The Argentine Seizure Of The Malvinas [Falkland] Islands:
History and Diplomacy
SUBJECT AREA History
WAR IN THE MODERN ERA SEMINAR
The Argentine Seizure of the Malvinas [Falkland] Islands:
History and Diplomacy
Lieutenant Commander Richard D. Chenette, USN
4 May 1987
Marine Corps Command and Staff College
Marine Corps Development and Education Command
Quantico, Virginia 22134
Author: Chenette, Richard D., Lieutenant Commander, USN
Title: The Argentine Seizure of the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands:
History and Diplomacy
Date: 4 May 1987
This research paper traces the history of Argentina's
dispute with Great Britain over sovereignty of the
Falkland/Malvinas Islands from the time they were discovered
though their seizure by Argentina in April 1982. It presents
opposing positions of Argentina and Great Britain on the
sovereignty issue, reviews diplomatic efforts to solve the
sovereignty question, describes the political and economic
situation facing the Argentine ruling junta in early 1982, and
provides details of the amphibious operation mounted by Argentina
to seize the Islands. The author offers his analysis,
conclusions, and opinions in the final chapter. The overall
intent of the paper is to provide the reader with insights into
how and why Argentina seized the Islands.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1 HISTORICAL BACKGROUND THROUGH 1833 5
2 OPPOSING CASES FOR SOVEREIGNTY 12
3 DIPLOMACY 1964-1981 19
4 THE JUNTA AND HINTS OF AN INVASION 27
5 THE SOUTH GEORGIA INCIDENT 33
6 OPERATION ROSARIO 38
7 ANALYSIS, CONCLUSIONS, AND OPINIONS 45
APPENDIX A: MAPS 66
APPENDIX B: HISTORICAL CHRONOLOGY 68
Four hundred and eighty miles northeast of Cape Horn, in the
South Atlantic Ocean, lie two large islands * surrounded by
approximately two hundred small islands and inlets.(1) Covering
an area of 4700 square miles (slightly smaller than the state of
Connecticut) the large Islands (see map, Appendix A) are
characterized by irregular coastlines and a rugged, hilly
landscape dotted with many ponds, lakes, marshes, and peat
bogs.(2) The year-round median temperature of 43oF varies only
12oF between seasons, from 27oF in July, the coldest month, to
49oF in January, the warmest. A wildlife sanctuary for
centuries, the Islands are to this day a safe haven for huge
quantities of birds including five species of penguins.(3)
The majority of the 1800 Island inhabitants (or "kelpers,"
so called because of the large amounts of kelp that surrounds the
Islands) are descendants of British settlers who settled there
after British occupation of the Islands in 1833. In addition to
those of British descent, a few Islanders trace their roots to
cosmopolitan origins. In 1972, the heads of Island families had
been born in the following locations: the Islands, 431; Great
Britain, 127; Argentina, 2; Australia, 1; Canada, 1; Chile, 9;
* The British have named these islands "The Falklands" and the
Argentines "Las Malvinas." Henceforth in this paper, they will
be referred to simply as "the Islands."
Denmark, 1; Germany, 1; Ireland, 3; Tanzania, 1; United States,3;
and Uruguay, 1.(4)
Sheep raising and the production of wool comprise the
mainstay of Islander work force, who enjoy a modest lifestyle and
few luxuries. There are less than 60 miles of paved roads, and
few homes have refrigerators. All consumer goods are imported by
charter vessel four times a year.(5) Half of the Islanders live
in Stanley, the only major town and administrative center.(6) The
remainder live in isolated settlements connected by trails which
in winter are often impassable by motor vehicles or horses.(7)
The economy of the Islands is dominated by the Falkland
Islands Company, which owns 46% of the land (about 1.3 million
acres) and about half the sheep. The Company not only employs a
third of the work force, but controls wholesale and retail
business, banking, and the charter vessels which transport
virtually all goods to and from Britain.(8)
It seems improbable that such isolated islands would be of
much interest to any nation other than Great Britain. Yet during
the first half of the twentieth century, virtually all
Argentinians had become convinced these Islands were rightfully
theirs. The cause of the return of "Las Malvinas" had become
firmly rooted in numerous facets of Argentine society. A
generation of school children had been taught that the Malvinas
were Argentine. Postage stamps proclaimed that the Islands were a
part of the Argentine Republic. Argentine maps labeled the
Islands as "occupied territory." The Islanders were counted in
the Argentine census and by Argentine law male Islanders could
technically be drafted into Argentine military service.(9)
But the predominantly British ancestry and culture of the
Islanders had strongly influenced their resolve to remain under
British rule, particularly after sovereignty negotiations
intensified in the mid 1960's. As a result, the Islanders
steadfastly opposed all proposals which would lead to eventual
transfer of sovereignty to Argentina.
Argentina's obsession for the return of the Islands was
finally realized on April 2, 1982, when Argentine military forces
forcibly seized them after 150 years of British possession and
administration. The British quickly dispatched a task force
which recaptured the Islands after six weeks of bloody air, sea,
and land combat. The cost to both sides was enormous. Aside
from the huge economic expenditures required to support the war,
the death toll amounted to over one thousand Argentine and two
hundred and fifty British military personnel.(10)
This research paper traces the history of Argentina's
dispute with Great Britain over sovereignty of the Islands from
the time they were discovered through their seizure by Argentina
in April 1982. It presents opposing positions of Argentina and
Great Britain on the sovereignty issue, reviews diplomatic
efforts to solve the sovereignty question, describes the
political and economic situation facing the Argentine ruling
junta in early 1982, and provides details of the amphibious
operation mounted by Argentina to seize the Islands. The overall
intent of the paper is to provide the reader with insights into
how and why Argentina seized the Islands.
To maximize objectivity, the author's conclusions and
opinions are not presented until the final chapter.
The author is indebted to U. S. Coast Guard historian Dr.
Robert Scheina, who provided notes and interviews used to write
the chapter on Operation Rosario.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND THROUGH 1833
Argentina's invasion and seizure of the Islands in April
1982 was the culmination of a complex dispute, the roots of which
date back over two hundred years.
The identity of the country which deserves credit for the
original discovery of the Islands is clouded by inconclusive
evidence from accounts of early voyages of exploration.(1)
Spaniards, Britons, and Dutchmen each claim explorers who were
first to sight the Islands.(2) The first sighting * which remains
generally unchallenged is that of Dutchman Sebald de Weert in
France was the first country to establish a settlement on
the Islands. In apparent disregard for the Treaty of Utrecht **,
French nobleman and explorer Antoine de Bougainville landed on
the Islands in 1764. Claiming them for France and Louis XV, De
Bougainville also established a small settlement called Port
* By international law, mere sightings of new territories are
considered insufficient to establish legal claim to them.
** In this treaty, signed in 1713, England and France formally
agreed to Spanish sovereignty over its traditional territories in
the Americas, including the Islands.
Louis. A year later, British explorer John Byron surveyed the
Islands. He claimed them for England, but promptly
departed,unaware that the French had already established a
In 1766 another British expedition, headed by Captain John
McBride, was dispatched from England, armed with 100 settlers to
consolidate John Byron's claim. They arrived at the Islands only
to find the French settlement at Port Louis now numbering 250
persons.(5) The French refused to quit their settlement, despite
McBride's non violent efforts to convince them that they were
inhabiting British territory. He returned to England in early
1767 to report on the situation, leaving Captain Anthony Hunt in
charge of a small British garrison at Port Egmont.(6)
On the basis of the Treaty of Utrecht, Spain objected
vehemently to what she considered to be an intrusion by both
France and England into her territory. France, Spain's ally, was
willing to negotiate. In exchange for substantial compensation
to Antoine de Bougainville, the French sold Port Louis to Spain
in 1767. A Spanish governor was promptly appointed over the
settlement which was renamed Puerto Soledad.(7) This left Spain
with only the British at Port Egmont with whom to contend. Both
sides managed to avoid contact with each other until 1769 when
Captain Hunt, embarked in his sloop, encountered a Spanish
schooner. In the dialogue that followed during the next few
months, the Spanish and British leaders each claimed total
sovereignty and each demanded the other quit the Islands. This
dispute was resolved in 1770 after the Spanish government had
dispatched 1400 soldiers embarked in five frigates to expel the
British. Confronted by such an overwhelming force, the handful of
soldiers at the British garrison capitulated under protest in
June and promptly returned to England. This left Spain in
complete control of the Islands.(8)
King George III reacted to Spain's forced takeover of the
Islands, by withdrawing the British ambassador from Madrid. Spain
and Britain were poised on the brink of war. It was then that
Charles III of Spain learned that France was unwilling to join
him in war with England. Fearing he could not defeat Britain
without France's assistance, Charles abandoned his war plans and
quickly began negotiations with the British which led to the
exchange of Spanish and British peace declarations in January
1771. The Spanish declaration returned Port Egmont to England but
firmly reasserted Spanish sovereignty over the Islands. The
corresponding British declaration omitted any reference to
Spanish sovereignty. Spain later claimed that she had agreed to
restore Port Egmont to the British only because of an alleged
secret promise by England to abandon any claim to the Islands
after an undisclosed period of time. (9) This controversial
claim remains undocumented and is denied to this day by the
The British reoccupation of Port Egmont in September 1771
lasted only three years. A plaque left in 1774 by the departing
governor read "Be it known to all nations, that Falkland's
Island, with this fort, storehouses, wharf, harbour, bays, and
creeks thereunto belonging, are the sole right and property of
His Most Sacred Majesty George III..... in witness whereof this
plaque is set up."(10)
The Islands remained in possession of Spain for the next 40
years until the collapse of her New World empire. During this
period, there is no evidence of any British interest in the
Islands nor any record of demands by Britain that Spain abandon
them. In fact, in 1790 England disavowed any colonial ambitions
in South America "and the islands adjacent" by signing an
agreement with Spain at the Nootka Sound Convention. * Spanish
authorities removed Spanish settlers from Puerto Soledad in 1811
in response to growing factions in Buenos Aires who sought
independence from Spain. Once abandoned by Spain, the Islands
were freely and indiscriminately used for many years by mariners
from numerous countries for sealing, whaling, and fishing.(11)
In 1816, the newly formed United Provinces of Rio de la
Plata, forerunner of present day Argentina, declared independence
from Spain. The new "government of Buenos Aires" declared its
sovereignty over the Islands by right of succession from Spain
since the Islands had been previously governed by Spain, from
Buenos Aires. An envoy was dispatched from Buenos Aires by
frigate in 1820 to officially lay claim to the Islands. He
* The British would later deny that the islands referred to in
this agreement included the Falkland/Malvinas Islands.
