 500 Defender United States McDonnell Douglas MDD-369FF Defender
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
6 + BlueBird SpyLite  Israel [18]

Military ranks

An aspiring non-commissioned officer or officer of the Chilean Army undergoes studies at these two schools, both located in the Santiago Metropolitan Region:

  • Bernardo O'Higgins Military School (for officers)
  • Sgt. Daniel Rebolledo Sepulveda Sub-officers School (For non-commissioned personnel)

Upon graduation, he/she becomes a military officer (Ensign) or non-commissioned officer (Corporal), and the moves on to the branch of his or her choice, except for newly recruited soldiers, whose primary rank is Soldado Dragonante or Soldier Dragonite, and are immediately enrolled as part of the Army Sub-Officer School in Maipu.

Military ranks are similar to the Prussian and later German Armies, but also has the British/Prussian Ensign rank for officers. The Captain General rank, first used by Bernardo O'Higgins and later by Presidents Ramon Freire and Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, is now inactive.

The ranks used today in the Army are from the 2002 reorganization. It keeps the old enlisted ranks (Privates, Corporals, Sergeants and Sub-officers) but a new officer rank scheme is used, with 3 general officers instead of four general officers.

Enlisted ranks

All Privates and Student NCOs studying in the Army NCO School wear no rank insignia.

Rank Subofficer Majors Sub-officers Classes
Full Dress uniform
and Service Uniform
(Office, Garrison, Outdoor/Mess Wear, Parade Dress)
Battle Duty Uniform
(Center and South)
50px 50px 50px 50px 50px 50px 50px
Battle Duty Uniform (North) 50px 50px 50px 50px 50px 50px 50px
Grade Warrant Officer Class 1 Warrant Officer Class 2 Staff Sergeant Sergeant Master Corporal Corporal Lance Corporal
Abbreviation SOM SOF SG1 SG2 CB1 CB2 CBO
Name in Spanish Suboficial Mayor Suboficial Sargento Primero Sargento Segundo Cabo Primero Cabo Segundo Cabo
NATO pay grade Code OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2
Rank English translation Years of service US Army Equivalent rank/British Army Equivalent rank
Suboficial Mayor Sub-officer Major 30 years Command Sergeant Major/Warrant Officer Class 1
Suboficial Sub-officer 27–29 years Sergeant Major/ Warrant Officer Class 2
Sargento Primero First Sergeant 24–26 years Master Sergeant/Staff Sergeant
Sargento Segundo Second Sergeant 19–23 years Sergeant First Class/Sergeant
Cabo Primero First Corporal 11–18 years Staff Sergeant/Lance Sergeant,
Master Corporal
Cabo Segundo Second Corporal 4–10 years Sergeant/Corporal
Cabo Corporal 2–3 years after graduation Corporal/Lance Corporal
Soldado Soldier 1–5 years after recruitment,
one year after graduation
Private First Class
Cabo Dragonante (student) Corporal Dragonite (student) 2 years of study Private
Soldado Dragonante/Alumno (student) Soldier Dragonite (student) 1 year of study (save when recruited into the Army) Private Basic/NCO Candidate

Officer ranks

Officer ranks are derived from those of the German and French Armies. While field grade and senior grade officer rank insignia show German influence, general officer rank insignia are similar to those used in the French Army but in red shoulder straps (similar to those used by the United States Army) with two to four golden stars.

Rank[19] General Officers Superior Officers Chief Officers Subaltern/Junior Officers
Grade General of the Army Divisional General Brigade General Brigadier Colonel Lieutenant Colonel Major Captain Lieutenant Sub-lieutenant Ensign
NATO pay grade code OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF-1 N/A
Rank English translation Years of service US Army Equivalent rank/British Army Equivalent rank
Capitan General Captain General now inactive General of the Army/Field Marshal/Marshal
General de Ejercito General of the Army General
General de Division Divisional General Lieutenant General
General de Brigada Brigade General 31–32 years Major General
Brigadier Brigadier,
Colonel Commandant
Brigadier General, Brigadier/
Colonel Commandant (honorary rank for senior Colonels)
Coronel Colonel 26–30 years Colonel
Teniente Coronel Lieutenant Colonel 21–25 years Lieutenant Colonel
Mayor Major 16–20 years Major
Capitan Captain 10–15 years Captain
Teniente Lieutenant 5–9 years First lieutenant/Lieutenant
Subteniente Sublieutenant 2–4 years Second lieutenant
Alferez Ensign 1 year of service after graduation Acting Lieutenant/3rd Lieutenant/Ensign
Subalferez Junior Ensign, Sub-ensign (student) 3–4 years of study Officer Cadet/Student Officer 1
Cadete Cadet Officer (student) 1–2 years of study Officer Candidate/Student Officer 2


See also

  • List of Chilean coups d'état


  1. International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), The Military Balance, 2002–2003
  2. Chile : Country Studies – Federal Research Division, Library of Congress
  3. Chile (01/08)
  5. Memoria Chilena, Guardia Nacional, retrieved on 4 December 2012
  6. Rberto Hernández Ponce, La Guardia Nacional de Chile. Apuntes sobre su origen y organización, 1808-1848, Universidad Católica de Chile, retrieved on 4 December 2012
  7. The military and society in Latin America. John J. Johnson. Page 70.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Luis Vitale, Intervenciones militares y poder fáctico en la política chilena, de 1830 al 2.000, Santiago, 2000
  9. Juan Bragassi H, Las Milicias Republicanas de Chile, retrieved on 4 December 2012
  10. Article Estudio revela que 76 son los agentes de la dictadura condenados por violaciones a DDHH in the Chilean newspaper La Tercera on 09 Juli 2012, retrieved on 22 juli 2012
  11. Chile under Pinochet: recovering the truth. By Mark Ensalaco. Page 146. Cloth 1999.
  12. Chile: Terrorism still counterproductive. CIA document.
  13. Determinants of gross human rights violations by state and state-sponsored actors in Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, and Argentina, 1960–1990, By Wolfgang S. Heinz & Hugo Frühling, Page 545, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1999
  14. Jorge Escalante in article La historia oculta del comandante Rosauro in Chilean online newspaper El Mostrador on 16 Mai 2013, retrieved on 16 Mai 2013
  15. Kristina Mani, Democratization and Strategic Thinking: What the Militaries in Argentina and Chile Learned in the 1990s, Columbia University, 2003, retrieved on 4 August 2013
  17. World Air Forces 2013 -, pg 12, December 11, 2012 -
  18. BlueBird seals SpyLite deal with Chilean army -, April 9, 2013

External links

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