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Maritime Capabilties Case Study: The Falklands War

1151 words - 5 pages

Background
1. Strategic setting.
In the spring of 1982 United Kingdom (UK) launched its single largest naval task forces since World War II to recapture the Falkland Islands from the Argentinians. The war was precipitated by a long standing disagreement between the UK and Argentina over the sovereignty of the Falklands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands. After protracted unsuccessful and confrontational diplomatic negotiations between the both nations, the Argentinians invaded the Falklands. The Argentinian quickly seized control of the Stanley the capital city of the Falkland’s, including Marines Barracks at Moody Brook and Government House, causing the Governor to surrender the islands. As the invasion was predicted by the UK, they quickly assembled and responded with a Naval Task Force composed of three subordinate Task Groups; One centre around the aircraft carries HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible carrying the Fleet Air Arm Sea Harriers; a second amphibious group composed a Royal Marines (RM) brigade and other land forces,; and submarine group.
Problem Being Addressed
2. Major campaign objectives.
The UK saw the operations as a conventional naval deterrent in support of diplomacy. The major campaign objectives of the UK included: military deployment and operations to repel attacks on British people and territory; support the withdrawal of Argentine forces; and to re-establish British administration as quickly as possible.

The Approach Taken
3. Application of Maritime Capabilities.
In order to achieve the campaign objectives the RN principally applied two maritime capabilities, sea control and combat operation against land. Each of these capabilities is paramount in the UK’s operations in order to achieve their campaign objectives.
When we examine the Falklands war from the perspective of sea control it is evident that the RN wants to quickly establish sea control around the islands in the littoral waters with navel assets and the Argentines counter and use land based assets. Sea control is defined as the conditions in which one had freedom of action to use the sea for one’s own purposes in specified areas and for specified periods of time and, when necessary, to deny use to the enemy. Thus the UK in support of their efforts to obtain sea control established a 200 nautical mile (Nm) Total Exclusion Zone (TEZ) from the centre of the Falkland, in which any vessel or aircraft from another county may be fired upon without warning. Consequently the declaration of the TEZ hinders the RN mobility and ability to gain sea control outside the TEZ. This is evident when the submarine HMS Conqueror was order to engage the General Belgrano contrary to the rule of engagement (ROE) outside the TEZ. Additionally the RN has difficulties as naval operations conducted in the littoral water is considered to be the prototypical “complex adaptive environment“ because of the number of intersecting elements; such as complex topography...

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