Review: Amphibious Assault Falklands: The Battle of San Carlos Water

Amphibious Assault Falklands: The Battle of San Carlos Water
Amphibious Assault Falklands: The Battle of San Carlos Water by Michael Clapp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Amphibious Assault Falklands: The Battle of San Carlos Water by Commodore Michael Clapp tells the story of the amphibious operations of the Falklands War. It very much feels like a rebuttal of criticisms leveled at Clapp in particular and to a lesser extent Julian Thompson and Jeremy Moore. This should not be the first book you read about the Falklands; I would not suggest this book if you haven’t already read about and have some general knowledge of the Falklands war, because the book assumes that you are already familiar with it. There is a lot more to amphibious warfare than sailing up to a foreign shore and depositing troops on a beach; this book presents the realities that make it so difficult.

It focuses not on the foreign policy leading up to the war or the battles on the islands, but rather how the campaign was organized, how the men and equipment were sent to the Falklands, how they were landed on the Falklands, and how they were supplied and supported once there. Clapp looks at the doctrine of amphibious warfare and how prepared the Royal Navy was for it prior to war given their duties within NATO. He explores the command structure that was put into place and the difficulties that structure created and fostered. He explains how men and equipment were put en route to the Falklands as quickly as they were, the problems that created, and how the problems were sorted out (and explains how some problems never were sorted out). He describes and justifies the decision making process that resulted in the selection of San Carlos Water as the landing location. Finally, in great detail, he explains how the troops were landed and supplied and how they were supported. A lot of space is given to the attack on the Sir Galahad, detailing how and why it happened.

Amphibious Assault Falklands is not an exciting book. It isn’t a general reading book, it’s more of a book for military history enthusiasts. It does have a tendency to get dry and bogged down, but it’s hard to avoid when you get into some of the details that Clapp does. At the end of the day, this book is about doctrinal, logistical, and command structure issues. Many readers may find this dull, but understanding the three are key to understanding how such an operation like the amphibious assault on the Falklands works.

Note: This is the book I read while I took a break from reading Endgame: The Betrayal and Fall of Srebrenica, Europe’s Worst Massacre Since World War II.

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