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Intelligence and the Falklands War

#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?
 
#5
Long time since I read the document. Interesting tome in many ways. For those with difficulty sleeping here's a link;

http://fc95d419f4478b3b6e5f-3f71d0fe2b653c4f00f32175760e96e7.r87.cf1.rackcdn.com/E415E0802DAA482297D889B9B43B70DE.pdf

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.
 
#8
Long time since I read the document. Interesting tome in many ways. For those with difficulty sleeping here's a link;

http://fc95d419f4478b3b6e5f-3f71d0fe2b653c4f00f32175760e96e7.r87.cf1.rackcdn.com/E415E0802DAA482297D889B9B43B70DE.pdf

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.
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...
 
#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:

http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA404419


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...?
 
#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.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#13
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.
 
#17
Razor's Edge by Hugh Bicheno might also be worth a read.
it is - it is not pleasant reading for the holders of the view of 'plucky albion, defender of the free, caught unawares by the machinations of evil johny guacho'.

conivence, appeasement, moral cowardice, willfull refusal to face reality, self-inflicted wound - all are words and phrases haty will leap to the readers mind upon reading the book. worth noting of course that Bichino was SIS in LatAm through the 70's and early 80's...
 
#18
it is - it is not pleasant reading for the holders of the view of 'plucky albion, defender of the free, caught unawares by the machinations of evil johny guacho'.

conivence, appeasement, moral cowardice, willfull refusal to face reality, self-inflicted wound - all are words and phrases haty will leap to the readers mind upon reading the book. worth noting of course that Bichino was SIS in LatAm through the 70's and early 80's...
Pretty much my impression of it, too. Interesting to see the whole catalogue of f*ck-ups and half-a*sed solutions which led, ultimately, to the invasion. That angered me greatly - not least because Blair then hinted at appeasement when he was in power. The author pulls no punches in terms of the political inadequates on both sides.

Interesting to learn that we didn't get nearly as much of the fighting go all our own way, either; at the time I was at school and a lot of the papers were full of 'professional British forces versus conscript Argentian forces' lines.

Testament to the guys who went and did it, but another reinforcement of the need for luck/good fortune/call it what you will in any campaign. It's just a shame that many of the people we now have in office or striving for it aren't forced to do a little more reading like this.
 
#19
cokecan said:
conivence, appeasement, moral cowardice, willfull refusal to face reality, self-inflicted wound - all are words and phrases haty will leap to the readers mind upon reading the book. worth noting of course that Bichino was SIS in LatAm through the 70's and early 80's...
Cold_Collation said:
Pretty much my impression of it, too. Interesting to see the whole catalogue of f*ck-ups and half-a*sed solutions which led, ultimately, to the invasion. That angered me greatly - not least because Blair then hinted at appeasement when he was in power. The author pulls no punches in terms of the political inadequates on both sides.
Will we ever free ourselves of the inadequates and no hopers?
 

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