informed the crews of the fifty or more vessels berthed at Puerto
Soledad that his government now had jurisdiction over all fishing
and hunting on the Islands.(12)
The new Government of Buenos Aires appointed its first
governor of Puerto Soledad in 1823. Three years later it granted
an enterprising business man of French origin named Louis Vernet
substantial rights to commercial development of territory in and
around the Islands including exploitation of the wildlife and sea
life. This was done to settle a rather large debt that the
government owed Vernet's wife. In 1826 he established a colony
on the Islands comprised of 90 settlers.(13)
Vernet was appointed governor in 1829 under protest from the
British consul in Buenos Aires who took that opportunity to
reassert the British claim to the Islands but without taking
further action. Vernet proceeded to impose restrictions on the
mariners in the area who had been slaughtering the seal
population.(14) His efforts to consolidate control over the
Islands culminated in July 1831 with the seizure of three United
States vessels on the grounds that they were engaging in illegal
fishing. One captain was permitted to continue fishing only
after agreeing to share profits with Vernet. The second vessel
escaped. The third was commandeered by Vernet and sailed to
Buenos Aires to put the captain on trial for illegal fishing.(15)
The incensed American consul in Buenos Aires dispatched the
United States warship Lexington to Puerto Soledad to seek
restitution for sealskins and other property which Vernet had
confiscated from the commandeered American ship. Upon arriving
there in December 1831, Lexington's captain, Silas Duncan, not
only recovered the sealskins but also destroyed Argentine guns
and settlement buildings, arrested numerous Argentine
inhabitants, and declared the Islands free of all government.
Vernet resigned as governor and never again set foot on the
The Government of Buenos Aires then decided to establish a
penal colony on the Islands, presumably because most of the
Argentinians left by Duncan were convicts. The new civil and
military governor, appointed in the fall of 1832 to run the penal
colony, was murdered upon his arrival there by mutinous
soldiers. The Argentine government responded by dispatching
troops commanded by Don Jose Maria Pinedo to restore law and
order. In January 1833, while Pinedo and his troops were
pursuing the murderers, British Captain James Onslow arrived at
the Islands on HMS Clio, under instructions to take and hold the
Islands for Britain. The British had ordered the expedition after
receiving word from their consul in Buenos Aires of the unstable
situation in the Islands.(17)
The arrival of the British forces caught the Argentines by
surprise. According to historian W. F. Boyson, Clio's presence
constituted "the embodiment of dazzling order, discipline and
restraint." Onslow convinced outnumbered Pinedo to quit the
Islands under protest but without firing a single shot. Except
for two months in 1982, Britain has maintained control of the
Islands ever since.(18)
News of the British capture of the Islands was bitterly
received in Buenos Aires. Boyson states: "The young republic was
ablaze with indignation at the insult to her dignity.... "(l9) In
London, the Argentine ambassador protested the British
occupation. Arguments between Britain and Argentina over the
sovereignty question, discussed in the next chapter, have
abounded ever since.
OPPOSING CASES FOR SOVEREIGNTY
The controversy over sovereignty of the Islands has grown
steadily in intensity ever since their discovery almost three
centuries ago. The British have adamantly retained their resolve
not to relinquish their "Falkland Islands." The Argentines have
accused the British of illegally occupying their "Malvinas" since
1833. This chapter presents a brief description of the opposing
Argentine and British positions on the sovereignty issue.
Argentine historians and apologists have advanced one or
more of the following points to support their claim to the
1. Spanish explorers were the first to discover the Islands:
Magellan in 1520 and Camargo in 1540.(1)
2. Spain had purchased the Islands from France in 1767 and
thus acquired the right to France's prior occupation.(2)
3. The Islands were peacefully occupied and administered by 19
Spanish governors from 1774 until Argentina declared
independence in 1816.(3)
4. Britain had secretly promised to abandon its claim to the
Islands during negotiations leading to the peace
declarations of 1771.(4)
5. Britain abandoned its settlement in 1774 and showed no
interest in the Islands for the next sixty years. The
British did not claim the Islands when Spain left them in
1811. Britain recognized Argentina's independence in 1825
but made no claim at that time to the Islands which were
then governed by Argentina.(5)
6. By the Nootka Sound Convention of 1790, Britain disavowed
any colonial ambitions in South America "and the islands
adjacent." Argentina claims this included the Islands.(6)
7. Argentina properly inherited the Islands in 1816 upon
gaining its independence from Spain since these territories
were formerly ruled by Spain from Buenos Aires.(7)
8. Some Argentine apologists claim the Islands on the basis of
their geographical proximity to Argentina's mainland or
because they are geologically a part of the South American
9. Argentines consider British colonization of the Islands
"incompatible with the American ideal." This argument has
been made since passage in 1960 of United Nations
Resolution Number 1515 which "solemnly proclaims the
necessity of bringing to a speedy and unconditional end
colonialism in all its forms and manifestations."(9)
The foundation of the Argentine claim lies in their avowed
right to the Islands by succession of Spanish sovereignty. In
the Argentine view, the British relinquished sovereignty of the
Islands by signing the Treaty of Utrecht with Spain in 1713.
Argentina insists that Britain agreed in this treaty to the
territorial integrity of all Spanish territories in the Americas,
including the Islands.(10)
COUNTER ARGUMENTS BY THE BRITISH
1. The British maintain that the Spanish claim that Magellan
discovered the Islands in 1540 rests on imprecise
2. Britain never accepted the Spanish claim to sovereignty
over the Islands based on purchase from France.
3. The British disavow knowledge of the "secret understanding"
which Spain alleged was made prior to the signing of the
exchange of peace declarations in 1771. The British
declaration made no comment on the issue of sovereignty.
The British claim both sides accepted a return to the
4. The British never relinquished their claim to the Islands
when they abandoned Port Egmont in 1774. Proof lies in the
plaque which was left behind.
5. The British insist that mutual agreements made between
Spain and England during the Nootka Sound Convention of
1790 did not affect existing claims to sovereignty. The
agreement stipulated that in the future neither party
should establish any settlement on the eastern or western
coasts of South America or on adjacent islands to the south
of those already held by Spain. (Refer to page 8.)
6. Britain insists that Argentina had no more right to claim
inheritance of the Islands after she declared her
independence from Spain in 1816 than over other separate
and independent countries such as Uruguay and Paraguay.(11)
The British base their claim on one or more of the following
1. British explorers were the first to discover the Islands:
John Davis in 1592 and Sir John Hawkins in 1594 and the
first known landing on the Islands was by British Captain
John Strong in 1690.(12)
2. Britain established a settlement at Port Egmont in 1766
which remained there until 1774 when the British withdrew
on the grounds of economy, leaving behind a plaque which
asserted British sovereignty.(13)
3. Spain vacated her settlement in 1811.(14)
4. Britain had protested the Government of Buenos Aires' 1828
appointment of Louis Vernet as governor of the Islands and
asserted at that time that the British Crown had not
permanently abandoned the Islands when they left them in
5. Britain repossesed Port Egmont in 1832 and occupied Port
Louis in 1833.(16)
6. The British have continuously and effectively occupied the
Islands since 1833.(17)
Britain originally argued that she established sovereignty
of the Islands when British settlers arrived there in 1765. Prior
to World War II, her primary argument shifted to the doctrine of
prescription which states that sovereignty of a territory can be
established by peaceful occupation over a period of time.(18)
Most recently the backbone of the British position has centered
on the right and stated desire of the Islanders to remain under
COUNTER ARGUMENTS BY ARGENTINA
1. The earliest voyagers to the Islands were Spanish, not
2. The plaque left by the British when the abandoned Port
Egmdnt in 1774 refers to only one 'island' on which Port
Egmont is located.
3. Argentines insist they perfected their title to the Islands
during the years from 1829 to 1833 and that displacement of
her citizens by Britain in 1833 was "an act of usurpation
carried out by illegal means."(20)
DOUBTS BY BOTH SIDES
Both British and Argentine politicians expressed doubts
about the legitimacy of their respective cases during the first
few decades of the 20th century.
1. A memorandum published by an official of the British
Foreign Office's Research Department in 1910, for example,
lent a great deal of credence to the standing Argentine
position. It indicated concern over the fact that the
sovereignty issue had not been resolved in the 1771 peace
declarations and allowed that there probably was some truth
to the Argentine claim of the secret agreement that was
allegedly made prior to the signing of those declarations.
The head of the Foreign Office's American Department stated
that from reading the memorandum it was "difficult to avoid
the conclusion that the Argentine government's attitude is
not altogether unjustified and that our action has been
somewhat high-handed."(21) Twenty-six years later, the
Foreign Office addressed the subject again. In 1936 the
head of the British Foreign Office's American department in
1936 stated that "it is therefore not easy to explain our
possession without showing ourselves up as international
2. In 1927, after examining the British position on the
sovereignty issue, Argentina's foreign minister concluded
that it was "exceedingly strong."(23)
This summary of the Argentine and British positions brings
to light the complexity of the sovereignty question. A brief
analysis of these arguments from the standpoint of present-day
international law is presented in the final chapter. The next
chapter examines the "modern day" era of the dispute.
