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Air & Space Power Journal - Fall 2006
Maj Rodolfo Pereyra, Uruguayan Air Force
|Editorial Abstract: Major Pereyra applies Carl von Clausewitz’s classic ideas about warfare to analyze aerial operations in the Falklands/Malvinas War of 1982. The author’s status as an officer in the Fuerza Aérea Uruguaya (Uruguayan air force) affords him a unique perspective of that unfortunate clash between Argentina and Great Britain. Readers may profit from his examination of basic concepts such as center of gravity, friction, and the relationship between politics and military operations.|
The Falkland Islands War of 1982 remains fresh in our memory, particularly in the minds of air force personnel from Latin American countries. One can attribute this fact to several factors, such as the major role of one of these countries in the conflict, Latin America’s geographical proximity to the area where the war occurred, and the ability to gather information from veterans. From a professional perspective, studying the war is attractive because of the dominant role of aerial combat in defining the islands’ destiny. Specifically, interest focuses on how the Fuerza Aérea Argentina (FAA) (Argentinian air force) and Navy air component managed to frighten the prestigious British Royal Navy, which enjoyed superiority in weapons and technology. Thus, this article uses the Argentinian air component as the center of gravity, without overlooking the series of events leading to armed conflict, for the purpose of making connections between the evolving events and the philosophical concepts in Carl von Clausewitz’s On War. The interpretative complexity of this book is well known, but the article seeks to highlight certain events to help us think about and track down the facts in a different way. This approach will also let us determine if the concepts outlined in On War, dating from as far back as 1831, still apply because history has proven that military leaders base their decisions on the counsel of various thinkers, including the Prussian military strategist.
In 1982 the political destiny of the Republic of Argentina lay in the hands of a military government (imposed after Maria Estela Martinez de Peron fell from power in 1976), with Gen Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri acting as president and army chief of staff. During the previous year, Galtieri had replaced Gen Roberto Viola, and because of his professional background, everybody thought that his mandate would be moderate, transitional towards democracy, and contrary to Argentina’s integration with the nonaligned countries, thus negating any risk of a military campaign in the South Atlantic. However, the deteriorating economy inherited from the previous government infused in General Galtieri the idea of recovering the Falkland Islands, a British colonial bastion since 1833, to reverse his government’s fortunes and cover up economic difficulties.
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, a Conservative Party representative, led Great Britain in 1982. Despite the fact that she had won a second term by a large margin, in March of that year her popularity declined because of high unemployment (affecting more than two million persons) and economic problems; indeed, her government appeared destined to become the worst in British history. But the possibility of winning an armed conflict such as the one in the Falkland Islands would give her government an opportunity to overcome the crisis and restore British pride. According to Clausewitz, “War is not merely an act of policy but a true political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse, carried on with other means.”1 This definition applied to both governments because the war confronting them would settle their diplomatic differences by other means and produce a political instrument to overcome each country’s difficult internal situation.
On 2 January 1833, Capt John Onslow, commanding the corvette Clio, took possession of the Falkland Islands on behalf of Great Britain. Onslow took advantage of his military superiority to force Capt Don Jose Maria Pinedo, commander of the Argentinian navy warship Sarandí, and his staff to leave the islands. From that day, Argentina lost sovereignty over those lands, starting a long diplomatic controversy to recover them.
Created in 1945, the United Nations (UN) included in its charter (chap. 10) the “Declaration Relative to Non-Autonomous States,” which asked member states to indicate which colonies they intended to decolonize. To Argentina’s surprise, Great Britain included the Falkland Islands among the 43 possessions it offered.2 But not until 1965 did the UN General Assembly approve Resolution 2065, inviting both governments to negotiate the status of the islands. This resolution created a great policy dilemma for the British, who had to decide whether to (1) fulfill the resolution and recognize Argentinian sovereignty over the Falkland Islands because they did not have evidential documentation, (2) start actions to delay complying with the resolution, or (3) prepare for an armed confrontation.3 Although Great Britain chose the second option, excessive delays risked unleashing the third one.
