Falklands War and the role of airpower

Discussion in 'Falkland Islands (Op CORPORATE)' started by Jacques_Bustard, Jan 25, 2006.

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  1. Just found this website

    http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/apj/apj02/fal02/corum.html

    In an analysis of airpower in the Falklands war the author states:-

    "The decisive battle that determined the fate of the islands was fought in the air. In fact, the ground war was largely a sideshow"

    Now I was doing my "O" levels in 1982 but everything I've seen or read about this conflict makes me think differently. Clearly airpower was always going to be vitally important to both sides but is it not overstating the case for airpower by labelling it as decisive and dismissing the ground war as a mere "sideshow"? Neither air power or ground forces alone could ever have won this war and clearly one supported the other.

    The author is "professor of comparative military studies at the School of Advanced Airpower Studies, Maxwell AFB, Alabama" and "a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, is a graduate of Army Command and General Staff College and Air War College"
     
  2. Spot on, JB.

    Gross overstatement (and somewhat insulting to boot) from Jim Corum there. The more moderate tone of the rest of the article is more accurate. Without the presence of the SHAR, the Task Force would have found it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to operate under the weight of Argentine air attack. The main RN SAM (Sea Dart) was in Argentine service, and they flew attack profiles to make it less effective as a result of knowing about it; of the other SAMs - Seacat was rather old and not especialy effective; Sea Slug was even older and Sea Wolf was good, but had a habit of throwing computer-induced hissy fits at the wrong moment. So the SHAR was critical.

    Add in the oft-forgotten air bridge from Ascension/Nimrod & Victor Maritime Recce sorties (and even the Vulcan raids, which had an effect on the Arg leadership), and yes, air power was critical.

    But the land battles were what led to the Falklands being recaptured. Next time I see Professor Corum, I might introduce him to some key paragraphs in ADP Land Ops.

    At least one fairly senior RAF type of my acquaintance read the article and averred that it was 'a load of old b*ll*cks', a view based on the fact that the opening was wildly wrong, and the remainder was pretty much old hat by 2002. 'Then again, ' said my acquaintance, 'I suppose it'll be taken as cutting edge research by the USAF...'
     
  3. maguire

    maguire LE Book Reviewer

    'the page cannot be displayed'. do you have the right link please? I'd be interested in having a read. thankyou.
     
  4. Fantastic hope he drops round some infantry bar and explains the finer more subtle parts to Tom a very understanding person.
    john
     
  5. Reading it I don't think his claim that the 'ground war was largely a sideshow' refers to the groundwar being any less significant but rather to the imcompetance of Naval and Army Commanders. He makes it clear that the Argentine strategy was based precisely around the army and hence their decision not the lengthen the runway at port stanley. With what they had avalible the FAS/FAS was much more successful than the 10,000 men stationed on the island.

    Still found it interesting to read how they innovated using what they had avalible fairly quickly such as the fenix squadron...but hey you may have been doing your 'o' levels at the time.... I was only just being born so what do i know.
     
  6. Utter pants. I very surprised that this was approved for publication, although itappears to come from an in-house faculty member so I imagine that peer review was scant, if not non-existent. Other than the oversimplified nonsense about the campaign being an air war, there is no thesis statement. He fails to draw any analytical lessons or conclusions from the "spotter-esque" ****-retentive attention to detail of who had what kit and what exactly they did with it on such and such a day.

    Put very simply, as a piece of scholarship it is a festering turd of a paper. He gives us no real idea of what he would want us to draw from his study. Even his basic premise is flawed, since by using his logic, one could have argued just as well that from the British side of the campaign at least, it was a primarily Naval victory, since without adequate sea power, the air power and the ground forces could not have been deployed. The author brings absolutely no new ideas forward- all we have is a vindication of the need to establish air superiority in the battlespace- something that was readily established as common sense during the course of WWII and a quick tip of the hat to the Argies for being very brave boys.

    IMO, this might as well have never been written for all the good it does. It doesn't do anything to advance knowledge or give practical help to anyone. (A litmus test for all those heading to graduate school, staff college or anywhere else you have to write long analytical reports or essays- if the reader is left at the end of your paper, asking him/herself the question "So fcuking what?", the chances are that it's a bad paper.)

    If a stude of mine tried to turn this in to me, it would be all I could do to resist the compulsion to kick him in the nuts for such sloppy work. I've never heard of him before now, but if this is representative of his general standard of work, the clown needs to be fired and be put in charge of teaching a 7th grade history class.
     
