The Ecuadorian Army: Neglecting a Porous Border While Policing the Interior



This article challenges two prominent explanations for military behavior: militaries, like other bureaucracies, will seek to maximize their budgets; and in the interest of maintaining professionalism, militaries will perform sovereignty missions—external defense and counterinsurgency—more intensively than policing functions. Running counter to these expectations, since 2000, Ecuador's army has neglected its professional, lucrative mission of northern border defense, instead focusing on police work. The analysis applies organization theory to argue that the army's minimal border defense efforts have been a way to maintain predictability for patrols on the ground, the part of the army that most directly performs the army's core function of security. Specifically, the article traces how a contradiction has emerged in the army's border mission. The contradiction has meant anything but predictability for the work of troops patrolling the border, compromising the mission.