Given Argentina’s internal political issues, delays in the negotiations with Great Britain, and the Argentinian government’s role in an incident involving the Armada de la República Argentina (ARA) (Argentinian navy) ship Bahía Buen Suceso in the South Sandwich Islands, Argentina pushed for implementation of the Schematic Campaign Plan, which included a military operation to recover the Falkland Islands but not keep them, thus defining the Argentinian political goal of occupying to negotiate.4 Clearly, the Argentinian government intended to avoid an armed confrontation, following Clausewitz’s observation that “since war is not an act of senseless passion but is controlled by its political object, the value of this object must determine the sacrifices to be made for it.”5
Therefore, on 2 April 1982, Argentina sent 500 troops by sea and air to occupy the Falklands, establish a provisional government, and wait for Great Britain to initiate negotiations to hand over the islands.6 This action assumed a bloodless occupation, with the troops returning to the continent, leaving only a small garrison in the islands. It also assumed that Great Britain would not take military action to recover the islands; however, Argentina did not realize that this operation gave the British government the justification it needed to recover the islands and build a “Falkland Fortress,” designed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.7 Article 51 of the UN charter would have legitimized a British military response as a “war of legitimate defense, recognized as the right of a State to defend itself against an armed attack.”8
Clausewitz created a model that defined the nature of war: “As a total phenomenon its dominant tendencies always make war a paradoxical trinity—composed of primordial violence, hatred, and enmity, which are to be regarded as a blind natural force; of the play of chance and probability within which the creative spirit is free to roam; and of its element of subordination, as an instrument of policy, which makes it subject to reason alone.”9 According to Clausewitz, the first of these aspects applies especially to the people, the second to the commander and his army, and the third to the government.
Argentina’s political goal of occupying to negotiate produced Operation Rosario, based on the Schematic Campaign Plan, designed for execution no earlier than 15 May. Argentina chose this date arbitrarily, reasoning that if Great Britain did react militarily to the occupation, its forces could not reach the Falkland Islands before 5 June, and by then, with winter approaching, an amphibious landing would prove impossible. The military junta assumed that due to the Bahía Buen Suceso incident at South Georgia Island, the British forces on the Falkland Islands would increase; therefore, they decided to move the occupation up to 2 April.10
The Argentinians’ reaction to the news of the successful occupation of the Falklands revived their lethargic national pride and generated unforeseen political events such as modifying the political goal that could be summed up as holding the islands and facing the Royal Navy onslaught. Evidently, two of the three factors in Clausewitz’s model—the government and the people—were mutually encouraged by the cause, but the armed forces had the responsibility to act despite many uncertainties. In this regard, Clausewitz notes that “these three tendencies are . . . deep-rooted in their subject and yet variable in their relationship to one another. A theory that ignores any one of them, or seeks to fix an arbitrary relationship between them would conflict with reality to such an extent that for this reason alone it would be totally useless.” He adds that the problem amounts to maintaining the theory suspended between these three tendencies as between three magnets.11 One factor—the armed forces—opposed the other two, thus violating this theory.
To Clausewitz, the theoretical principle of war planning involves reducing the enemy’s power as much as possible by annihilating his combat capability since “the destruction of the enemy forces is always the superior, more effective means, with which others cannot compete.”12 Great Britain, on the other hand, had since 19 February 1976 considered three potential courses of action to defend the Falkland Islands: (1) proceeding without the use of aerial means, (2) driving back an invasion by using previously embarked rapid-deployment amphibious forces, and (3) recapturing the islands militarily. The Joint Chiefs of Staff of the three British military branches designed these courses of action based on the assumption that Argentina would occupy the islands, thus providing justification to recapture them militarily, fulfilling the British goal of establishing the Falkland Fortress and rendering moot further negotiations over the islands’ sovereignty.
To Great Britain’s advantage, Adm Sandy Woodward, commander of Task Force 317, charged with recapturing the islands, knew of the contingency plans since 1974 when he served as assistant director of naval planning in the British Ministry of Defence.13 The British designed their plans and combined each element in order to reduce the enemy’s combat capabilities to the minimum. On 2 April 1982, when Argentina launched Rosario—the amphibious-landing operation in the Falklands—Admiral Woodward received orders to implement Operation Corporate.14
The fast British response astonished the Argentinians but did not alter popular opinion. Armed forces senior commanders, however, became deeply concerned about changing the political goal from occupying to negotiate to defending the islands, and on 4 April they analyzed the situation at the highest level of joint operations. The Argentinian command, aware of Task Force 317’s size and operational capabilities (especially its amphibious forces and likely application of a naval blockade using nuclear submarines), ordered the largest possible commitment of the FAA. In addition to performing all the tasks imposed by its doctrine, the air force would serve as Argentina’s only means of linking the islands to the continent in case of a naval blockade. The broad, vague designation of air operations authorized the FAA to perform any mission it could carry out. For the ground defense of the islands, Argentina decided to increase the initial cadre of 500 men to 13,000, deploying them by air during April. After Argentina’s lack of a carefully studied defense plan became evident, its military resorted to quick measures, conditioned to the speed with which the British forces reacted and the sudden change in the political goal.
