In this article, the author addresses the need to propose and implement a new security paradigm in Latin America, which does not contemplate a categorical differentiation between the areas of internal security and national defense. This view take into account the contemporary reality regarding the evolution of transnational crime while it diffuses the existing borders between the areas mentioned.
International terrorism and drug trafficking as a complex transnational crime are two concrete examples of criminal activity that can be considered external attacks on a nation. In this sense, it is necessary to design and implement, from the States, a public policy that coordinates efforts, tasks and available resources, between security and defense, to improve the security standards of the population.
This article explains how Argentina implemented, during the period 2015 – 2019, an active policy of collaboration of the Armed Forces. This effort involved the requirements from the agencies in charge of ensuring the internal security of the country. These actions include the radarization of the northern border, the identification of irregular air traffic, the tracing of clandestine air routes that allow drug unloading areas, the identification of unauthorized runways, and operational deployment in border areas for military training. These actions also involved the collaboration in the matter of providing social assistance for border populations in vulnerable situations.
The advancement previously mentioned in complementing efforts among the agencies in charge of security and defense was encouraging. However, it is also necessary to mention two central aspects, to continue advancing in the development of a new paradigm of cooperation and complementation between security and defense. The first of these consists of exploring the possibility of providing police functions to military personnel deployed in border areas, in order to improve performance in terms of operational results. The second lies in reviewing the existing military doctrines and proposing their adaptation to the contemporary transnational criminal reality.
Security. Defending. Transnational Crime. Irregular Air Traffic (TAI). Radars. Liaison Officers. Joint Operatives. Operational deployment at borders. Coordination and complementation.
Argentina, in particular, along with several countries in the region, in general, have a paradigm based on a sharp separation between security and defense. By virtue of the aforementioned paradigm, there is a categorical division between the security forces and the national defense forces. When referring to the security of the nation, the government needs to implement internal police actions for the prevention and repression of crime (1) and, with its defense, it needs to implement the actions that protect the nation from external attacks. (2)
The past in Latin America was marked by the seizure of political power by the Armed Forces that cracked the republican constitutional order based on civic-military coups d’état and policies of illegal repression, substantial elements to consider the dogmatic separation previously described.
In this sense, it is necessary to reconsider the need for a new paradigm, where the division between security and defense is reviewed and analyzed based on current security challenges.
In reference to this last point, the article aims to show how a dynamic policy of collaboration between the Armed Forces was implemented in Argentina and the agencies in charge of ensuring the internal security of the country during the period 2015 – 2019. It is important to consider that the actions carried out produced results that stimulate the need to promote a paradigm of cooperation between the security forces and the Armed Forces in the fight against crime.
As a starting point, it is important to mention that the northern Argentine border has a uniqueness, marked by the presence of a high and permanent neighborhood traffic of populations united by cultural, social and commercial ties. This regular flow of border neighbors through non-authorized crossings makes the execution of border controls complex, a situation that favors the easy entry and exit of the country by criminal drug trafficking networks. For this reason, it is essential to promote a change in social custom in the area, as well as to strengthen controls with an organizing axis placed on security.
As an example, and to be able to measure the number of people who usually circulate through non-authorized crossings, in the international crossing Puerto Chalanas de Aguas Blancas (Province of Salta, Department of Orán), border with Bolivia, there was in October 2018 an immigration record of 82,728 entries and departures, and in October 2019 a record of 189,168 entries and departures. This growth of 128% of the immigration registry was only possible thanks to a sustained effort to close non-authorized crossings, and to work hard with the local community to fight for a change in social custom that would imply seeing border control not as a bureaucratic procedure unnecessary but as a security measure. (3)
The areas of the northern border that require special attention are La Quiaca (Jujuy), Aguas Blancas and Salvador Mazza (Salta), Clorinda and Formosa (Formosa) and the entire area of the Upper Waterway (Ríos Paraguay and Upper Paraná). In these areas, we find the highest amount of border neighborhood traffic and the highest number of non-authorized crossings. There is a high degree of effort in coordination and cooperation for the deployment of troops of the Armed Forces.
During the indicated period, the Armed Forces found themselves committed to developing a set of actions that made it possible to improve the security policy of the State. Among these actions, are the radarization of the northern border, the identification of irregular air traffic without authorized flight plans, the tracing of clandestine air routes that allow the identification of drug unloading areas, the identification of unauthorized runways, the operational deployment in border areas for military training and collaboration in social assistance for border populations in vulnerable situations.
The Argentine Ministry of Security created, in January 2016, a state agency in charge of supervising, monitoring and proposing security policies aimed at strengthening the control and surveillance of the borders by the nation. From there, the concept of the border in airspace began to be promoted and the problem of “irregular air traffic” (TAI) was addressed. The initial task consisted in the elaboration of an “aerospace situation map”, which would allow to graphically dump all the data sent from the Aerospace Operations Center, dependent on the Aerospace Command, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Ministry of Defense. In a complementary manner, a series of measures was coordinated with the National Civil Aviation Administration (ANAC) so that all aircraft flights in the northern part of the country were correctly identified, and had an approved flight plan so that they were not identified as TAI.(4)
As these data were compiled, reports began to be drawn up on each of the TAI cases, most of which were sent to the Undersecretariat for the Fight against Drug Trafficking (Ministry of Security). The Ministry works closely with the Security Secretariat in charge of the operational deployment of the federal police forces.
