Nearly 300 marines from Argentina and Chile participated in the INALAF 2017 combined exercise, held July 12th to 14th at Baterías Naval Infantry Base in the province of Buenos Aires. Participants noted the exercise’s importance for bilateral exchanges and regional security.
“The core objective of INALAF 2017 was to deepen relations between both navies,” Captain Luis Mariano Giorgi, the commander of Argentina’s Sea Fleet Naval Infantry Force (FAIF, per its Spanish acronym), told Diálogo. The training involved members of the Chilean Navy’s 312th Rifle Company and marines from Argentina’s 2nd Naval Infantry Battalion (BIM2, per its Spanish acronym).
Rescue and transfer
Prior to the exercise, the service members conducted meticulous planning on the ground. “As in any amphibious operation, detailed planning was required to include embarking and disembarking troops, ground operations, and support for those operations from the sea until finally re-embarking,” Capt. Giorgi stated. Later, with naval support from the Argentine ship ARA Puerto Argentino, the marines simulated a crisis situation in which they had to make an amphibious incursion onto Baterías Beach to defend the coast.
“That mock situation consisted of conducting a mission that required rescuing United Nations staff who were held hostage by an enemy force,” Capt. Giorgi said. “To achieve that objective, marine troops with capacity for personnel rescue had to make a landing and transfer them to a safe location.”
The incursion consisted of a coordinated landing of marine troops by land and by helicopter. The service members rescued the hostages and transferred them to a secure zone. “The operation was conducted within the time frames planned, and the mission was completed,” Capt. Giorgi assessed.
The Argentine and Chilean marines also conducted air evacuation drills using Sea King helicopters from the Argentine Navy’s 2nd Naval Air Helicopter Squadron. “Among other onboard activities, members of BIM2 conducted fast rope descent [from the aircraft] over the deck of the ARA Olivieri in a suspended fashion,” the Argentine Ministry of Defense reported in a July 20th press release.
“These techniques are tailored to each marine,” Capt. Giorgi concluded. The training ended with exercises at the Marine Corps Training and Instruction Center’s Urban Combat Training Ground, where the service members practiced individual movement techniques both inside and outside buildings.
The annual INALAF exercise has become a symbol of cooperation between the Argentine and Chilean militaries. “Inalaf” means “by the sea” in the Mapuche language (also known as Mapudungún), which is spoken by indigenous peoples who live in both of these South American nations.
“This is, without a doubt, an unforgettable experience,” Chilean Marine Corps Second Lieutenant Eduardo Rioseco Carvallo stated in comments published in the Argentine Navy’s Gaceta Marinera website. “You learn a little more each day. As we say in Chile, ‘we’re stuffing things into our backpack,’” said 2nd Lt. Carvallo.
For Capt. Giorgi, the 2017 edition of the exercise was also quite positive. “Full integration of the participating Chilean Marine Corps detachment was achieved through planned drills on a set of common techniques,” he stated. In his opinion, this initiative is exceedingly important for the military exchange between Argentina and Chile. “The INALAF exercise, in its various editions, has allowed for mutual understanding and teamwork between the sailors and marines of both navies,” he indicated. “This is a valuable tool for bringing our militaries closer, while at the same time allowing for an exchange of valuable operational experiences and providing an overview of challenging operational situations from various perspectives.”
“These exercises have given rise to a common language, and the first approach is to work with people who face those same challenges. In short, this makes integration and fostering empathetic communication inevitable,” Capt. Giorgi added. Likewise, he recalled that this exercise is just one of many training opportunities on the annual agenda for the Argentine and Chilean armed forces. “Another area in which this cooperation is repeated is in the Cruz Del Sur combined operation,” he stressed.
For its part, the Argentine Ministry of Defense emphasized the relevance of the initiative. “In addition to their great importance at the operational level, these combined exercises with the navies of neighboring nations serve as cultural and social exchanges which strengthen the bonds of friendship among our sister nations,” the Ministry concluded.