The Falklands War 1982: by sea casualties mount

British Royal Marines 2

Their ships sunk carrying their Chinook helicopters, British Royal marines will not be able to “Air-mobile” anywhere. They will have to march. Their ships cannot venture close enough to give 5″ gun naval gunfire support without being hit by anti-shipping missiles (ASMs) and sunk like the HMS Glamorgan. The British 2d and 3d Paratrooper battalions were already expecting this and are “yomping” across carrying their own pocket firepower: mortars. It takes 50 men to move just two 81mm medium mortars and their units of fire for one battle–a short one. At Goose Green, 2d Para fights with only what it can carry-no light tanks–and it takes their Battalion Commander winning the Victoria Cross to decide the issue. British casualties are not light, their courage and Soldier’s loads—heavy.

” 2 Para came within an ace of failure as, nearing exhaustion, outnumbered, low on ammunition, and lacking adequate fire support, they fought over open ground, and in daylight, against prepared positions…. was the battle necessary at all? Why did London overrule the brigade commander’s reluctance to attack Goose Green? Did Colonel ‘H’ Jones’s solo charge on Darwin ridge–which won him a posthumous VC–decide the issue? Goose Green was the first land battle of the war. It was also the longest, the hardest-fought, the most controversial, the most important to win, and the only one that hung in the balance for several hours..”

In response to the bitter fighting that resulted from the slow ship deployment of British troops to the South Atlantic which gave the Argentines time to reinforce, dig-in and lay mines, the Ministry of Defense created the 5th Airborne Brigade that can now fly to a world hot spot like the Falklands within hours. Hopefully detering aggression in the first place like the British Airborne as a full sized Division did to stop Iraq invading Kuwait in 1961.

“Britain’s Airborne rapid development force, 5th Airborne Brigade was setup in its present form after the Falklands War to deal with Out of Area Operations (O.A.O.). Which could be rapid reinforce of dependent territories; the evacuation of United Kingdom nationals from overseas trouble spots; assistance to friendly governments; international peace keeping operations and rapid response to emergencies.”

Sea Handicaps?

“The marine meu (light infantry battalion-sized unit) possesses the ability to seize limited objectives from the sea as long as the objective is relatively near an ocean. If objectives are in land-locked countries, or located far from the sea, the marines are severely limited. In addition, with the procurement of advanced missile technology by many nations, the employment of marine forces places considerable risk on the ships bringing them ashore.

Consider the problems and losses faced by the British in the Falklands against Argentine defenses. The marine corps is currently working on equipment and doctrine for extended projection operations from ships over the horizon..However, in the end, the ability to project CREDIBLE ground combat power into a theater is NOT a marine corps function.

The use of pre-positioned ships depends on a multitude of factors, ranging from having a secure port to disembark vehicles to air-heads that will support troop transports flying in Soldiersto link-up with their equipment. All of this assumes that the enemy has not sunk the pre-positioned ships prior to their arrival at a port facility. Therefore, the use of heavy forces in support of power projection operations is limited to their ability to be shipped and is therefore, realistically, not a good option if time is a factor.”