I had posted several months ago about the Falkland war and the sinking of the HMS Sheffield after she was hit by an exocet missile from the Argentinian Air force. The post is Here. I saw this post and it was talking about the Argentinian point of view of the conflict and I learned a few things I didn't know about before.
The Falklands War is often perceived, from the British perspective,
as a victory that confirmed the British imperial status in the post-WWII
world. Even though the war was criticized by the British public as
unnecessary, it won the Conservative Party government a second term in
Government for it was indeed a clear and decisive British victory.
the other side, the Argentinian public deemed the war unnecessary as
well; it was forced upon them by the ruling military junta. The conflict
which started on 2nd of April 1982, lasted for 74 days and claimed the
lives of 649 Argentinians military personnel, 255 British military
personnel, and 3 Falklands civilians. It proved to be a stand-off
between the British recapturing lost territory and a dictatorship with
Argentina had for long wanted to claim
the Falklands (or the Las Malvinas, as the Argentinians called it),
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, which had all been under
British rule since 1833 and populated by British settlers who were loyal
to the crown.
Argentina, a military junta under the name National Reorganization
Process was the government in the period of 1976-1983 and ruled with an
iron hand, dealing with political with imprisonment and execution. The
man behind the junta, who was the main advocate of the attack, was
Admiral Jorge Anaya. He estimated that the British would not pursue a
military conflict, but would rather choose a diplomatic solution, in
which the Argentinians could further promote the idea of sovereignty
over the archipelago.
The campaign was designed and executed in
the midst of devastating economic stagnation in Argentina, which
provoked civil unrest. To divert the civilian attention from the fall of
living standard and the inflation climb of 600%, a military government
did what it does best – mobilize the population towards a general
nationalistic sentiment for the islands, several hundred kilometres from
the Argentinian coast, that were under British colonial rule.
They called it the illegal usurpation of Las Malvinas.
The preparations for war included a power shift in the military junta,
from its initial leader, General Roberto Viola, to General Leopoldo
Galtieri, on whose behalf Admiral Anaya organised the Argentinian Navy
to participate in the attack.
the invasion took place, the Argentinan junta helped CIA suppress the
communist elements in Nicaragua by funding the Nicaraguan counter
rebels, or the Contras. This is why the Argentinians had reasons to
believe that the US would keep a neutral stance if an invasion were to
Also, Admiral Anaya relied on the fact that the US
objected the use of force by the British during the Suez crisis in 1956.
On top of that, in 1981, Britain accepted the independence of it former
colony, Rhodesia, which was an example of how Britain was slowly
renouncing its colonial past.
were mainly influenced by the events of Indian annexation of the island
of Goa, in 1961. The annexation was condemned by the international
community but was later accepted as an irreversible act.
March 19th, 1982, the Argentinians launched an invasion of the South
Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, 165 kilometres from the coast of
Patagonia. Following the initial invasion, they started to disembark on
the shores of the Falklands Islands on April 2nd.
occupation of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the British
deployed two submarines, but it wasn’t until the invasion of the
Falklands that they had taken the matter seriously.
The war was
never officially declared although both sides did declare the Islands
areas a war zone and officially recognized that a state of war existed
between them. Hostilities were limited almost exclusively to the
territories under dispute and the area in the South Atlantic where they
Argentina’s original intention was to mount a quick,
symbolic occupation, followed rapidly by withdrawal, leaving only a
small garrison to support the new military governor. This strategy was
based on the Argentinean assumption that the British would not respond
assault units were indeed withdrawn to the mainland in the days
following the invasion, but strong popular support and the rapid British
reaction forced the Junta to change their plans and reinforce the
islands since they could not afford to lose the islands once the British
came out to fight.
When the conflict broke out, the UN called for
peace talks, the immediate end to the hostilities and urged both
parties to resolve the conflict diplomatically. The US feared that
Argentina would ask the Soviet Union for help, and so they stood firmly
on the side of the British.
On the South American mainland, Chile
actively helped Great Britain with intelligence support. The support was
evident, and Argentina was forced to keep some of its best trained and
best-equipped mountain troops on the Chilean border to counter the
possible military intervention by the neighboring British ally. The
intervention never took place, but the Argentinians were on high alert
throughout the war.
British forces landed on the islands, after
which a war for aerial domination commenced. Several intense dogfights
occurred during the war. The British were using Harriers as their main
combat airplane while Argentina used Mirage III fighter jets, which were
purchased from France several years before the war.
was not good enough for the Argentinian air force to successfully engage
the far more nimble RAF fighters. Other than the Mirage, Argentine Air
Force used American A-4 Skyhawks, Israeli Daggers, the Israeli version
of the Mirage fighter, and English Electric Canberras.
The most significant naval incident of the war was the sinking of the ARA Belgrano,
an Argentinean WWII-era light cruiser, by the nuclear-powered submarine
HMS Conqueror on May 2nd, 1982. 323 men aboard the ARA Belgrano lost their lives.
The retaliation for this loss occurred two days after, when a British Type 42 Destroyer, HMS Sheffield, was bombed by a naval air strike. The British lost 20 men with another 24 others severely injured.
the British victory on land, their terms for the Argentinian surrender
proved to be much harsher than originally expected by the Junta, but
Argentina accepted them on 14th of June 1982. Argentinean troops
withdrew from the islands, leaving them in British hands.
relations between the two countries were strained for a while, until
their official normalization in 1989. Argentina continues to debate the
sovereignty of the Falklands to this day. In 2013, a referendum was held
on the Falkland Islands, after which the majority stated that they wish
to stay under the British crown.
The Falklands conflict remains
the largest air-naval combat operation between modern forces since the
end of the Second World War.