Washington, D.C., April 1, 2012 – The United States secretly supported the United Kingdom during the early days of the Falklands/Malvinas Island war of 1982, while publicly adopting a neutral stance and acting as a disinterested mediator in the conflict, according to recently declassified U.S. documents posted today by the National Security Archive.
On the 30th anniversary of the war, the Archive published a series of memoranda of conversation, intelligence reports, and cables revealing the secret communications between the United States and Britain, and the United States and Argentina during the conflict.
At a meeting in London on April 8, 1982, shortly after the war began, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher expressed concern to U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig about President Ronald Reagan's recent public statements of impartiality. In response, according to a previously secret memorandum of the conversation, "The Secretary said that he was certain the Prime Minister knew where the President stood. We are not impartial."
On April 2, 1982, Argentine forces under de facto President Leopoldo Galtieri seized the Falkland/Malvinas Islands militarily from the U.K. The U.S. launched a major shuttle diplomacy mission, sending Secretary Haig numerous times to London and Buenos Aires to de-escalate the conflict. Though the U.S. did not formally announce support for the U.K. until April 30, newly released documents show that Washington sided with the British from the beginning, providing substantial logistical and intelligence support. In a conversation with British officials at the end of March, Haig declared that the U.S. diplomatic effort "will of course, have a greater chance of influencing Argentine behavior if we appear to them not to favor one side or the other."
At the same time, the White House recognized that British intransigence would create problems for the U.S. in its dealings with Latin America. President Reagan, reacting to Haig's secret reports on the British position, wrote to the secretary: "[Your report] makes clear how difficult it will be to foster a compromise that gives Maggie enough to carry on and at the same time meets the test of 'equity' with our Latin neighbors."
Under Thatcher's leadership, the U.K. launched a large-scale military expedition that proved a logistical, communications, and intelligence challenge for the British Air Force and Navy. It would take the task force almost a month to traverse the 8,000 miles between England and the Falklands and prepare for combat around the South Atlantic islands. For the British, the expedition would not be justified without retaking the Falkland Islands and returning to the status quo ante. An analysis from the Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research predicted on April 6 that "the effectiveness of the fleet, far from its maintenance bases, will rapidly deteriorate after its arrival on station. [Thatcher's] damaged leadership could not survive a futile 'voyage to nowhere.'"
"The Prime Minister has the bit in her teeth," Haig reported to President Reagan on April 9, after the Argentine attack on the islands. "She is clearly prepared to use force. Though she admits her preference for a diplomatic solution, she is rigid in her insistence on a return to the status quo ante, and indeed seemingly determined that any solution involve some retribution."
Haig's report continued: "It is clear that they had not thought much about diplomatic possibilities. They will now, but whether they become more imaginative or instead recoil will depend on the political situation and what I hear in Argentina."
The documents reveal that initial covert U.S. support for Britain was discussed quite openly between the two nations. During the first meeting with Haig on April 8, "[Thatcher] expressed appreciation for U.S. cooperation in intelligence matters and in the use of [the U.S. military base at] Ascension Island." A series of CIA aerial photography analyses showed the level of detail of U.S. surveillance of Argentine forces on the ground: "Vessels present include the 25 de Mayo aircraft carrier with no aircraft on the flight-deck," reads one; "at the airfield [redacted] were parked in the maintenance area [....] 707 is on a parking apron with its side cargo door open," reads another.
With Argentina mired in economic stagnation, Galtieri's military campaign tried to rally support from large sectors of Argentine society. But U.S. observers foresaw serious problems for him ahead. A top secret State Department intelligence analysis reported: "[Galtieri] wants to hold on to the Army's top slot through 1984 and perhaps the presidency through 1987. The Argentine leader may have been excessively shortsighted, however. The popular emotion that welcomed the invasion will subside."
A White House cable stated, "Galtieri's problem is that he has so excited the Argentine people that he has left himself little room for maneuver. He must show something for the invasion. or else he will be swept aside in ignominy."
This collection of 46 documents was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and extensive archival research. It offers a previously unavailable history of the exchanges between key British, American, and Argentine officials in a conflict that pitted traditional Cold War alliances against important U.S. regional relationships.
The following documents have been obtained through Freedom of Information Act and Mandatory Declassification Review requests to numerous U.S. government agencies, research at the U.S. National Archives, and others gathered with the help of the staff at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
Chronological references have been inserted in bold face to assist readers in placing the documents in context.
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MID MARCH 1982 – TALKS ON THE ISLANDS BETWEEN GREAT BRITAIN AND ARGENTINA, WHICH BEGAN ON FEBRUARY, COLLAPSE.
March 31, 1982 - Letter From the Secretary to Lord Carrington
U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig writes to his British counterpart, Foreign Secretary Lord Peter Carrington:
"The situation which has developed in the last few days on South Georgia Island is indeed serious, and I want you to know that we will do everything we can to assist in its resolution."
"[W]e will of course, have a greater chance of influencing Argentine behavior if we appear to them not to favor one side or the other. We will continue quietly to try and move the Argentines away from taking further steps which would make a peaceful resolution more difficult to achieve."
