Argentinean media witness joint Marine firepower

15 Sep 2000 | Sgt. Arthur Stone

Civilian media from the Buenos Aires province of Argentina joined Argentinean military personnel recently to witness a capabilities exercise performed by the Marines of Small Craft Company, Headquarters Battalion, 2d Marine Division, and Argentinean Marines and commandos here.

Attendees witnessed the joint warfare capabilities of an amphibious raid as Argentinean Marines posing as a terrorist group seized two civilian hostages and secured them at a military encampment.

Minutes later, a group of Argentinean commandos slipped ashore by zodiac and conducted a reconnaissance of the area. 

The Argentinean media rushed to photograph the departing commandos as the roar of diesel engines roared down the Piranha River.  A formation of two U.S. Marine riverine assault craft (RACs) and two Argentinean gunboats then raced into position and slammed to a dead stop.  

Gunners on the four boats began delivering bursts of small arms fire into the terrorist encampment as two U.S. Marine raider transport boats vaulted the wake of the RACs.  They raced to the shoreline, bearing a contingent of infantry from 3d Battalion, 2d Marine Regiment, and the Argentinean 3d Marine Infantry Battalion.

The U.S. Marines vaulted the gunwales of the raider and hit the beach running. They dropped to the ground to lay down cover fire as the Argentinean Marines raced around the U.S. left flank and rushed to seize and secure the hostages held in a small shelter on the shore.  Seconds later, the Argentinean Marines were scrambling back into their raider with the freed hostages. 

This action cued the RACs and other boat crews.  Their gunners again provided suppressing fire as the raider sped from shore.  An Argentinean helicopter "gunship" then delivered three "rockets" into the terrorist camp. Three, small explosions nearby simulated this action.  The chopper then circled high and dropped three Argentinean Navy Seals for a free fall parachute jump in scuba gear.  They landed on target ending the capabilities exercise.

"The combined force capabilities demonstration provided the Argentinean Marine Corps the opportunity it needed to show its own military capability to its nation, and its ability to inter-operate smoothly with the militaries of other countries," said Los Alamos, N.M., native, Maj. John R. Shafer, commanding officer, Small Craft Company.