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The Falklands War

UK Falklands War History

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#1 Talkie Toaster

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 05:43 PM

A generation has grown up since the war fought between the Argentina and Great Britain for possession of South Georgia, the Falkland Isles and Dependencies, known to the Argentina as les Malvinas. It began with the Argentine invasion of East Falkland and South Georgia on the 2nd April, 1982 and ended with the surrender of all their forces in the theatre on the 14th of June, 1982.

the defining feature was that it was one that Britain should have lost. Throughout the conflict the odds were stacked heavily against the British forces recovering the islands before the South Atlantic winter forced an abandonment of the campaign. Small variations in the conduct of the campaign could well have resulted in vastly different outcomes. Even in the light of all the information now available the British campaign remains an extraordinary triumph over natural and man-made obstacles; a magnificent feat of arms. It has since suited a range of commentators to portray the outcome as a forgone conclusion. It demeans both sides to portray the Argentine troops as sheep to the slaughter: they fought well when they were properly led- and sometimes when they were not.

I’ve heard several explanations for the causes of the war- the general one was that the invasion was a expression of deeply felt Argentine outrage at the British ‘usurpation’ of Argentine sovereignty over the islands in 1833; that the USA tried to act as an honest broker; and that Britain acted to uphold sacred principles enshrined in the Charter of the UN. Since reading Hugh Bicheno’s excellent book Razor’s Edge; I’ve come to the point of view that the deepest causes of the war were guilt, complicity and shame: a desire by the Argentine military to expiate their guilt for the ‘Dirty War’ they had waged against insurgents as a means to affirm their right to rule; US complicity in Argentina’s attempt to export its infamous means of combating subversion; and the shame of a Britain forced to look in the mirror held up by a ‘tin-pot dictator’, to see how negligible she had become in the eyes of others.

The British campaign was fought very specifically to return the islands to the form of government desired by their inhabitants, and the prosperous tranquillity enjoyed by that small community today confirms the wisdom of that choice. However it came about, in the end it was an honourable deed to rescue the Falkland Islanders from tyranny and, consequently, to reverse the policy of malicious neglect that had for so long threatened their survival.
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#2 offworlder

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 06:01 PM

I remember seeing news bytes during that time ~ recently I read Max's book on the whole thing; he's a famous journalist and author who embedded with a battalion going in with the assault and used his notes to detail the Goose Green and other parts of the ordeal .... I bet those officers and men who were killed can look down here and tell us just how 'sheep' those Argentine defenders were ~ yes officers too, a battalion cmdr was killed by an opposing enemy rifleman in the Goose Green assault. Max did a great job detailing so many things in that affair that we never saw in those many flimsy news bytes of those times. Including just how 'sheep' those Skyhawk pilots were when they attacked the Brit ships, and how heroic those Brit ship gunners were when some of their new anti-air missile systems didn't work and they had to shoot down attackers with sight guns.
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#3 Sinister Dexter

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 07:53 PM

A lot of people ask “Why did we fight? Why did we send our solders to die to regain an inhospitable speck of land on the far side of the globe?”

The answer is simple: the people who lived there were and are still British subjects, and no government worthy of the name can stand by while its citizens are oppressed by a foreign dictatorship. A lot of people may say that Thatcher did it to win the next election, but truth be told, she did it because it was what she had already been elected to do. You want to run a country, you have to be willing to send your military into harms way, even when it may not seem like the smartest thing to do.

We did what the English always do: we stood and fought, regardless of the cost, because if we didn't then everything this country stands for and believes in would be for nothing. We gained the Falklands through conquest, and have paid for them in blood. The people who live there consider themselves to be English, and that is perhaps the best reason to continue to defend them.

The solders, sailors and marines who gave their lives to retake the islands went down there because they believed that the right of the islanders to remain under British rule, if that is what they wanted, was a cause worth dying for. It's true that we won against all the odds: on paper, there seems no way that we could fight a war so far from home, with only one friendly base of operation (Ascension Island) between there and home, against an enemy who were operating in their own back garden.

We had help from the Americans (who's then Secretary of Defence green-lighted any requests for equipment we made, possible without the approval of his President) and hindrance from the French (who continued to try and sell Exocet missiles to Argentina after we'd started loosing ships to them, until MI6 stopped them).

