601 Commando Company

The 601 Commando Company (Spanish: Compañía de Comandos 601) is a special operations unit of the Argentine Army.

601 Commando Company
Compañía de Comandos 601
Active1978 - 1982
1982 - present (current form)
Country Argentina
BranchEscudo del Ejército Argentino.png Argentine Army
TypeSpecial Forces
RoleSpecial Reconnaissance
Light Infantry
Air Assault
Airborne Operations
SizeCompany
Part ofSpecial Operations Forces Group
Garrison/HQCampo de Mayo, Buenos Aires
Motto(s)"Pugna usque ad mortem pro veritatem"
EngagementsOperativo Independencia
Falklands War
Tablada
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Lt.Col. Mohamed Alí Seineldín
Maj. Mario Castagneto

HistoryEdit

Created on 2 April 1982, it was based on the original Equipo Especial de Lucha contra la Subversión Halcón 8 created by the Argentine Army during the 1978 FIFA World Cup.[1][2]

Falklands WarEdit

The commander of this unit in the Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas) was 34-year-old, Major Mario Castagneto. The company was divided into three assault sections.

The first elements of 601 Commando Company arrived on 24 April, spending their first night in the former Royal Marine Moody Brook Barracks (that at the time served as the 10th Mechanized Infantry Brigade Headquarters) along with several regimental commanders that had earlier on attended a briefing in the building.[3]

Fearing that British had established an Observation Post on Tussock Island, near Stanley Airfield, Major Mario Castagneto's 601 Commando Company was sent to clear the island of enemy special forces in early May, but returned empty handed and completely covered in black soot due to an earlier supporting Pucara bombing mission on 21 April with napalm.[4][5]

In the first week of May, 601 Commando Company was also sent in helicopters to sweep Salvador Settlement in search of British special forces, after the local ranch-owner Robin Pittaluga had tried to relay a message from the British task force sent to recover the Falklands (it was common practise in the islands to relay radio messages). Robin and his son Saul were questioned at gunpoint and their radio confiscated with Robin taken to Port Stanley for further questioning and placed under house arrest there for the remainder of the war.[6][7]

On 21 May, the Blowpipe surface-to-air missile (SAM) team of the 1st Assault Section under Lieutenant Sergio Fernández shot down a RAF Harrier GR3 piloted by Lieutenant William Glover at Port Howard that morning and damaged (severed the internal communications wiring) a RN Sea Harrier FRS1 piloted by Lieutenant Steve Thomas that afternoon with another shoulder-launched Blowpipe SAM.[8]

On the night of 6/7 June, the 2nd Assault Section attacked British patrols near the Murrell Bridge, northwest of Stanley.

On 6 June two patrols under Corporals Brown and Haddon rendezvoused 200 yards north of the Murrell Bridge and observed an enemy patrol crossing the skyline to the east of the river (...) They were forced to evacuate their position rapidly, leaving behind their packs and radio, but succeeded in withdrawing without suffering any casualties. The location was checked on the evening of 8 June by another patrol, but there was no sign of the packs or radio, which meant the battalion's radio net could have been compromised.[9]

Corporal Ned Kelly from 3 PARA's B Company reports coming under mortar fire:

The platoon commander was 300 metres on the other side of the bridge, about 600 metres behind us. When I asked him to get us out he refused, saying that the enemy fire was not effective! I told him he should get his fucking arse over our side of the river and try it because it looked pretty effective to us. I had a standing patrol 500 metres away in dead ground. The Argentinians started mortaring them, chasing them back to our positions. Then their artillery came in.[10]

Private Colin Charlton from the Close-Target-Reconnaissance Patrol from D Company observed the soft peat absorbed much of the deadly fire:

We nearly got hit by their mortars. All we heard was 'pop, pop, pop'. The mortar shells landed either side of Colin and Paul’s patrol, close enough to kill or injure the men in other circumstances. We saw the shells land but the peat absorbed the impact. Had it been concrete, there would have been a lot of debris.[11]

According to Private Mark Hunt from D Company:

We saw our first action a couple of weeks later when the Argentinians landed a large fighting patrol to try and capture someone to get information. We saw a load of people in the valley coming towards us and we engaged them. They had massive fire support with 50-cal and 7.62mm machine guns and blasted us, it was raining bullets and we were forced to withdraw.[12]

