Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Argentine army, 1982

A curious aspect of the Argentine military system in 1982 (curious to an American conscript, anyhow) was that the draft swept up a cohort of 19-year-olds each January for a year of military service. The conscripts had no rank: they entered as a group, were trained, and departed, in theory at the end of the year, but apparently the typical service was just ten months. Thus the entire army was basically a training camp, and its capabilities were basically zero in the first month or two of the calendar year. (One assumes that the air force and navy were more professional.)

To launch a war in April meant marching a bunch of 19- and 20-year-olds into combat with perhaps ten weeks' training on the average. Not a good bet against a modern European army, one would think. They should at least have waited until October!


At 8:50 AM, Blogger Ivan Zverzhanovski said...

Good point Dan. But then again - they would still have lost IMHO.

At 9:13 AM, Blogger said...

Dan, this is a point that most people don't realize but those of us in country at the time were well aware of. Most Argentines believed that because they had 10,000 "troops" dug in on the islands that they would be victorious in defending it. I had this discussion many times with hawkish Argentine military types, asking them how these untrained kids were going to stand up against British Army vets and SAS units. They really didn't have an answer, because it was obvious.
Part of the discontent in the populace after the fall of the Falklands to the British was anger over how the military leadership could do this to their kids.


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