But we did win, and the islanders are British: Argentina can howl at the wind about the islands being theirs, and may try all the dirty tricks they can think of (including trying to bribe the inhabitants), but they will remain British as long as that is their wish.
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#4 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 10:05 PM

View PostSinister Dexter, on Apr 7 2007, 08:53 PM, said:

We had help from the Americans (who's then Secretary of Defence green-lighted any requests for equipment we made, possible without the approval of his President) and hindrance from the French (who continued to try and sell Exocet missiles to Argentina after we'd started loosing ships to them, until MI6 stopped them).

I still wish we had done more to help.  One of our carriers or even a Tico or two could have prevented a lot of British deaths.  That said I suspect from a national standpoint it was something Britain had to do alone to prove they could do it.
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#5 Julianus

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 11:34 PM

View PostTalkie Toaster, on Apr 7 2007, 10:43 PM, said:

...The British campaign was fought very specifically to return the islands to the form of government desired by their inhabitants, and the prosperous tranquillity enjoyed by that small community today confirms the wisdom of that choice. However it came about, in the end it was an honourable deed to rescue the Falkland Islanders from tyranny and, consequently, to reverse the policy of malicious neglect that had for so long threatened their survival.
Well said! And (if I remember the history correctly) the Argentine defeat probably led directly to the fall of the Argentine military regime responsible for the horrors of the "dirty war."
It is good to read how well the islanders are doing these days, too.

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#6 Talkie Toaster

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 01:01 PM

View PostSinister Dexter, on Apr 8 2007, 01:53 AM, said:

A lot of people ask “Why did we fight? Why did we send our solders to die to regain an inhospitable speck of land on the far side of the globe?”

The answer is simple: the people who lived there were and are still British subjects, and no government worthy of the name can stand by while its citizens are oppressed by a foreign dictatorship. A lot of people may say that Thatcher did it to win the next election, but truth be told, she did it because it was what she had already been elected to do. You want to run a country, you have to be willing to send your military into harms way, even when it may not seem like the smartest thing to do.

I've always been un-impressed with the argument that Thatcher fought the war to win the next election. The fact is that, outright catastrophes aside, British voters generally attach little importance to foreign affairs and the Falklands War merely coincided with a jump in a government popularity following Howe's 1982 budget- it represented a sharp break with the pesimistic expectation that had informed public policy for a generation. The electoral facts are instructive- the Tories won 339 seats with 44 per cent of the popular vote in 1979 and 397 seats with 42 per cent in 1984. The respective statistics for Labour are 268 seats with 37 per cent of the vote in 1979 and 209 with 28 per cent in 1983. The picture is one of collapsing Labour support- not of a Tory surge.

The "British disease" hung over the UK like a toxic cloud at the time. Somewhat naturally the rest of the world accepted the British at their own poor estimation. The Argentine military regime fully beleived, with justification, that Britain was morally incapable of reacting in the way that they did. But the British political class was not quite as bereft of "virtus" as those who knew it well judged it to be. Thatcher risked a defeat that would have led to the fall of her government and the electoral eclipse of her party, when standard Whitehall operating procedure was to scuttle- proclaiming a victory for common sense and moderation all the while.

Quote

We did what the English always do: we stood and fought, regardless of the cost, because if we didn't then everything this country stands for and believes in would be for nothing. We gained the Falklands through conquest, and have paid for them in blood. The people who live there consider themselves to be English, and that is perhaps the best reason to continue to defend them.

I'm sure this wasn't intentional on your part but this is a major pet peeve of mine. It was a British army, a British navy and a British airforce who fought for British subjects and British territory- England represents only one part of the Union. The Welsh Guards had a horrific war and the Scots Guards had a very hard battle at Tumbledown- the least their sacrifice deserves is the correct terminology.

Sadly, I also have to disagree with you as regards the British always standing up and fighting, no matter the cost. I'm sure there were quite a few who would have happily turned the Kelpers over to a load of "f*cking Fascists" if it meant getting rid of Thatcher.

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The solders, sailors and marines who gave their lives to retake the islands went down there because they believed that the right of the islanders to remain under British rule, if that is what they wanted, was a cause worth dying for. It's true that we won against all the odds: on paper, there seems no way that we could fight a war so far from home, with only one friendly base of operation (Ascension Island) between there and home, against an enemy who were operating in their own back garden.