April 1, 1982 – Presidential Message To Mrs. Thatcher On Falkland Island Dispute
President Reagan writes to Prime Minister Thatcher:
"Dear Margaret, I have your urgent message of March 31 over Argentina's apparent moves against the Falkland Islands. We share your concern over the disturbing military steps which the Argentines are taking and regret the negotiations have not succeeded in defusing the problem."
"Accordingly, we are contacting the Argentine Government at the highest levels to urge them not to take military measures…I want you to know that we have valued your cooperation on the challenges we both face in many different parts of the world. We will do what we can to assist you here. Sincerely, Ron"
EARLY APRIL 1982 – U.S. SECRETLY BEGINS TO RESPOND TO U.K. REQUESTS FOR INTELLIGENCE, COMMUNICATIONS, AND LOGISTICAL SUPPORT. US SATELLITES ARE FOCUSED ON THE FALKLAND ISLANDS.
April 2, 1982 – President's Conversation with Argentine President Galtieri
The State Department informed the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires:
"The President telephoned Argentine President Galtieri at 2030 EST [on April 1] to discuss threat of Argentine military action against Falkland Islands. The President stated that the USG [U.S. Government] had solid information that Argentina was planning to take military action to take control of the islands…The President made a personal appeal to Galtieri not to take any military steps against the Falkland Islands chain and offered the USG's [U.S. Government] good offices, including his willingness to send Vice President Bush to Buenos Aires." [….]
"[Galtieri] went on to refuse Presidents offer of good offices and said the U.S. appeal had been simply overtaken by events.
"When Pressed whether Argentine military would take action in the morning, Galtieri stated that GOA [Government of Argentina] had full freedom to use force at the moment it judges opportune."
APRIL 2, 1982 – 2,000 ARGENTINE TROOPS OCCUPY THE FALKLAND ISLANDS [ISLAS MALVINAS]. FOUR ARGENTINES ARE KILLED BY THE BRITISH GARRISON STATIONED ON THE ISLAND.
April 2, 1982 – Quick Intelligence Assessment on Falkland Affairs (April 2, 1982)
CIA Director William Casey sends a "quick assessment on possible military aspects of the Falkland affair, the forces in or available in the area" to Secretary of State Haig:
"The Argentines successfully invaded the Falkland Islands this morning; some 200-350 Argentine Marines with armored vehicles evidently went ashore near Port Stanley and airborne units reportedly secured the local airfield. There is also information that three Argentine ships are in the harbor at nearby Port Williams. The Argentines may be debarking as many as 500-1000 well-armed troops from the task force, [four lines excised]." [….]
"We also do not believe the Argentines would fare well in a full scale-naval engagement with the British, particularly in view of the nature of the forces the British are preparing to send to the Falklands." [….]
"The invasion has probably strengthened Galtieri's standing within the military, especially the Navy and among predominantly nationalist political opponents who have long advocated invading the Falklands. We expect this support to continue…Like Thatcher, Galtieri probably calculates that he will have to avoid appearing to waver or risk serious domestic and international political costs. The Argentines see a direct correlation between a tough – and successful – effort on the Falklands and success in their Beagle dispute with Chile. Similarly, they believe a defeat on the Falklands would be an enormous setback in the Chile dispute, thus doubling their stake in the current confrontation. "
April 2, 1982 – Falklands Islands Situation Report # 4
This report begins with an excision of more than twenty lines and continues with two veiled sections about Argentine forces on the ground:
"2. Argentine military forces on the main islands continue to dig in."
[Eight lines excised] [….]
"Comment: The Argentines continue to prepare for the arrival of British forces in the area later this month."
[Six lines excised]"
April 2, 1982 – The Falklands Dispute, A Historical Perspective
The importance of the Islands to Argentina and Britain is highlighted in this report, stating that:
"The growing economic potential of the island area heightened diplomatic tensions in the mid-1970's. In 1974 a geological survey determined that the Falklands could be the center of a vast pool of oil – perhaps nine times the size of the North Sea fields."
In early 1982, during a renewed wave of negotiations, Galtieri "pressed for a permanent negotiating commission…The British refused, the talks floundered and the incident at South Georgia that began on March 19, escalated into confrontation and the Argentine invasion Friday."
April 3, 1982 – Situation in Falkland Islands as of 700 EST
"Embassy Buenos Aires reports that Argentina expects Soviet and perhaps Chinese support in the UN Security Council, and hopes that the U.S. will limit its role to 'tacit diplomatic support' for the British… A vote on the UK resolution is expected at today's Security Council meeting, with outcome uncertain and a Soviet or Chinese veto possible." [….]
"In a preliminary assessment, Embassy Buenos Aires suggests that President Galtieri gambled that a successful invasion of the Falklands would solidify his authority and help him remain in office through 1987."
APRIL 3, 1982 – UN SECURITY COUNCIL PASSES RESOLUTION 502 DEMANDING AN IMMEDIATE CESSATION OF HOSTILITIES AND AN IMMEDIATE WITHDRAWAL OF ALL ARGENTINE FORCES FROM THE FALKLAND ISLANDS (ISLAS MALVINAS). ARGENTINA REFUSES TO COMPLY.
