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Ár nDraíocht Féin
Three Cranes
Chaos Matrix

October 11th, 2005

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02:06 pm - Ah, War.
I'm watching the a documentary on the Falklands War. This particular war is vital in the history of modern warfare, though no one is willing to admit it.

Forget for a moment that there were around 2,000 people on the islands, very few of whom were actually British citizens (most were "British Dependent Territories citizens," a whole different class of citizen, and today there are 1,700 British troops on the islands, too) . . . There were at least 700,000 loyal British sheep there to defend!

But one reason that this little skirmish is so important is that HMS Conquerer is the first and only nuclear submarine to ever engage an enemy ship. They sank a cruiser, the ARA General Belgrano. They chose an older, more reliable torpedo, one that was more likely to explode, yet which would do less damage than the modern Tigerfish. Once this ship was sunk, the Argentine navy didn't leave port until the end of hostilities.

Interestingly, the choice in torpedo was key, as the Tigerfish would have resulted in a much larger loss of life, had it exploded. The Tigerfish torpedo was designed to break the back of the ship, and split it into two pieces, but the torpedoman who was interviewed described his choice simply as, "Out of all the ones I'd fired, I'd never had a banger," meaning that none had ever actually exploded. The Mark 8 mod 4 torpedos that hit their target, while they sunk the ship, sunk it at a much slower rate, giving the men aboard time to abandon ship. 323 men were killed in the engagement, and 770 survived from ths cruiser.

I love the Falklands War. I think it should be studied more in schools. War, itself, is underrepresented in our schools, though certain wars are certainly overrepresented.

I'd love to wax poetic about it, and yet my mind is failing at this late hour to fixate on the issue. While I had the significance within my grasp, it's slipped. I need to watch the documentary again.

Gods, I wish there were more documentaries on this little war.
Current Mood: amusedamused
Current Music: "The Stories We Could Tell", -JB

(37 comments Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:October 11th, 2005 06:21 pm (UTC)


Uh, good god, y'all, what is it good for?
[User Picture]
Date:October 11th, 2005 06:24 pm (UTC)

Re: War

Absolutely nothin'!

(Though perhaps it could be used to teach better grammar than the song does. . . Military orders are generally masterpieces of impressive grammar.)
[User Picture]
Date:October 11th, 2005 06:26 pm (UTC)

Re: War

Have you ever studied military history from a tactical and strategic perspective?
[User Picture]
Date:October 11th, 2005 06:25 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the Falklands was very, very important to modern military planners; my dad always had a ton of books on it lying around when I was a kid.

Other lessons: people were very fond of putting aluminum on the upper decks of warships, because the ratio of mass to tensile strength was pretty good. HMS Sheffield put a stop to that; turns out aluminum burns at the temperatures you get in a shipboard fire.

And speaking of HMS Sheffield, that whole war was a big publicity stunt for the Exocet missile and French arms generally. Every dickhead in the Third World wanted one after that.

On another note, isn't that Sun headline disgusting? The British tabloids comported themselves, in general, with the lack of dignity and the general repulsive behavior they've made their trademark.
[User Picture]
Date:October 11th, 2005 06:42 pm (UTC)
Yes, though apparently rather than catching fire, my understanding is that it simply melted, which was a lot worse.

Looking for that repulsive headline (I agree, rather horrid), though, I also found out that they were making sailors' uniforms out of nylon. . . Which one should not wear around a regular fire. . . much less one on ships. They stopped doing that after this war as well.
[User Picture]
Date:October 11th, 2005 07:00 pm (UTC)
I don't even know when this war was. We never covered it in my history classes!
[User Picture]
Date:October 11th, 2005 07:01 pm (UTC)
March-June 1982.
[User Picture]
Date:October 11th, 2005 08:03 pm (UTC)
The bf was reading over my shoulder as I was reading my friends page and saw this entry and he's like "I like him." I then told him you had the degree in military history and he told me he was leaving me for you. I tried to tell him you don't go that way, but he said he could wear a dress.