Indeed- I'm sure that the lack of contingency planning, basic military threat assessment and essential equipment woudl have doomed any force not as wearily resigned to 'skilled improvisation' as the British. The ability of the armed forces to make do with what they had was the whole crux of the campaign. The Argentines had not considered the possibility that they might have to fight, and by creating a situation that would award victory to whoever 'muddled through' to best effect, they surrendered the initiative to the world's premier practitioners of the art. Buenos Aires never fully recovered from suprise- boardering on disbelief- that the British were prepared to do battle against a superior number of troops on the Argentine doorstep: and thereby hangs a salutary tale of the difference between paper and real military strength.


CJ Aegis said:

I still wish we had done more to help. One of our carriers or even a Tico or two could have prevented a lot of British deaths. That said I suspect from a national standpoint it was something Britain had to do alone to prove they could do it.

A self-confident USA would have handled the Falklands crisis more decisively and would have emerged with greater credit- but when one reviews the widespread international complicity in the criminal Argentine regime, it is impossible to select US policy for particular blame. In the final analysis the greatest failings were those of the British- the diplomatic service mislead America in general and Reagen in particular about the will to fight, and the defence cuts started by Labour bare ultimate blame for the preventable British deaths; not only did it mean that the RN had to rely on "through deck crusiers" rather than a proper carrier; but for the saving of only one per cent of the total cost, the first ten Type 42 air defence destroyers were built so short and narrow that they not only had the worst sea-keeping qualities and least functional operations area of any post-war Royal Navy warship. Weight had been shaved to the point where they could not even mount Sea Wolf without sacrificing the ship's boats or a major rebuild. The loss of Sheffield and Coventry were the direct result of this penny pinching; and it was only by sheer good luck that a third ship of the class did not join the list on 12 May.

Once the chips were down however the US proved Britain's greatest ally during this period. Without US logistical support the task force would never have progressed beyond Ascension Island, the US quickly supplied the RN and RAF with the latest model of the Sidewinder from its own stock, and Caspar Weinberger even offered the use of a US navy aircraft carrier should one of the two in the Task Froce be disabled. By contrast, after an obligatory (by treaty) initial show of solidarity, Belgium, Italy and Ireland did all they could to help Argentina and hinder Britain. And, if France had been such a great ally, I wonder why the SIS was obliged to mount a major interdictment effort and to spend millions to buy up air-launched Exocets on the secondary market.
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#7 MuseZack

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 04:46 PM

I think of the Falklands as teaching a lot of important lessons in naval warfare that were unfortunately ignored for the most part.  Namely, that in the age of cheap antiship missiles, land-based aircraft, and quiet submarines, the day of the surface warship is nearly over.  A few more Exocets (with warheads that actually detonated!) and better bomb fuses in the Argentine arsenal, and the war could very well have ended in a catastrophic loss for the British at sea.  

And I don't know where the France bashing comes from (other than the British propensity for it), given that Sir John Nott (the defense minister during the period) called France Britain's greatest ally in the conflict, and contrasted Mitterand's behind-the scenes help with the Reagan administration pressuring Thatcher into accepting a negotiated settlement with Galtieri.  

From the not-exactly pro-France Daily Telegraph:

"In so many ways Mitterrand and the French were our greatest allies," Sir John says. As soon as the conflict began, France made available to Britain Super-Etendard and Mirage aircraft - which it had supplied to Argentina - so Harrier pilots could train against them.

The French gave Britain information on the Exocet - which sank the Sheffield and Atlantic Conveyor - showing how to tamper with it.

"A remarkable worldwide operation then ensued to prevent further Exocets being bought by Argentina," Sir John says.

"I authorised our agents to pose as bona fide purchasers of equipment on the international market, ensuring that we outbid the Argentinians, and other agents identified Exocet missiles in markets and rendered them inoperable."

...
He contrasts the French attitude with America's attempts to find a face-saving deal for President Galtieri, the Argentine dictator."For all Margaret Thatcher's friendship with Ronald Reagan, he remained a West Coast American looking south to Latin America and west to the Pacific. Sometimes I wondered if he even knew or cared where Europe was."

