602 Commando Company

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Compañía de Comandos 602
602 Commando Company
Active1978-1982
1982-present (current form)
Country Argentina
BranchEjercito Argentino Escudo.pngArgentine Army
TypeSpecial Forces
RoleSpecial Reconnaissance
Light Infantry
Air Assault
Airborne Operations
SizeCompany
Part ofSpecial Operations Forces Group
Garrison/HQCórdoba Province
Anniversaries21 May
EngagementsFalklands War
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Maj. Aldo Rico

The 602 Commando Company (Spanish: Compañía de Comandos 602) is a special operations unit of the Argentine Army.

Unit insignia[edit]

The members of the unit wear green berets with unit badges. The company is divided into three assault sections.

History[edit]

Today's unit was created 21 May 1982.

Falklands War[edit]

The unit had its baptism of fire in the Falklands War. The commander of the company was 39-year-old Major Aldo Rico.

On the night of 29–30 May, Captain Andres Antonio Ferrero's 3rd Assault Section attempted to seize Mount Kent but was beaten back in an SAS ambush from 16 Air Troop.[1]Two SAS men (Carl Rhodes and Richard Palmer) were wounded fighting off the Argentine penetration on Mount Kent.[2]

On the morning of 30 May, Captain Tomas Victor Fernandez's 2nd Assault Section from 602 Commando Company suffered two killed on Bluff Cove Peak during the Mount Kent Skirmish, First Lieutenant Rubén Eduardo Márquez and Sergeant Oscar Humberto Blas,[3]in an action with 17 Boat Troop and Major Cedric Delves' Tactical Headquarters (including part of the Intelligence Corps) from the British 22nd Special Air Service. First Lieutenant Márquez and Sergeant Blas showed great personal courage and leadership in the action and were subsequently awarded the Argentine Nation to the Valour in Combat Medal.[4]During this contact the SAS suffered two more casualties (Ewen Pearcy and Don Masters) from grenades (including an Intelligence NCO assigned to the SAS[5][6][7]). The Argentine Commandos literally stumbled on a camp occupied by 15 SAS troopers.[8] That night, Captain Peter Babbington's K Company of 42 Commando, Royal Marines and 7 'Sphinx' Battery from the Royal Artillery arrived nearby via helicopters. At about the same time, the 2nd Assault Section, having hidden all day, emerged from their hides intending to withdraw from the area but came under prompt and heavy fire from the SAS in the form of Mountain Troop and lost one NCO (Sergeant Vicente Alfredo Flores) captured.[9] The SAS claim on their part, to have come under mortar bombardment while evacuating their wounded. The British artillery battery report the loss of one gunner (Van Rooyen) who suffered a broken arm while taking cover among the slippery rocks in the bombardment.[10]

The 1st Assault Section fought in the Battle of Top Malo House on 31 May 1982. In an action lasting 45 minutes,[11] the Argentine Army Special Forces patrol under Captain José Arnobio Vercesi was defeated and the survivors captured in the encounter with the British Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre, a Royal Marines unit, attached to the 3 Commando Brigade[12]that reported 3 British badly wounded in the gun-battle.[13] Another British Marine (Sergeant McClean) suffered bone bruising when hit in the hand while attempting to fire a 66mm anti-tank rocket.[14]

On the night of 5–6 June Captain Andres Ferrero's 3rd Assault Section dislodged a platoon of Royal Marines in the form of Lieutenant Tony Hornby's 10 Troop, 42 Commando from Mount Wall. According to Ferrero:

At about 4 in the evening on the 5th, we moved up to First Lieutenant Carlos Alberto Arroyo's command post on Mount Harriet. Major Aldo Rico commanded the patrol. We were as glad to see Arroyo as he was to see us. Dirty, bearded and a little thinner, he gripped Rico in a bear hug. A gallant Commando, Arroyo volunteered to go with us to Mount Wall. Several conscripts came to see us. There was a lot of laughter, some of it nervous, perhaps adrenaline-driven. We had a chance to get a scrumptious and - let us be honest here - very fatty barbecue going and look at the enemy positions at Bluff Cove Rincon and tried to pinpoint the observation post on Mount Wall. A 4th Regiment patrol had been out in the area the night before. Distances were deceptive. In the thin air, Mount Kent seemed close at hand. In nearly every other direction arose outcrops of limestone. Their slopes were not sheer; rather they spread themselves, rugged and inhospitable. It was a very humbling place. We watched 155mm fire falling on the British paratroopers at Bluff Cove Rincon. The weather was appalling, cold and wet with high wind. Few people are aware that we also had the ugly experience of being shelled by the 3rd Artillery Group at one point. It was human error. The plan was to take Mount Wall from the rear. Two artillery batteries were on call, because our route up the feature was very open - a perfect killing ground. By 4 pm it was almost dark and the temperature had sunk. Moving past shell craters and remnants of cluster bombs to the base of Mount Wall, we lay up among boulders while First Lieutenant Lauria cleared a path through the minefields. Altogether it must have taken three hours to get there. It was a moonlit night and cold. I lay there frozen, not moving. Argentinian Artillery fire started coming down on Mount Wall at approximately 10.30pm. Crouching in silence we waited for the fire to end. Some shells fell only 150 metres from us. Then - sudden silence. It ceased and Major Rico screamed to us to go and we advanced uphill through the rocks. A fit commando, if anyone was going to get to the mountaintop first, it would be Lauria but as he swept round a boulder, he came across a straggler or so he thought. It was Major Rico. Who says age slows you down? On the way up we passed the body of a 4th Regiment conscript. Captain Hugo Ranieri knelt down to examine the body and removed the rosary from the young soldier's neck before moving on. We found a laser target designator and several rucksacks. It was the first indication we'd had of how well they had been equipped. There was even a 42 Commando beret.