APRIL 3, 1982 - ARGENTINA GAINS CONTROL OF THE SOUTH GEORGIA AND SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS, 864 MILES EAST-SOUTHEAST OF THE FALKLAND ISLANDS.
APRIL 3, 1982 – THE FIRST MEMBERS OF THE ROYAL NAVY TASK FORCE LEAVE BRITAIN. THIS TASK FORCE, BY THE END OF THE WAR, WOULD INCLUDE 51 WARSHIPS INCLUDING 23 DESTROYERS AND 5 SUBMARINES, 54 CIVILIAN SHIPS, AND 9,000 MEN. THE AIR FORCE WOULD CONTRIBUTE 38 HARRIERS AND 140 HELICOPTERS.
APRIL 5, 1982 – FOREIGN SECRETARY LORD CARRINGTON RESIGNS. FRANCIS PYM WILL REPLACE HIM.
April 6, 1982 – Argentina: Falkland Fallout
"Argentina's drubbing on the April 4 UNSC resolution probably surprised Buenos Aires. The extensive planning for the occupation of the Falkland Islands does not appear to have adequately addressed the international aspects. Calculations of short-term domestic benefits undoubtedly outweighed all else in Argentina's decision." [….]
"Argentina's UNSC defeat indicates diplomatic efforts did not keep pace with military planning." [….]
"President and Army Commander Galtieri had a personal as well as an institutional interest in exploiting the Falkland Island situation. He wants to hold on to the Army's top slot through 1984 and perhaps the presidency through 1987. The Argentine leader may have been excessively shortsighted, however. The popular emotion that welcomed the invasion will subside…"
April 6, 1982 – UK: Thatcher's Falkland Dilemma
"The British Fleet will reach the Falkland area around April 20. We believe that Thatcher will be under heavy pressure to order it into action if no compromise has been negotiated or is in prospect ... the effectiveness of the fleet, far from its maintenance bases, will rapidly deteriorate after its arrival on station. [Thatcher's] damaged leadership could not survive a futile 'voyage to nowhere.'" [….]
"Argentina's invasion of the Falkland Islands puts at risk Thatcher's own position." [….]
"If Thatcher fails to redeem her reputation and the Nation's honor, she could be finished as a Tory leader and Prime Minister." [….]
"During the next two weeks, Thatcher will search for a political solution that does not appear to reward Argentine aggression … [T]he British insist on principle that an Argentine withdrawal must form a part [of a diplomatic solution] … On the diplomatic front, the British will look to their allies to help pressure Argentina economically and politically."
APRIL 7, 1982 – PRESIDENT REAGAN APPROVES SECRETARY OF STATE ALEXANDER HAIG'S SHUTTLE DIPLOMACY THAT WILL TAKE HIM REPEATEDLY TO LONDON AND BUENOS AIRES.
April 7, 1982 – The Falkland Islands Crisis
"According to Embassy London… Tory moderates and Foreign Office are concerned that Prime Minister Thatcher has been listening largely to the Ministry of Defense, especially senior naval officers, and may not adequately be considering non-military options." [….]
"[U.S. Buenos Aires] Embassy Comment: British pressure has made the Argentines more disposed to negotiate than they were four days ago. As the British fleet approaches, the fear to appear cowardly could make the Argentine's position intractable. While concessions on the rights of the Falklanders are possible, agreement to withdraw in return for renewed negotiation on the transfer of sovereignty would be unlikely, though still conceivable. The Argentines would be unlikely to accept the US as a mediator if we participate in the British sanctions against them."
APRIL 8-9, 1982 – THE U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE IS IN LONDON TO MEET WITH PRIME MINISTER THATCHER.
April 8, 1982 – Falklands Dispute
The Secretary of State informs the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires that:
"[Argentine Foreign Minister] Costa Mendez phoned the Secretary [Haig] last night April 6 to say Argentina accepted U.S. offer of assistance… and that he would be welcome to come to Buenos Aires." [….]
"Let us know (report to London) if you pick up signals different than those Costa Mendez is giving off – that is that a form of word can be found on sovereignty, but that retention of an Argentine administrative presence on the islands is important…"
April 8, 1982 – Falkland Island Dispute
U.S. Ambassador in Buenos Aires Harry Shlaudeman writes that Argentine Deputy Foreign Minister Enrique Ros "emphasized that the Foreign Ministry wants and has always wanted a negotiated solution.
"The problem is that Ros and [Argentine Foreign Minister] Costa Mendez do not speak for the Navy. We are getting ultra-tough sounds out of that quarter, including statements that the Secretary should not come here … One bitter complaint for the marine branch of that service is that the commandos failed to have complete surprise and thus took casualties in their Malvinas landing because we had given the British advance intelligence obtained by 'satellite.'"
April 9, 1982 (1:31 EST) – Memo to the President: Discussions in London
Secretary of State Alexander Haig reports to President Reagan on the round of conversations he just ended with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher:
"I spent five hours with Prime Minister Thatcher, the first hour with her and Foreign Secretary, Pym, alone, followed by a working dinner which included the Defense Minister, Nott [British Secretary of State for Defense], and senior officials." [….]