...

"There was incredible pressure from the White House and the State Department to negotiate. It was hugely damaging," Sir John told The Telegraph. "They couldn't understand that to us any negotiated settlement would have seemed like a defeat."


France also cancelled a sale of Exocets to Peru for fear that they'd get diverted to Argentina.
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#8 Sinister Dexter

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 05:55 PM

View PostMuseZack, on Apr 8 2007, 10:46 PM, said:

with the Reagan administration pressuring Thatcher into accepting a negotiated settlement with Galtieri.
That's recently proven to be both true and false: while some senior members of the Reagan administration (mainly their Ambassador to the UN) wanted a peacefully resolution to the situation, there were others that backed to the hilt the concept of a military end to Argentinian occupation. What happened was that the Sectary of Defence told the Pentagon to fast-track any and all sales of arms and equipment to the UK, going as far as to tell them to hand over the then newly developed Stinger air-to-air/ground-to-air missile before it reached front line US forces.

These let the sub-sonic Harrier target and destroy the supersonic French-built Mirage fighters flown by the Argentinian air force.

While France may have stopped direct sales of Exocet to Argentina, they did nothing to stop third-parties selling them on. If MI6 had failed to stop this trade, then plan B was to crash-land a Hercules transport, flown by a volunteer RAF crew and fully loaded with volunteers from the SAS onto the airfield where the Exocet equipped jets were flown from. The plan was to disable the runway by blowing the Hercules once everyone was out, then cause as much damage as they could to the rest of the base before trying to make it to a pick up point for a helicopter extraction.

That said, it was considered the kind of mission where you let them what medal you'd like to be awarded posthumously before you go...

Edited by Sinister Dexter, 08 April 2007 - 05:55 PM.

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#9 Talkie Toaster

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 05:59 PM

View PostMuseZack, on Apr 8 2007, 10:46 PM, said:

I think of the Falklands as teaching a lot of important lessons in naval warfare that were unfortunately ignored for the most part.  Namely, that in the age of cheap antiship missiles, land-based aircraft, and quiet submarines, the day of the surface warship is nearly over.  A few more Exocets (with warheads that actually detonated!) and better bomb fuses in the Argentine arsenal, and the war could very well have ended in a catastrophic loss for the British at sea.
  

While I agree with the vulnerability of surface ships in modern war I doubt they'll be going anywhere soon- at least, not until submarines can do everything surface vessels can. Similar reasons have been given that tanks are obsolete on the modern battlefield for decadesl but they're still around too.

Of course, I suspect the British vessels might have had a much better time of it had they been universally equipped with Sea Dart and point defence guns. The presence of a sizable carrier, such as the cancelled CVA-01, would have made a major difference as well as the British would not have been forced to fight a war of attrition in San Carlos Water (as the Argentines very quickly became tired of impaling themselves on Sea Dart in more open waters).

Quote

And I don't know where the France bashing comes from (other than the British propensity for it),

I don't dispute that France provided some help to Britain during the conflict- I just object to the position taken by many that France was Britain's greatest ally during the Falklands War- it wasn't. I will, however, happily take to opportunity to bash Belgium, who not only halted delivery of artillery ammunition to Britain, but even more cheekily continued to honour the Barbie contracts with Argentina.

Quote

given that Sir John Nott (the defense minister during the period) called France Britain's greatest ally in the conflict, and contrasted Mitterand's behind-the scenes help with the Reagan administration pressuring Thatcher into accepting a negotiated settlement with Galtieri.


Breathtaking. Without US support the operation wouldn't have been possible.

Quote

From the not-exactly pro-France Daily Telegraph:

"In so many ways Mitterrand and the French were our greatest allies," Sir John says. As soon as the conflict began, France made available to Britain Super-Etendard and Mirage aircraft - which it had supplied to Argentina - so Harrier pilots could train against them.

The US supplied Britain with the latest AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles; which proved remarkably effective at shoorting down the Super-Etendards and Mirage aircraft that the French had supplied to Argentina.

Quote

The French gave Britain information on the Exocet - which sank the Sheffield and Atlantic Conveyor - showing how to tamper with it.

The British armed forces used Exocet missiles at the time. If they needed information from the French on how they worked then this is a stunning admission of incompetence by Nott about the armed forces and the MoD.

