Argentine and Chilean service members who make up the Combined Southern Cross Peacekeeping Force (FPC), designed to be made available to the United Nations (U.N.), trained together to demonstrate their capabilities in the eventuality of participating in a U.N.-mandated peacekeeping operation, the Argentine Ministry of Defense said.
“From Argentina’s side, 434 troops participated with the deployment of diverse means, among them armored vehicles, trucks, and special vehicles; tents and containers to make up an operational base with the capacity to house 100 people,” Argentine Army Colonel José Colombo, head of Institutional Communication and Press of the Armed Forces’ Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Diálogo on November 13.
The objective of the exercise carried out October 17-19 in Pigüé, in the Argentine province of Buenos Aires, was to conduct operational training for officers, noncommissioned officers, and troops from the different elements of the Combined Force.
The troops deployed in scenarios where they encountered typical problems that occur during military peacekeeping operations, and groups were evaluated based on their ability to solve the challenges. In this occasion, the simulation included a sub-unit level base, with deployed units carrying out activities such as command post operations, checkpoints, patrols, and the formation of a rapid response team.
For example, a fictitious scenario included a checkpoint operated by FPC blue helmets who monitored a route and detected anomalies. In this case, a vehicle attempted to cross the checkpoint with undeclared weapons and was seized.
This situation was followed by complex factors, such as the presence of women requesting asylum and the aerial evacuation of a wounded person, for which the blue helmets received the support of a Bell UH-1H helicopter.
In another activity, troops coordinated a convoy operation, while in yet another, a heliborne operation for troop insertion was launched in response to the actions of hostile individuals threatening the U.N. forces.
Subsequently, a troop reserve escorted a convoy carrying food supplies to provide humanitarian assistance to the affected population in the vicinity of a conflict zone.
“The FPC is the second Combined Force in the world; the other is France and Germany,” Col. Colombo said. The FPC is made up of two battalions, one from each country, a command and service company, an air component (a squadron of Argentine and Chilean helicopters), a naval component, and a combined logistics support unit.
In the event that the U.N. requests the participation of the FPC in a peacekeeping mission, the combined force has up to 90 days to deploy in its entirety to the destination. “This force emerged in 2005 as an initiative to strengthen and build mutual measures of confidence between Argentina and Chile,” Col. Colombo said.
The end of the exercise consisted in the deployment of a scout patrol, which was to execute a reconnaissance mission with a time limit, using combat vehicles. At the time of the patrol’s departure, a landmine was activated, causing injuries to one of its members, so the area was secured, and the injured soldier was extracted from the air, all as part of the exercise.
Argentina and Chile have long participated in peacekeeping operations, such as the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti. Members of the Chilean Armed Forces are also currently part of the Argentine contingent deployed in the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.
“Since the creation of the FCP it has been continuous work of preparing documents, specific doctrine, and training in different procedures and ways of working, which make it that today we have a unit with these characteristics, suitable to be employed anywhere in the world in case the U.N. deems it so,” Col. Colombo concluded.