Copied from Daily Telegraph letters page 28 October 2017
SIR – As the two commanders responsible for planning and carrying out the amphibious landings on the Falklands in 1982, the only point on which we agree with Dr Mark Campbell-Roddis (Letters, October 27) concerns retaining HMS Ocean.
He suggests that the right way to land troops in 1982 would have been by helicopter inland and on a smaller scale under air cover. We considered this approach, but rejected it on the grounds that we did not have air superiority, or enough helicopters to land enough troops and their supporting artillery in sufficient strength, in the time required, to fight off counter-attacks by the Argentine army. The only way to achieve a quick enough build-up was by landing craft.
The landings were opposed on the ground by very few enemy troops. The main opposition came from the Argentine air force. Had we attempted major helicopter moves in daylight, the Argentine fighters would have had a turkey shoot among our helicopters. Our landing was in a relatively narrow creek with very little loss on the first day, despite our escorts being armed for the open ocean and not for action close inshore.
The tragedy of the Welsh Guards at Fitzroy (not Bluff Cove) was caused by the chaotic deployment to the South Atlantic of 5th Infantry Brigade, with insufficient logistic support or staff. Their move could only be supported by sea. The Argentine air force was fortunate in that the low cloud lifted in the west just in time. The landing was not opposed by ground troops. The sinking of the container ship Atlantic Conveyor with three Chinooks and eight Wessex helicopters did not help.
The major factor that “armchair warriors” usually forget is logistics. You cannot hope to defeat an army equipped with artillery by landing a few troops with sandwiches in their pockets and what ammunition they can carry, unsupported by artillery. It takes 50 medium helicopter sorties to move a battery of six light guns and sufficient ammunition for one battle.
Commander, Amphibious Task Group, Falklands 1982
Commander, 3 Commando Brigade, Falklands 1982