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Chile advances reforms to military service and funding

An extension to the duration for military service for officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs) in Chile, along with an increase in the length of service required to qualify for a military pension, are being introduced in Chile to reduce personnel costs. The aim of the move, which many analysts see as somewhat ambitious, is to make savings of USD500 million over the next 30 years.

Meanwhile, a bill for a new funding system for military procurement, replacing Chile’s Copper Law, has advanced another step after being approved by the country’s Senate.

The changes to military service, made by Defence Minister Alberto Espina on 14 January when President Sebastian Piñera signed the respective bill, will increase the age for retirement of senior military officers and NCOs from 60 to 63 years old. At the same time the minimum length of service required to qualify for a full military pension (with variations according to trade, rank, and qualification) will increase from 20 to 23 years.

A unified system of selection for conscription that will include the addition of new benefits to attract more volunteers for military service will also be introduced, although the expected move to an all-volunteer system involving a short career still looks some way off.

The 14 January approval by the senate of the bill that will replace the current Copper Law, which allocates 10% of revenues gained from copper sales by a state-owned mining company to the national defence budget, is an important step toward the bill becoming law by the end of the year.

Chilean troops on parade in Santiago for Chile’s 208th independence anniversary on 19 September 2018. A Chilean initiative to reduce pension costs by extending military service terms could save USD500 million over the next 30 years. (C Reyes/AFP/Getty Images)

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