Essay on The Center of Gravity During the Falkland Conflict

Essay on The Center of Gravity During the Falkland Conflict

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Much confusion has arisen from misinterpretation of Clausewitz’s discussions on Schwerpunkt or “center of gravity”. Many students of military theory interpret Clausewitz’s ideas through their own historical perspectives. For example, military officers tend to confuse military objectives for centers of gravity, assuming physical objects such as ships or cities are the source of a countries power. While these objects may provide tactical advantages, true power arises from the critical strengths possessed by a country, be they political, diplomatic, military, or informational. The Argentinean military junta made similar mistakes during their invasion of the Falklands. Without fully understanding the source of British power in the region, the Argentineans attacked military objectives, while missing British centers of gravity. Because they failed to analyze the critical factors and capabilities of both the enemy and themselves, they were doomed to failure from the outset of the mission.
Vego defines the center of gravity as the “source of massed strength—physical or moral—or a source of leverage whose serious degradation, dislocation, neutralization, or destruction would have the most decisive impact on the enemy’s or one’s own ability to accomplish a given military objective.” (Vego, 2007). On the strategic level, a nation’s strength arises from its political, military, economic, and informational power. Nations use these powers against opponents to achieve political goals. Successful campaigns leverage a nation’s strengths against enemy’s weaknesses.
By the fall of 1981, the Argentinean government under the leadership of General Galtieri and the military junta was experiencing a significant decrease of power. Economical...


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Laver, R. C. (2001). The Falklands/Malvinas Case: Breaking the Deadlock in the Anglo-Argentine Sovereignty Dispute. Developments in International Law , 40, 66-71.

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