  7. While I agree with most of what you say Crab, I think the "sideshow" bit could be a bad choice of words rather than a slant. I think what he is trying to say is that without the air defence the ground attacks couldn't go in or would have been battered. Other than that, I hope he has produced better reports. I could have done this in a day maybe 2 with a good book. I am thinking the Marshall Cavendish collectors book (12 weekly magazines from about 83 - 84)

    The first sentance is highly ironic... "Air warriors can learn many important lessons from the Falklands War" as he doesn't really point any of these important lessons out.

    Also how were the Argies at a disadvantage? "The Argentine air force was at a great disadvantage but did surprisingly well" they didn't operate off carriers, operated in their own back yard and only had a short hop to the Islands amongst other things. I would say they were equal if not at a slight advantage.
     
  8. I enjoy reading military history when it is well researched and written. As crabs says, where is the analytical study. What was the tasking of Argie ac of say anti ship to FGA. How important to sustaining trhe air capability was it for the RN to keep ships within Argie ac range. How does he balance the RN and Army contribution?

    Is this guy an academic? If so his learned school must be pretty lightweight.
     
  9. What gets me is that if he actually bothered to do some digging he could at least write a persuasive (if not exactly compelling) case to back up his idea (I wouldn't call it a thesis- it's not that well formed). The fact is that there is precious little in the "spotter" speak to substantiate the claims he makes at the end. A lot of his summation talks about Argentinian policy and decision-making, but there nothing in the main body of the text to suggest whatever it was that he was wittering on about.

    In terms of argumentation, it's a little like saying 2+2= Chair. QED

    He has to bring in new information at the end to try and make his points stick. One of the first things we teach our studes about writing is that you don't bring in new information when you are making your conclusion. It invariably means that you haven't made your point properly in the first place, and it'll normally just confuse the reader.

    It would appear that he has the credentials- an MA from Brown, MLitt from Oxford, PhD from Queen's (Canada, not Belfast) but it would also appear that he has forgotten how to write at even GCSE standard. In all seriousness, I would give an undergrad a C/C+ grade for that at best. It certainly doesn't have any business being published.
     
  10. You've taken this to heart haven't you Crabtastic!!! :)
     
  11. I think you may be missing the point.

    This is a paper written by an academic in a US Air force oriented organisation. At one level its a piece of air power cheerleading. It seems similar to the sort of BS opedelled in the mid 1990s about how the revolution in military affairs wpuld leve ground troops as irrelevent -mere potential hostages. The opening paragraph setsout his argument -folliwing the logic of "for want of a nail". The same case could equially be made for naval and land operations.

    In one sense it is right. Given the conventional wisdom abpout survivabilkity of aircraft carriers in range of land based aircraft, it should have been impossible for the British to retake the Falklands. The failure of the Argentine air force to prevent a tiny task force from retaking the place was decisive. His conclusions seem to be geared towards the organisational failues that prevented the Argentine air force from doing what on paper they should have.
     

  12. That is made very clear in the piece...

    The argies had 5 minutes of airtime to contact the British fleet with their mirages and daggers and couldn't use afterburners to gain an advantage over our harriers. They only had 2 p-2 neptunes for long range reconnaissance and their aircraft used Matra 530 air-air missiles that required being on the tail of the enemy to lock onto them where as we had sidewinders that could be used head on. Harriers could loiter proving close air support for an hour.
     
  13. Jim Corum has written pretty extensively on the Germans during the interwar period, particularly on the Luftwaffe and the development of air doctrine. He's also done a pretty good book with Wray Johnson on Air Power in Small Wars. The Air & Space Power Journal piece isn't his finest by a long way... While I disagree with quite a few things he's said about air power and COIN, for instance, I'd suggest that he isn't judged on this one piece.

    It strikes me that he may have been asked to put something together at relatively short notice for the journal (realisation that they were going to miss commenting on the 20th anniversary of the war?), and the opening 'sideshow' sentence was merely an attention-getter. The Janet & John simplicity of the narrative is likely to be because most of the readership wouldn't have a clue about the Falklands. Had it been submitted to the RAF Air Power review, it wouldn't have got in because it says nothing new - but I suspect quite a number of readers of Air & Space Power Journal would have read that and come away having learned something new. That's not through any intellectual inadequacy on the part of the readers, simply that there's no reason why the Falklands should have any resonance for them. As an introductory piece, it was probably fit for purpose. (I might have given it a SAT if I'd been feeling generous )
     
  14. machina wrote:
    Didn't they have their own tankers though?
     
  15. The Argentines had KC-130H tankers available throughout the war - tanking spt to Argetne aircraft began in mid April. Normally, they would fuel aircraft (mainly Skyhawks) outbound from bases in Argentina and then remain on 'standby' to fuel aircraft in dire need of fuel and or damaged prior to recovery.

    Some sorties by Skyhawks (namely the CANA sorties on 21 May 82) were carried out without the aid of refueling, however, it eventually became standard practice.