Chilean Marine Corps

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Chilean Marine Corps
Infantería de Marina de Chile.svg
Chilean Marine Corps Crest
Active 1818-Present
Country  Chile
Branch Chilean Navy
Type Commando
Role Amphibious warfare
Special Forces support
Military bands service
Nickname(s) Cossacks
Motto(s) Fortis Atque Fidelis
Colors Red Scarlet & Yellow
March Torreones de Oro, Honors to the Fallen, Marine Infantry Hymn
Anniversaries 16 June 1818
Chilean Navy special forces sailors seen here using the MP5N.

The Chilean Marine Corps (Spanish:Cuerpo de Infantería de Marina or CIM) is an entity of the Chilean Navy special forces which specializes in amphibious assaults.


A Chilean Marine aiming the HK33A2 during training alongside U.S. Marines.

The Marine Corps was born with the establishment of the first armed forces of an independent Chile: the Corps was founded by Don Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme on June 16, 1818, through a Supreme Decree. However, the predecessor of the Marine Corps in Chilean history may be found in the early efforts of patriot revolutionaries against Spain in challenging royal control of the sea. In fact, a force of twenty-five soldiers Cazadores de los Andes, aboard the brig "Aguila" constituted the embryo of the Marines, who have since participated in all the actions to which Chilean warships have been committed.

O'Higgins's Supreme Decree described the role of the Marines: "these people will fire rifles from the deck, [and] will handle the machete in boardings and bayonet and cannon in landings." The Marine Corps thus became an indispensable complement to the sailors of the Navy, whose primary responsibility was to properly maneuver their craft during combat.

Mission and later history[edit]

HMMWV of the Chilean Navy.

"To provide the operational commander of Marines forces organized, equipped and trained, with the aim of contributing to the projection of naval power, to defend the coast and internal security and institutional."

In other words, it consists mainly of amphibious assault force, coastal defense force, special forces, support organs and garrisons.

It also organizes, equips and trains them to develop in times of conflict operations and actions that are characteristic over territory or where necessary, as irreplaceable component of the naval power of the nation, contributing effectively to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The Marines were to move in line with the means available to the Chilean Navy. The advent of steam ships and the longer range of the artillery, and many other circumstances, ensured fighting occurred at a greater distances; Collisions were becoming increasingly impractical and rifles on the deck, unnecessary. For that reason was the predominant role of gunner and the Marine Corps became Artillery Battalion of the Navy.

In 1866, the members of this battalion had to cover the garrisons of warships and fortifications on the ground. In such condition they all subsequently participated in all actions of the Naval War of the Pacific, displaying extraordinary courage and aggressiveness.

This war highlighted the Chilean Disembark in Pisagua, the first amphibious assault of the modern era. Amphibious operations were conducted on November 2, 1879, where the Chilean squadron provided escort and naval fire support, while the landing forces composed by 9,000 men landed in Caleta Pisagua and captured the position in a fast offensive action, taking only 4 hours. The Peruvian forces, after a strong initial resistance, were defeated due to the strong and sustained aggressiveness shown by the Chilean soldiers.

Since 1887, it functions as coastal artillery. Such a definition of the mission led to the updating of Organic Regulations of the Corps, which in 1938 was defined as Coastal defense.

Beginning in 1964, the Corps was completely reorganized and refocused, being renamed the Marine Corps and constituting a modern amphibious force which has continued to evolve in line with the requirements of the institution to have a real amphibious capacity and capable of contributing on projecting naval power over hostile territory

The other mission of the Marines is the protection, maintenance and monitoring of the naval facilities, the most famous being The Lions Gate with its security unit under the order and security detachment of the Marines in Talcahuano (main naval base Chile) is responsible for maintaining order and security inside the naval base and naval populations.


Amphibious expeditionary brigade.

The Chilean Marines are organized into two battalion-sized detachments (Destacamento de Infantería), two full-time battalions plus support units. As of 2013 they are now a full division-sized formation of 2 brigades plus independent units.

Expeditionary Amphibious Brigade[edit]

Formed recently, this brigade forms the amphibious component of the Corps with a mission to support the armed services in peacekeeping missions of in times of conflict and can do operations adaptable to any terrain possible. The brigade is headquartered in the Marine Corps bases in Concon and Talcahuano.

  • Brigade Headquarters'
  • Headquarters Company
  • 21st Marine Battalion "Miller"'
  • 31st Marine Battalion "Aldea"
  • 41st Marine Combat Support Battalion "Hurtado"'
  • 51st Marine Logistic Battalion

Protection Forces[edit]

The two remaining Marine Detachments plus smaller independent units form the Protection Forces of the Corps. Their duty is the protection of national territory and all naval bases and installations.

  • 1st Marine Detachment "Lynch" (Destacamento de Infantería de Marina Nº 1 Lynch), stationed at Fort Condell, Punta Gruesa south of Iquique (4th Naval Zone): Its main function is to provide artillery and coastal defense, with batteries of howitzers and Excalibur missiles. It depends directly on its respective Naval Zone, due to its border location.
  • 4th Marine Detachment "Cochrane"(Destacamento de Infantería de Marina Nº 4 "Cochrane"), located in Río de los Ciervos south of Punta Arenas (3rd Naval Zone): This Marine Detachment has similar characteristics to the 1st Marine Detachment because of its border location. It specialises in coastal defense and the use of artillery.

