Buenos Aires Times

argentina G20 LEADERS SUMMIT

The last line of defence: the special command unit backing-up G20 leaders

The government has a back-up plan in the event its security forces protecting the G20 collapses: the FDR rapid defence force.

Friday 30 November, 2018
The FDR consists of 500 officers stationed at the Campo de Mayo Army barracks.
The FDR consists of 500 officers stationed at the Campo de Mayo Army barracks. Foto:ejército argentino

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The government has a back-up plan in the event the three-rings of security surrounding this weekend’s G20 Leaders Summit in Costa Salguero were to collapse: a “secret” line of defence with the capability to retrieve and rescue visiting heads of state.

The Argentine Army’s Rapid Deployment Force (FDR) consists of 500 officers who are currently stationed at the Campo de Mayo Army barracks. They will remain there until the summit draws to a close.

If called upon, 200 FDR officers would be deployed within 10 minutes to form a protective ring around Costa Salguero, where the world’s most powerful leaders will spend most of their time during this weekend’s G20 summit.

The unit remains on call as an extreme last-minute option in the event the anti-terrorism units of the Federal Police, Coast Guard and Border Guard cannot contain a major security situation. While they usually operate on the instructions of the Defence Ministry, during the G20 they will respond to the national Security Ministry.

ESCAPE ROUTES

Argentina’s G20 security plan involves six escape routes by land to six “safe spots,” including the Mounted Police Corps headquarters in Palermo; the Military Air Base and Southern Terminal of Aeroparque Jorge Newbery airport; the area adjacent to Costa Salguero itself; the barracks of the Argentine Naval Coast Guard; the Border Guard’s Edificio Cintela headquarters; and the Quinquela Martín Cruise Terminal, which could also be reached via an alternative river route.

If these paths were to be blocked due to a large-scale attack, then the security forces would initiate an air evacuation plan, summoning the 200 FDR agents.

The proximity of Costa Salguero to these safe spots was a key factor in the government’s decision to choose Costa Salguero, an area that runs along the River Plate.

Other options – such as the Expo and Conventions Centre, the University of Buenos Aires (UBA)’s Law Faculty and the La Rural Society in Palermo – were discarded during planning.

TRAINING

The FDR usually offers training to special federal security forces, as well as cooperating in joint military exercises. They are known to train with their counterparts in other countries in the region and have also received specialist training from Spanish forces, among other global partners.

The 500 officers that compose the force are trained in the protection of VIPs and in urban military operations. Among them are well-trained snipers.

In Argentina, this kind of military unit has only been formed in its current incarnation in the last eight years. The concept was initially born in the 1990s of a need for special operatives forces in crisis management.

In military jargon, the FDR is considered a “polyvalent” unit because of the diversity of its membership. 

Its agents are trained in dealing with all sorts of urban environments within Argentina, not only the capital.

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