On the night of 7–8 June, the 3rd Assault Section under Captain Jorge Eduardo Jándula took up ambush positions near the abandoned British positions, but no further contact took place between 3 PARA's D Company and 601 Commando Company.[13]

On 10 June, a 4-man patrol under Lieutenant José Martiniano Duarte from the 1st Assault Section operating on West Falkland bumped into part of 19 Mountain Troop, D Squadron, 22nd Special Air Service Regiment. The SAS observation post on Many Branch Ridge reportedly split into two pairs with Captain Hamilton and his signaller, Corporal Roy Fonseca, covering the escape of the second pair, before Hamilton was killed and Fonseca was captured.

According to Major Cedric Delves from the SAS's D Squadron:

Unfortunately, the Argentinians had indeed come in from the direction of the rear position, right through it. As dawn broke the LUP discovered the enemy, lots of them, feet away. The two patrol members were right in and among the opposition, with little or no prospect of opening up on the radio without being heard. They would first have to crawl out to one side, to get out of earshot, before warning John and Roy. It took an age during which time, unknown to them, a number of the enemy had moved further down the hill in the direction of the OP.[14]

On the night of 13–14 June, the 3rd Assault Section under Captain José Ramón Negretti was entrusted with the all round defence of Stanley House (the 10th Brigade Headquarters), a task the Argentine Army Green Berets bitterly resented, preferring action in the frontlines.[15]

During the Battle of Wireless Ridge, command and control broke down in the 7th Infantry Regiment and the Green Berets from the 2nd Assault Section were instructed to restore order and shoot on sight British SAS Commandos believed to have infiltrated the retreating Argentine companies.[16]

Battle of La Tablada BarracksEdit

In late January 1989, heavily armed leftist guerrillas from the All For The Fatherland Movement (Movimiento Todos Por La Patria or MTP) captured the 3rd Mechanized Infantry Regiment Barracks in the La Tablada suburb of Buenos Aires. In the ensuing 1989 attack on La Tablada barracks, 601 Commando Company (under Falklands/Malvinas War veteran Sergio Fernandez who had risen in ranks to major) helped recover the barracks in Close quarters combat, but lost two killed, Lieutenant Ricardo Alberto Rolón and Sergeant Ramón Wladimir Orué in the process.[17]

21st centuryEdit

The company is based on Campo de Mayo, Buenos Aires Province and is under the command of the Rapid Deployment Force as part of the Special Operations Forces Group.

Unit insigniaEdit

The members of the unit wear green berets with unit badges.

