The Falklands War has been rightly hailed as a significant success for British arms in the midst of the Cold War. However, one of the defining features of the campaign was the unusual ways in which the command and control arrangements emerged and evolved during the course of the campaign.
Dr Chris Parry will discuss with General Sir Michael Rose (Command, 22 SAS) and Major General Julian Thompson (Command, as a Brigadier, 3 Commando Brigade) how the initial assessment and outline plan for the recapture of the islands was formulated and the ways in which planning was adapted as the campaign progressed. We will also examine a bizarre command structure that always threatened to frustrate joint and inter-service cooperation, and would lead to misunderstandings, conflicting priorities, delays and, on several occasions, confusion and loss.
We will see that the land campaign was conducted with a makeshift battle and logistics organisation, equivalent in strength to a downsized infantry division, that always had to be adapted to circumstances and political pressures. We will address the implications of Major General Thompson’s original plan to advance across the north of East Falkland towards Stanley being altered by the political need to secure a significant victory which led to the diversion to Goose Green and Darwin. We will also deal with the differing perspectives of Major General Jeremy Moore (Land Component Commander from 30 May), Brigadier Tony Wilson (Command, 5 Brigade) and Brigadier Thompson about the approach to the final assault on Stanley. We will hear at first-hand about the unfortunate decisions relating to the advance by sea to Bluff Cove.
Most importantly, we will gain insights into the personalities and experience of the major commanders and their relationships with each other, and how these personal factors affected the planning and decision-making processes during the campaign. We will also explore Argentinian experience in this regard and whether proven tactical commanders are able to adapt their leadership style to command at the operational level of campaigning.
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