Chilean Army

Chilean Army
Chilean Army
Coat of arms of the Chilean Army.svg
Always Victorious and Undefeated
Strength 45,000 (of which 12,700 conscripted)
Military expenditures
Dollar figure $9.7 billion (2008 est.)
Percent of GDP 4% (2008 est.)
See also Military of Chile

The Chilean Army (Spanish: 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 seven 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.


Creation and role in Chilean independence movement

Battle of Maipu (1818)

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.

The Chilean Army in the 20th Century

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 Koerner Henze 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.[5]

In a massive operation spearheaded by Chilean Army Para-Commandos, security forces involving some 2,000 troops.[6], were deployed in the mountains of Neltume from June to November 1981 [7],where they destroyed two Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR) bases, seizing large caches of munitions and killing a number of guerrillas. Chile still maintains close ties with Germany, and purchases weapons from German defense contractors. Chile also hires former German Bundeswehr officers and senior non-commissioned officers as advisers and training cadre, a continuation of a military relationship with Germany that dates back to the late-19th Century.


  • UNIFIL withdrew in the early 90's
  • MINUSTAH United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Haiti.
  • UNFICYP United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus, embedded in the Argentine Battalion [1]


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 base garrison of the Chacabuco 7th Reinforced Regiment

  • I Army Division. Regions II and III, with headquarters in Antofagasta. It is composed of 3 regiments and 1 logistics battalion.
  • II Army 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. In addition, 6 regiments are assigned here, together with the Army Gen. Garrison Command in Santiago, composed of 3 regiments each.
  • III Army Division. Serving Regions VIII, IX, XIV, and X with headquarters in Valdivia, composed of 9 regiments, 1 logistics battalion and 3 independent companies.
  • IV Army Division. Region XI with headquarters in Coyhaique. This division consists of 3 regiments, a Logistics company, independent squad and an air platoon.
  • 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 consists of 5 regiments, a logistics battalion, special forces company and an air platoon.
  • VI Army Division. Serving Regions I and XV, with headquarters in Iquique. Three regiments make up this division, as well as 2 armored brigades (formerly the 24th Reinforced Regt."Lautaro" from 2002 to 2006), and a logistics battalion.
  • 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 (Commando Instituto y Doctrina)

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

Army Force Services Command (Commando 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.[citation needed]

Infantry weapons

Small arms

Name Type Caliber Origin Notes
CZ-75 Semi-automatic pistol 9mm  Czechoslovakia Standard issue pistol.
FAMAE SAF Submachine gun 9mm  Chile Standard issue submachine gun. Locally designed variation on the SG 540.
SIG SG 540 Assault rifle 5.56mm  Switzerland/ Chile Built under license by FAMAE. Standard issue rifle.
IMI Galil Assault rifle 5.56mm  Israel
SIG SG 542-1 Battle rifle 7.62mm  Chile 7.62x51mm NATO version of the SG 540. Manufactured in Chile by FAMAE. For use by mountain troops.
SIG SG 543 Assault rifle 5.56mm  Switzerland Carbine version of the SG 540.
SIG SG 510-4 Battle rifle 7.62mm  Switzerland Reserve, training and designated marksman rifle.
H&K G3 Battle rifle 7.62mm  Germany Mountain troops, artillery crews, being replaced.
Colt M4 Carbine 5.56mm  United States Special Forces.
SIG-Sauer SSG 3000 Sniper rifle 7.62mm  Switzerland
FAMAE FD-200 Sniper rifle 7.62mm  Chile Locally produced version of the SG 540 modified as a sniper rifle
M82A1 Anti-materiel rifle 12.7mm  United States
FN Minimi Light machine gun 5.56mm  Belgium Standard light machine gun
Rheinmetall MG 3 General purpose machine gun 7.62mm  Germany Mg42/58 (MG1) version. Standard machine gun.
HK21 General purpose machine gun 7.62mm  Germany Issued to mountain troops
FN M2HB-QCB Heavy machine gun 12.7mm  United States/ Belgium

Grenade launchers

Name Type Caliber Origin Notes
M203 Underbarrel grenade launcher 40mm  United States
Milkor MGL Semi-automatic grenade launcher 40mm  South Africa
Mk 19 AGL Automatic grenade launcher 40mm  United States

Rocket and missile systems

Name Type Quantity Origin Notes
AT4 Anti-tank weapon  Sweden Similar to the Carl Gustav, but not reloadable. Infantry Squad AT weapon.
Carl Gustav M3 Recoilless rifle  Sweden
Spike Anti-tank guided missile 2,200 [8]  Israel Mix of MR/LR/ER missiles


Name Source Type Number Photo Note
Main battle tank
Leopard 2A4CHL  Germany Main battle tank 172 Leopard 2A4 of the Chilean army.jpg
Leopard 1V  Germany Main battle tank 120 Leopard-1-latrun-1.jpg
Infantry fighting vehicle
Marder 1A3  Germany Infantry fighting vehicle 146 Marder1A3.6.jpg Some equipped with missiles Spike LR
YPR-765  Netherlands
Infantry fighting vehicle 139 YPR-765-A.JPG Some equipped with missiles Spike LR
Armoured personnel carrier
MOWAG Piranha  Chile Armoured personnel carrier 250 LAV25-1.jpg Built under license in Chile FAMAE, in various configurations.
M-113  United States Armoured personnel carrier 427 Blindadocl.jpg A1 and A2 versions in different configurations.
Light Utility Vehicle
Humvee  United States Light Utility Vehicle 200+ HumveeECh.JPG Some equipped with missiles Spike LR
Land Rover Defender  United Kingdom Light Utility Vehicle 180 Land Rover Defender front 20070518.jpg In different configurations.
AIL Storm  Israel Light Utility Vehicle 400+/- AILStorm04.jpg Different configurations, some equipped with M40 recoilless rifle M-40 for the role of AT.