"The Prime Minister has the bit in her teeth… She is clearly prepared to use force. Though she admits her preference for a diplomatic solution, she is rigid in her insistence on a return to the status quo ante, and indeed seemingly determined that any solution involve some retribution." [….]
"[W]e got no give in the basic British position, and only the glimmering of some possibilities… It is clear that they had not thought much about diplomatic possibilities. They will now, but whether they become more imaginative or instead recoil will depend on the political situation and what I hear in Argentina." [….]
"If the Argentines give something to work with…It may then be necessary for me to ask you to apply unusual pressure on Thatcher… I cannot presently offer much optimism, even if I get enough in Buenos Aires to justify a return to London. This is clearly a very steep uphill struggle, but essential given the enormous stakes."
April 9, 1982 (10:00 EST) – Talks with Thatcher on Falklands
As part of Secretary Haig's diplomatic team, National Security Council staffer Jim Rentschler informs Deputy National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane:
"I assume that you and the Judge [National Security Advisor William P. Clark] will have seen the Secretary's unvarnished report to the President on his protracted discussions with Mrs. Thatcher … You should know that his views very accurately summarize the mood and mind-set of HMG [Her Majesty's Government] at this critical point in the South Atlantic caper and delineate our rather limited room for maneuver … However the situation turns out, it will clearly be a 'close run thing' – In fact Mrs. Thatcher herself may have recognized when she pointedly showed us portraits in Number 10 not only of Nelson but also Wellington."
April 9, 1982 (16:40 EST) – Your Discussions in London
President Ronald Reagan responds to Secretary Haig's meeting with Thatcher:
"The report of your discussion in London makes clear how difficult it will be to foster a compromise that gives Maggie enough to carry on and at the same time meets the test of 'equity' with our Latin Neighbors. As you expected there isn't much room for maneuver in the British position. How much this 'going-in' position can be influenced is unclear…"
APRIL 9-11, 1982 –SECRETARY OF STATE HAIG IS IN BUENOS AIRES FOR DISCUSSIONS WITH PRESIDENT GALTIERI AS PART OF THE U.S. DIPLOMATIC SHUTTLE MISSION.
April 9, 1982 – Argentine/UK: Situation Update
This CIA document from April 9th, issued a week after Argentine forces occupied the Islands and days after elements of the British task force left their bases, contains intelligence information on the location of both Argentine aircraft in Port Stanley and British aircraft on the US owned airfields of the Ascension Islands.
"[A] military clash is possible early next week… [eight lines excised] …the Argentines are reportedly lengthening the air strip in Port Stanley to accommodate A-4, MIRAGE, PUCARA, and C-130 aircraft and reinforcing the island with additional troops and air defense equipment…" [Two lines excised]
The intelligence further states that British "aircraft have insufficient range to fly cargo from the Ascension Islands to Port Stanley and as a result, the RAF is considering alternative air routes which would include refueling stops at several US airfields, Tahiti, Easter Island and Chile."
April 10, 1982 – Memcon: Secretary's Meeting with Prime Minister Thatcher April 8: Falkland Islands Crisis
In this 12-page official memo of conversation between Haig and Thatcher on April 8, the Prime Minister says that "The U.K. had been having good talks with Argentina and was extremely surprised by the actions of that government. No one had anticipated them. After the Secretary said the U.S., too, was surprised…"
"Thatcher reportedly remarked support calls from numerous European countries including France and Germany, the latter expressing that "unprovoked aggression if not turned back could lead to problems everywhere there are borders disputes. Unless we stop the Argentines from succeeding we are all vulnerable." [….]
"The Prime Minister made clear her view that it was impossible to be neutral in the face of unprovoked aggression. In reviewing the bidding, she said the fleet was en route, an exclusion zone has been established and Britain hopes for a diplomatic solution…
"She noted that concern had been stirred by the President's off the cuff remarks about not taking sides. She said she understood it was off the cuff and not a carefully conceived remark. At the same time, she expressed appreciation for U.S. cooperation in intelligence matters and in the use of Ascension Island.
"The Secretary said that he was certain the Prime Minister knew where the President stood. We are not impartial. […] The Secretary said that we face a critical common problem: 'we must do all we can to strengthen you and your government.' Having analyzed the situation very carefully, the Secretary said he thought there had been an intelligence failure."
APRIL 12-13, 1982 –SECRETARY OF STATE HAIG RETURNS TO LONDON FOR FURTHER DISCUSSIONS WITH THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT.
APRIL 12, 1982 – THE U.K. DECLARES A 200-MILE MARITIME EXCLUSION ZONE AROUND THE FALKLAND ISLANDS.
April 12, 1982 (2:29 EST) – Memorandum for the President
Coming from his first meeting with President Galtieri in Buenos Aires the Secretary of State writes to President Reagan:
"I am convinced that Mrs. Thatcher wants a peaceful solution and is willing to give Galtieri a fig leaf provided she does not have to violate in any fundamental way her pledge to Parliament… Her strategy remains one of pressure and threat; by and large, it's working." [….]