[15]

On 8 June, Private 1st Class Argentino Foremny of the 602 Commando Company Blowpipe Team that Major Rico had sent forward to Mount Harriet, with the help of the built-in zoom-in sight, confirmed the presence of the British troopships Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram at Port Pleasant:

In the area of Port Pleasant, about 35 kilometres from our position, we were able to make out the silhouette of two ships that appeared to be transports, no way could they have been Argentine for the British were predominant; we later found out they were Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram. We sounded the alarm and three hours later the first air attack took place. The day ended up being the blackest day for their fleet, as was admitted by the British, with 56 British and 3 Argentines killed.[16]

Captain Ferrero's 3rd Assault Section suffered one killed (Sergeant Mario Cisnero)[17]and one wounded (First Lieutenant Jorge Manuel Vizoso-Posse) while Captain Miguel Santo's supporting National Gendarmerie section suffered another dead (Sergeant Ramon Acosta) and another wounded (Sergeant Pablo Parada) in a fierce action near Murrell River on 10 June, seizing much equipment and forcing the attacking Royal Marines platoon to withdraw, with Major Rico belatedly calling down fire support from Lieutenant-Colonel Martin Balza's 3rd Artillery Group in an attempt to cut off the British escape route and take prisoners.[18] One Royal Marine was reportedly killed by defensive mortar fire early in the approach to Murrell River.[19]

According to the British military historian Bruce Quarrie, it was a hard-fought and costly action:

Equipment captured by Argentine army commandos from a 45 Commando Royal Marines fighting patrol near Murrell River, West of Stanley on 10 June 1982

A constant series of patrols was undertaken at night to scout out and harass the enemy. Typical was the patrol sent out in the early hours of the morning of 10 June. Lieutenant David Stewart of X-Ray Company, 45 Commando, had briefed his men during the previous afternoon, and by midnight they were ready. Heavily armed, with two machine-guns per section plus 66 mm rocket launchers and 2-inch mortars, the Troop moved off stealthily into the moonlit night towards a ridge some 4 km away where Argentine movement had been observed. Keeping well spaced out because of the good visibility, they moved across the rocky ground using the numerous shell holes for cover, and by 04.00 [1 am local time] were set to cross the final stretch of open ground in front of the enemy positions. Using a shallow stream for cover, they moved up the slope and deployed into position among the rocks in front of the Argentine trenches. With the help of a light-intensifying night scope, they could see sentries moving about. Suddenly, an Argentine machine-gun opened fire and the Marines launched a couple of flares from their mortar, firing back with their own machine-guns and rifles. Within seconds three Argentine soldiers and two Marines were dead. Other figures could be seen running on the hill to the left, and four more Argentine soldiers fell to the accuracy of the Marines' fire. By this time, the Argentine troops further up the slope were wide awake, and a hail of fire forced the Marines to crouch in the shelter of the rocks. The situation was becoming decidedly unhealthy and Lieutenant Stewart decided to retire, with the objective of killing and harassing the enemy well and truly accomplished. However, a machine-gun to the Marines' right was pouring fire over their getaway route, and Stewart sent his veteran Sergeant, Jolly, with a couple of other men to take it out [They knew they were cut off with what looked a poor chance of escape. In these circumstances any panic or break in morale and the game was up]. After a difficult approach with little cover, there was a short burst of fire and the Argentine machine-gun fell silent. Leapfrogging by sections, the Troop retreated to the stream, by which time the Argentine fire was falling short and there were no further casualties.[20]

Captain Hugo Ranieri, armed with a .300 Weatherby Magnum bolt-action rifle, fought as a sniper in the gun-battle:

This lasted between twenty and thirty minutes, so it was quite a long fight, until it culminated with the withdrawal of the enemy. In particular, I would say that we beat them. As we had coordinated the artillery fire, Major Aldo Rico ordered our guns to fire and our shots began to fall on the retreating enemy. We ordered them to open their range as the British retreated, that is, we would chase them with cannon fire. I appreciate that many British must have died that night because the fire from our artillery was tremendous.[21]

The next day, a 4th Regiment patrol under Subteniente Marcelo Llambías-Pravaz collected the British equipment abandoned in the action,[22]and these were presented as war trophies to Argentine war correspondents in Port Stanley that filmed and photographed the equipment.[23]

On the night of 12–13 June, Captain Andres Ferrero's 3rd Assault Section of 602 Commando Company took up ambush positions in the vicinity of Mount William, in support of the 5th Marine Infantry Battalion.[24]

According to First Lieutenant Horacio Fernando Lauría, a judo-black-belt[25]from Captain Ferrero's patrol:

In one of those strange missions, they sent us with the First Lieutenant Horacio Guglielmone to position ourselves us one night, five hundred metres in front of the 5th Marine Infantry Battalion, the closest to the British, to provide security and obtain information. Back to back, alone, we were very alert with great fear of the Gurkhas, without even blinking. It had been a strong psychological action of the enemy, and we all had a great obsession through fear of being slaughtered: the tension was constant. To counteract that campaign, I wanted to kill one with my bare hands, which I feel capable of doing, and cut off a limb in order to show it to the conscript soldiers and diminish their panic.[26]

21st century[edit]