Name Source Type Number Photo Note
Self-propelled artillery
M109 howitzer  United States/ Switzerland Self-propelled artillery 155 mm 48 M109A6 Paladin ID 071010-F-0209C-002.jpg 24 M-109 Kawest and 24 M-109A5
Soltam M-71  Israel Towed howitzer 155 mm 36 M-71-cannon-towed.JPG
M101  United States Towed howitzer 105 mm 74 M101-105mm-howitzer-camp-pendleton-20050326.jpg
M114  United States Towed howitzer 155 mm 98 155HowLeftRear.jpg
OTO Melara Mod 56  Italy Towed howitzer 105 mm 70 Hellenic Army - Airmobile gun - 7220.jpg
Multiple rocket launcher
LAR-160  Israel Multiple rocket launcher 8 Lynx LAR-160.jpg

Air-defense systems

Name Source Type Number Photo Note
Anti-aircraft warfare
AN/TWQ-1 Avenger  United States Self-propelled anti-aircraft weapon 36 M1097 Avenger AA-System.jpg Each platform is armed with 8 FIM-92 Stinger covered by a sentinel radar.
NASAMS  Norway Advanced Surface to Air Missile System No information available Nasams.jpg Each platform is armed with 6 multiple launchers SL-AMRAAM covered by radar AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel.
FIM-92 Stinger  United States surface-to-air missile 390 Stinger (dummy) and case.png Used with the M-1097 and independently.
MBDA Mistral  France Surface-to-air missile ¿? 54RA-IMG 9142.jpg
Bofors 40 mm  Sweden Anti-aircraft warfare ¿? Bofors-40-L70-hatzerim-2-1.jpg

Ground support and antiaircraft artillery

Name Source Type Number Photo Note
Telecommunication logistics
AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel  United States radar air defense 6 ELEC AN-MPQ-64 Sentinel Radar lg.jpg Support for AN/TWQ-1 Avenger
AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder radar  United States Counter-battery radar 2 ANTPQ-36 E.T..JPG Support for M109 howitzer
SINCGARS  United States Combat-net radio ¿?


Name Type Origin Versions Quantity[9] Notes
Eurocopter AS350/Eurocopter AS355 Utility helicopter  France AS 350
AS 355
Slated to replace Lama and then MD 530, probably a total of 18-24 machines, to be equipped with anti-tank missiles (Spiker-ER)
MD Helicopters MD 530 Utility helicopter  United States MD 530F 17 19 put in service. 2 lost in accidents, the rest sold in civilian market.
Aérospatiale Puma Transport helicopter  France SA 330L 4 3 were sent to Haiti under UN peacekeeping mission; already returned to Chile. Originally 15 units in total, 4 have been retired, some put up for sale.
Eurocopter Super Puma Transport helicopter  France AS 332B
AS 332M2
AS AS532
8 new Cougar AS532 machines purchased to Eurocopter, to arrive between 2009 and 2010.
CASA C-212 Aviocar Tactical transport  Spain C-212-100
Some additional units were lost in accidents.
CASA CN-235 Tactical transport  Spain 3+1 One unit crashed in one Chilean base in the Antarctica and was replaced
Cessna 172 Utility  United States 3
Cessna 208 Utility  United States 8
Cessna Citation VIP transport  United States Citation II
Citation III

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

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
Cabo Segundo Second Corporal 4–10 years Sergeant/Corporal
Cabo Corporal 1–3 years after graduation Corporal/Lance Corporal
Cabo Dragonante (student) Corporal Dragonite (student) 2 years of study Private First Class/Private/NCO Cadet
Soldado Dragonante/Alumno (student) Soldier Dragonite (student) 1 year of study (save when recruited into the Army) Private /NCO Candidate

Officer ranks

Rank English translation Years of service US Army Equivalent rank/British Army Equivalent rank
Capitan General Captain General now inactive General/General of the Army/Field Marshal/Marshal
General de Ejercito General of the Army General/Lieutenant General
General de Division Divisional General Lieutenant General/Major General
General de Brigada Brigade General 31–32 years Major General/Brigadier General/Brigadier
Brigadier Brigadier/Colonel Commandant Brigadier General/Brigadier/Colonel Commandant (honorary rank)
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 1st Lieutenant/Lieutenant
Subteniente Sublieutenant 2–4 years 2nd 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




External links

Flag of Chile.svg
Chilean Armed Forces
Coat of arms of Chile.svg
Coat of arms of the Chilean Army.svg Ejército de Chile (Army)   Coat of arms of the Chilean Navy.svg Armada de Chile (Navy)   Coat of arms of the Chilean Air Force.svg Fuerza Aérea de Chile (Air Force)  

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