Similarly, by Ministerial Resolution, the appointment of Liaison Officers of the Security Forces in the Military Operations Center was drafted and approved. This allows for joint action between the military operators of the installed radars, as well as the possibility of acting with a police operational deployment, based on the information obtained by the radars. (5)
Through various procedures with the Ministry of Defense, the hours of radar surveillance were increased, reaching the goal of 24 hours a day. Likewise, a permanent interaction was maintained with the Aerospace Command, which promoted the installation and relocation of the radar stations, as required by the Ministry of Security. In addition, action was taken on the need to increase the air interception capacity. (6)
From January 2016 to November 2019, 1,328 TAI cases were analyzed and 161 suspicious flight reports were written. This coordinated work in the matter of radarization and analysis of TAI flights, made it possible to establish entry-exit vectors to the country by clandestine air routes. It also assisted with delimiting geographical areas where drug shipments were unloaded or “bombed”, and to carry out ground police procedures with the forces security, which received the information provided by the joint and coordinated work scheme.
Regarding the deployment of the Armed Forces in border security zones, an effort was made to coordinate between the Defense and Security Ministries. This lead to a deployment of military personnel in areas where unauthorized entry steps were detected. Thereby giving police actions on the part of the armed forces, this modality was chosen, understanding that operational deployment in these areas would produce a deterrent effect. This physical presence in the territory of military personnel, coordinated with the federal security forces, is very helpful in optimizing police resources assigned to border surveillance tasks through clandestine crossings. The personnel considered for the execution of the operations in the border security zone was significant, and the effective operational deployment was the result of the coordination between the operational heads of the Argentine National Gendarmerie and the Superior personnel of the Armed Forces appointed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces.
The progress made complemented efforts between the agencies in charge of security and defense and were encouraging. However, two central aspects must be considered in order to continue advancing in the construction of a new paradigm in terms of security and defense. In the first place, an effective performance of military personnel in non-authorized crossing areas requires that they be able to detain persons who commit the offense from entering the country through illegal passages. This implies that the military personnel assigned to this task can exercise police power in the border security zone. Current legal regulations in Argentina prevent the military from having this power. In other countries in the region, such as Brazil, their armed forces are endowed with this power in border areas.
Second, it is necessary to raise as a core issue the updating of the current military doctrine. This, part of a sharp separation between internal security and defense of the Nation, granting the Armed Forces an exclusive role in defense tasks and not in internal security tasks. Many countries, based on phenomena such as international terrorism or the growth of transnational organized crime. They have decided to review their military doctrines and give them to their Armed Forces. A greater participation in specific security policies. Argentina and several countries in the region should continue this debate, which is vital to achieve an effective and modern use of their armed forces.
- Ley de Seguridad Interna No. 24,059, República Argentina
- Ley de Defensa Nacional No. 23,554, República Argentina
- Dirección de pasos Fronterizos, Subsecretaría de Control y Vigilancia de Fronteras, “Informe de Gestión 2018 – 2019,” Ministerio de Seguridad (Argentina: noviembre de 2019).
- Obligación de utilizar el equipo respondedor ATS en la Zona de Identificación de Defensa Aérea Norte (ADIZ Norte), véase Resoluciones ANAC 25-E/2018 y 166/2018; Procedimiento para la Recepción, Control, Aceptación y Transmisión del Plan de Vuelo, véase Resolución ANAC 842-E/2017
- Resolución 640-E/2017 (2017), Ministerio de Seguridad, República Argentina.
- Reglas de Protección Aeroespacial, Decreto 228/2016 (2016), República Argentina.
- Dirección de pasos Fronterizos, Subsecretaría de Control y Vigilancia de Fronteras, “Informe de Gestión 2018 – 2019,” Ministerio de Seguridad (Argentina: noviembre de 2019)
- Resolución 860/18 Operativo Integración Norte (2018), Ministerio de Defensa, República Argentina.
- Ley de Seguridad Interna No. 24,059, República Argentina
- Ley de Defensa Nacional No. 23,554, República Argentina
- Informe de Gestión 2018 – 2019, Dirección de Pasos Fronterizos, Subsecretaría de Control y Vigilancia de Fronteras, Ministerio de Seguridad, República Argentina, Noviembre de 2019.
- Obligación de utilizar el equipo respondedor ATS en la Zona de Identificación de Defensa Aérea Norte (ADIZ Norte), Resoluciones ANAC 25-E/2018 y 166/2018; y Procedimiento para la Recepción, Control, Aceptación y Transmisión del Plan de Vuelo, Resolución ANAC 842-E/2017.
- Resolución 640-E/2017, Ministerio de Seguridad, República Argentina, 2017.
- Informe de Gestión 2018 – 2019, Dirección de Vigilancia de Fronteras, Subsecretaría de Control y Vigilancia de Fronteras, Ministerio de Seguridad, República Argentina, Noviembre de 2019.
- Operativo Integración Norte, Resolución 860/18, Ministerio de Defensa, República Argentina, 2018
- Reglas de Protección Aeroespacial, Decreto 228/2016, Republica Argentina.