The Falklands War was a conflict between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, both British overseas territories in the South Atlantic. The war lasted ten weeks and began on April 2, 1982 when Argentina invaded and occupied first the Falklands Island and eventually the South Sandwich Island in an attempt to establish authority. The conflict lasted 74 days and was a major episode in the battle over the sovereignty of the territories. The confrontation had a strong effect on relations between both Argentina and the UK and has been a subject of various books, films, and publications.
Lead-up to the Falklands War
Argentina had gone through a devastating economic stagnation in the period leading to the Falklands War. It was also plagued with civil unrest against the military junta who had formed what was known as a caretaker government within the country. In 1981, there was a regime change in Argentina ushering in a new junta headed by Leopoldo Galtieri and Admiral Jorge Anaya. Argentina had been in conflict with the UK over the islands for a quite some time. Anaya, upon assuming office, supported a military solution to the long-standing conflict. The new junta hoped to mobilize the country behind the conflict with the UK and in the process divert the attention of the public from the country’s chronic economic challenges and the ongoing human rights violations by the regime. The conflict between UK and Argentina heightened on March 19, 1982, when a group of scrap metal Merchants hosted the Argentine flag on South George Island. This act was viewed as the first offensive to the war with a group of Royal Navy dispatched to the island in response leading to the invasion of the South George by the Argentine forces on April 3, 1982.
The Argentine Invasion of the Islands
The Argentine military junta suspected that the UK would strengthen its South Atlantic Forces after the invasion of the South George. The military junta ordered the invasion of Falklands to be carried out immediately. On April 2, 1982, the Argentines carried out a major landing off the Falklands Islands with the invasion met with minimum resistance from the island’s governor. When the news of the invasion of Falklands reached the British, the British conducted a series of military operations to recapture the Falklands from the Argentina. The British set up a War Cabinet on April 6, 1982, to provide oversight of the conflict as a means of crisis management. The UK drafted a resolution to the UN Security Council on April 3, 1982, condemning the hostility and demanding the immediate Argentine withdrawal from the island. The US supported the UK forces by providing them with war equipment as the Falklands War progressed. With time, the retaking of the island proved tough. However, the British retook the South Sandwich Island on June 20, 1982, by accepting to surrender the Southern Thule.
Falklands War Casualties and Aftermath
A total of 907 people were killed during the 74-days war with Argentina recording the highest casualties. 649 Argentines were killed while 255 servicemen and 3 Falklands civilians were killed. The war brought many consequences to both countries besides the large numbers of casualties. The popularity of Margaret Thatcher increased due to the UK victory in the war. The Islanders were granted full British Citizenship with their lifestyle improved by the investments made by the British on the islands.