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Chapter Eleven OCCUPATION Argentina Thinks Again The original objective of Operation Azul/Rosario had been to land on the Falkland Islands and establish an Argentine administration. After this a notional garrison of some 500 troops was to be left to maintain order while the main intervention forces were withdrawn. Although Argentine planners had been thinking for years about how to seize the Islands they had never developed plans for defending them once seized. The presumption in Buenos Aires was that this was not a problem. There was no expectation of such a massive British response. The matter would be settled through negotiation. The Junta had expected Britain to denounce it in the UN and elsewhere. However, by making the intervention as bloodless as possible it hoped to reduce the force of any condemnation. A more critical hope was that the British reaction would be confined to protests and would not include a strong military response. If these hopes were fulfilled then the next step would be to agree with Britain a cease-fire and the negotiation of the sovereignty question coupled with the withdrawal of Argentine forces as a gesture of goodwill. Argentina soon discovered that things were not going to be so simple. On 3 April news came in of that day's parliamentary debate. It contained evidence of an awareness of the need for a diplomatic as well as a military response to the crisis. But there was no doubt about the Prime Minister's statement that a task force was being dispatched to 142 Occupation the South Atlantic with the objective ofreimposing a British administration . The size of the task force was not mentioned but there was no need: it was enough to know that it included the carrier Invincible. UN Resolution 502 agreed later that day did nothing to stop this task force. While it might have been possible to agree to the withdrawal of Argentine forces if British forces were to be kept from the region, now such a withdrawal would appear as weakness in the face ofthe threat ofa British military response. The possibility of such a reaction had been recognized in the planning process. It represented the most threatening scenario, but also among the least likely, and so no suitable plans had been developed to deal with it. The rushed planning process had barely covered the initial landing let alone a subsequent defence. Now the Junta hurriedly decided on measures to cope with the emerging military challenge. The previous day's order for an early military withdrawal was reversed . General Garcia asked for immediate reinforcements to be sent to the Islands to complicate Britain's assessment of its military requirements . If possible the reinforcements should comprise the elite forces that had undertaken the intervention in thefirstplace. This led to urgent messages seeking to cancel the original order to fly this force back to the mainland. However, the new order arrived too late. Admiral Biisser had carried out his instruction to the letter and had immediately begun to send back his troops to the mainland. By the evening of 3 April only half the original intervention force was still on the Islands. It was not until 4 April that the decision to demobilize was reversed. The Islands were to be reinforced instead. On 6 April movement by air began of the 8th Regiment to the Falklands, to be deployed at Fox Bay settlement on West Falkland. Two days later the 5th Marine Infantry Battalion with its accompanying artillery units were moved to the Stanley area. The magnitude of the British military response required that the future defensive efforts concentrate on the Falkland Islands, the central political objective. Once the operation to take South Georgia had been completed an order was sent out to withdraw the naval units involved. A small number of troops could be garrisoned on the Island, but with minimum support and material because little could be done to defend it should Britain decide to attack. This was even more true of the South 143 Confrontation Sandwich Islands, where, it was decided, the small presence should be left as it was. The next day, 4 April, the Junta learned that the US Government had authorized the British use of Ascension Island. News also came of the composition of the British task force. Following the assessments of the previous week, it was expected that nuclear submarines would be arriving imminently as the vanguard. This was thought to be confirmed by the detection on...


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