Quote

"A remarkable worldwide operation then ensued to prevent further Exocets being bought by Argentina," Sir John says.

"I authorised our agents to pose as bona fide purchasers of equipment on the international market, ensuring that we outbid the Argentinians, and other agents identified Exocet missiles in markets and rendered them inoperable."

Sorry, I don't understand how the SIS being obliged to mount a major interdictment effort and to spend millions to buy Exocets is proof of being Britain's greatest ally.

Quote

...
He contrasts the French attitude with America's attempts to find a face-saving deal for President Galtieri, the Argentine dictator."For all Margaret Thatcher's friendship with Ronald Reagan, he remained a West Coast American looking south to Latin America and west to the Pacific. Sometimes I wondered if he even knew or cared where Europe was."

...

"There was incredible pressure from the White House and the State Department to negotiate. It was hugely damaging," Sir John told The Telegraph. "They couldn't understand that to us any negotiated settlement would have seemed like a defeat."


France also cancelled a sale of Exocets to Peru for fear that they'd get diverted to Argentina.

US diplomatic efforts have to be viewed in the context of the time- and Nott's characterization of Reagen is pretty far off the mark. The fact is that on the eve of the war Reagan personally warned Galtieri that if it came to war the USA would support Britain. It is true that the State Department tried to save face by subverting Thatcher's determination to settle for nothing less than a complete and unconditional Argentine withdrawal. However, British diplomats did exactally the same thing- encouraged by Pym*, British ambassadors lobbied European premiers to urge compromise on her. The piece de resistance of this was Pym's initiative to 'internationalize' the islands, which the State Department persuaded Reagen to espouse publically on 3 June. Led to believe that Thathcer wanted him to provide political cover for a climbdown, Reagan was aghast when she vehemently rejected his inititaitve. It was not US diplomacy's finest hour. But the British FCO deserves more blame; for it was their policy of appeasment that misled not only the Argentines but also the Americans into believing Britain would scuttle.

Despite what Nott says, Britain enjoyed very strong support from other sections on the government- most importantly from Defence Secretary Caspar Weinberger; who felt it unnecessary to obtain formal presidental approval before authorizing full support for the British.** This support was absolutely vital in Britain's successful prosecution of the war, as Nott should well know.

*Who was appointed Foreign Secretary to replace Lord Carrington- as far as I know Carrington is the last Cabinet Minister ever to honour the principle of responibility for his department by resigning.

**Which is probably why Caspar recieved a post-war KCB, and John did Nott***, although he was knighted later

***Sorry
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#10 MuseZack

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 06:09 PM

^^^

Nott gives credit to Weinberger in his book.

`The United States,' he writes in his chapter `Landing and Victory', `did not wish to choose between Britain, their principal Nato ally in Europe, and their interests in Latin America. Apart from Weinberger and the Pentagon, the Americans were very, very far from being on our side.'

At that time the secretary of state, General Alexander Haig, was, with Margaret Thatcher's grudging acquiescence but little more, engaged in shuttle diplomacy to try to find a compromise settlement acceptable to Britain and Argentina, averting conflict.

`The Haig-led negotiations were interminable....The state department, the White House security staff, led by Judge Clark, and Reagan himself were never wholly committed to our case, although they came out publicly in our support on 30 April. Even thereafter the Americans gave every assistance to the Peruvians, the United Nations, and every other mediator - Brazilians, Mexicans and the rest - to bring about a negotiated settlement on terms which would have been seen as a surrender by political, press and public opinion in the United Kingdom.

`In the closing stages, when we had already lost many ships and men and were already safely back on the Falkland Islands, the Americans leant heavily on us, backed up by telephone calls from Reagan to Thatcher, to find some way of saving Galtieri's face...only Mitterrand and the French remained staunch allies to the end.'
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#11 Talkie Toaster

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 06:10 PM

View PostSinister Dexter, on Apr 8 2007, 11:55 PM, said:

View PostMuseZack, on Apr 8 2007, 10:46 PM, said:

with the Reagan administration pressuring Thatcher into accepting a negotiated settlement with Galtieri.
That's recently proven to be both true and false: while some senior members of the Reagan administration (mainly their Ambassador to the UN) wanted a peacefully resolution to the situation, there were others that backed to the hilt the concept of a military end to Argentinian occupation.

