Ejercito Argentino - Argentine Army
In 1990 Argentina began a transformation of the land component of its armed forces based on assessments of current and future defense needs, national objectives, economic conditions, and a changing international situation. This historical challenge was met by the Argentine army which implemented actions to achieve that end.
The Malvinas War clearly indicated the failure of Argentine doctrinal and operational framework. The conflict in the Falkland Islands, in the early 1980s, illustrated the need for proper equipment and training to handle the harsh environment. Many Argentine conscripts were poorly clothed and trained. Frostbite and trench foot were rampant in the Argentine Army.
Budget policies and cost reductions embraced by the Argentine government, like other countries, compounded structural problems. To meet this reality, studies were required to guide development of the army. Thus, a long-range goal was implemented by a comprehensive and ambitious project, "The Military Ground Component of the Future," which spanned over twenty years (until 2010). That project, with subsequent revisions and adaptations, has become synonymous with the army's future. From the start the effort has been focused in a coherent and coordinated manner. Its most distinctive characteristic is that it is not static. On the contrary, it is flexible enough to assimilate changes deemed necessary by the defense establishment while also ensuring room for evolution.
Pertinent to the lack of cohesion among the Argentines was the great social distance between officers, NCOs, and conscripts. The latter serve one year or less in the army. NCOs have little responsibility within the Argentine Army excluding administrative duties. They do not train recruits or soldiers. Their duties focus solely on the physical care of the soldier such as ensuring that the soldiers are adequately clothed and fed. In addition, there is an enormous social gap between the officer and the noncommissioned officer that detracts from vertical bonding and cohesion between officer and NCO. This social distance and lack of vertical bonding produce a rigid, hierarchically organized army which de facto is incapable of flexibility and creativity under stress.
The implementation of a voluntary army was a historical milestone for Argentina and the greatest challenge in the 1990s. The idea was to address the formation of the soldier of the future, defense needs, resource availability, and demands posed by society. Its adoption led to profound changes, both cultural and structural, ranging from education and training volunteers to the operation of units, equipment, personnel practices, legal developments, etc. The possibility for individuals to voluntarily choose to join the army as an officer or noncommissioned officer is an innovative and invaluable recruitment alternative not previously employed in Argentina. Another remarkable change is the fact the army decided to offer women the same recruitment opportunities as men, opening a series of positions which will be gradually expanded as the system is consolidated.
The Argentine army has conducted peacekeeping operations among various other missions in an effort to help maintain international order and balance in compliance with resolutions of the U.N. Security Council. The military has thereby gained national and international recognition for its professionalism, devotion to duty, and discipline evidenced while participating in multinational peacekeeping forces. This motivation has enabled the Army to overcome other difficulties and strengthen a commitment to world peace, in keeping with the objectives of Argentine foreign policy.
The Army has reorganized its resources on the basis of two large groups engaged in different activities. The first one is a set of military units geographically distributed throughout the country, and operates in the areas of the national territory where they are located. They are called Regional Use Forces. These Forces are organized, equipped and trained to act in the various geographical regions of the country (mountains, desert, high plateau, forest, etc.) in the cases mentioned above, and they assist neighboring communities struck by natural disasters.
The second group is called Variable Use Forces and is organized and equipped so as to allow the Army to carry out its functions within and outside the national territory. Because of their versatility, autonomy and location these Forces allow the country to be ready to give the necessary, adequate and sustained response in the various scenarios where the interests of the Argentine Republic are at stake. Variable Use Forces are located in central regions of the national territory, are provided with significant combat power and are able to move quickly to places where contingencies requiring their presence arise. Some of their main functions include the capability to move outside the country to comply with Argentina's international commitments.
The Army's main operational structure is based on Army Corps (Large Battle Units) formed by Brigades (Large Combat Units). Brigades are based on the weapon system involved. The member units complement each other's functions and thus provide operational autonomy. This means that a Brigade is the smallest unit ready for independent combat, based on the interaction of its components. This feature demands particular efforts in ground training.There are different types of Brigades:
- Armored Brigades, formed on the basis of three Armored Cavalry Regiments and one Mechanized Infantry Regiment, in addition to the pertinent fire, combat and logistics supporting resources. Its vehicles are designed for combat against armored units.
- Mechanized Brigades, formed by two Mechanized Infantry Regiments and one Tank Cavalry Regiment, in addition to the pertinent fire, combat and logistical supporting resources. These Brigades are provided with different types of armored track vehicles, suitable for infantry combat, land exploration and combat against tanks.
- Mountain and Forest Brigades formed by two or more Infantry and Mountain or Forest Cavalry Regiments, in addition to the pertinent fire, combat and logistics supporting resources. The units forming these Brigades are equipped with light equipment easy to transport by horse and mule, in the case of Mountain Brigades.
- Airborne Brigade, whose structure is based on two Parachute Regiments, in addition to the pertinent, fire, combat and logistics supporting resources. Their material and equipment is designed to be transported, landed and eventually launched from aircraft during flight. All its members are capable of parachuting directly into the area where military operations are to be carried out.
Recently, the Army created an Air Assault Battalion capable of displacing part of its resources with its own helicopters. In early 2001 the Argentine Army signed a contract with the US for the purchase of AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters for the 'Air Assault Force' that will include personnel from ceremonial regiments (Patricians and Grenadiers), Command Companies 601 and 602 and the 601 Air Assault Battalion.
The Army has reorganized its logistics structure, previously based on Logistical Battalions that had to accompany the movements of the Brigades with all their resources, even the heaviest ones, which made them less speedy and mobile. Instead, the present Logistics Support Bases only send out a small portion of their resources (all of them being light in nature) and remain in place to support the Brigades operating in the area, acting on the basis of geographical criteria. This core organization is complemented by a School Brigade reporting to a Military Schools Command. The Army structure also comprises the Buenos Aires Military Garrison and the Army Air Command.
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