The Falklands X-Factor

Twenty-five years ago, British forces won an unlikely victory to drive the Argentinians out of the Falklands. Brian James searches for the Task Force’s secret weapon.

The recapture of the Falkland Islands from an Argentine invading force in 1982 was against all military logic: army doctrine declares that the attacking force should out­number the occupying force by three to one, whereas the 6,000-strong British force was half the size of its dug-in opponents; it was also 8,000 miles from re-supply and reinforcements, with the dot of Ascension Island, 3,200 miles away in mid-Atlantic, its nearest friendly land.

For twenty-five years historians have sought an explanation for this ‘impossible’ victory. Most have settled for a one-word answer – ‘morale’. The importance of morale in warfare has long been recognized, as much remarked upon for its absence in defeat as its importance to victory. But little attempt has been made to identify its components – as though it was some intangible agency, beyond analysis.

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