or be forever doomed to repeat it!

1981. Sir John Knot defence review
In a still infamous Defence White Paper announced his response to the massive recent increases in the size of the Soviet Navy – massive naval cuts for the RN! His plans included the sale of the small but brand new VSTOL harrier-carrier HMS Invincible to Australia, the two Fearless Class LPD’s to Argentina (amazingly!) and the withdrawl of the Ice Patrol vessel Endurance. This action contributed to the Argentine belief that Britain was unwilling and unable to defend her possessions in the South Atlantic

April 1982
At the beginning of the Falklands War, the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Henry Leach, had told British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher: “If we pussyfoot in our actions and do not achieve complete success, in a few months we shall be living in a different country whose word counts for little”.

Fast Forward to the present.
A massive cut in defence spending is imminent, the forces are facing an ever increasing demand for ever reducing manpower and equipment. For the last decade the Army has been at the forefront of an ongoing conflcit with no clear objective whilst the RN provides support. New Aircraft carriers may well appear like expensive status symbols to politicians eager to find headline catching items to cut. HMS Endurance faces an expensive repair bill in order to maintain an RN presence in remote regions the other side of the world. It would appear to the casual (or indeed foreign) observer that the UK is again signalling its intention to relinquish its rights in South Atlantic and Antarctic, along with a reduction in its amphibious and seabourne air power.

We are already seeing the results

It is upon the Navy, under the good providence of God, that the Wealth, Safety and Strength of the Kingdom do chiefly depend.

This was laid down in the first Articles of War. It is carved into the edifice of the Britannia Royal Naval College for every Officer under training to stare at whilst on parade (trust me on this, you have little else to do for hours on end). It is as valid a doctrine now as it ever was.

The population of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and other dependencies are British. They were born British, are fiercely loyal to the UK, and deserve our support whether there are natural resources under their land or not. Yes, they are few in number, but if this is a simple game of arithmetic then why not hand the Channel Islands to France? or Northern Ireland to Eire?

We must retain the ability to act militarily without host nation support. These are skills and infrastructures that take generations to build and develop, and a single defence review to destroy. There will not always be friendly convienient airfields to fly from, or friendly ports to ship supplies to. The ability to project power from a fleet into the littoral is vital and we surrender it at our, and our dependencies peril.

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