"Galtieri's problem is that he has so excited the Argentine people that he has left himself little room for maneuver. He must show something for the invasion — which many Argentines, despite their excitement, think was a blunder — or else he will be swept aside in ignominy. But if he is humiliated militarily, the result will be the same." [….]
"We will soon learn whether Mrs. Thatcher is ready to deal. If she is, I believe what I am taking to London provides a basis for a solution. But progress must come swiftly. We cannot count on Mrs. Thatcher to hold her fire as our diplomacy proceeds and any hostilities — even an incident – would change the picture radically."
April 12, 1982 (15:54 EST) – Falkland Crisis
Secretary of State Haig asks the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires to deliver a message in person to President Galtieri:
"I have introduced ideas here [in London] along the lines discussed at the [Argentine] presidential palace Saturday night… The talks have been exceedingly difficult, but some progress has been made. I hope to leave here this evening for Buenos Aires… Time is of the essence. The British will not withhold the use of force in the exclusion zone unless and until there is an agreement. I hope to bring to Buenos Aires a U.S. proposal that holds the prospect of agreement, thus averting war."
APRIL 13, 1982 – THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES (OAS) ISSUES A RESSOLUTION CALLING FOR A PEACEFUL SETTLEMENT OF THE FLAKLANDS/MALVINAS CONFLICT.
April 13, 1982 – ABC World News Tonight – Communications during the Crisis, 7:00 PM [Excerpts]
April 13, 1982 – Nightline – U.S. and the Falklands, 11:30 PM [Excerpts]
The CIA followed international news sources which reported on important intelligence information. In these news transcripts, released by the CIA and excerpted here for copyright reasons, reporters from ABC break a story at 7 pm that they have learned through U.S. government officials that the US is providing Britain with communications, military intelligence, weather forecasting, and extensive supplies on Ascension Island. "The United States has mounted what officials say is a huge intelligence survey of Argentine military activity, and has passed on virtually every piece of significant information to the British. That information included early photographic evidence suggesting the possibility of an Argentine invasion of the Falklands."
Nevertheless, the journalists also report that a few minutes before the broadcast of this news several top-level US officials telephoned ABC news and made statements that the reports were incorrect.
By air time of the Nightline report, just four and a half hours later, ABC reported that the White House officials who had denied the previous story had called the station to retract their statements and to simply declare "no comment".
April 14, 1982 - Falklands Dispute: GOA Version of Haig Mission
The US Embassy in Buenos Aires sends the Department of State an article published in the Argentine newspaper Clarin that they take "to reflect the Argentine [Government] position" of doubting Haig's role as an impartial negotiator.
"He [Haig] also carried a 'working draft' which was analyzed only by advisers from both sides here, and was not examined at the presidential level or by Foreign Minister Costa Mendez"
"Secretary Haig sought to use that draft – which at no time became an official document of the Argentine government – in his conversations with British authorities…With this draft the United States became a defender of Prime Minister Thatcher, instead of a friendly broker."
Circa April 15 – 1982 – British Options in the Falklands Islands Dispute
"The UK will continue to seek a diplomatic solution during the lengthy transit of the Royal Navy Task Force. This effort will likely continue for a while after the task force is in the area… If some amenable compromise cannot be achieved within reasonable time, however, London appears intent on military action…."
"Although the Royal Navy enjoys a surface force superiority, it will be severely constrained by inadequate air cover and stretched supply lines. It is 4,000 miles to the small US facility on Ascension Island… The Royal Air Force will probably stage some items there for resupply as the task force passes by, however the distance precludes continuous effective resupply during operations. The British are looking at the possibility of obtaining base rights closer to the Falklands, however, there is little likelihood of this. Brazil and Uruguay have already stated they would not grant such a request. Chile has remained silent… Santiago is unlikely to provide logistical support to the Royal Navy. However, should the British inflict substantial damage to the Argentine fleet, Chile may become more receptive to a British request."
APRIL 15-19, 1982 – SECRETARY OF STATE HAIG RETURNS TO BUENOS AIRES FOR FURTHER DISCUSSIONS AS PART OF HIS DIPLOMATIC SHUTTLE MISSION.
April 15, 1982 (0:40 EST) – Falklands Dispute: Argentine Proposal
The U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires forwards to the Department of State the latest Argentine government's proposal for a settlement with the U.K. Item 3 reads:
"The British government shall adopt measures necessary to comply, with respect to the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, with Resolution 1514 (XV) of the General Assembly of the United Nations, completing the decolonization of the same by 31 December 1982…"
April 15, 1982 (15:30 EST) – Falklands Islands Dispute
Secretary Haig informs U.S. Embassy London that "the Argentines have now provided us with their language on decolonization. As promised, we are providing it to HMG [Her Majesty's Government]." He then writes to U.K. Foreign Secretary Francis Pym: "The problems with this language are all too obvious. Nevertheless, perhaps taking as a starting point the language we left on Tuesday morning, we would appreciate receiving a formulation without delay so that we can try to bring the Argentines to it."
