By Micaela Ryan on December 15, 2016
A new military agreement has been signed by the Argentine Ministry of Defense, Julio Martínez, and the US ambassador in the country, Noah Mahmet. The measure was announced by Mahmet and the Argentine representative in Washington, Martín Lousteau on December 13, behind closed doors, in the Argentine Embassy.
Both local and international media reported the news as if it was of minor significance, or ignored it altogether, but fact is that this agreement opens the door for a change of the paradigm in South American military relations with the US Army.
The parties of this agreement are the Argentine government and the National Guard of the State of Georgia, one of the main centers of military and aerospace industry of the world.
Since the beginning of his administration, Argentine President Mauricio Macri has expressed his wish to get Argentina to become a member country of the State Partnership Program (SPP), which is directly commanded by the US National Guard. Argentina was picked among 16 other candidates, in this program which already has 73 members and adds between two and three per year.
The SPP is a program that promotes joint military actions of the Unified Combatant Command (UCC), which establishes common geographical targets. It was created by George H. Bush’s administration in 1989 with the goal of grouping the countries that used to belong to the Soviet Union under a U.S. sphere of influence. Its whole intention is meant to prioritize actions outside US soil, as long as they are of interest to the US Congress.
Argentina will become a part of the US Southern Command. John Kelly, who led this Command between 2012 and 2015, was recently chosen by Trump as the head of the National Security Department. The president-elect argued that he had chosen Kelly due to his knowledge of the region, which made him ‘the right person to lead the urgent mission of stopping illegal immigration and securing our borders’.
After the agreement between Argentina and the United States became public, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau and General of the Air Force, Joseph L. Lengyel, said: ‘the SPP allows us to strengthen the deep bonds of trust that the National Guard has created with a very broad group of foreign partners, at all levels of combat’. He added: ‘I’m sure that the National Guard of Georgia and Argentina will benefit from the extraordinarily rich variety of competences and experience that each will contribute to this cooperation’.
The declared goal of the SPP is to promote joint operations and combining the military capacities of the member countries. The targets they prioritize are those chosen by the US Congress with the intention of ‘preventing failed States and creating stable regions’, to ‘improve the abilities of associate nations, to protect their citizens’, to ‘strengthen relations to ease access and interoperability’, ‘improve the cultural abilities of members of the US military personnel’, and ‘fostering the integration of reserve and active component forces into a total force’.
Specifically, in the Argentine case, the agreement enables the members of the National Guard of the state of Georgia to operate in the Latin American country and make decisions with the local Armed Forces or even above them, should they consider it necessary. This agreement concerns mainly border areas and areas of natural disasters, although it doesn’t rule out interventions of the US military in social conflicts, with the goal of ‘maintaining peace’.
To Macri’s government, the benefit of this agreement is being able to access Georgia’s big aerospace industry, where over 500 companies work, including 8 of the 10 largest in the world. Over 42% of the aerospace contracts made by the U.S. Defense Department are located in this State.
Macri’s main interest is the potential investments in the aviation industry, although there are still no guarantees that they will in fact occur, and in turn the government of Argentina has handed over the territorial and military sovereignty, and internal security to the US. This can bring serious consequences for Argentina, especially under Donald Trump’s presidency.
Source: The Dawn