[Francisco Cancio, Enmienda: una revisión de la causa y el actuar argentino en la Guerra de las Malvinas (Náutica Robinsón: Madrid, 2020), 406 pages].
review / Ignacio Cristóbal
This is an excellent book that analyses some of the controversial issues of the Falklands War (1982). The author, Francisco Cancio, is an expert on the subject and has made a conscientious search for information over the years during his visits to Argentina and the UK.
This is not a book on the history of the Falklands War; there are other manuals that explain it very well, but here the author has tried to do something else. Whoever opens the book should either have some knowledge of what happened in the South Atlantic, or else acquire it before delving into its pages.
In my case, it was not difficult to get "hooked" by reading the book. From the data the author gives, he had similar experiences to mine. I, too, watched the news in the spring of 1982 sitting next to my father, a military man; for our generation it was our first war. And like him, who on his trips to the UK, I imagine to practise his English language , used to dive into British bookshops in search of documentation, I too found out about the Falklands when I was there perfecting my English, going to museums and bookshops and the barracks in Colchester, the town where I spent two summers, to talk to veterans of the conflict. You will be forgiven, therefore, for this involvement staff, for letting my sympathy for the Argentine side go somewhat, while admiring the professionalism shown by the British troops.
The Falklands War was a full-scale war from a military point of view. There were air and naval engagements; submarine and satellite intervention; landing and ground operations by special operations units, as well as unit actions at battalion level. It is very welcome that the first chapter, graduate "Genesis", while introducing the conflict begins to "prick balloons" about the real reason for going to war.
And the chapters go on to deal with issues such as the "Super Etendart and the Exocet", where we imagine the Argentine naval pilots training in Brittany, France, and leaving the flag flying high, as it should have been. Interest is heightened when the author delves into the intelligence operations to "arm", without an "instruction book", the missiles that were already in Argentina. The French government played a complicated role in the conflict, but the diplomatic (it was a member of NATO) took precedence over the commercial. It was the French technicians who were sent to Argentina who did the "do de pecho" by siding with Argentina and juggling to avoid creating more problems in the international balance.
The chapter on land operations is excellent and makes a strong case for the Argentine forces who had to contend with the enemy and the lack of logistical support from the mainland. In those days there was a discussion in public opinion about the dichotomy of "conscript army" versus "professional army". The chapter makes clear the damage the Argentines inflicted on the reconquistadors, but also their adverse status : the lack of basic means for resistance, counterattack and, why not say it, hunger and cold.
The naval part is dealt with in two interesting chapters that tell the story of the submarine "San Luis", which was bothering the British fleet throughout the war. If there had been no war, this submarine would have stayed in port. This is the standard of those brave submariners. The other chapter is about the failed meeting, due to lack of wind, of the two fleets. It is possibly one of the most critical moments of the battle. Had there been wind, the Argentinean Navy's A-4 Skyhawks could have driven the British fleet back to their home ports.
A separate chapter is "La guerra en los cielos" (The war in the skies), which covers some of the most courageous operations of the Argentinean pilots in those days. The author puts us in the cockpits of the fighter planes whose images still make our hair stand on end. Without wanting to give anything away to the reader, the interview with the former head of the Argentine Air Force in those days is for me the best part of the book. It should not be forgotten that he was a member of the military board and the data he reveals about the "Russianfinancial aid " are very interesting and unknown.
And finally, the long-awaited chapter "The Attack on the Invincible", which deals with probably the most compromising wartime action of the entire war. The author scrupulously analyses the operation to attack one of the two British aircraft carriers, the Invincible, with a clarity that makes it clear that something happened.
"Amendment" is therefore a highly recommendable book for those who already have some knowledge of the Falklands War knowledge , but at the same time it can also arouse the curiosity of others who, without being initiated in this conflict, can help themselves in their reading by consulting basic information available on the internet. It was a unique contest, in which a country in the southern part of the world put the second NATO power in check, aided by the first and a neighbouring country. As Admiral Woodward, commander of the British fleet, said in his memoirs, "people don't know how close Britain came to losing the war". A fine final epitaph from a military professional who surely recognised the professionalism, courage and bravery of the enemy.
* Expert in military affairs