Jeane Kirkpatrick? She gave some really impressive displays of "How to not conduct diplomacy" during this time, despite her good intentions.

Edited by Talkie Toaster, 08 April 2007 - 06:11 PM.

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#12 Sinister Dexter

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 06:29 PM

View PostTalkie Toaster, on Apr 9 2007, 12:10 AM, said:

Jeane Kirkpatrick? She gave some really impressive displays of "How to not conduct diplomacy" during this time, despite her good intentions.
Yeah: never let a diplomat think that they can tell your ally what to do. Kirkpatrick thought that all she had to do was whistle, and Maggie would dance to her tune. Maybe she truly thought that a peaceful end was best, but you know what they say about good intentions and the road to hell.

Maggie reputably asked the American Ambassador-at-Large “Do you think that God put Margaret Thatcher on this Earth to let English subjects suffer under the oppression of a foreign dictatorship?” As I've said before, for all her faults, Maggie had a pair of big brass ones.

It comes down to this: someone in Washington (mainly Weinberger) remembered that when the sh*t hits the fan, the UK has their back. Who do they go to first when they want support from some international action? Argentina? France? Germany?
Rommie: I just want a day where I can build missiles and tweak fire control in peace
Beka: We need to find you a hobby
Rommie: That IS my hobby

Daniel: She's Hathor, the goddess of fertility, inebriety, and music
Jack: Sex, drugs and rock & roll?

Moist Von Lipvig: Oh, all right. Of course I accept as a natural born criminal, habitual liar, fraudster and totally untrustworthy perverted genius
Lord Vetinari: Capital! Welcome to government service!

Mary Raven: ....your house smells weird
Dr Vukovic: It smells of SCIENCE!

Wooster: Why is it, do you think, Jeeves, that the thought of the "little thing" my Aunt Dahlia wants me to do for her fills me with a nameless foreboding?
Jeeves: Experience, sir?

#13 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 06:32 PM

Quote

Talkie: A self-confident USA would have handled the Falklands crisis more decisively and would have emerged with greater credit- but when one reviews the widespread international complicity in the criminal Argentine regime, it is impossible to select US policy for particular blame.
Most of the lack of action on the part of the US could be traced to fears that siding with Britain openly would result in South America swinging more openly to the Soviet Sphere.  Along with costing the US what currency it had in South America.  My gut though on the situation says while I understand the fears you stick close to your friends in a conflict.  That said Britain doing it alone on the battlefield may have cost them more lives but in the long term it may have saved them some.  It showed the world that Britain was still a power that could stand on her own and defend her interest without having to go to the US.  A US CVBG might have been able to end the thing quickly and wipe out the Argentinian military on the Islands and their Air Force on the continent but it would have been intercepted as Britain having to go to the US for the muscle to do the job.  

Quote

MuseZack: I think of the Falklands as teaching a lot of important lessons in naval warfare that were unfortunately ignored for the most part. Namely, that in the age of cheap antiship missiles, land-based aircraft, and quiet submarines, the day of the surface warship is nearly over. A few more Exocets (with warheads that actually detonated!) and better bomb fuses in the Argentine arsenal, and the war could very well have ended in a catastrophic loss for the British at sea.
I gotta totally disagree with the assessment that surface warships are somehow obsolete.  You have to remember that the Sea Dart system on the British Typer 42s isn't the most capable air defense system out there especialy against sea skimmers.  Need I remind you though that the only combat kill of a missile against a missile was a Sea Dart launched from HMS Gloucester in defense of the USS Missouri against an Iraqi Silkworm.  Some people suspect that some of the problems had to do with the fact that at least in the case of Sheffield there may have been interference to the ESM systems from communications gear that was operating.  On top of that the Type 42s were equipped with an outdated radar because the new sets were not ready.  They had no CIWS system like Phalanx but rather only had an extremely outdated gun system that would be of dubious use against even aircraft much less missiles.  The other ships sunk or hit were worse off in many cases being equipped with SeaCat which was one of the very early British shipboard SAMs deployed in the 1960s.  You might as well put a World War II Essex Class carrier up against a Ticonderoga Class Cruiser then declare modern carriers obsolete when the entire airwing is shot down and the carrier is sunk by Harpoons.  The British surface ships had outdated, inadequate, or poorly designed equipment in just about every case.  If they had Sea Dart on all their ships, modern radar, and a good CIWS system they would have probably done much better.

