Republic of Argentina
Part of the region that is today the Argentine Republic (República Argentina) was incorporated into the Incan Empire in 1480, but the southern tribes successfully resisted Incan incursion. When the Spanish began colonizing South America and established the Viceroyalty of Peru, a permanent settlement was established at the present day site of Buenos Aires and most of the present Argentine territory designated the Governorate of the Río de la Plata. Between 1810 and 1818 a War of Independence was fought between royalists and patriotic forces who sought independence from the Spanish crown. Full independence was declared in July of 1816, although Argentine forces would continue to battle with the Spanish in support of other regional independence movements for the next eight years.
Argentina fought the War of the Triple Alliance (alongside Brazil and Uruguay) against Paraguay from 1864 to 1870, ending with the resounding defeat of Paraguay (which is believed to have lost over 300,000 dead). The nation has long laid claim to the Malvinas (Falkland Islands), and under a military regime invaded the small territory in 1982, sparking a British response and the Falklands War. Following its defeat, free elections were held in 1983 and the military regime was toppled.
The Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic (Fuerzas Armadas de la República Argentina) fall under the control of two primary departments: the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of the Interior. Under the Ministry of Defence are the Army (Ejército Argentino), Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Argentina) and the Navy (Armada Argentina). In addition to national defense, these forces are fully committed to peacekeeping roles with the United Nations. The Ministry of the Interior administers several Federal paramilitary services, including the Gendarmeria Nacional Argentina (GNA), Prefectura Naval Argentina (PNA), Policia Federal Argentina (PFA), and the Policia Seguridad Aeroportuaria.
The Gendarmeria Nacional Argentina (Argentine National Gendarmerie) functions as the primary security force of the nation, providing both internal security and border protection functions. Although subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior, the GNA is distinguished from other Federal agencies in being truly paramilitary in organization and fucntion (in this regard, functioning almost as a fourth branch of the military). The GNA has also served in peacekeeping/observation roles outside the borders of Argentina, and provides embassy security personnel.
Additionally, each of the 23 provinces maintains its own provincial police agency (Policia de la Provincia), all of which have some tactical or special operations unit that employs specialized uniforms and equipment.
Camouflage Patterns of the Argentine Armed Forces
- An early camouflage pattern worn by some Argentine forces was based on the US m1942 spot pattern of the Second World War. Very little is known about the pattern, although it seems to have been composed of four colors: black, brown & light brown spots on tan background. As camouflage uniforms were not widespread among Argentine forces until the 1990s, it is presumed the pattern only saw scattered use among selected units.
- The camouflage design seen here, based on the shapes found in ubiquitous duck hunter camouflage designs, was issued specifically to small amphibious commando units as well as the NCO school of the Infantería de Marina.
- Although as yet not documented in use on full camouflage uniforms, the pattern seen here was definitely worn by Argentine troops as a helmet cover (and probably as individual camouflage scarves) during the Falklands War. A broader date of use is likely, although it is certainly an older pattern in a unique design.
- Camouflage uniforms were the province of elite units during the 1980s, and at the time of the Malvinas War (Falklands War) only the Army 601 & 602 Commando Companies, Navy Buzo Tacticos and Air Force special operations (GOE) were issued them. Two distinctive, but similar, patterns of this era are known. The first is a kind of mottled woodland design with several variations. This was favored by Army and Air Force units, and seems to have been locally-produced.
- The second distinctive camouflage design of the 1980s period can also be considered a "woodland" design, but with more blotchy shapes and lacking the distinctive branches of the more traditional woodland pattern. This design was favored by Marine (Naval Infantry or Infantería de Marina. ) units and wore into the mid-1990s.
- Also issued to Army Commando units during the Malvinas War, but not produced in Argentina, were the jigsaw pattern camouflage rain gear made by the Salik firm of Belgium.
- In conjunction with the Graffa textile company, the CITEFA (Armed Forces Development Center) began work on a new camouflage pattern for issue to Argentine Army forces, based on the British DPM pattern. The resulting mimetizado selva (jungle pattern) was deemed effective, particularly in the mountainous northeastern region of Argentina, but proved too expensive to produce locally in the quantities needed. Nevertheless, small quantities of uniforms in this pattern were produced and distributed to Argentine mountain units, some cavalry personnel, and on peacekeeping deployments circa 1993-95.
- Beginning in the early 1990s, a more affordable imported camouflage pattern was issued to some units of the Argentine Armed Forces, the Chinese woodland design. This pattern saw use with Commando, Airborne and elite infantry units such as the Cazadores.
- Copies of the true m81 woodland camouflage pattern began appearing during the mid-1990s, and have continued in use today, replacing the standard olive green combat uniform that was issued during the 1970s and 1980s. Uniforms have been produred from a variety of sources, including China, France, and the USA (including surplus BDUs), and several different patterns have been documented. In addition to the regular armed forces, woodland camouflage has been worn by units of the Federal Police (GEOF) and the Coast Guard (Prefectural Naval).
