UK defence issues and the odd container or two

About The Author

Think Defence hopes to start sensible conversations about UK defence issues, no agenda or no campaign but there might be one or two posts on containers, bridges and mexeflotes!

95 Comments

  1. Chris.B.

    Huh? What’s this? A shiny new thread dedicated purely to the Islands that shall not be named? (you missed a trick with that one boss).

    And in true honour of the Internet…. first.

  2. Dangerous Dave

    So . . . what about the Falkland Islands are going to be discussing here then? Possible training areas for the Weaponised Phil Platform?

  3. x

    Shhhhh!

    The WPP may or may not be already deployed near a penguin as I write this…..

    The site needs to have a pro-forma Official Secrets Act to sign…..

  4. James

    TD,

    while this is a superficially smart move, you do realise that creating a dedicated Falklands thread is going to kill off every other thread and your page hits? It was always interesting to observe how any topic, no matter how arcane or focussed on something really completely unrelated to TITSTSNBN could degenerate into a “we need a carrier” vs “they are impregnable, SF ninjas included” slugfest. Like the 6 degrees of separation, 6 posts into any topic and we are arguing about the ruddy islands.

    Worried.

  5. James

    … TITSTSNBN is obviously a typo, but interesting that my auto-spell-check should choose that. It’s a subliminal SSN, or even SSBN that clearly we need instead of any stinking carriers.

  6. wf

    @James: aww, I thought we had you coming around for the need for a USS America at least. I suspect the Falklands mania is related to the fact that it’s the only active threat to the UK atm, and that “carrier decisions” made in the 60’s, early 80’s, and now 2010 have all been proven wrong in short order (I admit the latter is a matter of debate).

    @TD: why not have a voting series? Threats can be specified by commenters, people can vote on them, then we can specify remedies, followed by another vote, etc, ending up with budgeting for remedies that get the final vote? Might reduce some of the handbags at dawn stuff :-)

  7. Chris.B.

    That can be topped Peter, by George Galloway. He’s on “This Week” telling people that we should hand the islands “back” to Argentina and calling Christina Kercher “delightful”. I swear he only does it to create controversy and bring the spotlight onto himself.

    Props on the side to Alan Johnson for telling Galloway that he can’t talk about the Islands without considering the “events of ’83”.

    Shower of twats.

  8. IXION

    Gareth Jones

    Morrissey is responsible for one of the biggest

    ‘WTF happened there’

    moments in my life. You go to bed one night, and he is:-

    The Adolescent whining mouthpiece,
    for a bunch of posey
    Bed wetting
    Angst ridden
    Middle class teenagers with silly flat top haircuts.

    You wake up and somehow he has got:-

    ‘Poet of his generation’

    status.

    Go figure.

    Ps

    First move in any attempt to retake the Falklands from a new Argy occupation.

    Find Morrissey and stick that Rose bush back up his ar*e

  9. Tubby

    The university where I work is holding a conference, open to anyone on the Falkland’s war:

    http://www.kent.ac.uk/history/events/conferences/falklands.html

    some info on the conference “Falkland islanders will join soldiers, reporters, policy-makers and academics for the first time to discuss the conflict that shook their lives when the University hosts a conference on 26-28 April to mark the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War.

    British and Argentinian historians of the conflict and journalists who covered it will share their analyses, perspectives and memories with residents of the islands and the service personnel who fought for them.

    Among the conference highlights will be: Sir John Nott, the Secretary of State for Defence who despatched the Royal Navy Task Force, opening proceedings; Major-General Julian Thompson and Commodore Michael Clapp, describing how the amphibious phase of British military operations was planned; and Professor Peter Hennessy assessing what British intelligence knew of Argentinian intentions on the eve of the invasion.

    A panel of islanders including Patrick Watts, the former head of Falklands Radio who was broadcasting when Argentinian soldiers captured his studio on 2 April 1982, will also describe their experiences and recollections.”

  10. x

    BZ Kent!!!

    My local campus would probably campaign for the FI to be given over to the Argies!!!!!

  11. x

    I note the 10 O’clock News on Al Beeb on this anniversary day doesn’t have a special report from Stanley or anywhere else on the islands. No they are in the Argentine. Like all reasonable fair minded people I like unbiased journalism but really Argentina today of all days?

    @ Jedibeeftrix

    I thought I had missed it until I saw your link and rememberd not only iPlayer but also that I have unlimited downloads.

  12. jedibeeftrix

    it is worth watching, max is an unashamed army man as his quote in the spectator (pre-SDSR) showed, but he is a good historian whose books i’ve been reading for fifteen years:

    “My own strongly held view, shared by some much cleverer people on both sides of the Atlantic, is that the only credible way forward is to undertake a drastic restructuring, which explicitly prioritises ground forces. We should plump for a properly funded fighting army with appropriate support, including helicopters and transport aircraft, and a big commitment to unmanned drones. In a rational world the RAF, already smaller than the US Marine Corps’s organic air wing, would be integrated with the army.”

