Horse Mechanized Alive and Well in Argentina

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george seal
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Wed Jul 13, 2005 11:41 am

Magazine: Deyseg: Defensa y Seguridad Mercosur (Defense & Security Mercosur) Year 3, Number 16 November December 2003

Old magazine published in Argentina, but I just bought it 2 days ago. The cover caught my eye in the newstand, it's a mounted argentinan soldier in a "gully suit", his horse also has a gully suit. It looks hand made from the usual camouflage nets that are used to cover positions and vehicles (we discused this idea a long time ago in a "modern cavalry" thread. Oviously someone else already came up with the idea.


Articles of interest: "Regimiento de Caballería de Montaña Número 4, Coraceros de Lavalle" N4 Mountain Cavalry Regiment, Curassiers of Lavalle.

"Regimiento de Infantería de Montaña 26 Coronel Moritán" N26 Mountain Infantry Regiment, Colonel Moritán.

This 2 mountain warfare units are very special. They are for mid-low mountain (no ski or rock climbers) and are the closest thing to horese mechanized (or mule mechanized in the infantry case).

The RCM4 (cavalry unit) is the only armoured unit of the VI Mountain Brigade and specializes in armoured support in difficult terrain. This unit is based in San Martín de los Andes, in Neuquén Province. This is the south of Argentina in the Andes (yes, I guess that means Chile is the potential enemy here). Col. Moritán Regiment is based in Junín de los Andes, also Neuquén. This is the Patagonia, far south.

It is the last Argentinian operational unit that employs horses and is composed of the folowing units:

-Escuadrón de Caballería Ligero de Montaña A "Ituzaingó"
Light Mountain Cavalry Squadron A "Ituzaingó"

-Escuadrón de Tiradores de Caballería de Montaña B "Bacacay"
Mountain Cabalry Shooters (Riflemen?) Squadron B "Bacacay"

-Escuadrón Comando y Servicios "Camacuá"
Service and Comand Squadron "Camacuá"

-Fanfarria Militar "El Hinojal"
Military Fanfare (Mounted Band?) "El Hinojal

The squadrons are named after batles fougt by General Lavalle. El Hinojal and Bacacay are mounted. Bacacay is argentina's last horse combat unit. Ituzaingó is a tank/motorbike unit. Camacuá is a command/losgistic unit with jeeps, trucks and inflatable boats.

During the 1978 crisis with Chile, Argentina planed to invade with Sherman tank regiments crossing the international passes of the Andes Mountain range. This was utterly dumb (and it took a long time for the Chilean Army to actually recognice that was a real plan). Today, Argentia´s planing is much more sofisticated. Both the Lavalle and Moritán regiments are prepared to fight in mountain and hilly and forested terrain. Lavalle gives armored support for mountain troops. The Moritán is trained to capture mountain passes so larger forces can use them. They expect heavy battles at the foots of the mountains (before and after crossing) and skirmishes by light forces to capture mountain passes and high ground. The magazine uses the example of the joint Chilean-Argentinian army led by San Martín to reconquer Chile.

Both regiments have mechanized units to fight at the foot of trhe mountains, in valleys and deep gorges. In higher and heavily forested ground horses/mules are used.

The region is also noteworthy for it's lakes, so both regiments have inflatable boats. There is snow in winter and streams get floded in spring, so it's similar to the WWII Russian Front.

I'm off to lunch now. There is much more. How they use the horses, mules in the mountains, the mechanized units (light tanks for the Lavalle and modernized half traks for the Moritán), and a lot of info on mules, remount and veterinary. I'll detail the armament of the Lavalle units, and talk about the Moritán.
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Wed Jul 13, 2005 2:49 pm

Got to leave the computer for the day, so just a short update for now.

The mounted units of the Lavalle:

Hinojal: The magazine only has one picture. It shows a soldier dressed in traditional curassier fashion with helment and armored breast plate. The article say the blend music and traditional dress (like a colour guard plus band), but I don't know if the band is mounted. The Argentinian army has 2 mounted "fanfarrias". The other belongs to the Regiment of Horse Grenadiers of General San Martín.
The Hinojal is called by the article's author "the pride of the regiment".

