One of the most uttered phrases in recent British Military History is ‘we couldn’t fight the Falklands War again’. In fact, its said so many times, that its become something of a cliche. I get so fed up of reading it so often, that I’ve decided to take a deeper look behind this oft-uttered phrase.
Is it a simple case of ‘yes we could’ or ‘no we couldn’t’. There are many, many aspects to consider. To begin with, there are the many facets of the Royal Navy: air power, amphibious capability, escorts, auxilliaries, submarines, and merchant vessels. Then there is the ground forces to consider, and what the Royal Air Force might be able to provide. All have undergone radical changes since 1982, with more foreseen in the next few years.
And, as in any military history context, we ignore the enemy at our peril. The Argentinian Armed Forces have changed dramatically, as has the Argentinian nation itself. They are no longer ruled by a military dictatorship, and conscription was abolished some years ago. The structure and materiel of the Argentine military has changed considerably too.
One aspect I do not plan on looking at is the politics behind it. I for one have no idea whether Argentina has any plans to re-take the Falkland Islands, I strongly suspect not. But rather, the purpose of this series will be to use the Falklands as a template for a long-range, out-of-area combined operation by British Armed Forces. It just so happens that the Falklands provides the ideal yardstick. Also, I do not wish to examine whether the British Government would have the will and or the finances to launch a task force as in 1982.
My scenario starts from the moment, as in April 1982, when the Prime Minister authorised the Defence Chiefs to put together a task force to retake the Falklands Islands….