  13. x

    @ Jedibeeftrix

    I am very familiar with Mr Hastings, his writings, and his quirks. Did he really say merge the RAF with the Army? What a noodle! Everybody knows the RAF belongs to the RN….. :)

  14. Peter Elliott

    Worthwhile viewing.

    As to where it all leads, historians tend to say you need to look at least 100 years either side of an event like the Falklands to understand its significance fully.

    I’ll wait and see.

  15. Exwoofer

    I am looking for some reference books evaluating/documenting aspects of the Falklands conflict.
    The information sought includes:
    In particular:
    Land battle – what kit worked/didn’t and what lessons were learnt. Do any books/articles detail the post-conflict evaluation of the kit as used by the soldier on the ground (i.e. Milan, Carl Gustav 84mm, 66mm, SLR, boots, uniform etc)? The more detailed the information the better.
    Is there any robust data on Blowpipe/Rapier use/effectiveness? And the same in relation to the use of Stinger. Also what about an evaluation of CVRT use in ground the attack fire support role and helicopter use in ground support.
    And while we are on the subject:
    Sea battle / submarine warfare– Latterly conducted evaluations into the sinking of HMS Coventry /HMS Sheffield and also Sea Dart/Sea Wolf effectiveness. Also what is considered a scholarly account of submarine operations – British and Argentinean?
    Air battle / Air defence – How effective was the Task Force air to air defence? How successful was the Argentinean ground to air defence on the Island mainland – Blowpipe, SA-7, Roland/Tigercat, AAA use? Is there robust Air combat loss/damage data?
    I appreciate that after the conflict a lot of material was published but I am looking for updated references and (latterly written) cross-examinations of the preceding accounts.
    Recommendations would be appreciated.

  16. WiseApe

    “a transplanted population does not have the right to self-determination” – not an argument likely to go down well in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean….

  17. Observer

    lol Wise.

    Tell me again where the name “Argentina” came from? :P

    I never knew the Argentinians were decended from the Aztecs and Incas.

  18. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Observer – Whilst agreeing with the sentiment, the Historian in me compels me to point out that the Aztecs were in Mexico and the Incas in Peru; not quite sure who was in the Argentine…but clearly not the current inhabitants, who committed an act of genocide with respect to the indigenous peoples quite late in the C19th…

  19. x

    The Argentines were still butchering the indigenous peoples of South America twenty years after the current British colony was established.

    Also it appears the oil deposits may not be up too much. Though I feel sorry for the Islanders I wet myself laughing because there is nothing for the Argentines to grab.

    EDIT: Apart from the fish.

  20. Observer

    @x, like in the 80s, it was never about oil. It was more about a distraction from the crappy internal situation and pride building in the nation. If they had managed to hold on to the Islands, they would have gotten a very similar boost to their popularity that Thatcher did after the war, which would have made control of their population much easier.

    In fact, judging from the current situation, it is still about pride, distraction and credibility.

    Think they saw a general British withdrawal of engagement to everything but the Home Islands and tried to take advantage of the situation, but bungled it badly. A few fingerpointing as to the fact of the general British withdrawal worldwide, some rumours that the Falklands would be next to be cut off, some helpful economic assistence and assurance of future support “in case of abandonment” and they would have been in a good position for a referendum.

  21. x

    @ Observer

    Thanks. Not of that is covered in the 100 or so books I have on the Falklands Islands War… :) ;)

    The presence of oil was more cherry on top and perhaps a possible solution to Argentine money worries. Though saying that their elites would have prospered and the Argentine exchequer would have seen little. It probably is even more amusing there is nothing there seeing as who would have benefited.

  22. Observer

    “Thanks. Not of that is covered in the 100 or so books I have on the Falklands Islands War…”

    I sense a great sarcasm in the Force…

    But honestly, if they had gone on a campaign of insinuation, the UK would be in a very hard pressed situation to respond.

    Politician: “We will NOT abandon the Falklands whatever the Argentinians say!”
    Joe Public: “Where the hell is that and why are we paying for an island in South America when we have a budget crisis at home?”

    This would have been the likely response in the 80s without the invasion.

  23. wf

    @Observer: true. But as it turned out, the original garrison and all the other island needs could have been easily met via fishing license income, as occurred after the war. As with many things post WW2, the defeatist attitude relied on doing nothing and then proclaiming failure….