Other units[edit]

Each zone has a "Naval Detachment of Order and Security" (Destacamento de Orden y Seguridad in Spanish) that acts as base garrison unit and military police force. There are smaller detachments in remote areas like Puerto Williams and Isla de Pascua. The CIM also is responsible for the protection of the commander in chief of the Navy and contributes a section to the security of the facilities of the Ministry of Defense in Santiago. The corps also operates the Marine Infantry School "Commander Jaime Charles" together with the Naval Educational Command of the Navy, which fully owns and maintains the institution, and it is a part of the Naval Polytechnical Academy.

The Band Service of the Chilean Navy personnel are from the Marine Corps, particularly the military bands of the Naval School "Arturo Prat", the Seaman Training School "Alejandro Navarette Cisterna" and the Naval Polytechnic Academy. Like their counterparts in the British Royal Marines Band Service, they operate not just as headquarters bands for the 5 naval zones and 4 marine battalions, plus as in-house band for the Marine Infantry School and for the BE "Esmeralda", but also as bands for the naval educational institutions, even though in the naval bands sailors and officer/NCO cadets fill the ranks of the Corps of Drums which are attached to the bands and are composed of snare drums, fifes and bugles (in the marine bands soldiers of the Marines fill the Corps of Drums rosters). They all report to Headquarters, Chilean Marine Corps. These bands date back to the mid 19th century when the Marine Artillery band was raised to provide musical support for the Navy.

Chilean Marines equipment[edit]

Amphibious warfare ships[edit]

LSDH Sargento Aldea of the Chilean Navy.
Aquiles (AP-41)
LST Rancagua
Vessel Pennant number Origin Type Class In service Notes
Sargento Aldea LSDH  France - Foudre class 1 -TCD Foudre L9011
Aquiles AP-41  Chile - - 1 -
Rancagua LST-92  Chile - BATRAL class 1 -
Chacabuco LST-95  Chile - BATRAL class 1 -
Elicura LSM-90  Chile - Elicura class 1 -
Orompello LSM-94  United States - Elicura class - Decommissioned December 2012


Name Type In service origin Note
FV101 Scorpion Reconnaissance vehicle 45  United Kingdom
Bandvagn 206 tracked articulated, all-terrain carrier 40  Sweden
HMMWV Light Utility Vehicle 60  United States
Petit Véhicule Protégé Light Utility Vehicle 15  France
KIA KM 250 Military truck  Republic of Korea
KIA KM 420 Light Utility Vehicle  Republic of Korea
KIA KM 450 Off-road vehicle  Republic of Korea
KIA KM 421 Ambulance  Republic of Korea

Artillery and Air-defense systems[edit]

Name Type In service origin Note
Soltam M-71 (G-4) Howitzer 24[1]  South Africa
KH-178 Towed Howitzer 16  Republic of Korea
Excalibur Battery Anti-ship missile system 4  United Kingdom Uses Exocet MM-38
M252 mortar Mortar (weapon)  United Kingdom
Blowpipe (missile) Man-portable air-defense systems  United Kingdom
Bofors 40 mm Anti-aircraft artillery  Sweden
Oerlikon 20 mm cannon Anti-aircraft artillery   Switzerland

Infantry Weapons[edit]

Name Type caliber origin Note
Heckler & Koch HK33 Assault rifle 5.56 mm  Germany Being replaced by FN SCAR-L[2]
M4 carbine Assault rifle 5.56 mm  United States Special Forces.
SCAR-L Assault rifle 5.56 mm  Belgium Standard assault rifle.
SCAR-H Battle rifle 7.62 mm  Belgium Standard battle rifle.
Heckler & Koch MG4 Light Machine gun 7.62 mm  Germany .
FAMAE SAF Submachine gun 9 mm  Chile
Rheinmetall MG3 General-purpose machine gun 7.62 mm  Germany
M60 machine gun General-purpose machine gun 7.62 mm  United States
FN Minimi Medium machine gun 7.62 mm  Belgium 7.62 NATO Version.[2]
M82A1 Anti-materiel rifle 12.7 mm  United States
AT4 anti-tank weapon 84 mm  Sweden
M72 LAW anti-tank weapon 66 mm  United States
Mk 19 grenade launcher Automatic grenade launcher 40 mm  United States
Milkor MGL Grenade launcher 40 mm  South Africa
Browning M2 Heavy machine gun 12.7 mm  United States

Future Chilean marines acquisitions[edit]

Name Type In service origin Note
Eurocopter AS532 Cougar Transport helicopter 2  France 4 up to 8 Units.
Amphibious Assault Vehicle Amphibious vehicle 12  United States
M1128 Mobile Gun System Armoured fighting vehicle -  United States 10 Units.
M1126 Infantry Carrier Vehicle Armoured fighting vehicle -  United States 30 Units.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]