On the beaches of Punta Alta, in Buenos Aires province, Argentina, units of the Argentine Navy’s Marine Corps Command practice hand-to-hand combat techniques. They work on blows, kicks, strangling, and other techniques to stop a possible aggressor, as well as cushion falls or minimize injuries.
With helmets and boxing gloves on, they improve their punches. They also practice using knives with the proper force. Their physical training regimen is rigorous and includes push-ups on the seashore and on the sand, until exhaustion.
The week-long training was part of a knowledge exchange between instructors of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South (MARFORSOUTH) and their Argentine counterparts. Three MARFORSOUTH instructors led the training at the Instruction and Assessment Command (COIE, in Spanish) of Baterías Marine Corps Naval Base from November 26 to December 1, 2018.
“The training consisted of exchanging techniques and procedures in hand-to-hand combat through the implementation of different theoretical, but mainly hands-on, activities,” Argentine Navy Captain Javier Pedro López, commander of COIE, told Diálogo. “It was conducted with a significant component in terms of improving leadership skills, considering that the participants comprised personnel already trained as instructors in the field.”
Solving conflict situations
The objective of the training was to improve hand-to-hand combat efficiency, based on tactical procedures and maneuvers used in different disciplines, such as martial arts, boxing, and wrestling, among others. The program focused on conflict analysis, planning, and resolution, and sought to reinforce participants’ knowledge of combat physiology and psychology, key tenets of security.
Service members trained in techniques and procedures for knife combat, different types of cuts, and weapons of opportunity. Participants also benefited from theoretical instruction about mental discipline and the fundamental values marines share.
For Capt. López, the MARFORSOUTH training is important because it helps maximize Argentinean marines’ knowledge in combat situations in the style of the U.S. Marine Corps. “In the modern operational environment, characterized by very close-quarters combat and contact, the need to intervene against combatants and non-combatants, in addition to respecting specific rules of engagement [for the use of force], demands giving our marines the tools to fulfill the mission effectively,” said Capt. López.
U.S. marines have a unique combat system, developed in the early 2000s. The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program combines existing and new hand-to-hand and close-quarters combat techniques with honor, courage, and commitment values. The program emphasizes character development, including the responsible use of force, leadership, and teamwork.
The training was equally advantageous for MARFORSOUTH instructors, who learned from their Argentinean counterparts during their week-long stay at Baterías Base. The exchange also allowed participants to strengthen the sense of fraternity and camaraderie, as well as interoperability, an essential element when conducting combined exercises or operations.
“I am convinced that these activities enable us to work side-by-side,” said Capt. López. “I believe that there is mutual benefit in conducting these activities, as it helps forge bonds of professional trust among marine corps units.”
The Argentine Navy, and particularly the Marine Corps Command, has a long-standing friendship with the United States, including several exchange programs between marines. Exchanges and other support programs allow participants to share knowledge and skills, as well as history and culture, which strengthen cooperation between both countries.
“The combined exercises we conducted throughout the years are countless,” said Admiral José Luis Villán, chairman of the Argentine Navy General Staff, who trained at the Expeditionary Warfare School at Marine Corps Base Quantico, in Virginia. “Currently, our relationship is at its best in terms of cooperative exchanges of all kinds, which contribute to better understanding and institutional interoperability.”