If the US had sent a Ticonderoga Class Cruiser with SM-2s and the Aegis System in with the British taskforce it would have been a one side slaughter.  In that case Argentina would have been dealing with a state of the art powerful radar which could control the entire battle space around it. Along with more advanced missiles backed by a combat system that could engage more targets and a ship that had a rugged CIWS capability as a last resort.  They would have been dealing with a ship and system designed to deal with Soviet missile spam in the North Atlantic. If you toss in a E-2 Hawkeye or E-3 Sentry operating overhead then they would have seen the aircraft coming at them and been able to setup all types of nasty surprises such as SAM trips by getting the cruiser into the path of the strike aircraft undetected.  If the British had better fighters such as the F-14 then the Argentinean strike aircraft never would have gotten within range of the SAM systems in the first place.  

The Falklands War was not a case of the failure of the surface ship as a weapon.  It was a case of what happens when you let some liberals of a certain mindset handle defense policy for several years.  You end up with ships that are so poorly designed that they are a kludge of systems that don't work well together, that are outdated, and on top of all that the ships handle poorly.  You also end up with a military that can't even do combined arms properly anymore and combined arms is how we fight wars today.  You have an AWACs overhead to detect and track the incoming strike, you have long range fighters to hit them before they can launch their missiles, and you have a good solid well designed AAW ship that can deal with dozens of incoming missiles at once.  So the moral of the story is use combined arms and you will be fine as long as you keep certain people of certain political persuasions VERY FAR away from your defense spending.  Especially when you consider that Carter tried to kill the Aegis Combat System on our side of the Atlantic.

Edited by CJ AEGIS, 08 April 2007 - 06:33 PM.

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#14 tennyson

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 06:49 PM

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What happened was that the Sectary of Defence told the Pentagon to fast-track any and all sales of arms and equipment to the UK, going as far as to tell them to hand over the then newly developed Stinger air-to-air/ground-to-air missile before it reached front line US forces.

These let the sub-sonic Harrier target and destroy the supersonic French-built Mirage fighters flown by the Argentinian air force.

That was the AIM-9L Sidewinder. The Stinger has never been mounted on anyone's Harriers and has never been fitted to an aircraft in anything but tests. Those aircraft were all helicopters like the  AH-64 Apache. The standard fit for the Sea Harrier was two dual launch rails with AIM-9L Sidewinder. They were an all-aspect missile compared to Argetina's earlier Matra Magics that was limited to tail chase engagements.
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#15 Sinister Dexter

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Posted 08 April 2007 - 06:57 PM

View Posttennyson, on Apr 9 2007, 12:49 AM, said:

Quote

What happened was that the Sectary of Defence told the Pentagon to fast-track any and all sales of arms and equipment to the UK, going as far as to tell them to hand over the then newly developed Stinger air-to-air/ground-to-air missile before it reached front line US forces.

These let the sub-sonic Harrier target and destroy the supersonic French-built Mirage fighters flown by the Argentinian air force.

That was the AIM-9L Sidewinder. The Stinger has never been mounted on anyone's Harriers and has never been fitted to an aircraft in anything but tests. Those aircraft were all helicopters like the  AH-64 Apache. The standard fit for the Sea Harrier was two dual launch rails with AIM-9L Sidewinder. They were an all-aspect missile compared to Argetina's earlier Matra Magics that was limited to tail chase engagements.
My bad on that, but they were sent Sting ground-to-air missiles: they used them to try and shoot down Argentinian  fighter-bombers over San Carlos.
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#16 Kosh

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 09:46 AM

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While I agree with the vulnerability of surface ships in modern war I doubt they'll be going anywhere soon- at least

New designs are on the way, and ships will be very viable again. If you can't see them, you can't hit them with anything.

Edited by Kosh, 09 April 2007 - 03:30 PM.

