Helion's All for One, One for All : Argentine Naval Operations during the Falklands War
|$29.95 MSRP from Casemate|
80 pages, softcover, approx 100
For a fair amount of its history, Argentina has been run by military juntas. This has resulted in rule that has often not worked out well, not only in terms of how the population is treated, but in its outlook on international events. For instance. during WWII, Argentina was sympathetic towards the Axis and as such, though remaining neutral, was unable to take advantage of military equipment as was provided other South American nations who had joined the Allies.
While later ties were made with the US and Great Britian, from whom equipment was purchased, the lack of proper funding and indeed, in a real mission had somewhat affected readiness. Unlike many other surrounding nations, the government fairly ignored the military. It was not seen as a good career by many so much of the manning was by conscription, which is never a good way to maintain a professional service.
The Argentine Navy, while working in conjunction with other nations and the US in post war times, was seen as just a helpful adjunct, for the southern oceans were never seen as a place for major warfare. Even so, Argentina did have an aircraft carrier and so it was given anti-submarine missions, despite it near obsolescent equipment. In fact, they were quite good at it. However, that is not how Navy leadership thought that a Navy should operate. They still felt that surface vessels were the key to providing defense and as such, paid little attention to building up a submarine force.
Then we come to the Falklands/Malvinas. For many years, Argentina has claimed these islands, despite the fact that they have been held and occupied by the British. Even the inhabitants had no wish to leave Britain. Still, the junta decided that they would take the islands, thinking that the British would just let them do it. This was incredibly short sighted. In 1982, Britain was a major supplier of weapons to the Argentine Navy. In addition, the Navy was partially the way with equipping its air arm with Super Etendard attack fighters and Exocet missiles. When the junta invaded the Falklands, not only did they lose Britain as a weapons supplier, but France halted delivery of the aforementioned jets and missiles, items that may well have turned the tide in the upcoming conflict. In addition, the junta did so without informing the Navy. There was no joint planning and so the service was taken by surprise. This left the navy with basically two options. One was to use its capital ships in direct support of the operations or to hold it back as a 'fleet in being'. After the sinking of the ARA Belgrano fairly early in the war, the second option was adopted and it was basically up to air power to be the striking arm of the nation.
The author has taken a fairly unusual tack to this book by concentrating on the mindset and history of the Argentine Navy to show how the Naval policy makers had been stuck in the past and had not really thought through exactly what was needed for the fleet. When one considers the successes that Argentine Naval Air had during this time, it is nothing short of amazing and shows what might have been accomplished had the invasion been held off for just a year or two.
Of course, operations during this undeclared war are fully covered with the concentration on the Argentine Navy. As with all wars, the initial history is written by the victors and often glosses over their mistakes and the successes of the other side. In this book we get the Argentine point of view, a view that has been well researched thanks to the declassification of many records of the time. What emerges is a fascinating look at successes and failures that were rarely covered in the publications immediately after the war. A very nice read and one that gets you thinking. I liked it and know that you will as well.
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