APRIL 17, 1982 – THE REMAINING BRITISH SHIPS ARRIVE AT THE ASCENSION ISLANDS TO COMPLETE THE TASK FORCE. BRITISH GENERALS SET A TIMETABLE TO DEPLOY BRIGADES TO THE FALKLAND ISLANDS.
APRIL 17, 1982 –SECRETARY OF STATE HAIG PRESENTS THE ARGENTINE JUNTA WITH A 5-POINT PLAN, WHICH INCLUDES PROVISIONS FOR ARGENTINE INVOLVEMENT WITH THE BILATERAL ADMINISTRATION OF THE ISLANDS, MUTUAL WITHDRAWAL OF TROOPS, AND A START TO UK-ARGENTINE NEGOTIATIONS ON THE FUTURE OF THE ISLANDS.
April 17, 1982 (4:04 EST) – Message To Foreign Secretary Pym
Secretary of State Haig to U.K. Foreign Secretary Pym:
"Tonight, Foreign Minister Costa Mendez and his team met with President Galtieri and his entire Junta. At 10:40 pm local time we received a very discouraging response which I have asked to discuss tomorrow morning with the Junta and the President. I will advise you of the results of this meeting."
April 17, 1982 – [British Joint Intelligence Committee "Immediate Assessment / JIC(82) (IA) 29 prepared by the Latin America Current Intelligence Group]
This highly classified (Top Secret Umbra) cable draws on British intelligence and reports that "Argentina has prepared a draft note for invoking action under the Rio Treaty. The Soviet Union is reported to be ready to offer Argentina ships, aircraft and land based missiles in exchange for grain. The Argentine Foreign Ministry has denied in a telegram to the Argentine Embassy in Venezuela that the Soviet Union is providing intelligence material. The high level of Soviet photographic coverage of the area is unusual." [….]
"Argentina, which is a subscriber to the LANDSAT project, has made a request to the United States for the LANDSAT photographic satellite to be tasked to cover the Falkland Islands on 21-23 April… We doubt whether Argentina would be able to derive any military information of value from this satellite on this occasion. But if the United States grants this request the political significance would outweigh the military."
April 18, 1982 – Message to Judge Clark
Secretary Haig writes to National Security Advisor Clark:
"I called you on open line with clear recognition that the Argentines would monitor. In order to break impossible impasse this morning on force withdrawal modalities, I created the impression that British military action was about to take place. While somewhat over-theatrical, it has the virtue of being true in the context of first British units steaming toward South Georgia Island. Fortunately, the ploy worked and it is vital that I leave here with an assessment by the Argentines not only that the British are going to attack but we are only hours away from such event. You handled it on the phone precisely as I had hoped. Warm regards, Al"
APRIL 19, 1982 – ARGENTINA REJECTS HAIG'S 5-POINT PLAN.
April 19, 1982 (17:54 EST) – Annotations of Draft Text Worked Out in Buenos Aires
Secretary Haig has sent the latest Argentine proposal to Minister Pym:
"My own disappoint [sic] with this text prevents me from attempting to influence you in any way. As you will see, there are significant steps back from the text you and I discussed in London…"
APRIL 22, 1982 – THE FIRST BRITISH TASK FORCE SHIPS ENTER THE WATERS OF THE FALKLAND ISLANDS.
April 22, 1982 – A Considered Argentine View of the Situation
The U.S. Embassy sends a report containing numerous fine tuned perceptions by a secret Argentine source of how the crisis will unfold in Argentina and the repercussions for Galtieri's future. Among other things, the source, "A well informed politician who has served in and generally supports the military government" speculates, "If there is a major incident in which large numbers of Argentines are killed ("A ship is sunk and 400 die") the public will be uncontrollable. Among their targets will be the U.S. Embassy, he said."
APRIL 25, 1982 – BRITISH TROOPS RETAKE THE SOUTH GEORGIA ISLANDS AFTER SINKING THE ARGENTINE SUBMARINE SANTA FE. THE BRITISH TAKE 189 ARGENTINE PRISONERS OF WAR.
April 27, 1982 – The Falklands Conflict: HMG Ponders Additional Military Measures
This message is from the U.S. Ambassador in London:
"Summary: With South Georgia retaken, HMG [Her Majesty's Government] is now looking toward additional military steps to build pressure for a settlement on British terms. For the moment Mrs. Thatcher has a relatively free hand. Given her own uncompromising mood, we expect her to force the military race. Choosing additional steps in the near term to minimize risk and maximize public impact. End summary.
"We believe that HMG considers an all out assault on the Falklands a last resort. To keep military pressure on the Argentines HMG could follow up the South Georgia success with a series of military actions including one or more of the following:
APRIL 27, 1982 – SECRETARY HAIG RELEASES HIS FINAL PROPOSAL TO OFFICIALS IN LONDON AND BUENOS AIRES: AN IMMEDIATE CESSATION OF HOSTILITIES, ARGENTINE REPRESENTATION IN ISLAND ADMINISTRATION, AND FUTURE NEGOTIATIONS ABOUT SOVEREIGNTY.