Clausewitz observes that “one must keep the dominant characteristics of both belligerents in mind. Out of these characteristics a certain center of gravity develops, the hub of all power and movement, on which everything depends. That is the point against which all our energies should be directed.”15 Both forces had clearly defined their centers of gravity. Great Britain selected Port Stanley (briefly renamed Puerto Argentino) because it was the critical center of the Falkland Islands and because the Argentinians had based the military command responsible for defending the islands there.
British Task Force 317 consisted of 25,000 men and a naval component of more than 100 vessels.16 Specifically, the fleet included 40 warships: two aircraft carriers, three battle cruisers, nine destroyers, 20 frigates, two landing craft, and four submarines. The remaining 60 vessels were support units: six logistical landing craft, 20 tankers, 13 cargo ships, eight personnel carriers, two special-services vessels, three hospital ships, four tugboats, and four adapted fishing boats. Most of the warships carried very modern and efficient electronic gear, such as surveillance radar, missile guidance-control radar, and identification, friend or foe (IFF) as well as electronic-countermeasures systems. The fleet’s air-defense weapons included long-range (up to 38 miles) Sea Dart missiles, Sea Wolf missiles for attacking medium- and low-altitude targets, Sea Cat missiles, and 20 mm and 40 mm antiaircraft guns.
As for British aviation, the Royal Navy’s FRS.1 Sea Harrier and the Royal Air Force’s Harrier GR3 served as the main combat aircraft, both featuring six weapon pods. The inboard pods carried 30 mm guns, the two intermediate ones contained fuel tanks or bombs, and the outboard pods carried third-generation infrared AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles with 90- to 120-degree fields of vision and an effective range of six miles. In addition to deploying this force 8,800 miles, on 12 April Great Britain established a total-exclusion zone—a circle with a radius of 200 nautical miles—around the Falklands.
Designating the British fleet as the enemy center of gravity for purposes of defending the islands, the Argentinians intended to harass that force as far from the coast as possible to prevent it from approaching the islands and landing troops. Only the FAA could assume that task because the ARA had to withdraw its fleet to the safety of the harbors after the nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror sank the battle cruiser General Belgrano on 2 May. The FAA and Naval Aviation Command provided the Argentinian air assets, the former directly attacking the British fleet and troops with the Mirage III EA, Mirage 5 Dagger, A-4B/C Skyhawk, Canberra MK 62, and IA-58 Pucara, and the latter employing the Super Etendard, A-4Q Skyhawk, and Aermacchi MB-339.
For the most part, these aircraft attacked surface targets with conventional munitions, such as free-fall or parachute-retarded 250-, 500-, and 1,000-pound bombs; 2.25- and 2.75-inch rockets; 20 mm and 30 mm cannons; and 7.62 mm machine guns. Only the Super Etendard could deliver the latest-generation weapon, the radar-guided 1,300-pound AM-39 Exocet missile with a 30-mile range, but the Argentinians had an inventory of only five missiles. For air combat, only the Mirages had missile capability—the Matra 530 infrared missiles with a six-mile range and visual field limited to 30–40 degrees, which forced the aircraft to position itself behind an opponent. Thus, the Argentinian air component faced the difficult challenge of overcoming technological and armament obstacles to reach its objectives, which brings to mind a Clausewitzian assertion: “That, however, does not imply that the political aim is a tyrant. It must adapt itself to its chosen means, a process which can radically change it; yet the political aim remains the first consideration. . . . Once the expenditure of effort exceeds the value of the political object, the object must be renounced and peace must follow.”17
The surprising British reaction of recapturing the islands through military action forced the Argentinian military government to take unplanned actions and adopt a defensive posture. The quick formation of Task Force 317, a product of the excellent British intelligence service’s alerting its government about the invasion, prompted General Galtieri to send more troops to the islands without consulting the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The deployed forces, members of the 10th Mechanized Infantry Brigade (without its armored vehicles) and the 3rd Infantry Brigade, joined the 5th Marine Brigade, based in the islands since the occupation, to form the ground defense. Airlifters flew more than 10,000 men and their logistical gear to the Falklands during April. Later we shall see how this decision negatively affected the course of the war.
