The Falklands War of 1982 between Argentina and Britain denotes the complex associations between the integration of operational concepts, the centrality of logistics in accomplishing a campaign and the incorporation of land, air and sea efforts. The Falklands conflict is regarded as an exemplar representation of a campaign since it was strategically located, was triggered by a strong political background and weapon systems that were remarkably employed for both contenders. It provides the distinctive benefits and weaknesses of each adversary. While the campaign had its set of misfortunes, it demonstrates the issue of political and military interrelationships in conjunction with the integration of operations strategies and tactics to attain political means.
How Britain and Argentina’s Military Leaders Applied Operational Art during the Campaign/Operation
During the Falklands conflict, the British operational commander utilized the arrangement of operational actions to attain strategic objectives. The British military was certain that its missions were intended to achieve particular national goals. Corbett’s Principle of Maritime Strategy offered the logical underpinning of maritime force operations. It was significant in the development of the British operational approach that was centered on preponderance, force employment, and technology (Olsen, 2012). Whereas preponderance and technology aided the Argentinean forces, the British military employed strategic and operational decision-making processes. The British army targeted to attain operational objectives to implementation of tactical operations in order to achieve the military end state. The commanders not only considered the COG’s of their rivals but identified theirs and safeguarded it. The British managed to obtain the tacit support of the US in terms of logistic support, technological intelligence, and the use of Wideawake airfield situated in Ascension Island, Atlantic Ocean, as an intermediate staging base. These strategic actions directly impacted the development of Britain’s operational approach and the tactical operations of its maritime, land, and air components.
Spulak’s theory of special operations is evident in British special operations forces. While there were variances during the conflict, the British special operations force integrated this concept in order to successfully conquer their rival groups (Redding et.al., 2020). British military personnel were partly determined by the need to position themselves to destroy the adversary while simultaneously avoiding great risks that would have fatal consequences. The force was able to achieve its objectives with the utilization of available assets in a creative manner. It was able to immediately alter its tactics during the combat process by considering how to accommodate threats and tensions. Moreover, the British military leaders integrated an extensive range of capabilities in case of uncertainty. They were able to identify the attributes of their personnel and develop units that could perform particular tasks efficiently. The force was able to strategically build and maintain initiative with its adversary by employing selected goals, integrating precision strikes within operational distance, functioning alongside numerous distributed lines of operation, and defeating the rival’s access capabilities by incorporating craftiness, ambiguity, and deception. Nevertheless, its command and control structure lacked a forward deployed operational commander who would direct the actions of three subordinate tactical commanders, logistic efforts, aerial and special operations.
The Royal Navy ensured the establishment of flexible approaches to operations. Individual initiative, invention, and adaptation were critical to the naval profession. It emphasized various strategic and tactical principles. The culminating events of the campaign constituted the land operations on East Falkland. The British incorporated an operational approach that was centered on cross-domain asymmetry, which they employed against Argentinean forces. The British commanders developed conditions that allowed for cross-domain synergy through the use of asymmetric capabilities of naval power to counter air defenses and air power in the conquering of anti-ship weapons. The British leaders decided that they were capable of moving from San Carlos to Stanley even though they could meet with their adversaries along the way. Nevertheless, they regarded this as a safer approach. The selection was a cautious one though it was the most suitable since the British could move ashore without being easily identified
The Argentinean operational proficiency was based on the logicality of presuppositions implemented at the outset. Adversary capabilities and intentions were considered critical to the institution of a campaign plan. The Argentinean planners’ initial presumption was that Britain would not try to recapture the islands. Its campaign plan did not contain sequels since the force was certain of the success of its operations. However, the Argentineans experienced the implications of operational failure resulting from the lack of sequels, when the British affirmed their intention to reclaim the islands.
Argentina’s defeat can be ascribed to the inadequate incorporation of operational act practices, and failure to institute branches that addressed probable contingencies. Its political objective was to consolidate its sovereignty on the Georgias, South Sandwich, and Malvinas islands (Ashton, 2018). Its plan called for the institution of a military government. Once its force had occupied the Falklands islands, it ordered the immediate departure of other deployed troops. A small military garrison was however, allowed to remain since it was required to assist the military government. The Argentinean military’s doctrine identified that the campaign plan was crucial in accomplishing its strategic objectives, similar to how US doctrine operates; nevertheless, in spite of this emphasis, its doctrine did not include all the critical components of a campaign plan. The few elements of the Argentinean military campaign plan imply either an incomplete comprehension of demands of the conduct of operational art or the complex nature of the campaign plan. It did not incorporate operational concepts such as lines of operations, centers of gravity, and culminating points in its manual.