Bacacay: This is the mounted combat unit. It fights as mounted infantry. Horses are used to rapidly cross hard terrain. The local mountains have are heavily forested and lack roads. There is also an abundance of mountain rivers that are waded on horse. They move in terrain not accesible by motor vehicle. The horses are left at some distance from the enemy to avoid detection due to noise. This unit appears trained for conventional war and border patroll, but not for guerrilla warfare like the Angola Dragons. But this could be my own impression.

The troops use FN FAL 7,62mm rifles. They wear baggy camo pants with high riding boots laced up front and all the way up. There is a picture of what I think are officers wearing what looks like green polo pants and high brown boots. Head wear is a french like field cap (more rounded than the Chilean field kepi) and the usual argentinian camo beret, that from a distance looks like somewhat like the SAS beret.

The saddle looks very rustic and has a very large blanket underneath. Some have wooly blankets. To me, it looks like an adapted gaucho saddle. Stirrups have a leather piece that covers the foot.
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Pat Holscher
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Wed Jul 13, 2005 4:47 pm

I wish this information was on the net. It sounds truly interesting, but it seems that generally armies only want to depict their most modern equipment. I guess showing men on horseback doesn't impress anyone, so it's hard to find an army that will depict it, even if they have it.

Pat
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Thu Jul 14, 2005 6:35 am

The Argentinian Army's web site was down yesterday. Their remount site was up, but the English version was not. I'll try to fin something. But yes, horses don't show up that much. It's also a problem with Chilean sites. I'll update more soon. Got a lot of info on their remount program.
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Thu Jul 14, 2005 7:39 am

<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by george seal</i>
<br />The Argentinian Army's web site was down yesterday. Their remount site was up, but the English version was not. I'll try to fin something. But yes, horses don't show up that much. It's also a problem with Chilean sites. I'll update more soon. Got a lot of info on their remount program.
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

George,

If you have a URL for their remount site, go ahead and post it, even if it is in Spanish. A few folks here could probably puzzle it out, and the rest can admire the photos.

Pat
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Thu Jul 14, 2005 8:05 am

<blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by Pat Holscher</i>
<br /><blockquote id="quote"><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, Helvetica" id="quote">quote:<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"><i>Originally posted by george seal</i>
<br />The Argentinian Army's web site was down yesterday. Their remount site was up, but the English version was not. I'll try to fin something. But yes, horses don't show up that much. It's also a problem with Chilean sites. I'll update more soon. Got a lot of info on their remount program.
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

George,

If you have a URL for their remount site, go ahead and post it, even if it is in Spanish. A few folks here could probably puzzle it out, and the rest can admire the photos.

Pat
<hr height="1" noshade id="quote"></blockquote id="quote"></font id="quote">

Web site:http://www.remonta.mil.ar

Gallery (photos) is Galería de Fotos (lower left of the page after you enter the site. It has a picture of a horse. Lower left of the gallery has pictures of troops in the field). This year the world ecuestrian championship is in Argentina, hopefully they will post pictures.
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Fri Oct 14, 2005 12:02 pm

I've left idle this topic for some time. My 3 son was born in August 2 so I neglected this. As I'm going on vacation next week I'll update now so I won't levae this subyect abandoned.

The mechanized units of RCM4 (Mountain Cavalry Regiment 4):
Light Mountain Cavalry Squadron A "Ituzaingó". This is equiped with light 17Ton tank killers, the Austrian Steyr Kurassier SK105. This have the AMX13 turret with low recoil 105mm guns. The fire control sistems are being upgraded. This tank is light, fast and can climb relatively steep slopes.

The squadron has a Combat Motorbicke Section equiped with Suzuki DR350. The soldiers use FAL rifles, MAG, and LAW rockets. With "free hand" radios they work in pairs in exploration and anti tank missions. They also make ambushses in groups of 20.

Comand and Service Squadron "Camacúa": missions: fire support, logistics and telecom.

