Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic

The Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic, in Spanish: Fuerzas Armadas de la República Argentina, are controlled by the Commander-in-Chief (the President) and a civilian Minister of Defense. In addition to the Army, Navy and Air Force, there are two security forces, controlled by the Ministry of Security, which can be mobilized in occasion of an armed conflict: the National Gendarmerie, a gendarmerie used to guard borders and places of strategic importance; and the Naval Prefecture, a coast guard used to protect internal major rivers and maritime territory.

Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic
Fuerzas Armadas de la República Argentina
Coat of arms of Argentina
Current form9 September 1948[1]
Service branchesArmy
Air Force
National Gendarmerie
Naval Prefecture
Commander-in-ChiefPresident Mauricio Macri
Minister of DefenseOscar Aguad
Chief of the EMC[2]Lieutenant general VGM[3] Bari del Valle Sosa[4]
Military age18 years old
Active personnel83,514 (2018)[5]
Percent of GDP0.8%[6]
Domestic suppliersArgentine defense industry
Foreign suppliers United States
Related articles
HistoryMilitary history of Argentina
RanksMilitary ranks of Argentina

Traditionally, Argentina maintains close defense cooperation and military-supply relationships with the United States and to a lesser extent, with Israel, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Belarus, Italy, and Russia.


The Argentine military, as has been the tendency in other Latin American countries, were considerably more influential in former times. Starting in 1930 and throughout the 20th century, democratic governments were more often than not interrupted by military coups (see History of Argentina). The terrible consequences of the last dictatorship destroyed the military image as the moral reserve of the nation and opened the way to transform them into today's armed forces.

1955–1963 internal strife

After the Revolución Libertadora coup that deposed president Juan Domingo Perón in 1955, the armed forces split into opposing sectors named Azules y colorados ("Blues and Reds"). The fight would end in 1963 with military clashes and the defeat of the reds who were opposed to Perón.

1965 Operacion 90

In 1965, the Argentine military conducted land military maneuvers on Antarctica under then-Colonel Jorge E. Leal. Nicknamed Operación 90, this was undertaken ten years before the Antarctic Treaty came into being and was conducted to cement Argentina's claims to a portion of those territories (still claimed as Argentine Antarctica).

1975 Counter-insurgency

In 1975 the armed forces started a massive operation in the Tucumán Province to crush the ERP (Ejército Revolucionario del Pueblo or People's Revolutionary Army) guevarist guerrilla group which attempted to create a "revolutionary foco in this remote and mountainous province, in the north-west of Argentina."

National Reorganization Process

The last military dictatorship, the National Reorganization Process, lasted from 1976 to 1983. As Isabel Perón was unable to defeat the terrorist organizations of Montoneros and ERP, the military took power during the 1976 Argentine coup d'état and exterminated the violent communist guerrillas by random detentions, torture or death. The current government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner that sympathizes with Perón, antagonized the Armed Forces with the justification of the past junta and limits the powers of the current armed forced to avoid state terrorism of the past.

1978 Beagle Conflict

During much of the 19th and the 20th century, relations between neighbour Chile chilled due to disputes over Patagonia, though in recent years relations have improved dramatically.

1982 Falklands War

On 2 April 1982, the Military Junta invaded the British overseas territories of the Falkland Islands and its dependency South Georgia in order to maintain power by diverting public attention from the nation's poor economic performance and exploiting the long-standing feelings of the Argentines towards the islands. Such action would also bolster its dwindling legitimacy. After short but fierce naval and air battles, the British landed on 21 May, and a land campaign followed until the Argentine forces surrendered on 14 June. 649 Argentines and 255 British died during the war.

The political effects of the war were strong and prompted even larger protests against the dictatorship, which hastened its downfall.

1983 transition to democracy

The democratic government of Raúl Alfonsín that took office in 1983 prosecuted the 1970s crimes and made the unprecedented (and only Latin American example) Trial of the Juntas and soon the Army was rocked by uprisings and internal infighting. Far-right sectors of the Army rebelled in the Carapintadas (painted faces) movement. To contain the rebellions, Alfonsín promoted the Full stop law and the Law of due obedience. The following president, Carlos Menem, gave the presidential pardon to the military found guilty in the Trial of the Juntas. It would not be until 1990, when the last military uprising in Argentine history was crushed, that the political conflict within the Army finally subsided.

In January 1989, during the subversive attack on La Tablada, the Army used white phosphorus in a violation of the Geneva Convention (according to a document presented by the human rights commission of the United Nations on January 12, 2001).[7]

Gulf War and 1990s

Argentina was the only Latin American country to participate in the 1991 Gulf War sending a destroyer and a corvette in first term and a supply ship and another corvette later to participate on the United Nations blockade and sea control effort of the gulf. The success of "Operación Alfil" (English: "Operation Bishop") as it was known, with more than 700 interceptions and 25,000 miles sailed on the operations theatre helped to overcome the so-called "Malvinas syndrome".

From 1990 to 1992, the Baradero-class patrol boats were deployed under UN mandate ONUCA to the Gulf of Fonseca in Central America. In 1994, the three Drummond-class corvettes participated on Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti.

Also, in the 1990s, Argentine Armed Forces began a close defense cooperation and friendship policy with neighbors Brazil and Chile, with emphasis on fulfilment of United Nations mandates.