The Argentinians formed the Fuerza Aérea Sur (FAS) (Southern air force), based in Comodoro Rivadavia, on 5 April under the command of Brig Gen Ernesto H. Crespo, who reported directly to the military junta. He controlled all aircraft designated by the FAA and Naval Aviation Command and based on the continent. Vice Adm Juan Lombardo, theater commander of South Atlantic operations, led the Argentinian naval units and the Falkland Islands garrison, the latter with Gen Mario Menendez of the Argentinian army. To defend the islands, General Menendez had IA-58 Pucara aircraft from the FAA and Aermacchi MB-339s and Mentor T-34Cs from Naval Aviation Command, in addition to ground units. Clearly, the Argentinian command’s organization conflicted with principles of joint operations such as centralized command, maximum integration, full use of forces, and mutual support.
Clausewitz refers to the defense as the most powerful form of war, noting, “But if we are really waging war, we must return the enemy’s blows; and these offensive acts in a defensive war come under the heading of ‘defense’—in other words, our offensive takes place within our own positions or theater of operations. Thus, a defensive campaign can be fought with offensive battles, and in a defensive battle, we can employ our divisions offensively.”18 Immediately after taking charge of the FAS, General Crespo ordered that the crews be trained to attack ships, using as a simulated target a modern Type 42 Argentinian navy destroyer. The results were discouraging, suggesting that crews would suffer 50 percent losses during attacks; nevertheless, the training continued until the war started, and General Crespo proved that he had the necessary intelligence and intuitive judgment to confront the powerful enemy.19
Clausewitz wrote, “This gives rise to the completely different activity of planning and executing these engagements themselves, and of coordinating each of them with the others in order to further the object of war. One has been called tactics and the other strategy.”20 From this definition, we can conclude that the use of tactics is only one way to employ strategy to achieve the political purpose of war. As indicated previously, the Argentinians had assumed a defensive position, as expressed in their political goal of “hold[ing] the islands and fac[ing] the Royal Navy onslaught.” Towards this end, their strategy sought to prevent the British fleet from approaching the coast and fulfilling its goal. Only the FAS could carry out that mission.
But General Crespo encountered several obstacles that prevented his forces from performing optimally—some caused by a lack of technology and others by the command structure’s organization. Take, for example, General Galtieri’s arbitrary decision to dispatch more troops while implementing the initial plan to defend the islands. This deployment used all available transport airplanes—four C-130s and some F-27s. Unfortunately, the limited number of transport planes and the short 5,500-foot runway at the Port Stanley airfield prevented the deployment of artillery pieces or armored vehicles.
General Galtieri’s deficient intelligence apparatus prevented him from sensing the need to enlarge Port Stanley’s landing strip so that combat aircraft could operate from there.21 The FAA had the means to perform the needed construction work in a little more than one week; indeed, had the lengthening taken place, the war might have turned out differently.22 As it turned out, the FAS had to operate from continental bases far away from the islands, including those at Comodoro Rivadavia (540 miles), San Julián (440 miles), Río Gallegos (470 miles), Río Grande (430 miles), and Trelew (625 miles), the last four bases hosting combat aircraft like the Mirage III EA, Mirage 5, A-4B/C/Q Skyhawk, Super Etendard, and Canberra. At Comodoro Rivadavia, the Argentinians stationed transport, tanker, surveillance, diversion, and search-and-rescue aircraft—specifically, C-130s, KC-130s, Learjet 35s, F-27s, and helicopters.
