The British overcome many setbacks to defeat the Argentines. What do you think were decisive actions that enabled victory?

Well, I’ve said before that what the British did in launching their task force so quickly has never been done by any nation.  And the operations at Ascension were absolutely indispensable to the British victory.  In the South Atlantic, I think the first decisive action was the sinking of Belgrano.  Although very controversial at the time, it enabled the British to gain strategic advantage over Argentines.  After the sinking, all Argentine naval forces returned to the mainland, lessening the overall threat to British forces despite aggressive attacks to follow.  That enabled Admiral Woodward to safeguard his Carrier Battle Group better.  The second and probably least understood is the completion of the landing strip at Port San Carlos around the first of June 1982.  That seemingly easy but extremely difficult achievement by Royal Engineers enabled Harrier pilots to stop flying 400 miles round trip from carriers at the edge of 200-mile Total Exclusion Zone, thereby providing more time for Harrier pilots to provide air cover for forces on East Falkland.  After construction of the air strip, the British gained air superiority.  That enabled sustained firepower for ground forces during final battles and, when coupled with gun fire from Royal Navy ships and from Royal Artillery, devastating attacks on Argentine forces that broke their morale.  Finally, there can be no doubt about it.  Argentine ground forces were simply no match for the tough British units.  By this I don’t just mean the combat units.  Logisticians took as many or more setbacks than any others.  But they shook off those setbacks and fought another day to continue sustainment to forward units .  Theirs is an especially compelling story of heroism behind the scenes.  (Thank you to John Osmond for pointing out an oversight in my original response!)

One thought on “The British overcome many setbacks to defeat the Argentines. What do you think were decisive actions that enabled victory?

  1. Hi Ken, Yes a forward operating base was established but but not in Port Stanley. The original FOB was at San Carlos Water which did achieve what you suggest…. The FOB was named HMS Sheathbill or Sid’s Strip and was adjacent to a helicopter operating base. The base was on the Northern edge of San Carlos water opposite Cameron’s Point. The base – such that it was – had bladder tanks for aviation fuel and could support Harriers and helicopters with a bias I suspect towards the GR3 Harrier. Famously there was a Harrier accident there too but that is another story. Much later on, after the surrender, the Sappers installed the airstrip in Port Stanley which achieved a base – which was not afloat – for Harriers and then later on – F4 Phantoms who I believe used arrested landings…but again another story. Sheathbill was operational from about 1 June 1982 which slots in with your thoughts….. but it was most definitely at San Carlos and not Port Stanley which remained in Argentine hands until 14 June.

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