Publicly little occurred in the way of negotiations during
the 130 years following Britain's possession of the Islands in
1833. The position of both sides remained largely the same.
Argentina's protests of the British occupation never ceased and
Britain tended to avoid the sovereignty issue. Then in 1964,
Argentine lobbyists, using as ammunition a 1960 United Nations
resolution pledging to "bring to an end everywhere colonialism in
all its forms"(2) convinced the United Nations General Assembly
to call upon Britain and Argentina to "proceed without delay with
negotiations..... with a view to finding a peaceful solution to
the problem..... bearing in mind..... the interests of the
population of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas)."(3) This resulted
in passage of United Nations resolution number 2065 in December
1965 which brought international attention to the sovereignty
issue and forced Britain, which listed the Islands and
Dependencies as one of its colonies, to begin serious
negotiations with Argentina.(4)
A series of secret meetings were held in London in July 1966
between representatives of the British Foreign Office and
officials from the Argentine embassy. Underlying the discussions
was an understanding that sovereignty would eventually be
transferred to Argentina and that the major obstacle lay in
protecting the the rights and way of life of the Islanders.(5)
These negotiations continued until by September 1967 they were
being led by the Argentine Foreign minister Nicanor Costa Mendez,
and his British counterpart, George Brown.
Brown did not inform either the Islanders or Parliament of
the secret negotiations because he wanted to wait until he could
present them with a proposal that would hold strong appeal for
all parties concerned. When word of the negotiations was leaked
to the Islanders, a number of them sent letters to supporters in
London expressing concern that the negotiations might destroy
their (the Islanders') desire to remain under British rule. One
of those receiving a copy of the letter was William Hunter
Christie, a lawyer who had formerly served in a diplomatic
position at the British embassy in Buenos Aires. He promptly
contacted the chairman of the Falkland Islands Company and
convinced him to establish a campaign designed to represent the
position of the Islanders in London. Out of this was born the
Falkland Islands Emergency Committee and what later was termed
the "Falklands lobby."(6) This lobby dedicated itself to the
prevention of any compromise of British sovereignty over the
The influence wielded by the Falklands lobby in Parliament
became evident in March 1968. Lord Chalfont, the Foreign Office
Minister responsible for the talks with Argentina, was confronted
with a series of tough questions, posed by members of the House
of Lords, concerning the content of the negotiations with
Argentina. They were probing to confirm their suspicions that
negotiations were being conducted with Argentina which might lead
to British concessions on the issue of sovereignty. Foreign
Secretary Michael Stewart, now George Brown's successor, after
being subjected to a similar but more grueling interrogation in
the House of Commons, reluctantly conceded that "the wishes of
the Islanders are an absolute condition for any settlement."(8)
Lord Chalfont embarked on a campaign designed to convince
the Islanders of the benefits they would enjoy by establishing
closer economic ties with Argentina. He hoped the Islanders would
be more open to negotiation of the sovereignty issue once such
ties were established. An expedition to the Islands by Lord
Chalfont in 1968 soured his hopes for a change of heart by the
Islanders and convinced him that they were determined not to give
an inch on the sovereignty question. Apparently fearing a
political backlash, Prime Minister Harold Wilson decided not to
push the issue with the Islanders despite Chalfont's warning upon
his return to England that the deadlock had the potential of
leading to war.(9)
The British Foreign Office continued negotiations during the
early 1970s through David Scott, the new Under-Secretary of
Dependent Territories. He was determined to arrange an agreement
which would at a minimum strengthen economic ties between
Argentina and the Islanders, even if it avoided the key issue of
sovereignty. He proposed the opening of an air link between the
Islands and Argentina to replace the Falkland Islands Company's
unprofitable monthly runs to the mainland using their vessel, the
Darwin. The new air service promised to increase tourism and
offered the Islanders a new opportunity to use mainland schools
and hospitals. Scott convinced the Islanders to accept his
proposal after repeatedly assuring them that the deal would have
no impact on the sovereignty question. The resulting
Communications Agreement was signed with Buenos Aires in July
1971. It stipulated that the British would build a new airstrip
on the Islands for the air service which was to be provided by
Argentina.(10) But construction of the new airstrip was delayed
because the British Foreign Office had failed to secure adequate
funds for the project. The Argentines, anxious to execute the
Communications Agreement, voluntarily built a temporary airstrip
after the British provided the requisite steel-mesh.(11)
The signing of two supplementary communications agreements
in 1974 enabled Argentina to immediately build and supply fuel
tanks adjacent to the temporary airfield and man the tanks with
military personnel. This resulted in heightened concern among
the Islanders. On one hand, the new presence of the Argentine
troops who were manning the fuel tanks made the Islanders feel
Argentina was gaining a stronger foothold in the Islands. On the
other hand, the delay in construction of the permanent airfield
made them feel cheated of the previously promised reliable air
service. They vented their frustration by asking the new Foreign
Secretary, James Callaghan, to terminate all talks with
Argentina. News of the stalled talks was not favorably received
in Buenos Aires. A car bomb exploded outside the British embassy
and the new British ambassador, Derek Ashe, received demands for
the Islands on notes inscribed in blood. The British Foreign
Office gave Ashe permission to resume talks but make no
In 1976, Prime Minister Callaghan initiated an expedition
headed by Lord Shackleton to assess the economic condition of the
Islands. Shackleton concluded that the Islands' economy was
declining and recommended establishment of new economic ties
between Argentina and the Islanders.(13) This opened the door for
yet another British diplomat, Ted Rowlands, to negotiate with the
Islanders in February 1977. Although the Island leaders were at
first determined to remain under British rule, Rowlands convinced
them to put the sovereignty issue back on the bargaining table.
There was now at least a ray of hope that the Islanders could be
sold on an agreement that provided them economic advantages in
return for some concessions on the sovereignty question.(14) But
Rowland's hopes for an agreement never materialized. During the
next two years of negotiations new proposals were discussed such
as joint sovereignty and administration of the Islands (referred
to as the condominium concept) and leasing of the Islands for a
predetermined number of years (the leaseback concept).(15) All
such proposals were attacked by the Falklands lobby and the
British press. Thus no substantive progress in negotiations was
made during the remainder of the Callaghan government.(16)
Margaret Thatcher, newly elected as Conservative Prime
Minister in May 1979, assigned Nicholas Ridley as Rowland's
successor. Ridley returned from familiarization tours of Buenos
Aires and Port Stanley in July with the same concerns his
predecessors had expressed concerning the inflexibility of the
Islanders. Having learned from intelligence sources that
Argentina had developed invasion plans in 1976, Ridley warned the
Islanders that the government had decided not to provide funding
for positioning of a permanent task force in the South Atlantic.
The Islanders seemed unconcerned.(17)
With backing from the Prime Minister's cabinet, Ridley
decided to push for a leaseback settlement. This, he thought,
was the only solution which offered both sides what they wanted.
The Argentines would technically gain possession of the Islands
but the Islanders would be able to preserve their lifestyle for
the duration of the lease, possibly for as long as several
generations. Ridley managed to gain support for his proposal
from as much as fifty percent of Islanders.(18) Even Ridley's
Argentine counterpart was willing to accept his leaseback
proposal, at least in principle. Returning to London on 2
December 1980, Ridley immediately reported his efforts to
Parliament and assured its members that any settlement would have
to have their approval and that of the Islanders. But no less
than 18 members of Parliament viciously attacked his diplomatic
efforts, expressing abhorence at any plans to concede sovereignty
to Argentina. Later that evening Ridley warned: "If we don't do
something, they will invade. And there is nothing we could do."
Ridley's reception in London and the ensuing debate rekindled the
Islanders' concern. The Island legislative council promptly
voted to discontinue all negotiations on sovereignty.(19)
Negotiations had thus reverted to the status quo.
A high level meeting was held in London in June 1981 to
discuss the future of the negotiations. The officials attending
included Ridley, Islands Governor Rex Hunt, and the British
Ambassador to Argentina. They concluded that the prospects of a
negotiated settlement were now bleak in light of the general lack
of acceptance of the leaseback proposal. With no other viable
options for Britain, they discussed an intelligence report which
estimated that Argentina would likely take one or more of the
following actions, once convinced that a negotiated settlement
1. Denouncement of Britain at the United Nations.
2. An air and fuel embargo of the Islands.
3. Action against British economic interests in Argentina.
4. A landing on South Georgia.
5. A full scale invasion of the Islands.(20)
The officials worried that Argentina might take one or more
of these actions prior to 3 January 1982, the 150th anniversary
of the British occupation of the Islands.(21) But exactly which
of these steps would the Argentine leadership take? And
precisely when? The next chapter provides insights to these
questions by examining the Argentine junta's rise to power and
the political situation in Argentina prior to the invasion.
THE JUNTA AND HINTS OF AN INVASION
Prior to the 1982 invasion of the Islands, Argentina's
citizens had suffered for decades under a series of military and
civilian regimes characterized by corruption and repression. By
1976, the government of Isabel Peron, wife of late dictator Juan
Peron, proved to be no better. Consequently, insurgents resorted
to terrorism in their attempts to overthrow the Peron
government. Murder, bombings, and kidnappings were commonplace.