From the Argentinian air fleet, only the A-4 and Super Etendard could be air-refueled, something they had to do twice on each combat sortie. The distance between the bases and the islands limited the operation of the Mirage III and Mirage 5 to a maximum of 10 minutes, precluding the use of afterburners. This limitation prevented the Argentinians from achieving air superiority over the islands or offering air cover to missions beyond the range of interceptor airplanes. Furthermore, massed attacks against the British fleet proved impossible because Argentina possessed only two KC-130 tankers.23 Despite these restrictions, the pilots scored important hits through inventiveness and courage, making Admiral Woodward doubtful about the war’s outcome: “In that stage, the war had become a fight between the Royal Navy and the Argentinean Air Force for the prize. Who was winning in that precise moment? I am afraid we were not.”24
On 1 May, the FAA’s baptism of fire occurred when it lost two Mirage III EAs and one Canberra in action, showing General Crespo that high-altitude attacks made Argentinian aircraft vulnerable to the British surveillance radars and Harriers. Henceforth, operations took place at low altitude, with aircraft flying barely over the waves. The Argentinians followed this tactical procedure during the rest of the conflict to defeat the technological shield protecting the British fleet.
One of Clausewitz’s most distinctive creations is his notion of friction: “the only concept that more or less corresponds to the factors that distinguish real war from war on paper. The military machine—the army and everything related to it—is basically very simple and therefore seems easy to manage. But we should bear in mind that none of its components is of one piece: each part is composed of individuals, every one of whom retains his potential of friction.”25 Clausewitz regards factors such as danger, physical exertion, uncertainty, and chance as pillars of friction because of their importance and influence in all wars.26 No doubt the Argentinian air component, from General Crespo to the most junior pilot, would all experience such friction.
Constant danger characterized the war, especially when Argentinian aircraft entered the British fleet’s radar-detection zone, where they risked encountering sophisticated missiles or Harriers and their deadly AIM-9L Sidewinders. Indeed, the British fleet downed 14 Argentinian planes with missiles or antiaircraft artillery, and Harriers downed 19. One FAA veteran later said, “Before the war I thought we had to teach combat pilots to fly formation, fire, and perform tactical navigation; later I understood that the most important thing was to teach them to reach the target, reach it regardless of fear of losing their own life, reach it no matter what.”27 According to Clausewitz, the antidote to danger is courage.28 Their patriotism and disdain of death allowed Argentinian pilots to sink six British ships and one landing craft, disable five ships, and damage 12 others (including two aircraft carriers).
The pilots also had to contend with exhaustion. Flying three- to four-hour combat sorties, including one hour spent skimming barely above the waves, and facing various risks affected the pilots’ normal reactions and reasoning; only their training allowed them to overcome this type of stress. After returning from his mission to attack the aircraft carrier Invincible on 30 May, Lt G. G. Isaac, an A-4 pilot, commented, “I also remember that I was hot. Before that I did not feel it, but no matter how minimal the symptoms were, I was relaxing. I wanted to shut the heat off, but when I tried to raise my hand from the throttle I realized that my arm did not respond. Such was the stress that it was stiff, disobedient. I did not insist and tolerated the heat.”29 After this event, he still had to air-refuel to return to his base. Of the four men sent on the mission, only Lieutenant Isaac and one other pilot survived.
At command level, uncertainty, which increases when the enemy has more freedom of movement, keeps intelligence staffs awake. The Argentinians had only minimal surveillance capabilities; however, in spite of their poorly prepared aircraft (B-707s, C-130s, and LR-35s), the crews’ navigation and piloting skills enabled them to find numerous targets during their missions—for example, the discovery on 21 April of Task Force 317 about 1,900 miles off the Brazilian coast near Salvador, Bahia. Argentinian aircrews had to rely on intuition because they lacked search technology.
Chance, another factor that increases uncertainty, permeated the conflict. Because the Argentinians had few reconnaissance capabilities and only short-range radar (Westinghouse AN/TPS-43F) at the Falkland Islands information-and-control center, they had to carry out blind attacks at sea. The FAA’s radar, the only long-range (225 miles) equipment in the Falklands, was designed for air surveillance, but its image of the surface degraded with increasing distance, limiting the view over the ocean to 31 miles. The following account illustrates Clausewitz’s observation that intelligence and determination must overcome uncertainty and chance:30 “The Air Force radar installed in Puerto Argentino started to record the arrival and especially the departure paths of the Sea Harrier planes while on patrol and attack flights. . . . After tracking for several days, it was determined that all planes vanished from the radar screen at similar directions and distances. The flights ended, evidently in a small circle where all lines met. The aircraft carrier was in that circle.”31 This tracking system helped the Argentinians plan their famed attack of 30 May against the Invincible.
