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22 Desember 2012


A review on the event of Falklands War in 1982, is trying to reveal the facts that the occurrence of such a war was caused by the political and military miscalculations.  General Leopoldo Galtieri had a strategic assumption that he was so confident that the military force planned to seize Falklands would not make British mobilize its military power, but it would settle it down at the negotiation.  And the quick response of British becomes the main factor determining its victory in Falklands. 

Outputs of this study are expected to be able to be used in the efforts to settle the problems containing the dispute potency among countries, so that the unnecessary victims and losses can be prevented from happening among the parties in dispute.

" Nothing remains more vividly in my mind, looking back on my years in 10 Downing Street, than the eleven weeks in the spring of 1982 when Britain fought and won the Falklands War. Much was at stake: what we were fighting for eight thousand miles away in the South Atlantic was not only the territory and the people of the Falklands, important though they were. 
We were defending our honour as a nation, and principles of fundamental importance to the whole world - above all, that aggressors should never succeed and that international law should prevail over the use of force. The war was very sudden. No one predicted the Argentine invasion more than a few hours in advance, though many predicted it in retrospect. When I became Prime Minister I never thought that I would have to order British troops into combat and I do not think I have ever lived so tensely or intensely as during the whole of that time.

The significance of the Falklands War was enormous, both for Britain's self-confidence and for our standing in the world.( Margaret Thatcher :  Argentina Invades the Falklands ) "
        Galtieri’s Strategy and its Consideration

       As we had already known that until that until the beginning of 1980, the international opinions tended not to be fond of  the existence of  colonial government administration, including the British’s ownership of  Falklands and South Georgia. However, the negotiation position on Falklands till the year 1980 as if had remained turning around in the same circle, between the United Nation and the International Court of Justice, and there had been no development for almost 150 years since Falkland was seized in control by British.

         The negotiation plan by using a military force was a speculation, therefore this subject could be deemed by British just as a bluffing. Because, first it was apparently impossible for a developing country like Argentine dare to challenge the world power like British. However, Galtieri had a strategic assumption that he was so confident about, namely that the military force planned to “seize again” Falklands would not make British mobilize its military power, but it would settle it down at the negotiation table. The reasons supporting his assumption were as follows:
First, Argentine by then had a very strong Navy reliable to hold out against the counter attack of British. Argentine at that time had at least six ships equipped with Exocet missiles, and also used the main weapons for surface ships as possessed by British. Argentine also had four submarines, two of them were difficult to be detected by sonar.
Second, Argentine had sufficient strong Air Force. Its air power consisted of 79 fighter A-4 Skyhawks made in USA, 21 Mirage IIIs and 5  Super Etendard made in France and 26 Nesher-Daggers a version of Mirage III made in Israel. In addition, it also had a great number of domestic made planes, IA-58 Pucara, designed for counter-insurgency.
The Israeli experience indicated that Mirage III made in France  and also the Israeli version was much better that Mig 21 made in Soviet. So, the air power of Argentine by then had the fighter planes classified as the best ones in the world. Its Mirage III and Super Etendard had a supersonic speech reaching almost Mach 2. On paper, they were more superior than the British relying on fighter plane by V/STOL (Vertical/Short Take Off and Landing) of Harrier GR-3 and the Naval version of Sea Harrier with their supersonic speed. The other advantage was that Argentine had very well trained pilots. Some of them  got their training in Israel, and they were known for their bravery.

Third, Argentine had a geographical advantage. The Falkland Islands is relatively close to Argentine, since it is only 300 miles away. Whereas the distance  between Falklands and England is very far, namely 7,975 miles. Under such sufficiently long operational range from England, Argentine felt safe. Moreover, it was understood that England by then was undergoing the economic recession. Thus, if it had to carry out a military operation to Falklands, it would certainly be very costly.
Fourth, Argentine had moral advantage. For Argentine, the war in Falklands was a struggle of the   nation for Islas Malvinas”. Moral factor in war is very important, as once stated by Napoleon Bonaparte, “In a war, the moral value compared to the physical value is three to one”.
Fifth, leaders of Argentinean military junta followed carefully the change in power proportion in Europe. Due to the economic recession, British  had reduced its defense budget and  carried out it de-military plan. This plan had mainly affected a great deal its Royal Navy. Even, NATO itself had already reduced the role of British. In the 70th decade, most of British participation in NATO was limited only in the subject of  “ballistic missile”.  Royal Navy also non-activated some of it s big size carriers, and only a pair of light carriers remained and planned to be used as mobile base for V/STOL Sea-Harriers. British also planned to replace its long range strategic bomber plane, Vulcans, with a short range bomber plane, Panavia Tornado. This meant it would reduce the threat to the Argentine’s plan in Falklands.
Argentine also knew that British military currently lacked of new experiences in a long range operation. The British military force was trained to defend the Britain Island. Majority of 700 fighter planes owned by British were trained for the joint operation in NATO, or designed to fight in Europe with the support from the nearby bases. This was influenced by the policy of British Defense Minister in 1966, Denis Healey who presented his assumption that in the future British would not involve itself in a big war operation without cooperation with its allies.
Sixth, Argentine knew that the relation between British and USA was very close. However, it was impossible for the USA to give its support to British, or at least USA would be neutral, because USA was bound by the RioTreaty which USA signed in 1947. Article-3 of the said treaty provided a cooperation guarantee among the nations in American Continent in case one of them got a threat from another nation.
        The Plan of Argentinean Military Junta

Considering the political and military aspects as stated above, the strategy planned by Argentine in “seizing back Falklands” from British seemed to be logical. At first, the invasion plan to Falklands and South Georgia would be  executed by Argentine between the months of July to October 1982. Its considerations were as follows:

First, to reach the moment before the 150 Years Anniversary of ownership of Falkland by British that would be celebrated in the month of March 1983. This was to avoid the British nationalism spirit and also the arising spirit to defend Falklands among the Falkland people.