The economy ran out of control as the inflation rate soared to
800 per cent per year.(1)
The 1976 military coup of Army General Jorge Videla occurred
in the midst of the chaos and marked the beginning of rule by a
three-man military junta composed of the commanders-in-chief of
Argentina's three armed services. General Videla was both
president and presiding junta member. Rather than rely on the
judicial system, the junta elected to fight the insurgents by
establishing a police state which abducted, tortured, and killed
thousands of leftists and idealists. The "dirty war" as it came
to be known, continued for the next two years, finally subsiding
in 1978. Human rights organizations claim that as many as 1800
Argentinians vanished during the two years following the coup.(2)
By 1980 order had been restored and the junta was willing to
permit a gradual return of civilian rule in an effort to improve
the economy. Accordingly, in March 1980, Videla resigned and
appointed retired Army General Roberto Viola as president. But
by then General Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri was making his move
for the presidency. Pressured by the newly constituted junta,
Viola resigned in November 1981 under the pretense of ill health,
enabling Galtieri to assume the presidency during the following
month. The new three-man junta composed of General Galtieri,
Navy Admiral Issac Anaya, and Air Force Brigadier General Arturo
Dozo now held the reigns of government.(3)
Galtieri was not an all-powerful dictator, even though he
was both president and commander-in-chief of the army. No major
decisions could be made without a consensus among the three junta
members, whose decisions in turn depended on the approval of a
number of senior subordinate officers in their respective
forces. This "leadership by consensus" frequently hindered the
junta's ability to act promptly and decisively.(4)
Of the three junta members, Admiral Anaya was the most
determined to recapture the Islands and the one who undoubtedly
most strongly influenced the junta's eventual decision to
invade. A close friend of Galtieri, Anaya had backed his rise to
the presidency. In Anaya's mind, the loss of control of the
Beagle Channel to neighboring Chili in 1979, and with it
potential sites for operating bases to the south, made recapture
of the Islands essential. He believed that by seizing the
Islands, Argentina could control the sea routes around Cape Horn.
Thus for Anaya, the Islands held especially great strategic and
Galtieri had reason to believe the super powers would
support or at worst remain neutral if Argentina seized the
Islands. He had assumed the presidency under extremely good
relations with the United States, having favorably impressed
numerous high ranking U. S. government and military officials
during reciprocal visits to and from the U. S. in 1981. The
Reagan administration was particularly pleased with Galtieri's
strong anti-communist stand and apparent willingness to help stem
the expansion of Marxism in Latin America. Galtieri also enjoyed
favorable relations with Moscow. The Soviets had reason to be
grateful for Argentine grain shipments during the American grain
embargo imposed during the Carter administration.(6)
At home, Galtieri quickly took steps to improve Argentina's
immense economic and social problems. He instituted economic
reforms designed to drive down inflation, stimulate investments,
and denationalize the economy. He relaxed the grip of the
police, broadened press freedom, and permitted greater union and
political activity. But Galtieri's economic reforms, however
well intentioned, were met by the public with frequent
demonstrations. A few days before the Argentine invasion of the
Islands, more than 1500 citizens were arrested following bloody
riots in Buenos Aires. These were instigated primarily by
workers' unions who disapproved of the junta and its economic
policies.(7) Many writers suggest that Galtieri and the junta
ordered the invasion to rally the people in the midst of this
political repression and economic uncertainty.
Argentine officials had plenty of reasons to question
Britain's resolve to defend the Islands. Perhaps most significant
was the fact that Britain had tolerated, since 1977, Argentina's
military presence on Southern Thule, a dependency of the Islands.
Defense cuts were another significant indicator of this apparent
lack of resolve. HMS Endurance, an ice patrol ship which had
been Britain's only consistent naval presence in the area for
years, was scheduled to be withdrawn from the South Atlantic at
the end of her 1981-1982 tour.(8) Furthermore, the British
government had recently either sold or disposed of no less than
two amphibious assault ships and two fixed-wing aircraft
carriers. The remaining carriers were scheduled to be disposed
of within the coming year.(9)
But what would British analysts make of what they saw
happening in Argentina? Aside from the conditions previously
described, the three months preceeding Argentina's invasion
marked the emergence of the following hints that the junta might
be contemplating use of military action to recover the Islands:
1. Speculation and discussion of an invasion intensified in
the Argentine press. The Argentine newspaper La Prensa
reported in January 1981 that Galtieri had pledged to take
control of the Islands no later than 3 January 1983 *, the
150th anniversary of Britain's occupation.(10) An
influential columnist wrote in the same paper on 17 January
1982 that the taking of the Malvinas would enjoy
international approval. A week later the same columnist
warned of Argentine military action if Britain failed to
accept Argentine demands for sovereignty over the Islands.
He also stated that "The United States..... would support
all acts leading to restitution, including military
2. On 12 February 1982, President Galtieri obtained a promise
of neutrality from Uruguay in the event of invasion of the
3. Early in March 1982, the junta declared its dissatisfaction
with the outcome of the negotiations held between British
and Argentine representatives in February 1982. It implied
Argentina was no longer bound to pursue a peaceful
solution. Significantly, a communique dispatched to
British officials from Buenos Aires stated that Argentina
had negotiated with Britain for 15 years with "patience,
fidelity, and good faith" but with little benefit.
* The deadline for Galtieri's pledge fell just after the
scheduled expiration of his role as commander-in-chief of the
army on 22 December 1982, although his term as president ran
The Argentine Foreign Ministry also announced that "if a
solution should not be reached, Argentina maintains the
right to end the system (of British rule) and freely choose
the procedure it may deem most convenient to its
4. During the week of 12 March 1982, an Argentine Air Force
Hercules C-130 made an "emergency" landing at the Port
Stanley airport raising suspicions that Argentina might be
testing the feasibility of landing troops on the
The evidence all pointed to an invasion. A review of the
South Georgia incident, described in the next chapter, will
provide some possible explanations as to how and when it would
THE SOUTH GEORGIA INCIDENT
Located 800 miles southeast of Stanley, South Georgia is an
isolated island approximately 150 miles in length and
characterized by a harsh winter climate. In 1982, it was the
home of a number of scientific research bases manned by
approximately thirty members of the British Antarctic Survey Team
Click here to view image
In September 1979 an Argentine scrap metal dealer named
Constantine Davidoff had contracted with a firm in Edinburgh to
remove 35,000 tons of scrap metal from abandoned whaling stations
at Leith on South Georgia.(2) Trouble began when Davidoff
inspected the whaling stations in December 1981 and escalated to
crisis proportions when his workers returned there in March 1982
to begin dismantling operations.
To understand the confusion which surrounded the South
Georgia incident, it is necessary to review some background
relating to the 1971 Communications Agreement. The agreement had
established the so-called "white card," a document which provided
the holder freedom to travel between the Islands and Argentina.
At the time of the initiation of the United Nations program of
decolonization, described in chapter 3, Britain had listed the
Falkland Islands and Dependencies (which included South Georgia)
as one of its colonies. Thus, as far as Argentina was concerned,
the holder of a "white card" could legally travel to South
Georgia as well as the main Islands. But by December 1981, when
Davidoff first visited Leith, Britain insisted that the South
Georgia was a separate colony governed directly from Britain and
administered from the Islands only for the sake of convenience.
Accordingly, a British regulation was established which required
anyone disembarking on South Georgia to first obtain official
permission from the commandant of the Antarctic Survey Team at
Grytviken. Argentine officials were apparently never formally
notified of the new status of South Georgia or of the requirement
to check in at Grytviken.(3)
Davidoff arrived at Leith aboard the Argentine icebreaker
Almirante Irizar on 20 December 1981, completed his inspection,
and returned to Argentina. Although he had been in touch with
British embassy officials in Buenos Aires on several occasions
during 1980 and 1981, it remains unclear whether or not he was
aware of the British regulation which required him to check-in
with officials at Grytviken before going to Leith.
On 31 December, Island Governor Rex Hunt informed the
British Foreign Office of Davidoff's unauthorized visit at Leith
in South Georgia. The governor insisted Davidoff was aware of the
requirement to obtain clearance at Grytviken and succeeded in
convincing the Foreign Office to lodge a strong protest with the
Argentine government. Argentine officials subsequently rejected
the protest, claiming no knowledge of Davidoff's trip.
