The Argentine Armed Forces was and still is considered one of the prime military forces of Latin America.
The Argentine military was descended from the militia forces that defeated two British invasions prior to gaining independence from Spain. The same colonial militias formed the backbone of the independence armies that later liberated Argentina in its War of Independence in the 1810s. The Argentine military also distinguished itself in wars against Brazil and on one occasion against Paraguay in the middle of the 19th century.
However, the Argentine military became infamous as it also got the habit of setting up military dictatorships, in one of which Colonel Juan Domingo Peron (of Evita fame) participated. He would then go on to be democratically elected as President three times. The military was also responsible for setting up the even worse National Reorganization Process and in what was called the "Dirty War", which caused the torture and murder of over 30,000 Argentineans.
The Argentina military had two principle conflicts in the 20th century. The first was the insurgency against leftist guerrillas. The Montoneros (Peronists) and People's Revolutionary Army (Marxists), the latter backed by Cuba, waged separate rebellions against the Argentina government(s) starting in 1970. They embarked on a campaign of political violence against right-wingers and attacks (both gun attacks and bombings) on police stations. The Argentine military responded with a series of offensives utilizing the full might of their numerical and firepower advantage to crush the rebels with overwhelming force. Specially trained mountain regiments came in handy, given that the guerrillas liked to hide out in rural areas. When the military took over the government in a coup in 1976, they expanded the scope of operations to include brutal suppression of all collaborators and sympathizers, which combined with renewed and persistent military operations, crippled the insurgency, especially when both of the PRA's leaders (Mario Roberto Santucho and Benito Urteaga) were assassinated that same year. By 1977, over 10,000 insurgents had been killed (according to the Montoneros and PRA themselves), with deaths among the government security forces being far lower, but still notable (293 soldiers and police killed in 1975-1976 alone). Many others had been jailed. The Argentine government unofficially declared victory late in the year, and indeed the insurgents had basically been eradicated, though notable violence continued well into the 80s.
The second conflict, of course, was the infamous The Falklands War against Britain in 1982. Although the Argentine military initially held the initiative (its naval aviation pilots winning praise for their sinking of last generation ships), the British eventually defeated the Argentines, causing the military to get out of politics for good in 1983. Since then, its confined itself to peacekeeping missions. In the Gulf War, Argentina was the sole Latin American country to send a military contingent, though they never engaged in combat.
Most of the Argentine equipment comes from western nations, The exception being chinese and russian vehicles bought by the last government.
Service in the military was compulsory, until the murder of a conscript in 1994 prompted the change to voluntary service. It is a non-NATO major ally of the US and has cooperated with the militaries, of all nations, their longtime rivals Brazil and Chile; it perhaps did lessen the tension between these countries. In football, of course, that was another story.
The trope is named for the nationally produced TAM medium main battle tank produced in the mid-1970s, making the country the first in Latin America to produce its own battle tanks. Some numbers, modernized, are still in service in the Argentine Army today.
The Argentine Military in fiction:
- The combat flight sim Air Duel: 80 Years of Dogfighting (also known as Dogfight outside the US) lets the player fly an Argentinian Mirage III during the Falklands War.