Between 1 and 20 May, the war had two main actors—the FAS and Task Force 317, each of which inflicted serious damage on the other. John F. Lehman, US secretary of the Navy, asserted in his report to Congress on 3 February 1983 that “in spite of the heroic efforts by the Sea Harrier pilots, the British never got anything close to air superiority over the Falkland Islands.”32 Argentinian aviation continued reaching its targets.
At that time of the year, the British enjoyed an advantage caused by the weather and short daylight hours. Airplanes could not even take off on 17 of the war’s 44 days because of adverse weather conditions and the availability of only nine hours of daylight. But the factor that favored the British fleet most was the large number of Argentinian bombs that hit their targets without exploding, perhaps because the low altitude and rapid delivery prevented the fuses from functioning properly.33 Had the bombs detonated, the British fleet would have perhaps met a different fate.
On 21 May, the British took advantage of bad weather conditions to start Operation Sutton by landing 5,000 men at San Carlos Bay. This time the changing weather did not work to their advantage since conditions improved quickly, facilitating attacks by Argentinian aviation and creating what the British called Bomb Alley. Attacks came from the continent and the islands, but British troops still secured a beachhead in San Carlos and its vicinity by 27 May. From this moment on, the conflict favored the British, but the FAS continued attacking the fleet (e.g., the risky mission against the Invincible).
As the British forces gained ground, Argentinian aviation focused on supporting its own surface forces with the goal of preventing the British from advancing and landing more troops—for example, the sinking of a British logistical landing ship and a landing boat, the disabling of a landing ship, and the damaging of a frigate, all at Bahia Agradable. Argentinian aircraft also launched day and night attacks against command posts. The FAS operated until the war ended, and despite the conclusion of its basic mission and the imminence of British victory, it sought to bolster the morale of ground forces resisting the final British attack. On 13 June, one day before the Argentinian surrender, a C-130 landed in Port Stanley to unload a 155 mm gun that was never used.
The Argentinians’ inability to obtain timely information, due to the deficient work of the intelligence-and-information center, prevented awareness of the real British situation when the FAS was executing its last mission. Admiral Woodward described conditions aboard the aircraft carrier Hermes, 300 miles east of the islands on 13 June: “We are already at the limit of our possibilities, with only three warships free of major operating problems (Hermes, Yarmouth, and Exeter). From the force of destroyers and frigates, forty five percent have been reduced to zero operating capacity.”34 The Argentinian air component had lost a total of 74 airplanes, 33 of them in combat missions, in addition to 41 crew members who sacrificed their lives pursuing their country’s objectives. Unfortunately for Argentina, these individuals did not have the correct situational information (at the correct time) they needed to defeat one of the world’s most powerful and technologically advanced fleets.
|Consequently, it would be an obvious fallacy to imagine war between civilized peoples as resulting merely from a rational act on the part of their governments and to conceive of war as gradually ridding itself of passion.|
—Carl von Clausewitz
As the Argentinian army’s chairman and chief of staff, General Galtieri was mainly responsible for the conflict but did not understand modern joint military operations. He delayed air force involvement, thinking that a large, poorly armed ground force could defend itself. Vice Admiral Lombardo fared little better when he attempted to use airplanes capable of only limited combat to defend the islands against the versatile Harriers armed with lethal Sidewinders and the British fleet’s other weapons and technology. Additionally, sending the cruiser ARA General Belgrano against the British fleet without antisubmarine cover resulted in the war’s worst loss of life (321 men).
Arbitrary changes in political goals without sound study by the senior staff to support the viability of the conflict and the absence of a plan or strategy to achieve such goals demonstrated that General Galtieri and the military junta lacked the necessary abilities to conduct a war—what Clausewitz called military genius. Only General Crespo, commander of the FAS, demonstrated ability and professionalism, successfully overcoming technological differences, inadequate aircraft range, and shortages of tankers and reconnaissance assets.