Davidoff apologized for the incident in person at the
British embassy in Buenos Aires on 23 February 1982. He then
stated his intent to send workers to Leith, South Georgia to
begin scrap metal dismantling operations and requested detailed
instructions to preclude any further misunderstanding. The
British ambassador requested guidance from Governor Hunt. On 9
March, having not received the guidance, Davidoff formally
notified the British embassy that 41 of his salvage workers would
sail from Buenos Aires for South Georgia on 11 March aboard the
Argentine naval supply ship Bahia Buen Suceso and remain there
for four months. On 11 March, having still not received the
guidance, the salvage crew sailed for South Georgia.(5)
Arriving at Leith on 19 March 1982 with their white cards,
the salvage workers raised the Argentine flag and sang their
national anthem. Four of the British Antarctic Survey scientists
observed the Argentines and, after informing the workers that
their activities were illegal, reported the incident by radio to
Governor Hunt. On Hunt's advice, the British Foreign Office
secretly dispatched 22 Royal Marines aboard HMS Endurance from
Stanley to South Georgia with the mission of expelling any scrap
metal workers who failed to leave on their own recognizance.(6)
The British ambassador in Buenos Aires protested the landing
of Davidoff's men at Leith and all but a dozen of the workers
left South Georgia aboard Bahia Buen Suceso sometime between 21
and 23 March. Then, on 23 March, the British Foreign Office
informed Argentine Foreign Minister Costa Mendez that Endurance
had been dispatched to expel the remaining group of Argentine
workers. Costa Mendez expressed surprise that such action had
been taken prior to exhaustion of all diplomatic solutions and
warned of a possible strong reply. He said that Bahia Buen
Suceso might yet return to retrieve the remaining workers.(7)
A rumor now circulated among British government officials
that Admiral Anaya had ordered the use of force to prevent a
British attempt to remove the workmen by force. This rumor was
confirmed on 24 March, when over one hundred Argentine troops,
under command of Captain Alfredo Astiz, disembarked from the
armed Argentine naval survey ship Bahia Paraiso under orders to
"protect" the remaining workmen. The Royal Marines aboard
Endurance arrived in time for their commander, Lieutenant Keith
Mills, to covertly observe Astiz's men unloading arms and
supplies from Bahia Paraiso in the vicinity of the scrap metal
salvage sight. Mills reported this sighting to officials in
London, who in turn ordered him not to take any action that might
provoke an armed response, presumably because London was
frantically trying to resolve the crisis by diplomacy.(8)
Argentine and British diplomats failed to defuse the South
Georgia crisis during the next few days. On 26 March, an
announcement was made on British television, which later proved
to be premature, that two British nuclear submarines had deployed
from Gibralter to the South Atlantic. Bahia Paraiso sailed from
South Georgia on 27 March , leaving the Argentine troops and
remaining workmen behind. Then on 28 March the Argentine press
reported the cancelation of all navy leave and the departure of a
number of naval vessels for operations at sea. By then British
intelligence had predicted the invasion of the Islands would
occur on 2 April. Prime Minister Thatcher dispatched nuclear
submarines to the South Atlantic and warned Governor Hunt of the
The warning was warranted. Operation Rosario was well
The operation to recapture the Islands, code named Operation
Rosario commenced in late March 1982. The architect is thought to
be junta member Admiral Anaya. The invasion plans were developed
in strict secrecy. Only a small number of high ranking officials
were briefed on the operation.(1)
Two task forces assembled in late March at Puerto Belgrano,
Argentina's principal naval base. Amphibious Task Force Forty
(TF-40), commanded by Rear Admiral Gualter Allara, was composed
of two destroyers, two corvettes, the submarine Santa Fe, an LST,
an icebreaker, and a cargo ship. The supporting task force
(TF-20) was composed of the aircraft carrier Veinticinco de Mayo,
four destroyers, a fleet oiler, and a tug boat.(2)
The mission of TF-40 was to capture Port Stanley and take
effective control of the population. Intermediate objectives
included seizure of the airport and lighthouse near Stanley and
the Royal Marine barracks. The plans called for mounting the
amphibious assault under cover of darkness, capitalizing on the
advantages of surprise and overwhelming numerical superiority.
Injury to the Royal Marines and the Islanders was to be avoided
as much as possible.
The operation was designed to be conducted in five phases:
2. Movement to the objective area.
3. Assault and capture of objectives.
4. Consolidation of position and effective control of
5. Reembarkation of all Marines.
Preparation of ships for sea, including fueling and loading
of supplies, began on 26 March and was completed at night to
minimize suspicion. On the same day, the Argentine frigates
Drummond and Granville set sail. On 28 March a battalion of
Marines, under command of landing force commander Rear Admiral
Carlos Busser * had embarked on the LST Cabo San Antonio and
other ships assigned to the task force.(3)
By 29 March, the bulk of the invasion force was underway,
ostensibly for naval exercises with Uruguay.(4) Supporting Task
Force 20 took up a position about 450 miles due north of the
Islands and used carrier based aircraft to conduct anti-submarine
patrols. Amphibious Task Force 40 proceeded south, remaining
* Argentine Marine Corps officers are integrated in their Navy
and are promoted according to the Argentine Navy rank structure.
relatively close to Argentina's border. Plans originally called
for the invasion force to approach the Islands from the south
west, then circle counter clockwise from the southeast in
preparation for a landing on the eastern side of the Islands.
But the weather deteriorated on 29 March. High winds and
rough seas substantially slowed Task Force 40's advance and
forced postponement of the landing, originally set for the
morning of 1 April, to the morning of 2 April. To avoid storm
damage, a decision was made to turn the task force to a northerly
course and make the approach to the objective area from the
northern side of the Islands.
By mid-day on 31 March, the Argentine commanders knew the
element of surprise had been lost because Argentine radio
operators had intercepted radio broadcasts by Governor Hunt
warning the Islanders of an imminent invasion. Plans to seize
the lighthouse, now defended by Islanders, were cancelled.
Invasion efforts were focused entirely on capture of Port
The invading force faced an armed enemy only 68 strong,
comprised of a Royal Marine nucleus and a handful of civilians
from the Island's volunteer defense force. Island defenses were
minimal. Major Mike Norman, commander of the British garrison,
had not had enough time to destroy the airport, mine the beaches
with improvised mines, or block the approaches to the harbor.
Nevertheless, he did the best he could, in what little time
remained, with the resources at his disposal. He equipped two
Marines with a machine gun and 1600 rounds of ammunition and
stationed them on a spot overlooking Purple beach, where he
expected the first wave of the assault force to land. Six
Marines were dug in at the airport, waiting to hit any enemy
helicopters with small arms fire. Additional Marines, in groups
of six, were strung out on the road leading from the airport back
to Stanley. The rest were positioned to defend Governor House.(6)
Click here to view image
The British Marine commander then gave a final brief to his
men at about midnight on 1 April. Realizing that he would be
hopelessly outnumbered, his orders were to at least give the
enemy a "bloody nose." The troops stationed on the road between
the airport and Stanley were told to harass the enemy with small
arms fire then fall back for a last stand at Government House,
considered the key defensive position since it represented the
seat of government.(7)
The Argentines arrived after nightfall on 1 April. Anchoring
within 500 meters of shore, the destroyer Santisima Trinidad
disembarked 80 Marine commandos who paddled ashore in 20 rubber
boats.(8) Their mission was to capture the British Marine
Barracks and the Government House early on the following
At 2300 on 1 April, the submarine Santa Fe secretly
disembarked ten divers in the vicinity of York Point. After
moving ashore in three Zodiac boats, the divers quickly marked
Orange beach in preparation for landing of the amphibious
vehicles on the following morning. The Santa Fe then submerged
and repositioned east of Port Stanley.(10)
By 0600 on 2 April one group of Marine commandos had arrived
at Marine Barracks and found them deserted. At about the same
time, a second group had engaged the thirty-three Royal Marines
who were defending Government house.(11)
By 0630 on 2 April, the main amphibious landing was well
underway. The LST Cabo San Antonio, protected by a destroyer and
corvette, began discharging 19 armored amphibious landing
vehicles (LVTs) filled with troops. The LVTs proceeded unopposed
to Orange Beach, adjacent to Purple beach where the two British
Marines had set up their machine gun emplacement.(12)
Argentine troops advancing on Port Stanley sustained no
casualties and encountered little resistance other than harassing
small arms fire coming from buildings on the edge of town. Only
one of the 19 armored personnel carriers sustained damage. and
that was negligible.(13)
By 0830 on 2 April Argentine Army troops and Marines had
captured the airstrip and cleared it of vehicles intentionally
left by the British to obstruct the runway. Within minutes after
the runway was seized, Argentine reenforcements began arriving on
seven Lockheed C-130 Hercules transports and ten Fokker F-27
aircraft. The C-130s carried the bulk of the twenty-fifth
Infantry Regiment, which would subsequently assume responsibility
for defense of the Islands.(14)
Royal Marines who had been dispersed at various locations
around the Island were unable to reinforce their comrades at
Government House because they encountered heavy enemy fire while
approaching the outskirts of town. As the morning progressed,
fighting at Government House intensified. The Argentine
commandos peppered the House with automatic weapons fire and
lobbed stun grenades at enemy defensive positions. The 33
defending Royal Marines returned fire but found it difficult to
pinpoint enemy positions since enemy guns were fitted with flash
suppressors. At one point, three Argentine commandos were cut
down with automatic weapon fire as they attempted to rush the
House. Three others gained entry through a bedroom window but
were subsequently captured by Royal Marines inside.(15)
Governor Rex Hunt realized resistance was useless when
armored personnel carriers equipped with 30mm guns moved within
firing range of Government House. He therefore ordered the
surrender of the Islands after a brief conversation with Admiral
Busser, who warned that civilians might be hurt if the fighting
continued. By approximately 1000, the Union Jack was replaced by
Argentina's blue and white flag. *
By the end of the operation, Argentina had landed over 600
Marines and 280 Army and Air Force personnel. The invasion force
had recovered the Islands without inflicting a single casualty to
British military or civilian personnel. Unconfirmed Argentine
casualties amounted to five killed (two confirmed) and seventeen
wounded (two confirmed).(16)
* Over 800 miles away at Leith, Captain Astiz's men raised the
Argentine flag and signed a declaration in the presence of the
scrap metal workers which renamed South Georgia as "Isla San
Pedro." Arriving at Grytviken the following morning, Astiz and
his men faced considerable British resistance. Lieutenant Mills
surrendered his handful of Royal Marines only after destroying an
Argentine helicopter, raking an Argentine corvette with machine
gun fire, and inflicting casualties on 5 of Astiz's men. Only
one British corporal was wounded. Mills was subsequently awarded
the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry.(17)
ANALYSIS, CONCLUSIONS, AND OPINIONS
THE SOVEREIGNTY ISSUE AND INTERNATIONAL LAW
Legal scholars in the international community have
traditionally recognized five modes of acquiring territory.
