ARGENTINA SEIZES THE FALKLANDS
Surprise attack catches Great
Heavy casualties on both sides. Islands now under
December 10, 2009
(ENN) -- Shortly after dawn on Dec. 2, five
squadrons of Argentine A-4 fighters suddenly appeared out of the dark,
western skies and attacked the British base facilities at Port Stanley
and Mt. Pleasant airport, creating chaos and pandemonium throughout the
British garrison. The air strikes were followed by a naval bombardment
of Port Stanley by an Argentine destroyer-frigate squadron a short time
Both attacks turned out to be a prelude to the main assault force --
a brigade of 1500 or more Argentine marines approaching Port Stanley
from the south aboard a flotilla of amphibious landing craft, which had
no doubt been launched from a group of larger motherships from just over
the horizon a few hours earlier.
Within an hour of the initial attack, the two companies of Royal
Marines that made up the British garrison in Port Stanley found
itself under attack by the better part of two battalions of Argentine
troops, which steadily began to spread out and encircle the defenders.
Meanwhile, another Argentine Marine battalion attacked a company of
Royal Marines stationed at the airfield. After only 3 hours of
fighting the airfield fell into Argentine hands, which ended any threat
posed by British fighters.
Argentine photo showing British
troops surrendering near Port Stanley
The fighting in Port Stanley went on much longer as Marines from the
British 31st Commando Brigade performed a number of heroic deeds to
maintain control of the port for as long as possible. By late
afternoon, however, casualties began to mount in the face of enfilading
fire from three sides and fire support from the Argentine naval
squadron. By dusk, the original garrison of 600 Royal Marines had been reduced to a mere 120, most of whom were now out of ammunition.
After nearly 12 hours of combat, the British commander finally yielded
and surrendered to the Argentines.
Response in London was a mixture of both shock and outrage. The
Prime Minister bitterly condemned Argentina, and within hours Parliament
passed a declaration of war.
The Ark Royal carrier group, currently on station off the Angolan
coast has been ordered to proceed west to the Falklands, though it must
first stop in the Ascension Islands where it will rendezvous with
several other warships and a fleet oiler to permit the extended voyage.
That fleet would be capable of arriving in the war zone around December 19. Britain's
other carrier, the Princess Diana, was reportedly undergoing major
refitting and reconstruction following her recent series of sea trials
and would not be ready for combat for several more weeks.
Argentine Force Superiority
While the forces that Argentina committed were not exactly
overwhelming (The Argentine 3:1 ratio over the British defenders is considered the
minimum for victory, according to most military analysts), the air
strikes and naval gunfire support coupled with the element of surprise
combined to make an Argentine victory a foregone conclusion. That
the British managed to hold out as long as they did was actually quite
remarkable under these circumstances, and all are likely to be
decorated assuming they one day return to their native soil.
Now that Argentina controls both the port and the airfield,
more troops and equipment can quickly be transferred there in mass. Most
analysts predict that Argentina will deploy at least one or perhaps two
additional brigades of follow on forces to the islands within the next several
days - well before a British reprisal can be staged.
Questions abound from both within and without the British government
as to how Argentina could have achieved such complete surprise. It
now appears that Argentina had used the peacekeeping mission in Angola
as a decoy to keep the US and UK occupied far to the north, in the
vicinity of Buenos Aires, while the real attack was being mounted at the
Argentine naval base in Ushuaia, near the tip of Cape Horn.
U.S. Future Involvement
While the US has superior satellite reconnaissance and is a staunch
ally of the UK, their own intelligence agencies apparently did not
detect the build-up in this region either, and gave no indication that such
an attack was imminent. With only limited surface and sub-surface
assets in the region, the Royal Navy decided to forgo this remote area
in favor of supporting their peacekeeping operations in Angola.
Whether the US will take part in the conflict remains to be seen -
while the US has a strong alliance with Great Britain, its hands
may be tied due to various treaties with Latin and South America.
There is a likelihood that helping the UK could look imperialistic in
the eyes of poor Latin American countries that the US wishes to prevent
from leaning too far to the left; most notably Honduras. For
now, the US may sit this one out. At least publicly.
The Argentine leader, meanwhile, has triumphantly been making
speeches praising the brilliance of Argentina's military leaders and
defying the British, saying that the Malvinas (the Argentine name for
the islands) would never again fall into the hands of imperialist
Crowds cheered in response, as the long-awaited promise of returning
the islands to Argentina appears to have been kept. Only time can
tell if this will remain true, as the inevitable showdown in the South