The ARA San Juan Disappearance

Case Study

Argentina’s military history

Argentina spent the years 1976 to 1983 under military dictatorship. The regime itself was called the National Reorganization Process, “the Process” for short. At its height, funding for the nation’s armed forces stood at roughly 3.5 percent of GDP (gross domestic product).

The disastrous military loss to the U.K. in the Falklands War of 1982 helped break what remained of the regime’s popular support. Democracy was restored a year later, and military funding began to fall. By 2016, Argentina would spend less than a percent of its GDP on the armed forces, the lowest percentage in the Southern Cone.

What’s more, the overwhelming majority of funds allocated to the military sector, some 70 percent according to estimates, actually goes to salaries and pensions, not procurement and modernization.

One of the sectors hit hardest by the decades-long erosion of funding: the country’s submarines. As Reuters reports, in 2014, the country’s submarine fleet spent a grand total of 19 hours submerged under water. The amount actually required to fulfil operational and training needs: 190 days.

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