Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Observing the Falklands

The Argentinians call the Falklands the Malvinas,
but since the UK actually owns them,
I refer to them as their owner refers to them .
 
In 1982 Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, and South Georgia Island.  The reasons were complex.  The Argentinians since the early 1800s have claimed the islands as their own with the British consistently vehemently opposing this claim.  Furthermore, in the 80s, the Argentinian Military Regime was dealing with some serious domestic discontent, and wanted to incite some nationalistic fervor to focus the populace, and distract them from the imperfections of the regime.  They did this by doing what military regimes do best, use military action to solve their problems.  They attempted a seizure of what for hundreds of years belonged to someone else (the Brits).


President Kirchner of Argentina has been rattling her saber recently over the Falklands.  In an open letter she appeals to a decision in 1960 by the UN that "proclaimed the necessity" of the UK and Argentina working out their differences over the Falklands.  She says that the UK has not been forthcoming, and British PM Cameron needs to just hand the islands over.  Is this particularly bellicose on her part?  No, but it does show she has the Falklands on her mind. 

Why does having them on her mind mean anything?  As Mark Twain says, "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme."  The Argentine economy sits in dire straits.  One of the Argentinian Navy's Frigates was impounded, and not by a foreign country, but by debtors. If that isn't embarrassing to a President, and the pride of a sovereign nation, I'm not sure what is. (Maybe this?)

While the situation isn't identical to the one the Galtieri government faced in the early 80s after the failed policies of the 70s, there are many similar pressures being brought to bear on the Argentinian leadership.  I personally would not be surprised were Kirchner to attempt to re-establish popularity, and national pride by making an attempt at the Falklands, or South Georgia.  Of course, considering the current military presence the British have there, it would also not surprise me if they failed to make landfall.

In the unlikely event the Argentinians were to retake those islands, the UK would undoubtedly send in additional troops to oust her.  If this were to happen, we as a Marine Corps need to send observers.  After all, the Brits would either need to conduct an amphibious landing, or operational maneuver from the sea (OMFTS).  Whichever happens, it would be beneficial to have someone that thinks, talks, and understands like we do (namely a fellow Marine) on the ground.  Beneficial from a long term stand point, and the fact that opportunities to witness and take notes on amphibious landings and OMFTS are rare these days.

Establishing with the British, the French, and anyone else who may become embroiled in a Falklands or Mali like situation, a standing memorandum of agreement allowing us to fly in a pair of observers at a moment's notice, could prove beneficial if "Air-Sea Battle" fails and we end up actually having to land troops on Taiwan, or some other island, clime, or place, via amphibious assault or OMFTS.   

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