In late March 1982, a naval task force departed the shores of Argentina under the pretense of participating in an exercise with Uruguay. Days later it arrived offshore of the Falkland Islands, an archipelago in the South Atlantic with 1,850 inhabitants fiercely loyal to Britain. Falklanders went to bed the night of April 1 as free people. They awoke the next morning to sounds of gunfire as Argentine marines stormed across beaches, incarcerated the governor and the small Royal Marine garrison, declared a new government, and renamed the islands Malvinas. That afternoon, other Argentines overcame a small British force on South Georgia, 900 miles further east, and laid claim to it as well.
It was anything but a late April Fools’ Day joke. The invasion was the culmination of years of frustration over sovereignty of these islands and a series of bellicose activities in more recent months. The British government, however, did not connect dots leading to the invasion. And even when it became clear that Argentines were en route to invade, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s closest advisors doubted British ability to retake the islands. Some thought it would take five months just to mount a sufficient force. But a lone admiral swayed the Iron Lady to take action, and what followed became a unique chapter in military history. Never had a nation assembled and deployed forces so quickly to fight a war so far away in an area where it had so little wherewithal. Britain was not ready for this war but still won.
Understanding challenges the British faced on the way to victory could not be more relevant today as the U.S. Department of Defense refocuses, as stated in the most recent Defense Strategic Guidance, on “its ability to project power in areas in which our access and freedom to operate are challenged…”Read more HERE