El Salvador has increased its troop numbers by almost 57 percent since President Mauricio Funes came to power in 2009, according to the country’s Ministry of Defense.
The Ministry of Defense figures, quoted by El Faro, show that the military has expanded from 11,000 during the administration of Antonio Saca to over 17,000 today.
The extra troops have cost an estimated $25 million in additional salaries, according to the former defense minister and newly appointed minister of justice and security, General David Munguia Payes.
Munguia Payes, who became the the first military official in charge of El Salvador’s domestic security since the end of the country’s civil war, claims the growth in the armed forces is largely due to the need to support the ineffective and corruption-riddled police force in combating organized crime. Due to the failures of the police force, El Salvador’s military has been increasingly tasked with a public security role in recent years.
During the Funes administration, the parliament has passed three budgets, each of which gave increased funds to the Ministry of Defense.
According to the Security and Defense Network of Latin America (RESDAL), quoted by the BBC, El Salvador’s annual defense spending has jumped from $106 million to $133 million over the last five years.