However, none of his success would have occurred without the courage his pilots demonstrated on each mission. Courage in the face of danger, combined with patriotic sentiment, is often overlooked by military powers or thought to have been supplanted by technological advances. In reality, it deserves consideration when an opponent’s desire to reach a set goal outweighs his physical and technological inferiority. The Argentinians’ use of low-altitude attacks and only five Exocets led the prestigious and sophisticated British Royal Navy to change its defense doctrine after the war. Although this conflict in the South Atlantic began 150 years after the publication of On War, this article demonstrates that Clausewitz’s philosophical concepts about war serve as contemporary pillars that apply to any armed conflict.
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1. Carl von Clausewitz, On War, rev. ed., ed. and trans. Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984), 87.
2. Comodoro F. P. Matassi, Probado en Combate (Buenos Aires: Pio Matassi, 1994), 23.
3. Nicanor Costa Méndez, Malvinas ésta es la Historia (Buenos Aires: Sudamericana, 1993), 25.
4. Argentinian entrepreneur Constantino Davidoff arrived on 19 March 1982 at Leith Harbor (South Georgia Island) on the ARA Bahía Buen Suceso to take possession of old whale-processing plants he had purchased in December 1981. The Argentinian military supposedly included some commandos in Davidoff’s party. Deeming this incident part of the Argentinian naval command’s Operation Alpha, the British government did not let Mr. Davidoff or his personnel stay on the islands. See “Falklands War Roundtable,” 15–16 May 2003, Miller Center of Public Affairs: Presidential Oral History, http://millercenter .virginia.edu/programs/poh/falklands.html.
5. Clausewitz, On War, 92.
6. Dr. James S. Corum, “Poderío Aéreo Argentino en la Guerra de las Malvinas: Una Panorámica Operacional,” Aerospace Power Journal Español, second quarter 2002, 69.
7. Matassi, Probado en Combate, 31.
8. Cited in Christophe Swinarski, “Definición y ámbito de aplicación del Derecho Internacional Humanitario,” Revista Nacional de Derecho Aeronáutico y Espacial 3 (1989): 19.
9. Clausewitz, On War, 89.
10. Matassi, Probado en Combate, 32.
11. Clausewitz, On War, 89.
12. Ibid., 97.
13. Adm Sandy Woodward, Los cien días (Buenos Aires: Sudamericana, 1992), 88.
14. Ibid., 89.
15. Clausewitz, On War, 595–96.
16. B. H. Andrada, Guerra Aérea en las Malvinas (Buenos Aires: Emecé Editores, 1983), 29.
17. Clausewitz, On War, 87, 92.
18. Ibid., 357.
19. Matassi, Probado en Combate, 27. The Military Committee Resolution of 1969, regulating jurisdiction of the different forces, transferred the air force’s air and marine operations to the navy.
20. Clausewitz, On War, 128.
21. See Clausewitz’s discussion of intelligence in the section “On Military Genius.” Ibid., 100–112.
22. Corum, “Poderío Aéreo Argentino,” 83.
23. Ibid., 75.
24. Woodward, Los cien días, 281.
25. Clausewitz, On War, 119.
26. Ibid., 122.
27. Capt Pablo Marcos Carballo, Halcones sobre Malvinas (Buenos Aires: Ediciones de Cruzamante, 1984), 17.
28. Clausewitz, On War, 114.
29. Matassi, Probado en Combate, 98.
30. Clausewitz, On War, 100–112.
31. Andrada, Guerra Aérea, 181.
32. Cited in Matassi, Probado en Combate, 67.
33. Carballo, Halcones sobre Malvinas, 171.
34. Woodward, Los cien días, 339.
|Maj Rodolfo Pereyra, Fuerza Aérea Uruguaya (Uruguayan air force), is commander of the First Air Squadron at Air Base no. 2, Santa Bernardina, Durazno. He previously served as chief of operations and maintenance, First Air Squadron (Attack), Second Air Brigade, in Durazno. An IA-58 Pucará combat trainer pilot with more than 2,200 flying hours, he is a graduate of the Military School of Aeronautics, Air Staff Course, Command Basic Course, and Command Elementary Course at the Command and Air Staff School and a distinguished graduate of the Inter-American Air Forces Academy in San Antonio, Texas. Major Pereyra has earned the United States Defense Cooperation Office Award and the Fuerza Aérea Uruguaya’s Flight Safety Merit Award.|
The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University
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