These are: cession, occupation, accretion, subjugation, and
Cession is defined as "title derived from another state by
the transfer of sovereignty by the owner state to another
state." It may result from the outcome of war, a gift, sale, or
an exchange. It can only be effected by treaty between the
ceding and acquiring states and normally requires that the new
owner possess or occupy the territory. It is essential that
cession occur with "the full consent of the governments
Occupation is "the act of appropriation of territory which
is not at the time under the sovereignty of another state." It
requires both possession and administration, implying the need
for the presence of a settlement and a formal act of proclamation
by the occupier to confirm his intent to keep the territory under
his sovereignty. An uninhabited island not part of any state
would be an example of a territory liable for occupation by
another country. Abandonment by the occupying state would make
it vulnerable for occupation by another.(3)
Accretion refers to "an increase in existing land masses by
new geological changes, such as the formation of a new island in
a river." This type of acquisition does not apply in the case of
Subjugation refers to firmly established conquest followed
by formal annexation. It occurs only after an end to a state of
war or hostilities.(5)
Prescription is "the acquisition of sovereignty over a
territory through continuous and undisturbed exercise of
sovereignty over it during such period as is necessary to
create.... the general conviction that the present condition of
things is in conformity with international order." No rule
defines the length of time necessary to create title by
prescription. Uti possidetis is a principle related to
prescription which has been adopted by Spanish-American republics
to assert sovereignty over territories which at one time formed a
part of the Spanish Colonial Empire. After winning independence
from Spain, Argentina used this principle to defend her avowed
"inheritance" of the Islands.(6)
Sovereignty may be lost by any of these methods or by revolt
"when the state which has broken off from another has established
itself safely and permanently."(7)
The series of events surrounding the sovereignty issue since
the mid 18th century has made settlement dispute over the Islands
a very complex legal problem. Argentina can argue that original
Spanish sovereignty was not compromised when the British
established their settlement at Port Egmont in 1770 or when Spain
permitted the British to re-occupy Port Egmont in 1771. Argentina
can further argue that she had more of a legal right to occupy
the abandoned Islands in the 1820's than did Britain who seized
them when they were clearly occupied by Argentina in 1833.
However, the British point to the fact that they have perfected
their title by maintaining a continuous presence on the Islands
since 1833. Furthermore, the British insist that the Islanders
should be able to determine their own future, referred to as the
principle of "self-determination."(8)
A review of existing case law regarding sovereignty leads
this writer to conclude that there is not sufficient legal
precedent to resolve the dispute by international law. One
essayist points out that neither side would be likely to agree to
a legal settlement anyway, since neither could be certain how a
properly constituted international court would decide the case.
Recognizing the difficulty of arriving at a legal solution in
such disputes, the United Nations Charter charges member nations
with solving them by peaceful means.(9) It is unfortunate that
Argentina resorted instead to forcible seizure of the Islands in
1982, resulting ultimately in the loss of many British and
Recognizing that the Islands held little strategic or
economic value for Britain, British Foreign Office officials were
committed in principle to returning the Islands to Argentine
sovereignty after the passage of United Nations Resolution 2065
in December 1965. But because of the dogged determination of the
Islanders and lobbyists in London not to concede on the
sovereignty issue, Parliament was unwilling to back a leaseback
settlement, which, in the long run, would have been advantageous
to both sides. Thus, during the 17 years prior to the invasion,
British negotiators could do little more than attempt to show
good faith in the negotiations at the expense of mounting
frustration by Argentina, while at the same time trying to
persuade the Islanders to compromise on their hard line
position. Parliament's consistent failure to make any
concessions with regard to sovereignty resulted in the junta's
conclusion that Britain was more interested in stalling for time
than in reaching a settlement that would benefit both sides.
TIMING OF THE INVASION
The decision to proceed with the invasion cannot solely be
attributed to a ploy by the junta to rally the people in the
midst of the economic and political conditions in Argentina,
although this undoubtedly contributed to an environment which
favored the invasion. This writer concludes that the junta had
not planned to recapture the Islands until sometime in the latter
part of 1982 and therefore the Davidoff incident was not staged
by the junta to provide them with an excuse to initiate the
invasion. In my estimation, President Galtieri, pressured by
Admiral Anaya, unexpectedly decided to proceed with the invasion
in late March 1982 after receiving intelligence reports that
Britain had dispatched nuclear submarines to the South Atlantic
in response to the Davidoff incident. For Argentina. the
invasion became a "now or never" situation. The junta believed
that if the invasion was to succeed, it had to be completed prior
to the earliest time the British submarines could arrive in the
vicinity of the Islands. Without a British naval threat to cope
with, the Argentine amphibious force faced only 68 Royal Marines
assisted by a handful of civilian volunteers from the Island
defense force. But once on station, the British submarines could
remain indefinitely to deter any invasion attempt.
MISCALCULATIONS BY BOTH SIDES
Argentine and British officials were each guilty of a series
of political and military miscalculations during the weeks
leading up to Operation Rosario. The junta's most serious
miscalculation was its belief that the British did not possess
the resolve or resources to respond to an Argentine invasion of
the Islands with military force. Britain's defense cuts and her
failure to challenge Argentina's military presence on Southern
Thule caused the junta to underestimate Britain's resolve to
retain the Islands. Another serious Argentine miscalculation
centered on junta's belief that Argentine recovery of the Islands
would enjoy the support of the international community,
especially if British casualties were minimized during the
invasion operation. Galtieri's good relationship with the Reagan
administration and other U. S. officials incorrectly led Galtieri
to believe the United States would at worst remain neutral if
Argentina proceeded with the invasion and at best come out in
support for Argentina. As it turned out, the United States sided
with the British.
Many British officials suspected Argentina was planning an
invasion, but most were surprised when it actually occurred.
Distracted from the impending crisis by their own domestic and
international problems, these officials failed to recognize the
Argentine public's willingness to support a military seizure of
the Islands in the midst of Argentina's political and economic
turmoil. Furthermore, these officials failed to heed indications
of the impending invasion such as speculation of the invasion
found in the Argentine press, the promise of neutrality by
Uruguay in the event of an Argentine invasion, and the
"emergency" landing of the Argentine C-130. These signals should
have left little doubt in the minds of these British officials
that an invasion was very close at hand and prompted them to make
diplomatic concessions or take military action which would have
discouraged Argentina from attempting a military solution.
Operation Rosario was a well executed amphibious operation.
The fact that Argentina had an immense numerical superiority does
not minimize the fact that she successfully carried out a full
scale amphibious landing and achieved virtually complete surprise
during the embarkation and transit phases. It is remarkable that
Argentine Marines were able to secure their objectives and turn
them over to control of the Argentine Army without inflicting a
single casualty to either British military or civilian
THE FUTURE OF THE DISPUTE
Britain's recovery of the Islands in June 1982 is not likely
to diminish Argentina's determination to recover them in the
future. Galtieri is reported to have stated after the war that
"we won't wait another 149 years."(10) Faced with the potential
of Argentine hostility, Britain is spending huge sums of money to
defend the Islands which provide her with a relatively negligible
economic return. Because of this expense, I suspect that within
the next 10 to 15 years, Britain will make concessions on the
sovereignty issue and negotiate a settlement with Argentina which
will be advantageous to both sides.
1. Raphael Perl, The Falkland Islands Dispute in
International Law and Politics., (London, England: Oceana
Publications, Inc., 1983), p. 2.
2. Department of State Bulletin, June 1982, p. 83.
3. Fritz L. and Olga M. Hoffmann, Sovereignty in Dispute.
The Falklands/Malvinas, 1493-1982., (Boulder, Colorado: Westview
Press, Inc., 1984), p. 1-9.
4. Hoffmann, p. 13-15.
5. Department of State Bulletin, p. 83.
6. Ronald Stickney, Lessons of the South Atlantic Conflict,
(Maxwell AFB, Ala.: Air Command and Staff College, 1983), p. 6.
7. Hoffmman, p. 15.
8. Ibid, p. 11-12.
9. John Naughton, Lessons of the Falkland War, 1982. A
Political Perspective. (Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Air Command and
Staff College, 1983), p.6.
10. Lawrence Freedman, "The War of the Falkland Islands.
1982" Foreign Affairs, Fall 1982, p. 196.
CHAPTER ONE: HISTORICAL BACKGROUND THROUGH 1833
1. J. C. J. Metford, "Falklands or Malvinas? The Background
to the Dispute," p. xv. Published in The Struggle for the
Falkland Islands by Julius Goebel (Yale University Press, 1968
2. Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins, The Battle for the
Falkland Islands.(New York, N. Y. and London: W. W. Norton and
Company, 1983), p. 1.
3. Alfred P. Rubin, "Historical and Legal Background of the
Falklands/ Malvinas Dispute," The Falklands War. Lessons for
Strategy, Diplomacy, and International Law(Winchester
Massachusets: Allen and Unwin, Inc., 1985), p. 10.
4. Rubin, p. 12.
5. Hastings, p. 3.
6. Paul Eddy and Magnus Linklater, The Falklands War. The
Full Story by the Sunday Insight Team.(London: Sphere Books
Limited, 1982), p. 36.
7. Hastings, p. 3.
8. Metford, p. xiii.
9. Eddy, p. 37; Rubin, p. 13.
lO. Eddy, p. 38.
11. Hastings, p. 4.
13. Metford, p. xix; Eddy, p. 38.
14. Hastings, p. 5.
15. Metford, p. xx.
16. Eddy, p. 39; Metford p. xx.
17. Hastings, p. 5 and 6.
18. Eddy, p. 39.
CHAPTER TWO: OPPOSING CASES FOR SOVEREIGNTY
1. Eddy, p. 39
2. Eddy, p. 39.
3. Perl, p. 23.
4. Eddy, p. 39.
5. Rubin, p. 39; Hastings, p. 6; Perl, p. 23.
6. Hastings, p. 4.
7. Eddy, p. 39.
8. Metford, p. xxiii.
9. Metford, pp. xxiii-xxiv; Perl, p. 349.
10. Perl, p. 21-22.
11. "Claims to the Falkland Islands" (Background Brief by
the Foreign Commonwealth Office, London: April 1986), pp. 2-4.
12. "Claims to the Falkland Islands", p. 2.
13. Hastings, pp. 3-4.
14. Ibid, p. 4.
15. "Claims to the Falkland Islands", p. 5.
16. Ibid, p. 6.
17. Ibid, p. 7.
18. Hastings, p. 7.
19. "Claims to the Falkland Islands" p. 1.
20. Department of State Bulletin, June 1982, p. 88; Eddy
p. 38; Perl, p. 24.
