JUEGOS DE GUERRA EN
LA FORTALEZA MALVINAS
By Sue Gyford
There will be no reduction in troop numbers in the Falklands as a result of the cuts announced this week by Defence Secretary, Geoff Hoon. There will be changes here in the Islands but when I spoke to Chief of Staff, Group Captain Gordon Mould (GM) this morning, he told me he was confident they wouldn’t detract from the Military presence here.
GM: The Secretary of State’s announcement was not about cuts. It was about modernisation. And, yes, it will involve a reduction in numbers of personnel, ships and aircraft. However, the operational capability of the armed forces should be enhanced when our new equipment comes into service. But most importantly for the Falkland Islands there will only be superficial changes to our posture here. For example, whilst it’s sad to hear that our Royal Air Force Resident Rapier Squadron will be disbanded, this ground air defence role will be undertaken by the Army, thereby ensuring that our operational capability will remain the same.
SG: In terms of the reduction of troop numbers that we have here in the Islands, what are we looking at?
GM: Although the number of infantry battalions will be reduced by four and the remaining 36 will be grouped into multi-battalion regiments, full details of these changes are not yet available. However, the Secretary of State’s Announcement does not indicate that there will be any reduction in troop numbers here in the Falklands.
SG: We know that HMS CARDIFF and the HMS GLASGOW are going to be taken out of service. What’s that going to mean in terms of visits from patrol vessels?
GM: The CARDIFF, GLASGOW and NEWCASTLE or the Type – 42 ships will progressively be reduced nd be taken out of service over the next few years. They will be replaced by the new Type 45 Destroyers that will enter service towards the end of the decade. Although some changes to the level of routine activities may take place, deployments in support of UK interests abroad will remain a priority. This announcement only indicates superficial changes in our posture and our commitment to the Falkland Islands remains the same.
SG: So there could be fewer visits but you are confident this shouldn’t have a detrimental affect to the presence here?
GM: Certainly, the only location-specific decrease mentioned is the withdrawal of the Northern Ireland Patrol vessel due to the improved security situation. And there will be no change in that posture here.