...apparently you're just too damn sexy, or something. ^.^
[User Picture]
Date:October 11th, 2005 08:06 pm (UTC)
I may not swing that way, but it doesn't mean I'm not flattered.

Sorry. I do hope you two can work it out. :)
[User Picture]
Date:October 11th, 2005 08:51 pm (UTC)
Now, here's a specialized subject I know somethin' about. Very interesting. Much more interesting than things with tentacles...at least for me.
[User Picture]
Date:October 11th, 2005 08:56 pm (UTC)
I don't know what they're like in the states, but the Discovery channels here have a raging hard-on for WW2. If I ever need to brush up on what Hitler was up to, I have but to head back home and turn on the TV for a while.

As for me, I'm always interested in learning about military matters. A recent documentary on Spartan society was pretty damn fascinating.
[User Picture]
Date:October 11th, 2005 08:59 pm (UTC)
*nods* It's the same here. WWII is constantly on TV. You'd think we were fighting there instead of in the sandbox.

The Spartans are a great subject. Love to read and talk about them.

One day, I need to sit down and talk about a few Greek battles.
[User Picture]
Date:October 12th, 2005 03:45 am (UTC)

Ah, memories...

I always associate the Falklands war with being in third grade, looking at a map of the world, and wondering why the hell the British thought they had any claim on land in South America. Yes, we actually covered current events to a small extent back then.

But as I recall, the British won that, didn't they?

Good to see your military history aspect make an appearance, though I'm still not quite clear on why you think it's such an important war. The last gasp of a dwindling empire?
[User Picture]
Date:October 12th, 2005 12:50 pm (UTC)

Re: Ah, memories...

Yes, the British won.

There are a number of reasons I find the war important. I had kinda lost my train of thought entirely by the time I finished writing this (it was the last entry I wrote one night while sick), so it's going to be unclear, I suppose.

But this war's primary significance in terms of warfare and combat are the use of a nuclear powered sub (first and only use); the reliance on tried and true weapons over newer ones (a common theme in military history; see the Springfield 1903 rifles in the War in the Pacific); the usefulness of harrier jets was proven; and of course the change in both shipbuilding materials and uniform materials is vital, as it provides for a safer environment for soldiers all over the world. While on some level it may sound silly to be concerned about their safety when we keep sending them to sandpits, *anything* that reduces casualties in war is a huge step forward.

Now, the military significance is usually just tactical. New tactics, ideas, weapons. But military history is far, far more than that.

What is really important about this war are the social and political effects. After this war, just about everyone on the islands was granted British citizenship, the islands were officially garrisoned, and it reasserted British presence in that area of the world, something that had been waning.

It also was a homerun in terms of PR for the British government in power. The Brits showed amazing support for this war, and it ended before the Brits could be worn down by the loss of ships and men. An excellent play by Thatcher's cabinet, and Thatcher won in a landslide at the next election.

For the Argentine government, though, this was the last nail in the coffin. They had hoped for a PR bump and some bragging rights in knocking off the Brits, and they ended with a PR debacle. A dictatorial government with a long history of denying rights, violating basic human rights, and refusing to allow basic democratic elections.

It is also possible that this war actually brought about the peaceful handover of Hong Kong. Deng Xiaoping, when Thatcher visited China a year later, said such things as, "China is no Argentina," and "We can order troops into Hong Kong this afternoon." Right after that visit, the UK began discussions on giving back the tiny colony. I don't know a lot about the handover and the visit, though, but it's an interesting theory. Circumstances are certainly similar.
Date:October 12th, 2005 06:22 pm (UTC)
Thats fascinating. Thatcher's Army, and all that. Don't forget the exorcet.

You know the French gave Thatcher's Downing Street a globe of the world. On this globe, the Falklands' name was written in its Argentinian name.

And America thinks France hates them..

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