Monday, May 28, 2012

The Battle of Goose Green -- 28 May, 1982

Battle of Goose Green from 2 Para Falklands by Maj. Gen. John Frost
The final act in the Falklands drama opened at Goose Green on May 28, 1982, as the British 2 Parachute Battalion, supported by fire support from the frigate HMS Arrow and half a battery of 105mm field artillery attacked the Argentine garrison at the settlement of Goose Green, which lies on the narrow isthmus connecting the northern and southern portions of East Falkland Island.

At first glance the two sides appear evenly matched. 2 Para was comprised of three para companies, a "patrol" company and a support company. This totaled about 450 men.

The Argentine garrison was largely comprised of the 12th Infantry "regiment" (actually battalion sized) with three infantry companies and support company. Attached in support were some air force personnel, some AA guns and half a battery of 105 mm howitzers. The fighting men in the Argentine garrison totaled about 600, with another 900 logistics, air force ground personnel and others present.

In land combat, however, numbers can be very deceiving and, in fact, the British force was far more powerful than the Argentinians. In Clash of Arms South Atlantic War Second Edition supplement there are rules for resolving ground combats based on the work of Col. Trevor N. Dupuy and his Quantified Judgment Model for predicting the outcome of ground battles.

Dupuy's work was -- and is -- controversial in its methodology, but the fact remains that Gulf War predictions based on the QJM method were far closer to the actual result than most other predictions that appeared in the media.

The Ground Combat Strengths of the supplement were calculated using a modified version of the QJM and those GCS figures show an enormous superiority for the British. In fact, the Base GCS of the British force of 15.95 is more than 2 and half times greater than the 6.30 of the Argentine defenders. This implies are fairly quick and decisive victory for the British with relatively light casualties and so it proved in the actual event.

The Argentine garrison was defeated in a day's fighting and the entire lot captured. The British lost 17 killed and 33 wounded while 55 Argentinians were killed and 86 wounded with the balance of the force -- more than 1,000 -- captured.

A notable casualty was the 2 Para commander, Lt. Col. "H" Jones. In fact, the ratio of leader casualties to private soldiers lost between the two forces is very suggestive as to the difference in quality between these elite British troops and their regular Argentine opponents.

Out of the 17 British killed in action, no fewer than a dozen were leaders ( 5 officers and 7 NCOs). In contrast the vast majority of the Argentinian soldiers killed were lower ranking enlisted soldiers -- 43 of them. Coincidentally the Argentinians also had 12 leaders killed -- three officers and nine NCOs.

This quality difference would manifests itself again during the final climactic battle at Port Stanley in a little more than two weeks time.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for all the great Falklands campaign posts. The Falklands War is one of the most interesting conflicts in history and I always enjoy reading about it.