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#17 CJ AEGIS

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 06:08 PM

View PostKosh, on Apr 9 2007, 10:46 AM, said:

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While I agree with the vulnerability of surface ships in modern war I doubt they'll be going anywhere soon- at least
New designs are on the way, and ships will be very viable again. If you can't see them, you can't hit them with anything.
They've been viable right along.  The British designs during the Falklands war were pretty much a kludge of bad ideas, old technology, and things that didn't work as advertised.  If you turned a Ticonderoga or Arleigh Burke loose during the Falklands War people would instead be talking about how air power got stomped in the war.
"History has proven too often and too recently that the nation which relaxes its defenses invites attack."
        -Fleet Admiral Nimitz
"Their sailors say they should have flight pay and sub pay both -- they're in the air half the time, under the water the other half""
        - Ernie Pyle: Aboard a DE

#18 Sinister Dexter

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 06:47 PM

The ship's we had back then were built on the outdated philosophy of “survive the worst they can throw at you”: our new ships have been built with the Goalkeeper Anti-Missile System (equivalent to the US Phalanx Close-In-Weapons-System), and most of our older ships have been re-fitted with it.

Add to that, some of our ships couldn't use their air-defence radar at the same time as their satellite communications system: the Sheffield was hit because her captain was talking to the Admiralty in London when the Exocet was fired at her.
Rommie: I just want a day where I can build missiles and tweak fire control in peace
Beka: We need to find you a hobby
Rommie: That IS my hobby

Daniel: She's Hathor, the goddess of fertility, inebriety, and music
Jack: Sex, drugs and rock & roll?

Moist Von Lipvig: Oh, all right. Of course I accept as a natural born criminal, habitual liar, fraudster and totally untrustworthy perverted genius
Lord Vetinari: Capital! Welcome to government service!

Mary Raven: ....your house smells weird
Dr Vukovic: It smells of SCIENCE!

Wooster: Why is it, do you think, Jeeves, that the thought of the "little thing" my Aunt Dahlia wants me to do for her fills me with a nameless foreboding?
Jeeves: Experience, sir?

#19 MuseZack

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 06:53 PM

View PostCJ AEGIS, on Apr 9 2007, 11:08 PM, said:

View PostKosh, on Apr 9 2007, 10:46 AM, said:

Quote

While I agree with the vulnerability of surface ships in modern war I doubt they'll be going anywhere soon- at least
New designs are on the way, and ships will be very viable again. If you can't see them, you can't hit them with anything.
They've been viable right along.  The British designs during the Falklands war were pretty much a kludge of bad ideas, old technology, and things that didn't work as advertised.  If you turned a Ticonderoga or Arleigh Burke loose during the Falklands War people would instead be talking about how air power got stomped in the war.

CJ, have you been watching The Final Countdown or something?  The Ticonderoga class wasn't deployed until 1983 and the Arleigh Burke in 1991, so it would have taken a feat of time travel to have them battling the Argies in the south Atlantic-- and not exactly a fair matchup.  And the one time the Ticonderoga class has actually been in combat (against a bunch of Iranian PT boats, big whoop) it managed to mistakenly blow away a civilian Airbus-- not exactly a ringing endorsement of its abilities.   You really ought to re-evaluate your faith in the magical abilities of the shiny toys you so love to perform in actual combat with the efficiency they show in tests that are designed by the very institutions that have a vested interest in proving how great they are.

Edited by MuseZack, 09 April 2007 - 06:59 PM.

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#20 tennyson

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Posted 09 April 2007 - 09:23 PM

Ticonderoga was launched on April 25, 1981 but wasn't commissioned until January 22 1983 so you do have a valid point.  That being said the defences on a Virginia class cruiser or a Kidd class destroyer were leaps and bounds ahead of what the Type 42 could bring to bear. They had better air search radar even after the Type 42s refit, a double ended missile launch system with 52 Standard SM-2 MRs for the Kidds and more for the Virginias vs the 22 Sea Darts in a single launcher on the Type 42, 2 Phalanx point defence missile systems with 4 12.7mm machine guns each vs the 2 20mm AA guns on the Type 42 and were more liveable than the Type 42s.
The Kidd was in full commission in 1981 and the Virginias had been in service since the late 1970s.
Also,
http://www.fas.org/m.../mk-26-gmls.htm
"Only an idiot would fight a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Idiots would fight a war on twelve fronts."

— Londo, "Ceremonies of Light and Dark" Babylon-5




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