21. Eddy, p. 40.
22. Eddy, p. 44.
23. Eddy, p. 41.
CHAPTER THREE: DIPLOMACY 1964-1981
1. Department of State Bulletin, June 1982, p. 89.
2. Eddy, p. 41.
3. Perl, p. 373.
4. Eddy, p. 41; Hoffmann, p. 141.
5. Hastings, p. 19.
6. Hastings, p. 18.
7. Humberto Ortero, Falkland Islands War: Roots,
Development, and Military Lessons.(Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Air
Command and Staff College, 1983), p. 4.
8. Eddy, p. 47.
9. Hastings, p. 21.
10. Hastings, p. 23.
11. Hastings, p. 26.
12. Eddy, p. 49.
13. John Naughton, Lessons of the Falkland War, 1982. A
Political Perspective. (Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Air Command and
Staff College, 1983), p. 6.
14. Hastings p. 33.
15. Hastings, p. 34.
16. Eddy, p. 50.
17. Eddy, p. 52.
18. Hastings, p. 39.
19. Eddy, pp. 53-54.
20. Eddy, p. 54.
21. Eddy, p. 55.
CHAPTER FOUR: THE JUNTA AND HINTS OF INVASION
1. "For Argentina, Troubles are Just Beginning." U. S. News
and World Report, May 17, 1982. Author not identified. p. 30.
2. Eddy, p. 59.
3. Robert Korkin and Bruce Sanders, Falkland Islands - War
for National Sovereignty. (Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Air War College,
1985), p. 14; Eddy p. 61.
4. Eddy, p. 61.
5. Eddy, p. 29
6. Korkin p. 14; Hastings, p. 45; Freedman, p. 199.
7. "For Argentina, Troubles Are Just Beginning." p. 30;
Lang, p. 5.
8. Douglas Kinney, "The Falklands Campaign," p. 82-85.
Published in The Falkland War, Lessons for Strategy, Diplomacy,
and International Law. by Anthony Arend and Alberto Coll
(Winchestor, Massachusets: Allen and Unwin, Inc., 1985);
9. Naughton, p. 5.
10. John Laffin, Fight for the Falklands! (New York: St.
Martin's Press, 1982), p. 11.
11. Eddy, pp 61-62.
12. Gabriel Marcella, "The Malvinas/Falklands War of 1982.
Lessons for the United States and Latin America.: (Carlisle
Barracks, Penn.: Strategic Studies Institute, U. S. Army War
College, August 1983), p. 5; Naughton, p. 15.
13. Marcella, p. 5; Korkin, p. 11.
14. Kinney, p. 87; Naughton, p. 16; Marcella, p. 5.
15. MarcelIa, p. 5.
CHAPTER FIVE: THE SOUTH GEORGIA INCIDENT
1. Stickney, p. 14; Eddy, p. 65.
2. Lawrence Germain, "A Diary of the Falklands Conflict" p.
135. Published in Military Lessons of the Falkland Islands War
Views from the United States. by Peter Dunn and Bruce Watson
(Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1984.)
3. Hoffmann, p. 153.
4. Ibid, p. 154.
5. Ibid, p. 155;
6. Stickney, p. 15; Jesus Briasco and Salvador Huertas
Falklands: Witness of Battles (Valentia, Spain: Federico
Domenech, 1984), p. 135; Harry D. Train, The Malvinas Conflict
Presented as a lecture to the National Defense College of
Argentina on 10 November 1986; Germain, p. 135.
7. Hoffmann, p. 157.
8. Hoffmann, p. 158; Hastings, p. 56; Eddy, p. 70.
9. Train, p. 7; Hastings, p. 60; Marcella, p. 5; Eddy,
CHAPTER SIX: OPERATION ROSARIO
1. Kinney, p. 87; Korkin, p. 18.
2. Robert L. Scheina: From manuscript of his yet unpublished
3. Interview with Captain de Navio Coli, Chief of Operations
of the Argentine Fleet, by Dr. Scheina.
4. Germain, p. 137.
5. Scheina manuscript.
6. Eddy, pp. 8-9.
7. Scheina manuscript.
9. Germain, p. 138.
10. Scheina manuscript.
11. Germain, p. 138.
12. Scheina manuscript; Eddy, p. 17.
13. Scheina manuscript; Germain, p. 138.
14. Scheina manuscript; Germain, p. 138; Captain Coli
interview by Dr. Scheina.
15. Germain, p. 138; Eddy, pp. 16-17.
16. Eddy, p. 22; Germain, p. 138.
17. Eddy, pp. 93-94
CHAPTER SEVEN: ANALYSIS, CONCLUSIONS, AND OPINIONS
1. Raphael Perl, The Falkland Islands Dispute in
International Law and Politics (London: Oceana Publications, Inc.:
1983), p. 13.
2. Perl, p. 14.
3. Perl, p. 14.
4. Perl, p. 15.
5. Perl, p. 15.
6. Perl, p. 15-16.
7. Perl, p. 18.
8. Perl, p. 53-54.
9. Rubin, p. 18.
10. Marcella, p. 15.
ARTICLES, ESSAYS, PERIODICALS
"A Bizarre Crisis that Worries U. S." U. S. News and World
Report, April 19, 1982. Presents political challenges faced
by President Reagan as middle man in the Falkland/Malvinas
dispute. Author not identified. Limited value to my
Cordesman, Anthony H. "The Falklands Crisis: Emerging Lessons for
Power Projection and Force Planning." Army and Navy Journal
September 1982. Discusses lessons learned in areas of U. S.
intelligence, U. S. crisis management, air/missile conflict,
and power projection. No value to my research.
"For Argentina, Troubles Are Just Beginning." U. S. News and
World Report, May 17, 1982. Author not identified. Provides
insights into the economic and political challenges faced by
Argentine President Galtieri and the military junta.
Freedman, Lawrence. "The War of the Falkland Islands, 1982."
Foreign Affairs Fall 1982. Seeks to explain why Britain's
policies led to war. Valuable to my research because
information concerning the history and negotiations leading
to Argentine invasion.
Germain, Lawrence, S. "A Diary of the Falklands Conflict."
Published in Military Lessons of the Falkland Islands War -
Views from the United States. by Peter Dunn and Bruce
Watson. This diary provided some useful chronological
details surrounding the Argentine invasion.
Kerr, Nick. "The Falklands Campaign." Naval War College Review,
November-December 1982. A Royal Navy commander provides his
explanation of the British response to the Argentine
invasion. No value to my research.
Kinney, Douglas. "Anglo-Argentine Diplomacy and the Falklands
Crisis." Published in The Falklands War, Lessons for
Strategy, Diplomacy, and International Law. by Anthony Arend
and Alberto Coll. Provides valuable information concerning
diplomatic efforts preceeding the conflict.
Marcella, Gabriel. "The Malvinas/Falklands War of 1982. Lessons
for the United States and Latin America." Carlisle Barracks,
Pennsylvania: Strategic Studies Institute, U. S. Army War
College, August 1983. Distills the policy lessons of the war
for the United States and Latin America. Provides brief
historical background of the dispute, rationale behind
Argentine decision to recover the Islands, diplomatic
efforts after the invasion, and implications of the conflict
for U. S. policy. Valuable to my research because it
provided historical information and identified factors
motivating Argentine and British actions prior to the
Metford, J. C. J. "Falklands or Malvinas? The Background to the
Dispute." Published in July 1968 edition of Julius Goebel's
book The Struggle for the Falkland Islands. Provides
valuable historical background concerning the dispute.
Peterson, Neal H. "Background on the Falkland Islands Crisis."
Department of State Bulletin, Vol 82, Number 2063, June
1982. Of value to my research for selected historical and
Rubin, Alfred P. "Historical and Legal Background of the
Falklands/Malvinas Dispute." Published in The Falklands War,
Lessons for Strategy, Diplomacy, and International Law by
Anthony Arend and Alberto Coll. Valuable to my research for
historical and legal details.
"The Falklands War." Newsweek. June 7, 1982. Author not
identified. Describes the British push against Stanley to
retake the Islands. No value to my research.
Arend, Anthony and Coll Alberto. The Falklands War, Lessons for
Strategy, Diplomacy, and International Law. Winchester,
Massachusets: Allen and Unwin, Incorporated, 1985. A
collection of essays by 15 authors on various aspects of the
Falklands war. Two essays of value to my research were
"Anglo-Argentine Diplomacy and the Falklands Crisis" by
Douglas Kinney and "Historical and Legal Background of the
Falkland/Malvinas Dispute" by Alfred P. Rubin.
Bishop, Patrick and Witherow, John. The Winter War. New York, N.
Y. : Quartet Books Inc., 1982. The authors give a personal
account of what it was like to live alongside British
fighting men during British reoccupation of the Islands. No
value to my research.
Briasco, Jesus and Huertas, Salvador. Falklands: Witness of
Battles. Valentia, Spain: Federico Domenech, 1984.
Translated from Spanish to English. Provides a detailed
description of air and naval operations which occurred from
April to June 1982, with an emphasis on air tactics
employed. Limited value to my research. Provided a few
details of initial Argentine Marine landings and arrival of
following forces as well as some chronological information.
Dunn, Peter M. and Watson Bruce W. Military Lessons of the
Falkland Islands War - Views from the United States.
Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1984. A collection of
articles by various authors covering lessons dealing with
submarines, surface combatants, aircraft, ground warfare,
amphibious warfare, and intelligence. Very limited value to
Eddy, Paul and Linklater, Magnus. The Falklands War, The Full
Story by the Sunday Insight Team. London: Sphere Books
Limited: 1982. A comprehensive account of the war. Provides
very good historical information concerning events leading
to the Argentine invasion and details of actions by Royal
Marines during the invasion. An important reference for my
research. Note: Maps on pages 33 and 41 are reproduced from
Goebel, Julius. The Struggle for the Falkland Islands. New Haven
and London: Yale University Press, 1927. A study of the
history of the Falkland Islands from their discovery though
their reoccupation by the British in 1833. Based on
manuscript sources from France, Spain, and Britain.
