Defence Policy and the Falklands War

Abstract : In 2012 Admiral “Sandy” Woodward, who commanded the Task Force that recovered the Falkland Istands, told the Daily Telegraph:”We could not retake the Falklands”. At a time of heightened tension with Argentina in the run up to the 30th anniversary of a war that claimed hundreds of lives in the South Atlantic this declaration was perceived as an indictment of the defence policies followed in the wake of the conflict and provided an opportunity to revisit the choices made before and after the war. The 1981 “Nott Review” had sparked an intense debate about the options in defence but had not fundamentally challenged the assumptions on which British defence policy rested: primacy of Nato, the Central European theatre of operations and the independent nuclear deterrent. The review led to much inter-service bickering about who would bear the brunt of the cuts made necessary by the tensions in the budget. The Navy was widely seen to have lost the day. The war changed the picture and the role of the Navy in the recovery of the islands led to a reversal of some measures taken before the war. This attracted media attention and many in the public concluded that the government had altered the course of defence policy. This chapter argues that over the long term the fundamentals of British defence were never undermined and that the Falklands conflict, while adding a financial burden on a department that was already struggling to make ends meet, had a limited impact on the course of policy. Subsequent reforms in the procurement process were viewed as a way of getting better value for money at a time when big programmes were under financial strain. What the Falklands did however is vindicate the flexibility of forces and equipment and maintain the prestige of the Royal Navy.
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https://hal-clermont-univ.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01259239
Contributor : Marc Fourches <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, January 20, 2016 - 10:33:33 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - 5:06:03 PM

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Marc Fourches. Defence Policy and the Falklands War. 30 Years After: Issues and Représentations of the Falklands War, Ashgate, pp.119-132, 2015, 97814724250003. ⟨hal-01259239⟩

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