Argentine Armed Forces Display Accomplishments, Equipment at Tecnópolis

Argentine Armed Forces Display Accomplishments, Equipment at Tecnópolis

By Dialogo
September 29, 2015

The world should invest in people's well-being instead of in weapons.

As part of the Argentine Armed Forces’ efforts to reach out to civilians they serve and protect, the Ministry of Defense has a booth at the fifth annual Tecnópolis Exhibition – Latin America’s largest science, art, and technology fair

This year’s Tecnópolis, began on July 16, and is open through November 1, with no entry fee. The exhibit occupies 50 acres in the Vicente López municipality of greater Buenos Aires, where about 80 vendors are involved in the event; one such space even has a life-size dinosaur park and an interactive exhibit on ARSAT-1, an Argentine satellite.

Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry’s Sovereignty booth greets 2,500 visitors daily, as children and adults are able to learn more about the Military's work -- from defending the national territory to providing humanitarian assistance during natural disasters.

“This space has allowed us to give Argentines a more complete idea of what the Armed Forces are like,” Argentine Defense Minister Agustín Rossi said during the booth’s inauguration on July 29.

Connecting the Armed Forces to the public

Upon entering the space, visitors can see an air droppable general use light vehicle (VLEGA) commonly known as “Gaucho,” which was designed during a joint effort by Military engineers from Argentina and Brazil. It was developed to satisfy the operational needs of the Paratrooper Brigades of the Brazilian and Argentine Armies, and can be used on several types of missions, including operations to transport cargo, wounded persons, or communications equipment, as well as for reconnaissance missions, according to the Brazilian Army’s Technology Center. At the exhibition, children can climb into the Gaucho and take pictures with the Grenadiers – Military personnel from the Army charged with guarding the president.

“The space’s greatest feat is that it has been introducing the Ministry of Defense to the public in a friendly way,” said Marina Quesada, the exhibit’s coordinator. “For example, the public is excited to see the number of instruments the bands have and, later, they associate the military with something more relaxing.”

Bands from different branches of the Armed Forces are just one of the many attractions at the exhibition; they play a diverse musical repertoire on Saturdays and Sundays, from classic Military marches to rock, swing, and jazz. During another family-friendly activity on Children's Day (August 16), the booth’s team entertained children with face painting. The Ministry also participated in a workshop on patriotic caricatures during Comicópolis, a comic book festival held within Tecnópolis from September 17-20.

Interactive Activities

The exhibit itself includes six stations:

1. Megacinema

From the outside, it is a huge cube. Inside, it is a cinema with a 36-meter by eight-meter screen that has a 270 degree viewing angle, and an eight-minute video highlighting the Armed Forces’ importance to the country. Visitors learn, for example, that 15 percent of the personnel in Argentina’s Armed Forces are women, and that the country has maintained a presence in Antarctica for 110 years with six permanent and seven temporary Military bases (for a total of 13).

Patricia Pertovt, 59, from the city of Cipolletti in the province of Río Negro, said she loved the video because it expanded the idea of what the Military is.

“I think the [Armed Forces’] vision is a great one,” she added. “The idea of also taking care of natural spaces, preserving endangered animals, and helping out during catastrophic weather is truly praiseworthy.”

Héctor Parchelta, 59, also of Cipolletti, appreciated the initiative.

“I’m really excited about everything we are seeing here,” he added. “I’m especially passionate about the idea of sovereignty. It crops up when dealing with our educational system, our seas and rivers, and the union that we have created in order to take care of what is ours.”

Gianella González, an 11-year-old student, already grasps the concept, said, “Sovereignty means that we have to defend our rights and support democracy in Argentina.”

2. “Like it!”

After leaving the cinema, visitors are met by a 1.6-meter tall structure that resembles the icon used for likes on Facebook. Pressing a button illuminates the structure’s hand. Visitors can also like the Defense Ministry’s website using a tablet and can take a picture to appear as their profile picture on any social network.

3. Portraits of Sovereignty

On the path’s third stop, visitors can dress up in real Military uniforms from various Argentine security forces, including Soldiers, Airmen, Seamen, Grenadiers, and those personnel stationed at the Marambio Base in Antarctica. After donning the uniforms, visitors can take pictures in front of backgrounds that depict various places where the Armed Forces have been deployed, including the peacekeeping mission in Cyprus, the frigate Liberty, and the interior of a Hercules C-130 plane on a mission in Antarctica.

“People put themselves in the shoes of our service members,” Camila Golzman, a member of the team that runs the Defense Ministry’s exhibit, said. “They love to dress up like Grenadiers and put on pilot helmets. These activities make the Military seem more family-friendly. Many parents choose the uniforms for their children, and some children like the uniforms so much that they want to take them home.”

4. Virtual reality

Those who have never gone skydiving can now experience it, thanks to the simulator that comprises the exhibit’s fourth stop. Visitors use a helmet with a visor that offers a 360-degree view of an actual jump that was filmed by Argentine Military personnel. Whoever “jumps” stands on a platform and can support themselves with a harness if they experience vertigo.

5. Soldier Radio

At the fifth stop, a radio studio announces live highlights from the exhibit via loudspeakers; other programs include performances by military bands, discussions, and teleconferences with the Military base in Antarctica.

6. Film set

Finally, at the exhibit’s end, visitors are invited to leave their thoughts on what they saw, responding to the question: “In your opinion, what is sovereignty?” The stop also records video, which is projected on the building’s exterior and seen by whoever passes along Tecnópolis’s main street.

“On weekdays, between 400 and 900 people tour the exhibit,” Quesada said. ”On weekends, we receive between 2,000 and 2,500 people depending on the weather. On sunny days, the exhibit completely fills up.”