Armament: 120mm mortars and heavy machine guns.
Transport: MB113, Unimog trucks and MB230 jeeps. As the area has lakes they also employ Ferramar rubber boats with 50 HP Honda off board motors.
This unit moves supplies as far as they can go on truck and then transfers loads (including fodder) to boat or horse back. The Chilean Army uses a very simmilar sistem. I'll have to dig up my old notes from logistics clases to post somethinf on this (Chile uses pack mules for this).

The RCM4 is simmilar to the US Horse Mechanized units but it's clearly and offensive combat unit, not a recon one. It's also cleraly specialliced to a specific combat theatre (mountain).

Odly, It does not seem to have portee vehicles.

As soon as posible I'll update. The magazine has a longer article on the 26 Mountain Infantry Regiment, the mule and modernized halftrack unit. It has some really interesting info on a mule breeding/veterinary unit. A surprising note: They sell old mules to civilians that use them to guard their horse herds from mountain pumas!
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Mon Jul 23, 2012 9:08 pm

I just stumbled with an article from "La Mañana de Neuquén", a local argentinan newspaper about rumors to deactivate and close de General Lavalle Mountain Cavalry Regiment. It talks about rumors that say the personel would be transfered to other units and that the fate of the mounted band is unknown. They report talks of a reorganization and mothernization army plan but the paper says that the posible cause is the high monetary value of the land the regiment uses. The paper says it's possible the regiment would be reduced to it's mimial expression just to leave a small unit in custody of historic items.
It looks to me as a purely economic desition due to the lack of resourses the Argentinian Army suffers. It seems negligent as it will surely be the end of a hard to replace capability.
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Mon Jul 23, 2012 10:16 pm

george seal wrote:I just stumbled with an article from "La Mañana de Neuquén", a local argentinan newspaper about rumors to deactivate and close de General Lavalle Mountain Cavalry Regiment. It talks about rumors that say the personel would be transfered to other units and that the fate of the mounted band is unknown. They report talks of a reorganization and mothernization army plan but the paper says that the posible cause is the high monetary value of the land the regiment uses. The paper says it's possible the regiment would be reduced to it's mimial expression just to leave a small unit in custody of historic items.
It looks to me as a purely economic desition due to the lack of resourses the Argentinian Army suffers. It seems negligent as it will surely be the end of a hard to replace capability.
Is it possible that this reflects a change in views in the Argentine Army since the early 2000s, and now the possibility of war with Chile is regarded as remove, and therefore the forces unneeded?
Pat

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Mon Jul 23, 2012 10:29 pm

I supose Argentinian polititians can say the regiment is unneded because relations with Chile have improved. However, they have sistematically destroyed their Armed Forces and their local industry and technological base (and their economy and education, etc). It's just as probable that it's sheer negligence. As a Minister of Defence, Nilda Garré was probably more damaging than any war. She was later rewarded with a new Ministery, I can't recall the name, but they essentially made her Minister of Federal Police (after saying Argentina had no crime problem). She'll probably damage the Gendarmery and Naval Prefecture.

This very interesting military unit may disapear, or maybe it won't, but it will probably loose readiness and efectivity due to lack of resourses and suport. It's just bad policy.
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Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:26 am

What was the cause of the 1978 crisis and why did the anticipated war not occur?
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Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:03 am

Pat Holscher wrote:What was the cause of the 1978 crisis and why did the anticipated war not occur?
In reality it was the result of a long antaginism that dates to the 19th century. Most former Spanish colonies have had territorial disputes due to problems with frontier demarcations. The south of Chile and Argentina was no exception. The specific conflict was over sovereignity of three small islands in the Beagle Channel, but their importance goes beyond that. They are important for controling navigation linking the Pacific and Atlantic and the Antartic. The war was averted in great part thanks to Vatican mediation. The crisis finally closed for the foreseable future after Argentina's defeat during the Falklands War. Argentina has never recovered, in fact it has gotten worse due to succesive economic and political crisis that have weakened their armed forces.
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