The Authoritarian Security Apparatus: Officer Careers and the Trade-offs in Command
This chapter discusses the fundamental trade-off between competence and loyalty in the authoritarian security apparatus. Research suggests that the survival of autocracies and dictatorships hinges on loyal security officers. However, the management of regime security also requires skills and competence, which officers may use to oust the very regime they pledged to protect. The chapter highlights the importance of command experience as a key ingredient to successful officer careers. It then explains how autocrats use command posts to generate loyalty among competent officers. Employing original data on an entire officer corps, it illustrates the dual logic of officer selection and placement at work in Argentina's last dictatorship. The regime assigned skilled officers to field positions and co-opted those with uncertain loyalties by placing them close to their home regions. The chapter concludes by highlighting avenues for future research.