APRIL 28, 1982 – THE OAS PASSES A RESOLUTION CONDEMNING SANCTIONS IMPOSED ON ARGENTINA AND DECLARES ARGENTINA'S RIGHT TO SOVEREIGNTY.
April 28, 1982 – Falkland Islands
After visiting London and Buenos Aires twice and consulting with top political leaders, "the Secretary has developed a US proposal which would provide an equitable solution. This proposal has been transmitted to both HMG and the Argentine government. Neither has yet accepted."
"Meanwhile, the conflict threatens to worsen. We are concerned that if the conflict drags on, [the Argentine government] might turn to the Soviet Union for military, economic, or political help. Such a development would have serious consequences for Argentina and the strategic security of the Western Hemisphere."
APRIL 29, 1982 – ARGENTINA REJECTS HAIG'S FINAL PROPOSAL.
APRIL 30, 1982 – HAIG ANNOUNCES U.S. SUPPORT FOR THE U.K. AND SANCTIONS AGAINST ARGENTINA.
APRIL 30, 1982 – THE BRITISH ANNOUNCE THAT THE MARITIME EXCLUSION ZONE AROUND THE FALKLAND ISLANDS IS NOW A TOTAL EXCLUSION ZONE, MAKING IT APPLICABLE TO AIRCRAFT.
April 30, 1982 (5:27 EST) – Falklands Crisis: Prospective US Measures
As the full British task force is on the Falklands' waters, U.S. Ambassador to Argentina reports that "I asked to see President Galtieri and was received at midnight [April 29]. ARMA [Army Attaché] accompanied me…"
"Both ARMA and I… bore down very heavily on the absolute necessity for Argentina not to take the first offensive action. Galtieri said that he had already stopped such actions three times in the last few days, but indicated that he could not do so for much longer. He made a point, as we all know, that the Navy is hungry for action."
MAY 1, 1982 – "BLACK BUCK 1," THE FIRST AERIAL ATTACK OF THE WAR, IS EXECUTED BY THE BRITISH AIR FORCE ON THE MAIN RUNWAY OF THE PORT STANLEY AIRPORT.
May 1, 1982 – Falkland Islands Dispute
On the first half on this two-page document, Argentine Air Force Chief Juan Garcia informs the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission in Argentina, Claus W. Russer, that "Argentina would not be the first to open fire" in the upcoming confrontation with the British for the islands. "But there is considerable pressure from the Argentine Navy to attempt a major strike before all units of the British task force have reached the scene."
The second half of the first page is completely excised but has the heading "Argentine Naval Moves."
MAY 2, 1982 – THE ARGENTINE NAVY CRUISER GENERAL BELGRANO IS SUNK 30 MILES OUTSIDE THE EXCLUSION ZONE BY THE BRITISH SUBMARINE CONQUEROR ON THE ORDERS OF PRIME MINISTER THATCHER AND THE WAR CABINET, WHO CLAIMED SELF-DEFENSE. MORE THAN 300 ARGENTINES DIE.
U.S. intelligence estimate of last reported location of General Belgrano [Highlighted in red] outside the U.K. Exclusion Zone
May 3, 1982 – Falkland Islands Dispute
The title of this INR report is out of place; the Falkland "dispute" has become a war. The excised and still classified report is likely to analyze the British forces' sinking on May 2 of Argentine cruiser General Belgrano – the bloodiest event during the conflict which cost 323 Argentine lives.
MAY 4, 1982 – ARGENTINES SINK THE BRITISH HMS SHEFFIELD. 20 BRITISH MEN DIE.
May 4, 1982 – Sinking of the Belgrano – Alleged US Role
Just two days following the controversial sinking of the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano, the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires addresses circulating Argentine reports of U.S. intelligence assistance to the British to help them carry out this military attack. Ambassador Shlaudeman (U.S. Ambassador to Argentina) writes that the Argentine government "is carrying a story quoting an unnamed informant in the Pentagon to the effect that the US has 'at least one spy satellite' in the south Atlantic and that a great part of the information which it obtains is transmitted to the U.K". The Argentines also cited Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger as saying that the U.S. would assist the British with any type of support they might need.
May 4, 1982 – [Last Reported Location of General Belgrano]
Two days after the sinking of the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano, another almost completely redacted U.S. intelligence report highlights that the ship was outside the U.K. Designated Maritime Exclusion Zone [highlighted in red]. With the General Belgrano went any serious consideration for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.
MAY 7, 1982 – BRITAIN EXTENDS EXCLUSION ZONE TO WITHIN 12 MILES OF THE ARGENTINE SHORE.
May 7, 1982 – Latin American Reaction to South Atlantic Crisis
Signed by Secretary of State Haig, this review is sent to all U.S. diplomats in Latin America with copies to diplomats in NATO countries, plus the Southern Command and the Atlantic command. It reads, in part:
"Summary: Popular opinion throughout Latin America has supported Argentina's claim to the Falkland/Malvinas islands, but hemisphere governments have been reluctant to legitimize the use of force. With the announcement of U.S. support for the U.K. April 30 and the sinking of General Belgrano May 2 Latin sentiment for Argentina has solidified. The Anglo-Argentine conflict has divided Spanish speaking countries from the English speaking Caribbean, jeopardized the Inter-American system, provided Cuba the opportunity to repair relations with Argentina and adopt the mantle of Latin American solidarity, ignited nationalist feelings throughout the hemisphere, and revived latent anti-Americanism, which has yet to erupt widely in public but is simmering beneath the surface."
