Argentinean Defeat in Falklands War
“Poor leadership and inferior technology” – Would these factors explain the Argentinean defeat in the Falklands War of 1982? The Falklands War lasted 74 days and ended with Argentine surrender on 14 June, which returned the islands to British control. The Argentinean troops were superior in number, but despite this, the British forces were able to take over the Falkland Islands. Poor leadership and inferior technology have been suggested to be two of the reasons behind the Argentinean defeat, and in this essay I aim to discuss these aspects, and determine if they can explain the Argentinean defeat in the Falklands War of 1982.
Firstly, I aim to discuss aspects in favor of the argument, beginning with the British superiority, respective Argentinean inferiority, regarding weapons and material. After the British ships had been sent to the Falkland Islands, they circulated around the Islands and were ordered to attack any Argentinean ship entering a specific area several miles outside the Islands. Argentinean ships approached both north and south, but a British submarine followed and was therefore able to track the Argentinean ship coming from south.
The Argentinean ships were superior in number, although, the British ships were superior in technology, and combined with a little luck, it was possible for them to sink several ships, including Argentina’s most powerful warship General Belgrano. This marked the end of the naval war in the Falklands as the Argentinean ships withdrew. Argentina suffered from a severe economic crisis as a result of the “dirty war” when the ruling military Junta killed about 30 000 of anyone that could be regarded as opposition, mostly people with a left side ideology.
They crippled from foreign debt, which meant that they couldn’t spend a great amount of money on new high technological weapons, as oppose to England who received practical support from the US. Although, Argentina seemed to have a large advantage in air power at the beginning of the conflict, but was never able to use its large numbers of fighter-bombers to establish control of the air space over the Falklands. Instead, twenty British Sea Harriers flying round the clock effectively knocked the Argentine Air Force out of the sky in the first two weeks of the shooting war.
Each Argentine aircraft on the other hand, had to line up over the combat zone, quickly dump its bombs and missiles, perhaps turn around once for a strafing run, and then head back to home base, or run the risk of running out of fuel. This left the Argentine craft at an enormous disadvantage in pursuing the British Sea Harriers, in picking better targets, in avoiding missiles. As a result, the Argentines lost a large percentage of its trained fighter pilots, which is much more difficult to replace than the aircrafts themselves.
Furthermore, as the war developed, the poor leadership and lack of experience seemed to be a decisive factor of Argentinean surrender. Brigadier General Menendez played an active role in controlling the Argentinean forces. Although, his strategy, his placement of troops, his supply lines, his responses to British actions; all demonstrated woeful military incompetence, which president Galtieri recognized during a visit to the islands, but refused to replace him, on the grounds that his removal might demoralize the soldiery and the Argentine populace, where the atmosphere already was unsteady due to the disliked ruling Junta.
Argentine troops at Goose Green were reinforced by Menendez, but provided with no further support when they most needed it. Once Goose Green fell, Menendez seemed to pursue a persistent policy of retreat, falling back from entrenched positions at the least sign of pressure from the advancing British. As a result, he soon found himself besieged at Puerto Argentino / Port Stanley, encircled by land and cut off by sea, with no air support whatsoever. At the end, his soldiers broke and ran before the final British attack.
Furthermore, a number of the intermediate officers abandoned their units under British military pressure, leaving them in charge of their sergeants or corporals. The vast gap between the privileged officer class and the poorly trained conscripts that comprised much of the Argentine army resulted in a demoralization of the forces in the field, and a tendency for them to crumble before the attacks of the British. As oppose to Britain who possessed a well-functioning leadership, the poor one of the Argentinean can be regarded as a decisive factor in their defeat.
The aspects speaking against the argument will now be discussed. The British Royal Navy dominated the Argentinean navy from the start of the conflict, although British ships were vulnerable to attacks from the air. When the British ships approached the capital Stanley, The Argentine Air Force demonstrated immense bravery and tenacity in attacking the British fleet. Without room to manoeuver, the British ships were easy targets. A high number of dud bombs were dropped over the water, where 8 ships were damaged, 2 sank, 24 died and several was injured during a short mount of combat time. Because of the mountains at the Falkland Islands, the British couldn’t detect the Argentinean planes that emerged, which speaks against the argument; that the technology wasn’t merely superior. It also shows the successful Argentinean strategy. Also, the superior technology of the British didn’t always work at their advantage. At the sea, the British sent a message to Glasgow but never saw the Argentinean ships emerge before it was too late, because their radio blocked the radar. 0 British were killed, and this aspect speaks against the argument that superior technology automatically must be the better choice. When analyzing this argument, other aspects must be taken into consideration. During the naval warfare, the British were inferior in numbers and the decision to attack the Argentinean ships coming from both north and south was risky; if they lost any ships including the aircraft carriers, the outcome of the war might have been different.
On the other hand, the fact that the Argentinean forces were superior in number could also be used as an argument that shows that the British possessed better leadership and technology because they were able to win the war. The success of the British leadership and the failure of the Argentinean were often obvious as the decisive factor. For example: when the British had arrived to Stanley, they decided to attack during the night and caught the sleeping Argentineans by surprise.
To sum this up, poor leadership and inferior technology can explain the Argentinean defeat in the Falklands War. Why was Argentine defeated? -Unclear aims and lack of strategy- what to do after they have taken over the Islands? -Great Britain acted decisive and fast -Argentina lost support of the US and regional powers -Tactical mistakes -Lack of sophisticated spare parts -Insufficient training and equipment of Argentinean soldiers