EquipmentEdit

 
Commando armed with Colt submachine gun

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Ruiz Moreno 2016, p. 217.
  2. ^ Relevamiento y análisis documental de los archivos de las Fuerzas Armadas 1976-1983 (PDF) (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Ministry of Defence of Argentina. 2015. p. 106. ISBN 978-987-3689-33-8.
  3. ^ "EL ESCALÓN AVANZADO DE LA COMPAÑÍA 601 pasó su primera noche en Malvinas precariamente instalado en los altillos de Moody Brook, antiguo cuartel de los Royal Marines, en donde funcionaba el puesto de mando de la Brigada de Infantería X y en el cual se encontraron con los barbudos y cansados jefes de Regimiento que habían llegado desde la primera línea para reforzar la defensa de Puerto Argentino." Comandos en acción: el Ejército en Malvinas, Isidoro Ruiz Moreno, p. 23, Emecé Editores, 1986
  4. ^ La Compañía de Comandos 601 era usada para las más variadas actividades. Por la mañana, y dado que se creía que desde allí se dirigía a los bombarderos, se habían dirigido a la isla Tussac, a la que le dieron el nombre de Isla Quemada porque un avión había arrojado una bomba de napalm sobre ella y regresaron negros de hollín de la turba que pisaron. Compilación Malvinas, Joaquín A Boccazzi, Page 138, Gráfica Sur, 2004
  5. ^ "This afternoon the Pucaras again bombed the Tussac Islands in Port William. Savage flames cover the ground while a huge pall of dense smoke rises hundreds of feet into the air. God knows what all this is doing to the wildlife out there. It is being said, though it is difficult to find evidence to support it, that the Argentine dead still being recovered from the invasion, and the deaths from exposure, are being put on the islands so that no trace remains of their losses, which during the invasion period were far heavier than admitted." 74 Days: An Islander's Diary of the Falklands Occupation, John Smith, p. 83, Century, 1984
  6. ^ Comandos en acción: El Ejército en Malvinas, Isidoro Ruiz Moreno, pp. 75–76, Emecé Editores, 1986
  7. ^ That afternoon, the Pitaluga home suffered a 'mini invasion' by forty Argentinian troops who arrived in two helicopters. Saul and his father Robin were both questioned closely about the morning's events. Their radio was removed and Mr Pitaluga was taken back to Stanley for further questioning at the Police Station. He takes over the story. 'I had to write the whole thing out including, verbatim, the message from Hermes. There was much verbal abuse and threats, including one gorilla-like army captain, probably from their military police, who never did anything without screaming and shouting. I really did think he was going to shoot me at one stage. He stood me on the sea wall outside the Police Station and put a gun to the back of my head and started clicking the trigger mechanism. Then he pushed me into a trench with two soldiers who were told to shoot me if I tried to escape, but I soon settled down and talked to them in Spanish. Operation Corporate: The Falklands War, 1982, Martin Middlebrook, p. 141, Viking, 1985
  8. ^ Onboard, I heard from Steve that he had been hit in the avionics bay by 20-mm machine-gun fire from Port Howard. He had lost his radio, couldn't communicate with me, and thought he might just as well go home. I was too pleased to see him to be angry. Sea Harrier Over The Falklands, Nigel Ward, p. 211, Pen & Sword, 1993
  9. ^ Task force: the Illustrated History of the Falklands War, David Reynolds, p. 179, Sutton, 2002
  10. ^ The Scars of War, Hugh McManners, pp. 162–163, HarperCollins, 1993
  11. ^ Sunderland Falklands veterans remember the Battle of Mount Longdon
  12. ^ The Falklands War: Paratrooper close enough to Argentine troops he heard them talking before the attack
  13. ^ Sin otra novedad, por la tarde fueron relevados por la tercera sección mandada por el teniente primero González Deibe, a quien acompañaba el capitán Jándula, para mantener la emboscada. Comandos en Acción, Isidoro Jorge Ruiz Moreno, p. 331, Emecé, 1986
  14. ^ Across an Angry Sea: The SAS in the Falklands War, Cedric Delves, p. 281, Oxford University Press, 2019
  15. ^ El capitán Negretti, presente en el puesto de mando, resume el cuadro: "Era esperar, vacilación total, falta de asesoramiento, de iniciativa"... Poco más tarde, el jefe de la sección Comunicaciones de ese puesto comentó amargamente al teniente Alejandro Brizuela: —Mirá, ya no va más esto: no salimos del pozo. Comandos en Acción, Isidoro Jorge Ruiz Moreno, p. 378, Emecé, 1986
  16. ^ Entre tanto, la segunda sección de la misma Compañía marchó con el teniente primero García Pinasco a cuidar la entrada de Puerto Argentino con la prevención de evitar la infiltración enemiga, controlando el camino de acceso. Era un panorama desolador, por la retirada de los soldados de los Regimientos, dentro de cuyas filas podían venir ingleses mezclados; una retirada lamentable" Comandos en Acción, Isidoro Jorge Ruiz Moreno, p. 378, Emecé, 1986
  17. ^ "Los guerrilleros ni siquiera se arrepentían de haber matado a soldados"
  18. ^ "Argentine Army, Marines and Gendarmerie's Special Forces Adopt Daniel Defense Rifles -". 4 August 2020.
  19. ^ "New Glock Pistols and B&T Submachine Guns for Argentina's Special Forces -". 12 February 2021.
  20. ^ "Galería - Exposición del material de la AFOE del Ejército". 7 June 2021.

SourcesEdit

  • Ruiz Moreno, Isidoro J. (2016) [1986]. Comandos en acción (in Spanish). Buenos Aires: Claridad. ISBN 978-950-620-312-2.

External linksEdit