Discusses legal aspects of sovereignty.
Hastings, Max and Jenkins, Simon. The Battle for the Falklands.
New York, N. Y. and London: W. W. Norton and Company, 1983.
A comprehensive account of British political decision making
and naval and military operations conducted by Britain to
recover the Islands. A valuable source of information for my
paper regarding historical and diplomatic background
surrounding the dispute.
Hoffmann, Fritz L. and Olga M. Sovereignty in Dispute. The
Falklands/Malvinas, 1493-1982. Boulder and London: Westview
Press, 1984. Centers on the history of the dispute over the
Islands. Based mainly on official documents and on
contemporary periodicals, including newspapers, collected by
the authors during extended stays in Argentina. Very
valuable to my research because the authors do an excellent
job of presenting the Argentine side of events leading up to
Laffin, John. Fight for the Falklands. New York, N. Y.: St.
Martin's Press, 1982. Traces the story of the Falklands war
from the political events leading to the Argentine invasion
to the British military strategies that finally ended the
conflict. Limited value to my research. Chapter 2 provides
author's explanation of the "modern period" of the dispute
and why Britain failed to foresee the invasion.
Perl, Raphael. The Falkland Islands Dispute in International Law
and Politics. London, England: Oceana Publications, Inc.,
1983. A comprehensive compilation of documents and
information related to the legal aspects of the sovereignty
issue. Analyzes these sources from the viewpoint of
international law and practice. Valuable reference for my
Perrett, Bryan. Weapons of the Falklands Conflict. Dorset,
England: Blandford Press, 1982. Provides British and
Argentine order of battle and brief descriptions of air and
land battle action, including hardware employed. No value
to my research.
Interview conducted by U. S. Coast Guard Historian Dr. Robert L
Scheina with Captain de Navio Coli, Chief of Operations of
the Argentine Fleet, conducted 15 September 1982 at Puerto
Belgrano. Provides valuable details concerning execution of
Periodic discussions conducted by the author with LCDR Hugo
Santillan, Argentine Marine Corps. LCDR Santillan and the
author were students to the USMC Command and Staff School
Quantico during the 1986-1987 school year. LCDR Santillan,
a combat veteran of Operation Rosario, clarified details
surrounding Operation Rosario and provided the author with
insights into the political situation in Argentina during
the months leading to the Argentine invasion.
Train, Harry D. II, Admiral, Retired. The Malvinas Conflict.
Presented to the National Defense College of Argentina on 10
November 1986. Admiral Train shared his views of the
Malvinas Conflict based on months of personal study and
interviews with principal leaders on both sides. He
discusses "war starters," military strategies, rules of
engagement, and the land war. His insights concerning the
timing of the Argentine invasion were valuable to my
Wheen, David, Major, Royal Marines. The Falkland Islands War
1982. A Rifle Company Commander's Perspective. Quantico,
Virginia: Command and Staff College, MCDEC, 1986. A two part
presentation by Major Wheen, a Royal Marine company
commander in the Falkland/Malvinas War. Part one covers the
political, historical, and geographical background behind
the Argentine invasion. Part two covers the British
amphibious operation and land battle. Extremely limited
value to my research.
Braswell, Nancy S. An Assessment of Intelligence In the 1982
Falklands Conflict. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Air War College,
1983. Provides an unclassified assessment of intelligence
data held by Argentina and the United Kingdom about each
other at the outbreak of hostilities. Discusses
intelligence aid given to each side during the conflict.
Limited value in my research.
Haggart, James A., Lieutenant Commander, USN. The Falkland
Islands Conflict, Air Defense of the Fleet. Quantico,
Virginia: Marine Corps Command and Staff College, MCDEC,
1984. Examines air defense aspects of the conflict. No
value to my research.
Korkin, Robert and Sanders, Bruce. Falkland Islands - War for
National Sovereignty. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Air War College,
1985. Presents the Argentine view of the conflict.
Emphasizes the impact of international politics, military
leadership, logistics, conventional weaponry, and time as
major factors on the battlefield. Provides limited
information on the Argentine Junta and Operation Rosario.
Meister, Jurg. The Battle of the Malvinas: The Argentinian
Version. Translated by Naval Intelligence Support Center,
Washington, D. C., 1983. The author uses official Argentine
publications to document Argentine and British losses during
the war. Limited value to my research. Provided some
information on composition of the Argentine Task Force used
to seize the Islands.
Naughton, John, Lessons of the Falklands War, 1982. A Political
Perspective. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Air Command and Staff
College, 1983. Analyzes the war from a political
perspective. Takes a separate look at Great Britain,
Argentina, and the United States to see what each did
before, during, and after the conflict, and what the
consequences of those actions were.
Nevin, Michael. The Falkland Islands - An Example of Operational
Art? Carlisle Barracks, PA: U. S. Army War College, 1986.
The author examines the South Atlantic Conflict in his
effort to determine if it is an example of operational art.
No value to my research other than a small amount of
Otero, Humberto. Falkland Islands War: Roots Development, and
Military Lessons. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Air Command and
Staff College, 1983. Analyzes the war from four major
viewpoints: the logistical effort required, the weapons
employed and their effectiveness, the strategy and tactics
used and their results, and the composition of forces and
employment concepts. Provided some details for my research
concerning historical background, sovereignty negotiations,
and Operation Rosario.
Pelliccia, Antonio. Experiences and Lessons Learned from the
Anglo - Argentinian Conflict. Translated by U. S. Army
Foreign Science and Technology Center, Charlottesville,
Virginia, 1984. Examines air warfare conducted during the
conflict. No value to my research.
Stickney, Ronald. Lessons of the South Atlantic Conflict. Maxwell
AFB, Alabama: Air Command and Staff College, 1983. Presents
the geopolitical background of the crisis, provides a
summary of major war actions, and discusses military lessons
learned. Provides historical, diplomatic, and geopolitical
details that were useful in my research.
Zartmann, Carlos E. Operations of Argentine Submarines in the
Malvinas War. Translated by Naval Intelligence Support
Center, Washington, D. C., 1984. No value to my research.
"Claims to the Falkland Islands," Background brief by the Foreign
Commonwealth Office: London, April 1986. Provides a detailed
chronology of events from 1748 through Argentine seizure of
the Islands in April 1982. Excellent summary of British
position on the sovereignty issue.
"Britain and Argentina: Towards More Normal Relations,"
Background brief by the Foreign Commonwealth Office: London,
February 1986. Describes initiatives by British Government
to normalize relations with Argentina after the South
Atlantic War. No value to my research.
Scheina, Robert L. Dr. Scheina, the U. S. Coast Guard historian,
provided the author with a chapter of his soon to be
published book. Entitled "The Malvinas Crisis, March-April
1982" this chapter provided numerous details concerning the
execution of Operation Rosario.
The Falklands Campaign: The Lessons. London, England: Her
Majesty's Stationery Office, 1982. Presents a brief
description of the British operation to recover the Islands
from deployment through the British advance on Port Stanley.
Contains lessons learned on a variety of topics including
men, maritime operations, land operations, special forces,
and equipment. No value to my research.
Click here to view image
1764 Antoine de Bougainville claims the Islands for
Louis XV of France and establishes Port Louis,
the first known settlement.
1765 John Byron claims the Islands for George III of
England and establishes a settlement at Port
1766 A British expedition, under John McBride, arrives
to consolidate Byron's claim and discovers the
French colony at Port Louis.
1767 France returns Port Louis to Spain.
1770 Spain expels British from Port Egmont.
1771 Spain and England sign declarations which return
control of Port Egmont to Britain but do not
officially settle the sovereignty issue. Spain
claims England made a secret promise to abandon
its claim to the Islands. British reoccupy Port
1774 British garrison abandons Port Egmont but leaves
plaque declaring British sovereignty over the
Islands. Spain retains control for the next four
1790 Britain and Spain sign the Nootka Sound
Convention, in which Britain disavows any
colonial ambitions in South America "and the
1811 Argentine movement toward independence from Spain
gains momentum. Spain withdraws settlement from
1816 Forerunner of Argentina declares independence
1820 The new government of Buenos Aires dispatches an
envoy to officially lay claim to the Islands.
1823 Agentina appoints its first governor of Puerto
1826 Louis Vernet establishes his colony on East
1829 Louis Vernet is appointed governor. He issues a
decree against whaling and sealing in the
vicinity of the Islands.
1831 Louis Vernet seizes and American merchant vessel
and takes the ship's captain to Buenos Aires to
stand trail for illegal fishing. In retaliation,
USS Lexington's captain, Silas Duncan, destroys
"free of all government."
1832 The newly appointed Argentine governor of the
Islands is murdered by mutinous soldiers.
1833 Captain James Onslow arrives at Puerto Soledad on
2 January to claim the Islands for England and
convinces the Argentine commander, Jose Pinedo,
to quit the Islands without firing a shot. From
this point on, the Islands remain under British
control until the 1982 invasion by Argentina.
1852 The Falkland Islands Company is chartered.
1960 United Nations Resolution 1514 calls for an end
1965 United Nations Resolution 2065 calls for
Argentina and Britain to negotiate sovereignty of
1968 The Falkland Islands Committee is organized to
lobby against all efforts to return the Islands
1971 Argentina and Britain sign the Communications
1981 Davidoff visits South Georgia in December to
inspect the scrap metal sites.
1982 Davidoff's workers arrive at South Georgia on 19
March. Argentine troops seize Islands on 2 April.
British forces land on the Islands on 21 May.
Argentine forces surrender to Britain on 14 June.
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list