Tuesday, April 3, 2012

30 years ago the Falklands were invaded

And so began the only large-scale air-naval war since World War II.

The Falklands War still seems an unlikely one, despite the advantage of hindsight.

While of considerable military interest, as it was the only conventional war involving significant naval action in the last 60 years or so, it may be more instructive for the way that nations can talk themselves into ill-advised military conflicts. The Argentine Junta persuaded itself that Britain was too weak to fight back and that they'd be allowed to keep the seized islands at an acceptable cost.

And, had they kept to their original planning, they might well have done it. The original strategy was to capture the islands in October when the Argentine conscript would have been trained up, the Navy would have carrier-qualified and Excocet-equipped fighters for its aircraft carrier and the British Navy would have have started a severe downsizing.

But events precipitated the Argentine timetable and on this date in 1982, they captured South Georgia Island, having secured the Falklands proper the day before. And yet by now the British were already reacting with astounding speed, having dispatched Admiral Woodward and a squadron of warships from Gibraltar -- the leading elements of a task force that would include aircraft carriers and infantry brigades before it was done.

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