- Developed specifically for use in the Patagonia (southern Argentina) and the Cordillerana regions of Argentina, the Camuflaje Patagonico (also called "Pampa" pattern) is a arid variation of the British DPM pattern having medium brown, golden brown & beige disruptive shapes on a sandy background. In addition to conventional units serving in this region, the pattern has been worn by Army Commandos.
- The US-designed six-color "chocolate chip" desert pattern has been worn occasionally by Argentine forces, specifically by the Air Force Tactical Support Squadron, Army 601 and 602 Commando Companies, and the National Police GOE (Grupo de Operaciones Especiales).
- Also worn by many Argentine units, including those deployed on missions with the United Nations, is the US tricolor desert camouflage pattern. This has been documented in use by the 601 Air Assault Regiment, Army Commandos, the Prefectura (Coast Guard) special operations unit (Albatros), and Air Force Red de Observadores del Aire (ROA), as well as regular units of the Army and Naval Infantry. Variations are locally-produced and imported.
- The Tactical Support Squadron of the Argentine Air Force and Army Commando Companies have also tested the US Universal Camouflage Pattern, although it does not appear to have been chosen. However, a locally-produced variant is worn by the GE-1, or Infantry Special Group of the National Police.
- The standard temperate USMC MARPAT design is now worn by the Grupos Operaciones Especiales (GOE) of the Air Force, as well as 601 and 602 Commando Companies of the Army. Both the temperate and desert MARPAT designs are also worn by the Infanteria de Marina (Naval Infantry) of the Argentine Navy. It should be noted the versions worn in Argentina do not include the EGA symbol of the US Marine Corps.
- A copy of Multicam was initially adopted by units operating in the Patagonia region (South) of this nation, as well as both Navy (Marine) and Army units. In 2014, the Army signed a contract with an Asian supplier to outfit its entire branch of service with Multicam uniforms.
Camouflage Patterns of the Argentine Federal Forces
- The Grupo Especial de Operaciones Federales (GEOF) is a special operations unit the Argentine Federal Police. This unit continues to wear locally-produced tiger stripe pattern camouflage that is nearly identical to commercial models available in various parts of the world.
- Another special operations unit of the Federal Police is GE-1. This unit wears a copy of the US-designed Universal Camouflage Pattern, or UCP.
- A special unit of the Prefectura Naval Argentina (National Coast Guard), Grupo Albatros, have been documented wearing a copy of the US "tricolor desert" pattern.
- The special forces unit of the National Gendarmerie is the Grupo Alacran. Since 2013, this unit has worn a pixelated camouflage design with a green colorway, nicknamed selva digital (jungle digital).
Camouflage Patterns of the Argentine Provincial Police Agencies
- Brigada Halcon (Fuerzas Especiales Halcon) is the special operations unit of the Buenos Aires Provincial Police. In the 1980s, this unit wore a camouflage uniform having a blue colorway, seen here.
- A locally-produced urban camouflage design (possibly based on DPM) has been worn by several Provincial Police units, primarily by the Cordoba Provincial Police, but also by that of Salta, and the Brigada de Operaciones de Rescate y Antitumulto (BORA) of the Rio Negro Provincial Police.
- The Cuerpo Guardia de Infantería of the Buenos Aires Provincial Police have been documented wearing this "tiger" style camouflage design with a blue colorway.
- The Grupo de Apoyo Departamental (Departmental Support Group) or GAD is a unit of the Buenos Aires Provincial Police and was created in 2006. This unit is primarily tasked with tactical support and public order, although sub-units function in a SWAT-type role. Early incarnations of this unit wore a woodland-inspired design with grey colorway. Today the GAD wears a DPM variant having a grey/black colorway. The unit has also been documented wearing a grey pixelated camouflage design.
- Another camouflage design worn by the GAD of the Buenos Aires Provincial Police can be seen here. The current version incorporates traditional DPM shapes in black, dark blue, and mid-grey on a light grey background.
- The Unidad de Prevención Bancaria (Bank Crimes Unit) or UPB of the Buenos Aires Provincial Police wear a distinctive camouflage-like pattern incorporating orange and violet.
- The Tropas de Operaciones Especiales (TOE) or Special Operations Troops of the Sante Fe Provincial Police have been documented wearing a black/grey "urban" woodland design, as seen here.
- Another pattern worn by the Buenos Aires Provincial Police, and first documented circa 2015, is this horizontal stripe pattern consisting of black and blue-grey stripes on a light blue background.
I wish to express my sincere gratitude to Mr. Juan Pablo Teyssiere for his generous assistance in providing considerable background material for this page.