The company is based in Córdoba Province and is under the command of the Rapid Deployment Force as part of the Special Operations Forces Group.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ferrero's men advanced up the steep slopes, the thought of bumping into a British patrol or walking into an ambush keeping them alert. After about 500 metres Ferrero went forward with two men to investigate a noise. They had hardly covered 50 metres when they came under accurate machine gun and mortar fire from Air Troop, D Squadron. First-Sergeant Raimundo Viltes was badly wounded when a bullet shattered his heel." Van Der Bijl, Aldea, p. 63
  2. ^ "Two SAS men had been flown in with gunshot wounds that were quite obviously more than 24 hours old. We knew better than to ask them about the circumstances of their injuries, and instead simply operated on them. The anaesthetist, Malcolm Jowitt, used Ketalar, in injectable and steroid-based general anaesthetic that had some occasional and highly interesting side effects. One of the SAS men, a big ex-Sapper, came from round his op and started singing bawdy rugby songs, quite tunefully, at the top of his voice!" The Red and Green Life Machine: A Diary of the Falklands Field Hospital, Rick Jolly, pp. 87-88, Century Publishing, 1983
  3. ^ Línea de fuego: historia oculta de una frustración, Héctor Rubén Simeoni & Eduardo Allegri, p. 55, Editorial Sudamericana, 1991
  4. ^ Conflicto Malvinas:Informe Oficial del Ejército Argentino, Circulo Militar, p. 56, Volume II, 1983
  5. ^ "Two more men were wounded, but the SAS remained in control of its main positions by the morning of 30 May." Twilight Warriors: Inside the World's Special Forces, Martin C. Arostegui, p. 181, St. Martin's Press, 1997
  6. ^ "Among prisoners captured by the Commando Brigade were five 602 Commando Company at Top Malo House and an Argentine Special forces Group sergeant knocked unconscious during a clash with the Special Air Service on Mount Kent. During this engagement, a member of the Intelligence Corps badged as Special Air Service was wounded." Sharing the Secret: The History of the Intelligence Corps 1940-2010, Nick Van Der Bijl, p. 293, Pen and Sword, 2013
  7. ^ "Also involved from the start was an Intelligence Corps NCO serving at the time with 22 Special Air Service Regiment, who was later wounded. Following almost immediately were a detachment from Communications and Security Group (UK) who arrived aboard HMS Intrepid, an Imagery Analyst at work aboard HMS Hermes and the Intelligence Cell of 5 Infantry Brigade who arrived in style aboard Queen Elizabeth." Forearmed: A History of the Intelligence Corps, Anthony Clayton, p. 226, Brassey's, 1993
  8. ^ "At about 11 am next day, the 30th, Captain Fernandez and his 2nd Assault Section, knowing that Ferrero had been in contact with British, emerged from their hide intending to occupy Bluff Cove Peak. With Sergeant Humberto Bias and First-Lieutenant Daniel Oneto, First Lieutenant Ruben Marquez scouting ahead, the section collided with the Special Air Service Tactical Headquarters and a firefight developed. Marquez threw some grenades but was still killed because he was wearing gloves and was unable to use his FAL rifle. Blas also died." Van Der Bijl, Aldea, p. 63.
  9. ^ "Fernandez broke contact and in the scramble down the hill Sergeant Alfredo Flores, the section radio operator, fell and was knocked out. When he came to his senses he was the prisoner of a Special Air Service clearing patrol and was later interrogated at 'Hotel Galtieri' in the farmyard at San Carlos along with the Army commandos captured at Top Malo House." Van Der Bijl, Aldea, p. 65.
  10. ^ The National Archives
  11. ^ "After about forty-five minutes of fighting, the Argentines finally gave up." Twilight Warriors: Inside the World's Special Forces, Martin C. Arostegui, p. 208, St. Martin's Press, 1997
  12. ^ Van Der Bijl, Nicholas: Argentine Forces in the Falklands. Osprey Publishing, 1992. page 20. ISBN 1-85532-227-7
  13. ^ "The Royal Marines Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre took out an Argentine Special Forces lying-up position near Top Malo House. There was a brisk and vicious firefight, and three of the marines were injured in achieving total success against their opponents. I recognise two of them, Touche Groves and Taff Doyle, both old friends from skiing and rugby days. Touche's 'magic lantern show' is a sod's opera highlight whenever he performs it, but now he's fighting for breath with a nasty chest wound." The Red and Green Life Machine: A Diary of the Falklands Field Hospital, Rick Jolly, p. 87, Century Publishing, 1983.
  14. ^ "Sergeant McLean was wounded in the hand when a round hit the 66mm LAW he was about to fire." Nine Battles to Stanley, Nick Van Der Bijl, Pen & Sword, 2014
  15. ^ 5th Infantry Brigade in the Falklands, Nicholas van der Bijl, David Aldea, pp. 167-168, Leo Cooper, 2003
  16. ^ Foremny: “Vamos a recuperar Malvinas, aunque lleve décadas o generaciones”
  17. ^ Comandos en Accion: El Ejercito en Malvinas, Isidoro J. Ruiz Moreno, p. 353, Emece editores, 1986
  18. ^ Comandos en Accion: El Ejercito en Malvinas, Isidoro J. Ruiz Moreno, p. 358, Emece editores, 1986
  19. ^ "Three men, including Sgt Leeming on reconnaissance patrol, killed by friendly fire just before the main assault on Two Sisters, another Royal Marine was killed by mortar fire early in the attack..." Royal Navy casualties, killed and died, 1980-89 - Naval-History.Net
  20. ^ Bruce Quarrie, The Worlds Elite Forces, pp.53-54, Octopus Books Limited, 1985
  21. ^ Médico y capitán en las Islas Malvinas
  22. ^ "En la mañana organizamos una patrulla con el objeto de explorar el terreno donde la noche anterior había chocado la Compañía de Comando 602 del Mayor Rico, con los británicos, acción en la cual, entre otros, murió el Sargento 1.º. Cisneros, de la Compañía citada. Aprovechando al máximo el terreno y cubriéndonos tras cada roca, descendimos hacia Monte Kent. Habíamos dejado un grupo de seguridad, y ya nos disponíamos a cargar material abandonado por los ingleses, cuando sentimos un estruendo. Se trataba de un Harrier, que a muy baja altura, venía desde Puerto Argentino y doblaba justo ante nuestras narices. El piloto nos miró mientras sacábamos el seguro del fusil. Fue todo tan rápido que no pudimos hacer fuego, de regreso recogimos los cadáveres de dos Infantes de Marina, muertos el 6 de junio. Uno de ellos tenía un impacto directo de cohete LAW 72, cuya carga hueca lo había cortado en dos; su vientre había desaparecido. Quedaban sus piernas, separadas, con los huesos sobresalientes. Pero la expresión de su cara, tan llena de paz, tan contrastante con el resto de la escena, me dio la certeza de que se trataba de algo divino. Juntamos sus pedazos en una capa de poncho". Malvinas: Relatos de Soldados, Martín Balza, p. 120, Círculo Militar, 1985
  23. ^ La Guerra de las Malvinas, p. 420, Editorial Oriente, 1987
  24. ^ "In spite of the signals intelligence intercepts indicating an entire Gurkha battalion being no more than four kilometres to the west, the judo black belt engineer First-Lieutenant Horacio Lauria was eager to come to grips with the Gurkhas in the Pony Pass area to show the conscripts that the men from Nepal were human and that he could win a man-to-man contest." Van Der Bijl, Aldea, p. 188
  25. ^ "In spite of the signals intelligence intercepts indicating an entire Gurkha battalion being no more than four kilometres to the west, the judo black belt engineer First-Lieutenant Horacio Lauria was eager to come to grips with the Gurkhas in the Pony Pass area to show the conscripts that the men from Nepal were human and that he could win a man-to-man contest." Van Der Bijl, Aldea, p. 188
  26. ^ Comandos en Acción: El Ejército en Malvinas, p. 366, Editorial San Martin, 1987

External links[edit]