  24. Challenger

    @X

    I’m fine with them putting on a ‘show of strength’ around the time of the March referendum, but they should at least try and make it a valuable training exercise rather than simply a brief stunt.

    I have long advocated a minimum of 8 Typhoon in a light squadron plus a battalion that can simultaneously garrison and conduct cold weather/mountain training.

  25. jedibeeftrix

    Why is the army there at all?

    If Mt Pleasant isn’t a job for the RAF Regiment I don’t know what it!

  26. John Hartley

    We do not have the means to take the islands back , so the trick is not to lose them in the first place. So an extra 1 or 2 Typhoons + a few armoured vehicles to defend the airfield.

  27. Martin

    I would like to see them deploying the new rapid combined fleet ready action group thingy or what ever replaced the CSG/ARG. Would be interesting to see if the logistics are up to the task. Maybe invite brazil along for an exercise

  28. IXION

    Lets stop obsessing about the nameless isles: –

    1)Move para training (Basic Wales) from wales to The falklands.
    2)Make it the home of the Raf Reg
    (That should put the equivilent of a couple of batalions of proper troops there and the para might rub of on the RAF reg making them better troops).
    3)Send 4 more Typhons or Tornados:- with some missiles…
    4)Put it on the patrol map for a SSN so theres always opne nearby.
    5)Fully mechanise with cast of scimiter etc the falklands defence force.

    None of that should cost THAT much.

    Enough troops ansd equipment to kick the but of any invasion ever likley to be mounted, so it won’t happen.

    And not a single t45/t26surface unit in sight.

    Job done.

  29. TrT

    Challenger
    I think we should locate all of our “formal” infantry training down there.
    So the 24 week basic infantry course, P company and the Commando Course.

    Suddenly the islands have a resident population of 6000 infantrymen :)
    I get the impression West Falkland is colder and wetter than wales too.

  30. WiseApe

    The Daily Mail inaccurate – whatever next ;-)

    With 1500 troops already there what difference would another 150 make? You could stick the entire British Army on the islands and that won’t stop or deter the type of actions which I think the Telegraph rightly cites as more likely than another invasion, namely being a nuisance to Falklands fishing and mineral exploration.

    I think beefing up air/naval forces would be more sensible – like the idea of joint exercises with Brazil. Perhaps we could invite our new best friends the French along…

  31. Alex

    Wikipedia reckons Edinburgh’s Sea Dart is not operational. What function does a T42 with no Sea Dart serve down there?

  32. TrT

    Even if sea dart was operational, T42 is the wrong ship for down south.

    Great for shooting down Sky Hawks, but if the Argentine Navy managed to get one of its destroyers, or even corvettes to sea, the T42 doesnt have anything to shoot back with.

    The T23 is a much better ship for down south.

  33. wf

    Sea Dart does have a surface to surface mode :-)

    Warhead isn’t that large, but a big missile impacting at Mach 2+ should ruin someone’s day

  34. TrT

    I’d heard about that but didnt realise it was live.

    Apparently (Wiki) the warhead doesnt actually arm, so its just impact and fire.

    Although wiki does say the system has since been decomissioned, but then again, why we bother a test fire if it was being switched off?

  35. Alex

    The MOD images caption makes more sense as “this is the last *planned* firing, stand fast Argentine Air Force”:-)

  36. Gloomy Northern Boy

    Much good sense in what IXION says – although I would add the use of MPA to test out UAVs/”remote control warfare” – and also create a BOT Coast Guard (NOT from the MoD Budget!) – not least because I think all our little pieces of rock might come in handy over the next few decades, and we need to get used to the idea of looking after oil/gas/fish et al in places with much less friendly neighbours than the North Sea/North Atlantic.

  37. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @x – I’ve said it before, but I might as well say it again – our bits of rock along the Atlantic Ridge will matter vastly in the resource wars of the forthcoming century; any SDSR that does not provide for their effective defence against any and all comers will have failed; and we might usefully start the politics moving now by moving on from the FI Referendum by asking them if they want to become part of a new British Atlantic Ridge Parliamentary Constituency. The other Islands and Rocks might also join if they should wish to do so…use the oil money to support an HM Atlantic Ridge Coastguard…build decent runways and harbour facilities anywhere currently without them…institute a regular airbus service to link them together…beef up their use for ISTAR (possibly remotely monitored)…and their use to base UAVs and develop UUVs…encourage the Universities to develop research (and teaching?) based on them (oceanography, astrophysics,agriculture in challenging locations, sustainable fisheries, green energy as well as oil, technologies for small community self sufficiency)…and UK based businesses to invest in them.

    And buy more Mark II penguins…

  38. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @WiseApe – is that seal from the Argentine? Do we need to move 16AAB to MPA along with all the typhoons and get the underwater knife fighters on commercial flights to BA with a small thermonuclear device…and reposition the (other) Death Star..!

