Brigadier General Jorge Fabián Berredo, operational commander of the Argentine Armed Forces’ Joint Chiefs of Staff, wants to transform the operational command into an active, diligent entity that strengthens the Joint Armed Forces Command.
Brig. Gen. Berredo spoke with Diálogo about Antarctic campaigns, United Nations peacekeeping missions that include Argentine blue helmets, support to the community during catastrophe or natural disasters, and Operation Suffrage 2023.
Diálogo: What’s new at the Operational Command?
Brigadier General Jorge Fabián Berredo, operational commander of the Argentine Armed Forces’ Joint Chiefs of Staff: We’re essentially focused on two major areas: the conduct of operations underway and the development of short-term military plans.
The Operational Command is like a tool that the Joint Chief of Staff has to shape its military strategic concepts, where beyond the reactive efforts in case of a conflict, active strategic efforts were determined, which are reflected in our day to day work, and which are essentially related to surveillance and integral control of our spaces (air, space, land, maritime, and cyber), civil protection operations that arise in the event of significant emergency situations, annual and summer campaigns to the Antarctic continent, deployments under United Nations mandate, etc. All this is under the concept we call “Operations in Development,” which is conducted by the Operational Command through different Joint Commands created for this purpose (Joint Aerospace Command, Joint Maritime Command, Joint Northwest Command, Joint Northern Command, Joint Northeast Command, Joint Cyber Defense Command, Joint Special Operations Forces Command, Joint Antarctic Command).
We are in the midst of developing our campaign plans. To this end, the Operational Command is leading the work being developed by eight Temporary Joint Planning Commands that address these plans at the operational level, under the perspectives provided by the different strategic environments that make up our country. We have a country rich in natural resources and these plans, through a strategy defined as defensive, autonomous, and active, seek to preserve them. These plans are put into practice through a Plan Verification Cycle, where we seek to adjust the different operational designs, experiment with our multi-domain operations doctrine, and evaluate those combat power multipliers that must be incorporated. The different aspects presented during this cycle that we must work on give us the ability to refine medium term plans regarding the design of forces and their organic evolution, as well as to define scales of acquisitions regarding weapon systems that we intend to incorporate, which creates repetitions between the short and medium term. The Operational Command takes care of such intended coherence. On the other hand, we can say that these events are true windows into the construction of joint military action by combining different physical domains such as air, land, and sea, together with others from non-physical spheres such as space, cybernetic, electromagnetic, and information actions, transforming this combination into solid steps of interoperability.
Diálogo: What is the importance of conducting annual Antarctic campaigns?
Brig. Gen. Berredo: Our presence in Antarctica has been permanent and uninterrupted since 1904, 119 years ago, when the first Meteorological Observatory was erected on Laurie Island, South Orkney, later called Orkney Base. Its importance must be associated to the relative location of Argentina with respect to the Antarctic Peninsula and its extension over the polar cap. This privileged location gives our territory bicontinental characteristics and positions it as a natural and strategic gateway to the white continent. Hence the impulse we give to the Ushuaia-Petrel axis, where Ushuaia and its facilities are presented as a potential logistic and scientific pole to develop Antarctic activities and Petrel as a multimodal Antarctic base that through its facilities, airport, and future pier, added to its central location and relative ease of access, allow them to easily connect to the rest of the territory. Beyond this, it should be remembered that the country is a founding member of the Antarctic Treaty, operates seven permanent bases (Esperanza, Marambio, Petrel, Orcadas, Carlini, San Martin, and Belgrano) distributed on the peninsula and the polar cap, both on the Weddell Sea and the Bellinghausen Sea; as well as six summer bases and between 25 to 30 summer scientific camps and shelters, which gives it a transcendent specific weight.
Diálogo: What missions are the Argentine blue helmets on?
Brig. Gen. Berredo: Our Armed Forces have a history of making important contributions in terms of deployments under a United Nations mandate. Today the most important mission is UNFICYP (Cyprus) where we have members in the Mission Staff, a Task Force, and a helicopter flight unit, totaling 269 members. It is also worth mentioning that in UNIMOGIP (India-Pakistan) we have a head of mission. To a lesser extent, there are members in the missions of MINUSCA (Central Africa), UNTSO (Middle East), MINURSO (Western Sahara), UNVMC (Colombia), UNIFIL (Lebanon), and UNDOF (Golan Heights).
Diálogo: How does the Operational Command coordinate actions in support of the community in the event of catastrophes or natural disasters?
Brig. Gen. Berredo: We are governed by a directive from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, by means of which 24 Joint Emergency Commands have been set up to cover the entire geography of our extensive country. These commands are activated on demand and are under the Operational Control of the Operational Command of the Armed Forces. The latter articulates the demands with agencies at the national level and the commands do the same at the provincial level. Our Joint Commands of Emergency Zones played a leading role during the pandemic, where they capitalized on a great deal of experience in joint and interagency action, fundamentally contributing leadership capacity and work methodology to energize the parties and bring them together, managing to form efficient temporary work teams.
Diálogo: How did the Operational Command support Operation Suffrage 2023?
Brig. Gen. Berredo: Our Armed Forces have a deep-rooted tradition of participation in support of electoral events that dates back some 115 years. Its origins practically coincide with the sanctioning in 1912 of the Saenz Peña Law that established universal suffrage. In the run-up to 1909, 1910, the political leaders of that time, presidents Figueroa Alcorta and Roque Saenz Peña, gave the Armed Forces the responsibility of enrolling and registering citizens, seeking certain “guarantees of impartiality.” The spirit of this guarantee of impartiality was transferred to our current mission of custody and security of voting proceedings. In a way, we ensure that one of the constitutional mandates is fulfilled. From this perspective, the task is closely linked to one of our essential responsibilities: the defense of the National Constitution and sovereignty.
On a practical level, the Operational Command assumed the operational control of 85,000 troops of the Armed and Security Forces to develop an operation whose complexity lies in its decentralized and simultaneous execution, with a deployment that covered 17,000 establishments, guarding around 106,000 ballot boxes. We began to plan this operation by working as a team at the national level among the Operational Command, which by decree of the Executive Power became the General Electoral Command, the judges of the National Electoral Chamber of the Judiciary, the National Electoral Directorate of the Executive Power, and the Argentine Post Office. The task of custody and security is a broad concept, beginning where the electoral material is collected, the deployment and distribution of the electoral material in the 17,000 designated establishments, the suffrage itself, the withdrawal of the ballot boxes, the custody of the provisional counting places, and the security of the facilities where the ballot boxes are gathered for the definitive scrutiny of the votes. It also covers the security of the candidates during the presidential debates. To accomplish this task, similar to emergencies, 24 Electoral Districts were configured at the National level and the General Electoral Command appointed 24 Electoral District Commanders who interacted with the Federal Judges with competence in their jurisdictions and other local authorities. A real challenge to the leadership.