WE COULD NEVER RETAKE THE FALKLANDS NOW, WARNS HERO
If the Falklands were to fall, the sacrifice of troops would have been wasted
Tuesday March 6,2012
By John Ingham, Defence Editor
BRITAIN risks “betraying” the liberators of the Falklands by opening the way for another Argentine invasion, a senior former commander warned yesterday.
Major General Julian Thompson said the Coalition decision to axe aircraft carriers means the South Atlantic islands could not be retaken if Argentina attacked.
In 1982, Argentina occupied the fiercely British islands only to be driven off by a Royal Navy-led task force in a war that cost the lives of 255 British servicemen, three Falkland Islanders and 655 Argentines.
Maj Gen Thompson, the land commander in the war, tells a Channel 5 documentary: “We couldn’t do it again. We couldn’t retake them without a carrier, so they would be lost.
“It would be a huge betrayal because all that blood and sacrifice and the money we spent defending them would have been wasted.”
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Since 1982, Britain has built the vast Mount Pleasant air base which is garrisoned by 1,300 troops and four Typhoon Eurofighters.
The islands are also protected by a Royal Navy warship while a submarine is thought to be in the area to deter any threat.
But in a separate interview, Maj Gen Thompson said Argentina had the forces to seize the islands.
He said: “The Argentines have a marine brigade. They’ve got a parachute brigade and special forces. All they’ve got to do is get those guys in for long enough to destroy the jets and that’s the end of it.”
This would force Britain to send a Task Force as in 1982 – but without an aircraft carrier.
Last year the 1982 Task Force commander of the, Admiral Sir John “Sandy” Woodward, said Britain’s grip on the islands was under threat from defence cuts and US pressure to strike a deal with Argentina.
In recent weeks Argentine president Cristina Kirchner has threatened a trade war with Britain, banned British cruise ships from docking in Argentina and persuaded some other South American states to ban Falklands-flagged vessels from their ports.
She has described Prince William’s posting to the Falklands as provocative and accused Britain of “militarising” the South Atlantic.
Britain has always said it will not surrender the islands as long as the 2,500 residents wish to be British.
Yesterday, Brigadier Bill Aldridge, commander of British Forces in the Falklands, said: “I am fully confident that I have the capability to defend the Islands. I am not expecting to hand them over to anybody and therefore put us in a position where we would have to retake them.”
A Ministry of Defence spokesman added: “There is no evidence of any current credible threat.”