US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States
Since the end of the Second World War, only one conflict has seen the use of aircraft carriers, submarines, anti-ship missiles, an opposed amphibious assault, and large-scale air-to-air combat. Before 1982, no one could have predicted that the only example of a near-peer engagement by modern militaries might occur in the South Atlantic between Argentina and the British over several islands that most could not have found on a map. Although since the guns fell silent in 1982, many learned from a fight that no one thought possible. Most of the lessons learned revolve around technological innovations such as close in ship defense, force projection and air superiority, as well as international relations. Key lessons ignored the impacts of a lack of planning before Argentina invaded on 2 April 1982, driven by several basic planning assumptions. The most impactful was that after they invaded, the British could not respond militarily to eject them from the islands. This was invalidated when the British launched a naval task force seven thousand miles into the south Atlantic, with an aging fleet, to defeat the Argentine military despite its overwhelming local superiority. Capable military planners received instructions that effectively limited both their options and the preparations necessary to defeat a British response. Exacerbating this was an unanticipated shift in the timeline, which moved up the invasion date by six months. Argentine leadership asked the military to sail within seventy-two hours and conduct an opposed amphibious assault with little training. The fact that they were able to do so is a testament to their general preparedness and hasty planning. However, the expedited timeline had drastic impacts as the British responded and defeated Argentine forces on the islands, due to a lack of defensive preparation and coordination amongst the services.