Structure of the US Army

Rebuttal of the SOA "it's only a few rotten apples" argument

  • Proponents of training Latin American military personnel at the School of the Americas often argue that only 1% of the 60,000 graduates have committed human rights abuses. Let's assume that number of correct. So we have about 600 human rights abusers in uniform.
  • However, raw numbers don't tell the entire story. We need to examine the RANKS of those abusers. The higher the rank, the greater the negative impact on a country and its people.
  • The chart to the right shows the command structure of the US Army. Latin American armies are organized in similar fashion. Note that a lieutenant, in charge of a platoon, commands only 16-40 soldiers. An abusive lieutenant cannot wreak great harm with so few troops under his command.
  • Now let's assume the abuser is a major general in charge of a division. That means 10,000-18,000 troops, a number that could create lots of harm. A lieutenant general in charge of 2-5 divisions, would control 2-5 times more troops. With these numbers, we can see how a single "rotten apple" could initiate widespread human rights abuses across an entire country. Examine the ranks of human rights abusers in the Latin American militaries. You'll find many high-ranking officers who have major horrific impact on their own people.
  • Here's only a small part of the more notorious SOA graduates.
    • Argentina: Naval Officer Emilio Massera (Deceased), Commander-in-chief of the Navy, 1973 - 1978 , Military Junta Leader 1976 1978; General Jorge Rafael Videla Redondo - Army commander, Military Junta Leader 1976 1981; General Roberto Viola; General Leopoldo Galtieri, military dictator, 1981-1982
    • Bolivia: General Hugo Banzer Suarez
    • Colombia: General Luis Bernardo Urbina Sanchez; General Luis Alfonso Zapata Uribe; General Gustavo Pardo Ariza
    • El Salvador: Captain Roberto D'Aubuisson (tied to ARENA death squads); General Jose Guillermo Garcia; General Rafael Humberto Larios
    • Guatemala: General Efrain Rios Montt
    • Panama: General Manuel Noriega
    • Venezuela: Army Commander in Chief Efrain Vasquez; General Ramirez Poveda; General Ramon Davila Guillen