Second, from July to October is a winter season in southern hemisphere (including Argentine and Falklands). Under such cold season condition, Argentine calculated that British would not  have any  ability to respond to its invasion quickly.

Third,  the military junta got the information that HMS. Endurance, the only ship of Royal Navy assigned to protect the Falkland Islands would be non-activated / withdrawn back to England. Galtieri interpreted such matter as a signal of British’s lack of attention to its colonies in South Atlantic.

Fourth, at the latest of July 1982, the Argentine Navy would have received the major parts of weaponry purchased from France, intentionally prepared for the said invasion plan.

As already been known, in 1978  USA carried out embargo on military equipment against Argentine. This made Argentine unable to maintain the condition of its Skyhawks fighter planes. Therefore, Argentine purchased the weaponry equipment from France, either the Super Etendards planes or air-to-surface AM-39 Exocet, of the latest version of surface-to-surface MM-38 Exocet. The main characteristic of AM 39 Exocet, after being launched, it would slide down till the elevation of 6 feet above the sea surface, then it would fly at the speed of  reaching almost Mach 1 towards the target.. its range reached nearly 35 miles, more superior than its previous version which was able to reach the range of 26 miles. As planned, in April 1982, Argentina had already got at least five missiles of that type, and in June it would get more.

The invasion plan to Falklands had been orderly organized, however it was not accomplished properly. The chaos due to the domestic political situation forced the military junta to accelerate its invasion plan, four months earlier than the original schedule. In March 1982, demonstration and protests against the government became bigger and bigger. This was a warning for the military junta upon its legitimacy in the eyes of Argentinean people. The case of Davidoff’s dispute with HMS. Endurance in South Georgia made the situation hotter. The Argentinean military junta did not see any other alternative, and it even considered the Davidoff’s dispute as a strong excuse for the plan already been prepared before.

                                                                 Falklands War


1.            Calderon Naval Airbase.

2.         British Command Special Troops were landed to re-seize Calderon, 11 Argentinean fighter planes were destroyed on their parking area (May 15).

3.         HMS Coventry got sunk due to air raid by Argentinean fighter planes (May 25).

4.         HMS Antelope got sunk due to air raid by Argentinean fighter planes (May 23).

5.         HMS Ardent got sunk due to air raid by Argentinean fighter planes (May 21).

6.         The landing of British Command Troops (May 21).

7     & 8 Route of Land Campaign conducted by British (May 27 – June 4).

9.         Atlantic Conveyor got sunk due to air raid by Argentinean fighter planes (May 25).

10.      Military Airbase near Port Stanley.

11.      The landing coast of British Infantry Brigade (June 6 – 8).

12.      Position of HMS Sir Galahad and HMS Sir Tristam when they were hit by bombs dropped by the Argentinean  fighter planes (June 8).

13.      HMS Glamorgan  was hit by Argentinean Exocet missile launched from land (June 12).

14.      HMS Sheffield was sunken by Exocet (May 4).

15.    Argentinean Cruiser Ship, General Belgrano, got sunk after hit by a torpedo Mark VIII launched  from  British submarine, HMS Conqueror (May 2, position at the above drawing was not its actual one, which was actually around 36 miles outside the  “200 Mile War Zone”).

16.      Condor Military Airbase.

17.    The British Command Troops seized Goose Green, when the Land War Campaign began (May 28).

18.  The Argentinean Supply Ship, Isladelos Estadas, was sunken by a missile from HMS Alacrity (May 11).


Although in the end the Argentinean fighter planes caused a great deal of victims and big loss to British, tens of them also became victims. Obviously, on paper, the Argentinean fighter planes were more superior that those possessed by British, however Argentine got no opportunity to demonstrate their superiority due to the factor of the abrupt changes in strategy and tactics. In another word, Argentine was not capable in utilizing the opportunity of its geographical advantageous factor.
   In addition, the moral advantageous factor was not materialized either as expected. It was true that the effort to seize back the Falklands for the Argentinean people became one of the national goals and died in “Islas Malvinas” was a heroic action. However, the public opinion upon the government administration of the Argentinean military junta was so bad in such a way, that from the moral point of view the Argentinean people gave less support.
   On the contrary for British, the moral factor was even built up and materialized and became a very determining power. The mobilization of British military power to Falklands at a distance of approximately 8000 miles from their homeland, including the execution of direct air raid “Black Buck Operation” classified as being too determined, was a very brave decision in a critical condition.
   This is in line with the Sub Tzu’s teaching, “In critical time, a troop leader shall act just like a man climbing a certain peak by using a ladder, and then kicking his ladder backward down. This was the thing that motivated the British combating spirit in Falklands, and brought them into a victory after a 74-day battle.

Author together with RNSETT Director, 
HMS.Nelson, Portsmouth, 1993        


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 Author, Right, at Eiffel - Paris

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