Latin American governments have had to turn to their military forces to combat organized crime. The military, highly respected in most Latin American nations, has the discipline and the power of arms to counter these groups. However, the use of the military in police operations is a dangerous solution. Soldiers without adequate training or education could commit human rights violations and jeopardize the legitimacy of the military institution in the eyes of civil society. The US experience in Iraq demonstrates the risks of deploying armed forces that lack proper training. Used incorrectly, this force can be counterproductive and can jeopardize the most important strategic objective: the support of the population. Respect for human rights generates legitimacy that leads to collaboration and citizen support and intelligence opportunities for military forces.
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