The Argentine military have been reduced both in number and budget, but became more professional, especially after conscription was abolished by president Menem. The British embargo due to the Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas) was officially eliminated and Argentina was granted Major Non-NATO ally status by United States President Bill Clinton.[8]


The modern Argentine Military Forces are fully committed to international peacekeeping under United Nations mandates, humanitarian aid on emergencies relief and support the country's continuous presence at Antarctica.

Democratic governments since 1983 straightened the military budget and did not approve any large scale equipment purchases. Argentina military spending is one of the lowest of South America[9][10] and as of 2010, its 0.9% of GDP only exceeds Suriname[11]

Since the 2000s, the Argentine defense industry was relaunched after the politics of privatization carried out during the 1990s by Carlos Menem administration virtually eliminated all.

In 2003, for the first time, the Argentine Navy (classified as major non-NATO ally) interoperated with a United States Navy battlegroup when destroyer ARA Sarandí (D-13) joined the USS Enterprise Carrier Strike Group and Destroyer Squadron 18 as a part of Exercise Solid Step during their tour in the Mediterranean Sea.

On June 12, 2006, President Néstor Kirchner brought into force the Defense Law, which had been passed in 1988 as a means to modernize the doctrine of the armed forces and define their role, though successive governments had failed to put it into effect. The law states that the armed forces will only be used against foreign aggression, and reduces the powers of the heads of the armed services, centralizing whole operational and acquisitions decisions under the authority of the Armed Forces Joint General Staff (Spanish: Estado Mayor Conjunto de las Fuerzas Armadas – EMC ) emphasizing Jointness.

In 2007, an agreement for cooperation in peace operations was signed with France.[12]

A combined Argentinian-Chilean force for future United Nations Mandates was created.[13] Named Cruz del Sur (English: Southern Cross), the new force began assembly in 2008 with its headquarters alternating between the two countries each year.[14]

In 2009, UNASUR, the South America countries union, created the CDS ( Spanish: Consejo de Defensa Sudamericano (South American Defence council) in order to promote cooperation and transparency between their armed forces[15]

As of 2011, they perform with Chile the PARACACH (Patrulla de Rescate Antártica Combinada Argentina-Chile, Argentine Chilean Antarctic combined search and rescue patrol) with support from the German Space Agency which provided satellite imagery[16]


The three branches of the Argentine Military are under the direct authority of the Defense Ministry, while the Argentine National Gendarmerie and the Argentine Naval Prefecture, as security forces, under the direct authority of the Ministry of Security.

International participation

Argentina was the only South American country to send warships and cargo planes in 1991 to the Gulf War under UN mandate and has remained involved in peacekeeping efforts in multiple locations like UNPROFOR in Croatia/Bosnia, Gulf of Fonseca, UNFICYP in Cyprus (where among Army and Marines troops the Air Force provided the UN Air contingent since 1994) and MINUSTAH in Haiti.

UNFICYP was also a precedent in the Latin American military as troops of Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay are embedded in the Argentine contingent[17]

Since 1999 and as of June 2006, Argentina is the only Latin American country to maintain troops in Kosovo during SFOR (and later EUFOR) operations where combat engineers of the Argentine Armed Forces are embedded in an Italian brigade.

In 2007, an Argentine contingent including helicopters, boats and water purification plants was sent to help Bolivia against their worst floods in decades.[18] In 2010 the Armed Forces were also involved in Haiti and Chile humanitarian responses after their respective earthquakes.

Argentine military forces formed part of[19]

And as military observers in UNTSO, MINURSO, UNMIL, MONUC, UNMIS and ONUCI.

Argentina was also responsible for the White Helmets initiative.

See also



  1. Salas, Jorge Marcelo. "Bienvenido!!!".
  2. Joint General Staff of Argentine Armed Forces
  3. Veteran of the Falklands War
  4. "Macri cambia la cúpula de las Fuerzas Armadas".
  5. "Argentina hace publica la cantidad de personal militar en sus fuerzas". 19 March 2018.
  6. "El papel de las Fuerzas Armadas".
  7. E/CN.4/2001/NGO/98, United Nations, January 12, 2001 - URL accessed on February 9, 2007 (in Spanish); ANSA cable quoted by the RaiNews24: See frame on the right (in Italian).
  8. "Overview of U.S. Policy Toward South America and the President's Upcoming Trip to the Region".
  9. "El presupuesto militar argentino, uno de los más bajos de la región".
  10. Argentina sólo gasta 80 millones de dólares anuales en armamento.
  11. "El presupuesto para Defensa es el más bajo de la historia". 19 May 2018.
  12., Revista Defensa (20 May 2018). "Noticias de industria de defensa y seguridad en España y América".
  13. Avance para la fuerza combinada con Chile
  14. "Destinan $30 millones para operar con Chile".
  15. "CDS official site )".
  16. (26 September 2011). "Los Ejércitos de Chile y Argentina realizan el ejercicio conjunto 'SAR Terrestre 2011' en la Antártida - Noticias Infodefensa América".
  17. Argentine Army: UNFICYP Archived April 23, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
    UN: Cyprus - UNFICYP - Facts and Figures Archived September 7, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
    Chilean Army: Misión de la ONU en Chipre desde el año 2003 Archived June 12, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
    Brazilian Army: UNFICYP Archived February 18, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  18. Argentina, Armada. "Gaceta Marinera - Portal Oficial de Noticias de la Armada Argentina".
  19. "Jefatura de Gabinete de Ministros - Mapa de Sitio" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-24. Retrieved 2013-09-04.
  20. ARGAIR Archived August 5, 2010, at the Wayback Machine


Further reading

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