May 14, 1982 – US Actions in the South Atlantic Crisis
On May 14th the National Security Council outlined measures with regards to U.S.-declared support for Britain in the Falklands crisis, which included "suspension of all military exports to Argentina," removal of their certification to receive military sales, and "withholding of new Export-Import bank credits" to Argentina.
MAY 21, 1982 – BRITISH TROOPS FIRST LAND ON THE FALKLAND ISLANDS.
May 24, 1982 – UK-Argentina: Probable British Strategy
In a report prepared four days before the first land battle of the Falklands war at Goose Green, U.S. military officials outline how the British plan to press forward in the war towards surrender.
"While the main British force is moving toward Stanley, small units probably will raid Argentine positions on both Easy and West Falkland to destroy Argentine aircraft, ammunition, and supplies…Difficult terrain and poor weather may slow the British advance from Darwin/Goose Green to Stanley. British forces on the move will be at high risk from Argentine aircraft, and Harriers from the British aircraft carriers or possibly from the field at San Carlos will have to provide protection." [….]
"Prime Minister Thatcher could call early elections in the event of success, but a serious military setback or stalemate would probably result in her replacement."
MAY 26, 1982 – UN SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 505 IS PASSED, CALLING FOR BOTH BRITAIN AND ARGENTINA TO WORK WITH THE UN SECRETARY GENERAL TO ACHIEVE A CEASFIRE.
MAY 28-29, 1982 – THE FIRST LAND BATTLE OF GREEN GOOSE AND DARWIN TAKES PLACE. ARGENTINE TROOPS SURRENDER AFTER BEING UNPREPARED FOR AN ATTACK FROM THE WEST. FIFTY ARGENTINE AND 17 BRITISH TROOPS DIE.
May 1982 (circa May 28) – Military Forces, Argentina
Three intelligence reports on or before May 28 of CIA satellite imaging of the Port Stanley area show the high level of detail in U.S. surveillance of Argentine forces. The reports are issued around May 28th, the first day of a two-day battle in which the British retook Goose Green and Darwin by land, the first land battle of the war.
The first document notes the location and quantity of Argentine troops in the area, emphasizing their "improved defensive positions." It also lists the Argentine aircrafts stationed at the Stanley airfield at the time.
The second document provides specifics on Argentine ships stationed at Puerto Belgrano. "Vessels present include the 25 de mayo aircraft carrier with no aircraft on the flight-deck, one guppy-class attack submarine, one type 209-class attack submarine in drydock, one type-42 guided missile destroyer helicopter…"
The third document outlines in great detail the aircraft stationed at an Argentine base. "Two Guarani-II utility aircraft and one C-47 are in the military area…two of the 14 IA-58 Puchara, observed at the airfield [redacted] were parked in the maintenance area…the 707 is on a parking apron with its side cargo door open."
MAY 29, 1982 – THE OAS CALLS FOR THE UNITED STATES TO LIFT ITS ECONOMIC SANCTIONS ON ARGENTINA AND TO END ITS SUPPORT OF BRITAIN. THE RESOLUTION ALSO CALLS FOR SOUTH AMERICAN COUNTRIES TO SUPPORT ARGENTINA IN WHATEVER MANNER THEIR GOVERNMENTS SEE FIT.
May 29, 1982 – UK-Argentina: British Military Gains
Four days after the conclusion of the Battle of Goose Green and two weeks before the end of the war, U.S. intelligence outlines how the British plan to move towards Stanley and recapture the port. The report notes that "the British needed to defeat the Argentine forces in the Darwin-Goose Green area before they could fully develop their main thrust toward Stanley." It also explains the Argentine reliance on their air capabilities as their navy is outnumbered by the British, but that this air-based strategy could not sustain itself for more than a few days.
JUNE 3, 1982 – THE U.S. AND THE U.K. VETO A U.N. RESOLUTION DRAFTED BY PANAMA AND SPAIN THAT CALLS FOR AN IMMEDIATE CEASEFIRE.
JUNE 11-14 1982 – BRITISH FORCES ATTACK AND TAKE PORT STANLEY, BRINGING AN END TO THE FALKLANDS WAR. TOTAL DEATHS FOR THE FALKLANDS WAR ARE APPROXIMATELY 650 ARGENTINES AND 250 BRITISH. 3 FALKLAND RESIDENTS DIED DURING THE CONFRONTATION. OVER 11,500 ARGENTINE SOLDIERS ARE TAKEN AS PRISONERS OF WAR.
June 15, 1982 – UK-Argentina: Surrender Announced
"Argentine forces on both East and West Falkland surrendered last night at 2000 EDT…The commander of British ground forces on the islands reported that arrangements were in hand to assemble the Argentine troops for return to Argentina."
Reagan On The