Both nations employed defeat mechanisms. In a joint operation, the British units enforced the Argentinean garrison to surrender. Simultaneously, the conflict in the Maritime Exclusion Zone (MEZ) intensified when the Argentinean navy deployed its task forces with the intent of destroying the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers. The Argentinean Marines and special operations forces seized the Port Stanley and overpowered the Royal Marine detachment on the island. After a brief engagement between the rivals, the Argentinean Marines attacked South Georgia and occupied Grykiven. As Argentina reinforced its troops and stockpiled its supplies on the Falkland Islands, the British Government was responsive by deploying its forces and staging additional units with the intent of recapturing the islands. It resorted to forcefully evicting the Argentinean forces and reclaiming the Falkland Islands.
How Britain and Argentina’s Military Leaders Understood The Operational Environment
The three most influential Argentinean leaders consented that instigating a war in the Falkland Islands would be a national priority. President Galtieri affirmed that the successful attack of the islands would facilitate his control of the nation and the government; Brigadier General Lami Dozo perceived the conflict as a prerequisite for the continuation of Junta’s power structure and Admiral Anaya presumed that a military conquest in the islands would justify the period he spent planning for the warfare (Stransky, 2011). The commanders’ orders were unrealistic since they failed to identify that their forces were unable to secure all the landing bases and could not maneuver against the British who were coming through Port Stanley. The Argentinean force lacked sufficient mobility, supplies and training. The fact that this force presumed that they were in a position of succeeding prompted their inadequate preparation. The commanders failed to address center of gravity in the initial campaign. Although later, they identified Port Stanley as a friendly center of gravity. The adversary’s sources of strength would allow the Argentinean leaders to target their efforts effectively. Tactical limitations such as the lack of air superiority prevented the Argentineans from achieving operational objectives. The air superiority of the British Harrier aircraft indicated that the Argentineans were unable to select their targets. Hence they had to engage whichever target they could access. Sustainment efforts were originally not a challenge because Falklands’ initial capture was enabled due to the availability of logistical assets. Nevertheless, it became a concern in subsequent operations. The Argentinean leaders encountered considerable sustainment constraints through the process because the crucial logistical actions that would have facilitated the managing of contingencies that would arise were not considered. The leader posted reinforcements to the Falkland Islands without determining whether they could be sustained or were well- equipped.
The British commanders were aware of the operational environment. They determined the methods and tactics that would be employed and advised on the logistical limitations and required support. They regularly updated the personnel, and this enabled effective planning. In turn, the force could plan for resources and tasks to be achieved. Resource availability promoted the sequencing of tasks. The British commanders accomplished their goals without compromising political objectives (Brewer, 2019). Initially, the context appeared to favor the Argentineans. Nonetheless, the British military leaders rapidly presumed the central role of naval power in subsequent operations. The necessity of this operational concept alongside the procurement of necessary logistical supplies enabled the achievement of operational objectives. The politicians and military planners decided that naval projection was essential to invade the islands successfully. The theater overall commander, General Moore, maintained an operational concept, managed tactical actions and visited units to assess their abilities. Commanders were able to integrate assessment processes and employ decision-making. In the case of important issues, the commanders would be notified to determine how specific objectives would be addressed. Operational objectives would be assessed in order to determine how the required conditions should be established to promote the achievement of national strategic objectives. The commanders ensured the integration of the sustainment and deployment concepts. Apart from ensuring the adequacy of personnel services and logistics, the commanders ensured that disposition plans supported the commanders’ organizing abilities. They ensured that the available resources were designated appropriately to perform decisive operations. The deployment concept was utilized to assert the sustainment requirements.
Conclusively, the Falklands conflict demonstrates the incorporation of operational art in contingency activities. The campaign was characterized by conflict between the British and Argentinean troops. It affirmed the essence of invention and planning. Even though the British did not fully utilize joint operations, its strategic plan and use of technologies were significant in its successful operations.
Ashton, N. (2018). Falklands War (1982). The Encyclopedia of Diplomacy, 1-4.
Brewer, M. J. M. (2019). The Art of Expeditionary Warfare. Marine Corps Gazette.
Olsen, P. A. (2012). Operation Corporate: Operational Art and Implications for the Joint Operational Access Concept. ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES.
Redding, R., Beier-Pedrazzi, A., Salvia, G., Mitchell, S., & George, J. (2020). War in the Falklands: Case Studies in British Special Operations. Special Operations Journal, 6(1), 18-34.
Stransky, S. G. (2011). Re-Examining the Falkland Islands War: The Necessity for Multi-Level Deterrence in Preventing Wars of Aggression. Ga. J. Int’l & Comp. L., 40, 4
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