    Just don’t whatever you do tell the Daily Mail…

  39. x

    @ GNB

    Yep. The choir hears you. :)

    It is no secret here that I see the sea (!) as our main enabler for economic sustainability in the future. As I have said before in the coming decades we won’t miss the odd battalion of infantry but we will miss not having enough frigates, OPVs, and submarines. It was clever diplomacy, commercial guile, and the navy that took the Britain from European second tier power to superpower. We won’t achieve the latter again but a new version of that old plan may keep us from being a footnote in history.

  40. Chuck Hill

    This makes about as much sense as Mexico asking for the return of Texas, California, and other Western US states.

    As my Yankee wife tells her Georgia born husband, “You lost, get over it.”

  41. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @Chuck Hill – We agree – and appreciate your support. But it would help a lot if your President would tell the Argentines so, very slowly and very clearly (and probably do it several times); and then ensure that his UN and Latin American Ambassadors kept repeating the message until it sank in. Not least because last time round you chaps discreetly gave us a lot of support when the shooting started (even,allegedly planning to lend us a Carrier if we lost ours!) – but up to that point your UN Ambassadrix held to a Neutral line with such firmness that it looked quite a lot like being on the Argentine Team…

  42. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @AS – all interesting stuff, but the really key issue is that the new US Secretary of State made his first overseas visit to the UK and reasserted current policy on this matter – recognising UK Administration over the FI, and hoping for discussions between the various parties about matters of mutual interest – but taking no position on sovereignty; however spun by BA, this is exactly the position taken up to the 1982 invasion; after which they discreetly provided us with everything from ammunition to intelligence (even, according to rumour, having a Carrier on standby to lend us if necessary)

    If BA really want to change US Policy they could follow up their recent agreement with Iran by seeking Venezuelan military assistance to have another go, thereby almost guaranteeing that we will be in a position to deliver more TLAM’s from more Submarines than we actually own on key military sites in both Argentina and Venezuela…red, white and blue flags all look much the same at 150 Fathoms!

  43. Cordobese Armadillo

    @jedibeeftrix

    I agree, Mt. Pleasant should be a RAF Reg jobbie really but they seem to be more interested in running around getting in on the action in the middle east in an attempt to justify themselves.Rather badly I might add.

    I would not be at all surprised to see them go in the next defence review, if not before. Surely their job could be done by infantry companies? Any additional training needed would surely be cheaper than retaining a specialist cadre of Force Protection soldiers?

  44. Gloomy Northern Boy

    @CA – If there is a real issue about RAF Regiment quality – as opposed to the sort of inter-service sniping the RAF are accused of in respect of green or dark blue flight or ground crew – then it needs to be fixed,(with external help if necessary). In the final analysis if a forward deployed RAF Unit needs F/P that requires a number of properly equipped troops with a CO who will need to work closely with the RAF Station Commander and with any Units from other services operating in the same locality; the numbers, equipment and command/liaison requirements remain the same, as would any specialist training requirements for operating safely around aviation fuel, fast jets et al…these days only the rank-tabs on the uniforms vary. Not really sure where any big savings would come from.

    Remember also that the reason the RAF Regiment was formed was that when there was a real shooting war on there was a consistent problem in making sure the protection of key air assets was prioritised appropriately…would that now be any different with a much smaller Army?

    I should add that on this site I am mostly in the Dark Blue Anchorage, so I am trying to take a dispassionate view…

    (PS are there many Armadillos in Cordoba? Always keen to learn…)

  45. TrT

    The problem is defending the Falkland Islands is not *just* about defending Mt P

    The RAF Reg as currently constituted is set up (at least in theory) to defend against under water flying knife fighters, or irregulars, not mechanised infantry.

    I’d stick a light blue Scimitar troop on the Airbase, but thats just me.

  46. Simon257

    Until the LLAD role was handed fully over to the Royal Artillery. (For reasons why, I have never been able to find out?)The Falklands was a continuous deployment for the RAF Regiment Rapier Squadrons since the conflict, until the role was lost in early noughties.

    However, as there is the FIDF and an Infantry Company also down South. Their is no need to deploy a Field Squadron as well. Although RAF Mount Pleasant is administered by the RAF, it is more of Joint Forces Base, rther than a single service base.

    As the RAF Regiment are fully focused on Ops in Afghanistan. And that when Op Herrick 18, deploys shortly, their will be Two Field Squadrons deployed instead of one. As Nos. 2 and 3 Squadron are deploying to replace 15 Squadron. No one seems to have picked that up, or the fact that 2 Squadron are going back for their second tour in 2 years.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/units-to-deploy-as-part-of-herrick-18-announced

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