NATO is Already Deployed in the South Atlantic

By Roberto Lopez on May 11, 2024 from Buenos Aires

Javier Milei receiving the Cutter James, a U.S. Coast Guard vessel, without Congressional authorization

Since April 4 -when on a freezing Fuegian night President Javier Milei stated that the realization of a joint base with the United States would be “a great logistic center that will constitute the closest port of development to Antarctica and will turn our countries into the gateway to the white continent”-, five NATO ships have arrived in our country.

In addition France mobilized three ships in the same month – the overseas patrol vessel (POM) “Teriieroo a Teriierooiterai”; the helicopter carrier Tonnerre and the frigate Guépratte – while the United States did the same with the Coast Guard Cutter James and the already deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington – with its embarked air group.

To understand what this binational undertaking is all about, it should be said that a logistics hub, or naval hub, is a strategic center for the transportation, distribution, storage and management of goods. But what is it and how does it work? Here are its general characteristics and distinctive features:

This type of port infrastructure operates as a central point in a transport network, where cargo is consolidated and redistributed. It facilitates the transfer of goods between different modes of transport, such as ships, trucks and trains. This multimodal interchange allows efficient management of the flow of goods, optimizing time and costs. This brief description symbolizes the importance of Ushuaia in this geopolitical game that is emerging in the Tierra del Fuego.

This description corresponds to the general functioning of a Hub or logistic pole, however, this development program is not a simple and innocent maritime undertaking, but represents a foreign policy and consequently geopolitical positioning. The presence of the United States Military in the region, and its bid to become an interstate actor in the South Atlantic, has already been widely debated in the specialized media and by the general public, but it should be noted that the great hegemon does not come alone.

In the last days of April, the helicopter carrier Tonnerre and the frigate Guépratte of the French National Navy moored in the port of Buenos Aires, as a port of call, in what seemed to be a courtesy visit, ended up being the execution of combined and joint exercises with the Argentine Navy, which deployed some of its naval means for this purpose. This was framed within the framework of the lax Passex exercise -allowing an interoperability exercise with any ship of a foreign navy taking advantage of its passage through national waters-, which is part of the Annual Plan approved by Congress, in accordance with the provisions of Law 25880 on the entry and exit of troops.

Beyond this detail, which is not minor, the question is where did the French naval group “Jeanne d’Arc 2024” go after the end of the joint exercise. The destination port of the French ships was Ushuaia, the Southern tip of Argentina.  Coincidence?

On the other hand, a few days ago, the French Navy’s overseas patrol vessel (POM) “Teriieroo a Teriierooiterai” also docked in the port of Ushuaia, making, according to the official website of the Argentine Navy, a stopover within the framework of its inaugural deployment to the port of the Papeete Base (French Polynesia).

The most striking aspect of the visit was the meeting between the commander of the French patrol vessel and the commander of the Southern Naval Area. Strictly speaking, the website of the Argentine Navy stated: “The Commander of the ANAU, Navy Commodore José Alberto Martí Garro, visited the French ship. There he held a meeting with its Commander to learn about the operation of the ship whose mission is to combat drug trafficking and illegal fishing, among other security tasks”.

It is worth remembering what has happened every time France instructed Argentine military in internal security matters. After the overthrow of General Perón in 1955, according to Dr. Anzelini and Dr. Eissa in a recent article, Argentina incorporated the French Revolutionary War Doctrine (DGR). Specifically, the Argentine Army incorporated the DGR as from the arrival in the country of the first French military mission in 1957. After that, the National Security Doctrine (DSN) came along and paved the way for the 1976 military coup.

It is striking, therefore, that the Argentine Navy is interested in security issues, since its main mission, until the Defense, security and intelligence regulatory framework is modified (Laws 23.554; 24.059; 25.520 and its related and amending laws) continues to be: “… to permanently guarantee the sovereignty and independence of the Argentine Nation, its territorial integrity and capacity of self-determination; to protect the life and freedom of its inhabitants” -section 2 of Law 23.554-.

In the same vein, last week Milei received the Cutter James ship of the United States Coast Guard. It is surprising that the highest authority of our country’s political agenda is to receive a patrol vessel from another nation. On the other hand, and perhaps more important, it is important to point out what was the mission of the Coast Guard Cutter James and all the confusing facts in which the National Executive Power incurred for its admission.

In chronological order, on January 19, 2024, Message No. 4-2024 of the National Executive Branch, requesting an extension of extraordinary sessions, entered the Chamber of Deputies of the Nation. This project contained four articles and in the third one it expressed:

“Include in the agenda to be dealt with by the Honorable Congress of the Nation, during the current period of Extraordinary Sessions, the consideration of the following matters:

1) Bill by which the entry of foreign troops into the national territory is authorized to participate in the exercise “Combined Training for the Defense of Argentine Fishing Resources”, to be carried out between the Naval Prefecture of the ARGENTINE REPUBLIC and the Coast Guard Cutter USCG James of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Coast Guard during the month of April 2024″.

That said, the authorization project was never dealt with, inasmuch as the entry was never authorized, nor the egress of the troop itself for the conduct of the exercise beyond national jurisdiction. In addition to the above, on April 9, 2024, the Ministry of Security issued Resolution 2024-230 APN-MSG, in which it authorized the entry of the aforementioned ship James, basing its argument on Law 25.880, Article 6, paragraphs a) and d) -exceptions granted by the National Congress for the authorization of the entry and exit of troops to and from the national territory-. It turns out that subsection a) refers to ceremonial visits and d) to training institutes as valid exceptions. Neither of the two occurred.

Strictly speaking, it was a combined and joint exercise of the Prefectura Naval Argentina with the United States Coast Guard to control fishing activities, as publicized by the Ministry of Security itself, in flagrant violation of the legal rules that regulate the movement of personnel and means of national defense and internal security – section 75 subsection 28, National Constitution; section 2°, law 25.880-.

In summary, it is necessary to point out that in the last month the Argentine Navy was talking about internal security issues with military authorities of another country, the Ministry of Security failed to comply with the provisions of the National Constitution and Law 25.880 and the President led an act with military personnel of a foreign power -playing their anthem- inside a unit of the Argentine Navy.

Finally, it can be said that NATO’s presence in the South Atlantic is no longer represented only by the illegal occupation of the Malvinas Islands by the United Kingdom. The deployment of naval units and the Joint Naval Base project show the concrete intention of the military bloc to settle in the national territory with the approval of the authorities of the Executive Power. All this shows that behind this taint of “disruptive management”, which this government pretends to exhibit as a totem of freedom, there is, in reality, a lack of interest in the execution of public policies in accordance with the norms and a notable abandonment of the nation’s institutions.

Roberto Lopez is a lawyer specializing in National Defense, Parliamentary advisor in the National Defense Committee of the Chamber of Deputies and in the Bicameral Intelligence Committee of the Congress of Argentina.

Source: Pagina 12, translation Resumen Latinoamericano – English