It really is difficult to avoid cynicism when observing the flow of news stories.
Right on cue, after Robert Gates delivered his stinging rebuke to us European pacifists comes a warning about naval resources and with a certain inevitability, the Falkland Islands are raised.
Of course, it’s an opportunity too good to miss isn’t it, the defense secretary of your largest ally warns that you are not spending enough on defence so what better time to get your claim in, who can blame him?
On the Harriers and carriers subject
Rather than deploying from Gioia del Colle, we would deploy within 20 minutes as opposed to an hour and a half, so obviously there are some advantages. It’s cheaper to fly an aircraft from an aircraft carrier than from the shore
Admiral Mark Stanhope GCB OBE
10 minutes and the cost comes out of the Treasury reserve, not the MoD’s budget, just sayin!
Beyond the next ninety days, which is how long the NATO mission has been authorised for, the RN committment to Operational Ellamy will result in a re-prioritisation exercise that will see other committments reduced which demonstrates how bad things have become.
To anyone but a complete bufoon scrapping the harrier force was a ridiculous act of strategic and operational vandalism and it is hard not to pull your hair out when the head of DFiD talks about the UK becoming a development aid superpower or we can still find the money for yet more Euro bailouts or even the Red Arrows, but faced with a real budgetary car crash and within the bounds of political acceptability it was probably the right decision.
Of course they would have enhanced the operatioon in Libya but would they have made a massive difference, probably not.
Then we have the Falkland Islands mentioned in perfect synchronicity, Admiral Sir John “Sandy” Woodward making the claim that we would be unable to retake the Islands should Argentina suddenly change political course, find an effective expeditionary armed force whilst searching for a few peso’s down the back of the sofa and invade the islands.
All this because US support would not be forthcoming now that the US doesn’t need, want or like us any more.
I looked at the Falkland Islands and its defence a while ago, click here, the comments are very illuminating and well worth a read.
In an increasingly globalised and interconnected world it is simply not in Argentina’s interest to do anything more than sabre rattle but if beligerance/capability did increase and the UK failed to notice and decided not to bother to enact its graduated response reinforcement plan, attacking forces would face a very different threat from what they found in 1982.
Of course the Falkland Islands are important enough to defend properly, are in a strategically important area and whilst we should nevr be complacent, I wince when they are constantly used to highlight cuts to UK force levels, especially to the Royal Navy.
The best way to keep the Falkland Islands as they are is to negotiate with Argenetina on improving trade relationships, thus binding the two in mutual ties of mutual interest, whilst having a credible defensive capability, not threatening subsequent violence should we be remiss enough to lose them the second time.
If they are not interested in having sensible economic relations with the islands then fair enough but that is the first and best means of preventing conflict.
Defence means just that, effective air, ground and naval forces on, above and around the islands, not steaming over the horizon with Harriers blazing