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Falkland Islands Conflict:
Freedom of Information request 0971-10, 27 October 2010

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Following a Freedom of Information request to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office by PsyWar.Org, we have been supplied with more details about whether PSYOPS leaflets were disseminated during the short conflict or not.

Certainly five different leaflets were prepared and available to the Task Force. Contemporary press accounts report the dropping of Safe Conduct leaflets on Port Stanley. However, the Ministry of Defence later asserted that no leaflets were, in fact, ever disseminated. To add further confusion, at least one example of a leaflet was discovered on the Islands post-liberation.

The newly released information includes correspondence, dated 9th August 1982, from Government House, Port Stanley to the FCO enquiring about leaflet drops during the war. The correspondence reads in part:

"The Civil Commissioner, [Rex M Hunt CMG], well remembers being involved in the preparation of the leaflets but, oddly enough, we haven't been able to find a single leaflet nor do any of those who were here throughout the occupation remember seeing any."

Following this enquiry from Government House, the Defence Secretariat Division 11 of the Ministry of Defence explained to the FCO that three leaflets were carried with the Task Force and were available for dropping over the Islands, (leaflet Nos. 1, 3 and 4). At the time publicity had been given to leaflets 1 and 4, a Safe Conduct Pass and a leaflet showing the Argentine surrender at South Georgia. No publicity had been given to leaflet No. 3, a message in English by Rex Hunt.

DS11 further explained that:

"...no leaflets were in fact dropped on the Islands although serious consideration was given to their use and the Task Force Commander had them available. In the event the surrender by the Argentine forces was sufficiently quick for the dropping of leaflets to prove unnecessary."

On 1st October the FCO responded to Rex Hunt's enquiry and elaborated:

"The Ministry of Defence are rather sensitive about these leaflets because after having been assured by CINCFLEET that they had indeed been dropped they publicly announced the fact. They late discovered that none had in fact been dropped - the rapidity of the final phases of the campaign made them unnecessary. This in itself would not have bothered them, but in the context of widespread allegations of MOD misinformation and generally unsatisfactory relations with the press they have become very touchy about it all. It would therefore be better if you could keep interest in and publicity for the leaflets within reasonable bounds."

So there certainly appears to be confusion about leaflet operations between the Task Force and Ministry of Defence. The newly-supplied information still does not fully clarify the question of whether PSYOPS leaflets were actually dropped or not. The Task Force Commander at first says leaflet dissemination took place but later this report is dismissed. Certainly no large dissemination happened over Port Stanley we can be sure about that. Although it does appear that a very small limited dissemination of leaflet No. 2, "Island of the Condemned", which was found inside a Port Stanley house occupied by Argentine officers, did take place at some point. See http://www.psywar.org/falklands.php for further details.



 

 

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