Intelligence and the Falklands War

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Crash, Jun 3, 2013.

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  1. I've been invited to give an unclassified lecture on Intelligence Failures at a military college and I've chosen several case studies ranging from the tactical to the strategic. I am reviewing the run-up to the Falklands conflict from the strategic intelligence perspective (on both sides), now that a lot more material has been made available in the public domain.

    As a starting point, I’ve chose the ‘Falkland Islands Review’ (ie the ‘Franks Report’) which contains and extremely detailed run-up to the invasion, including extensive references to intelligence material (bearing in mind that this was written before SIS was even official acknowledged as existing).

    There is one tantalising reference which I would welcome comment on. It is relating to the Argentine actions near Leith, on South Georgia, when a group were landed in March 1982 to ostensibly dismantle the whaling station, but hoisted the Argentine Flag and generally caused a bit of a nuisance diplomatically.

    Para 208 of the report refers to the ‘the continued presence of a French yacht, whose crew appeared to be working with the Argentines’ on 27 March 1982 – 5 days before the invasion at Port Stanley.

    Does anyone have any idea who/what/why this French yacht was doing in South Georgia - a Godforsaken place?

    DGSE a lá the yacht Ouvea in New Zealand, three years later when the Rainbow Warrior was sunk?
  2. Probably a surrender training team, very forward thinking of the argies.
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  3. First I've ever heard of this...
  4. Try Nigel West's Secret War For The Falklands.
  5. Long time since I read the document. Interesting tome in many ways. For those with difficulty sleeping here's a link;

    Forgot about the "french"yacht. Not further references to it in the report and I haven't seen anything else about it. French did give us help during the conflict but Personally I think it was begrudged in some quarters. A team of French technicians did remain in Argentina and help resolve interface problems between launcher and Exocet missile.
    I seem to recall a goodwill visit by HMS Hermes post conflict to Marseille lacked the goodwill to some extent.
  6. Perhaps the French yacht ended up alongside the Belgrano...
  7. Ok - can't get access to a copy just at the moment - what does 'Nigel West' say?
  8. Yes, I found the report an academically interesting document, and surpringly open given the subject matter. it basically concludes that there wasn't an intelligence failure, but both sides misread each other's intentions. Argentina, having assembled a Task Force at sea expected that the UK would sue for a diplomatic result (ie 'Here, have the guano covered rocks') and when they did order the landings (only 2 days before) didn't expect that a woman PM would lead a near-bankrupt country, militarily solely committed to NATO, into retaking the isalnds soooo far from home. For its part, the UK didn't expect that an invasion would really take place, but decided to send - unannounced - an RFA and 2 SSNs, as this tactic had appeared to deter Argentina in 1977. Except it didn't. Argentina was unaware that the UK had sent an SSN in 1977, and were unaware - again - that two had been sent on 28 March. Added to that, air reinforcement was impractical and surface vessels would take 20 days to read the FI. Almost 1,000 dead later, we are at status quo ante.

    I particularly liked the following incident (para 174):

    174. On 22 March [1982] diplomatic exchanges also took place in Buenos Aires, where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed concern at news of an insult to the Argentine flag at the [Argentine airline] office in Port Stanley. The Governor reported that on the night of 20/21 March the LADE office had been entered, apparently by someone using a key. A Union Flag had been placed over the Argentine flag there and "tit for tat, you buggers" written in toothpaste on a desk...

    Talk about Perfidious Albion...
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  9. Nigel says no
  10. Says no to, err, what?
  11. Nigel also says that he wishes he'd not taken out the libel action which led to the judge concluding that he was, in fact, a 'conniving little shit' who had not been in any way mis-described.

    Cinq Gars Pours is mentioned twice here:

    Page 10 and page 20 being the relevant locations; the suggestion being that they helped the Argentine 'scrap merchants' to recover a drifting barge. The paper above is - for those who skim the cover - written by an Argentine Army Officer, so may have a degree of bias, etc, to it. That said, it seems more likely that the French decided that the BAS could go hang themselves and that they aided the Argentines in a slightly less sinister way than Franks thought.

    There was also, IIRC, a Panamanian registered Yacht, the Cayman/Caiman which was working for the Argentines, and which had to be told to poke off by the local magistrate. Again from memory, ISTR that this was allegedly being operated by or on behalf of a business rival of Davidoff.

    Edit - if you look at Robert Headland's book The Island of South Georgia, you'll find reference to it on page 246. Google books will give access to the relevant bit. Seems like they may have spotted something was afoot and decided to sell their story to the press. Spies or arrogant c*cks living up to the stereotype we have of the French, I wonder...?
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  12. Thanks very much - I have other similar papers but this is extremly well written (his first few pages are largely lifted from the Franks Report'). The author reaches the same conclusion - an unecessary war caused by misread intentions.

    It certainly seems that the French crew were chancers, earning a little dosh helping the Argentine crew, and probably nothing more. But certainly adds spice (or should that be garlic?) to the story.
  13. seaweed

    seaweed LE Book Reviewer

    Nick Barker in 'Beyond Endurance' relates how his warnings that the Args were tooling up to invade were squashed by our Ambassador in BA, who said they weren't.
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  14. Endurance's SIGINT role is also mentioned by Nigel West.
  15. Cold_Collation

    Cold_Collation LE Book Reviewer

    Razor's Edge by Hugh Bicheno might also be worth a read.