By lex, on June 13th, 2011
Retirement from active service brings with it the opportunity to more freely speak one’s mind, but a retired Royal Navy admiral who commanded the task for which recovered the Falkland Islands back in 1982 has put government in a spot by stating that Britain’s naval writ ** no longer extends over the islanders’ defense:
(Admiral Sir John “Sandy” Woodward) also pointed out that the Royal Navy was significantly reduced and no longer had carrier strike capability.
“We can no longer rely on the Pentagon to support us in helping the islanders in their wish to remain essentially British sovereign territory,” he wrote.
“Significantly the islands are already being called the Malvinas by the US. This tells us all too clearly which way the wind is blowing.”
“With our land and air forces already over-committed in Afghanistan and Libya, with the defence budget still shrinking, our submarine force more than halved, our destroyer and frigate force halved, our carrier force more than halved in terms of deck availability and completely discarded in terms of fixed wing assets – the answer appears to be that we can do precisely nothing other than accede to US pressure,” Admiral Woodward concluded.
The UK’s MoD refutes the claim, noting that the islands are defended by a frigate, four Typhoon jets and a thousand infantry, but the admiral’s point is mostly made: Britain is over-extended militarily, and the fleet that sailed to the Falklands back in 1982 no longer exists. And given the chill that has come over the Special Relationship in the last few years, perhaps Britain is right to wonder how far the US would go to defend the UK’s territorial claims in the South Atlantic. The Argentinians are probably not keen to make another play at what they continue to call the “Malvinas”, but neither have they relinquished their claim to the islands – from their perspective, it’s unfinished business.
Perhaps the French could be persuaded to come to Britain’s aid. Once the Fleet Air Arm learns a little francais, that is:
The first five of 30 Royal Navy pilots have begun French language training at the defence college in Paris before they join the carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, where they will fly Rafale jets.
They will spend 16 weeks studying French so that they are able to communicate with their colleagues on board the vessel.
While they will wear their own uniforms they will sleep, eat and work alongside French fighter pilots, in what has been described as a major test of co-operation for the two Navies.
At least they’ll get to wear their own uniforms.
Someone ought to throw a blanket over Nelson’s statue in Trafalgar Square to hide the tears: In his day, Royal Navy officers learned French to accept surrenders.
** 10-28-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.