Stanley, Falkland Islands (UPI) Nov 11, 2010
British defense cuts have fueled a furious debate over the security of the Falkland Islands, target of an unsuccessful takeover bid by Argentina in 1982 and still claimed by Buenos Aires as Argentine territory.
Despite denials by London and the Falkland Islands government that military cutbacks expose the islands' vulnerability to attack, protests over the cuts by retired British senior officers continue to reverberate, causing potential embarrassment to both British government and Falkland Islands' local administration.
The Falklands are a British overseas territory that Britain defended against an Argentine invasion in 1982. A 74-day conflict cost more than 1,000 lives and ended with formal surrender by Argentine forces sent for the attack by a military junta that ruled the country.
Renewed Argentine calls for its sovereignty claims to be considered led to British defense reinforcements and expansion of military facilities on the islands and increased supplies of British arms and ammunition to the Falklands government forces.
Despite that assistance, financially strapped Britain initiated huge cuts in defense spending, including the planned scrapping of aircraft carrier Ark Royal and a review of the deployment of Harriet jets.
This week, a group of former high-ranking British military officers called for a government reversal of the decision to scrap the Ark Royal and a fleet of Harrier jets.
In a letter to The Times of London, the former officers said the defense cuts will leave the Falkland Islands open to attack and called a decision to do away with the Harrier jets defending the islands "financially perverse."
But both British and Falklands governments contested the case.
British Defense Secretary Liam Fox said dismantling of the Harrier feet wouldn't "impact upon our ability to defend territories in the South Atlantic."
Fox told The Times, "We maintain a wide range of assets, not least a well-defended airfield to ensure the defense of the Falkland Islands.
"The Harrier force has made an impressive contribution to our nation's security over the decades but difficult decisions had to be made ... and I'm clear that rationalizing our fast jet fleet makes both operational and economic common sense," he said.
The protest letter said British Prime Minister David Cameroon was badly advised over the decision to scrap the Harrier force and the Ark Royal and to rely entirely upon Tornadoes. They say the Harrier was more versatile than the Tornado and will be cheaper to maintain.
"The existing Tornado force will cost, over 10 years, seven times as much to keep in service as Harrier. Was the recent exercise not supposed to save money?" the admirals asked.
The decision will leave the Falklands open to attack after the cutbacks and would be a costly one, said the admirals. The islands' North Falkland Basin is being studied for lucrative hydrocarbons reserves.
They admirals wrote: "In respect of the newly valuable Falklands and their oilfields, because of these and other cuts, for the next 10 years at least, Argentina is practically invited to attempt to inflict on us a national humiliation on the scale of the loss of Singapore. One from which British prestige, let alone the administration in power at the time, might never recover, said the letter, which was signed by admiral Alan West, a former First Sea Lord, Julian Oswald, Vice Admiral Jeremy Blackham, Vice Admiral John Mcanally and Maj. Gen. Julian Thompson.
"The decision to ax the entire Harrier force is strategically and financially perverse," the letter said. "The government has, in effect, declared a new '10-year rule' that assumes Britain will have warning time to rebuild to face a threat."
It recalled the last Treasury-driven "10-year rule" in the 1930s nearly cost Britain freedom when faced with Adolf Hitler in Germany.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Powering The World in the 21st Century at Energy-Daily.com
Next Cold War heated with natural gas?
Berlin (UPI) Nov 11, 2010
Russia launched the South Stream pipeline not for energy reasons but to pull Ukraine eastward, a strategy that could spark a Cold War-like conflict between Europe and Russia, former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer has warned. "South Stream is a project directed against Europe and especially Ukraine. It's used to pressure Ukraine into Russia's direction - first economically and ... read more
EU wants $1.4 trillion for energy overhaul|
Obama inks energy agreements in India
EU unveils trillion-euro single energy market
Hopes for Obama's wave of green jobs fades to gray
Smart grid improvements ahead
U.K. defense cuts fuel Falklands debate
Nigeria kidnaps sharpen fears of oil war
Nabucco supply deals imminent, RWE says
Global Warming Reduces Available Wind Energy
South Korea plans offshore wind project
Buoyant Times Ahead For Offshore Resource Assessments
Suzlon eyes China's wind power market
Johnson Controls To Install PV Arrays At 73 Utah Schools
Skyline Solar Awarded Two Additional Green Patents From The USPTO
RICOH USA Goes Solar
iSuppli Boosts 2010 Solar Installation Forecast
S.Africa turns apartheid-era nukes into medicine
Nuclear deal between Russia, Australia goes into force
German nuclear waste arrives after mass protests
'We're staying here': nuclear activists defiant to the end
Study: Biofuel not the answer for EU
OriginOil Achieves Hydrogen Production Comparable To Photovoltaics
Growing Sorghum For Biofuel
Pennycress Could Go From Nuisance Weed To New Source Of Biofuel
Tiangong Space Lab Spurs China Space PR Blitz
China Announces Success Of Chang'e-2 Lunar Probe Mission
China launching spacecraft at record rate
China Goes To Mars
US issues guidelines for cutting greenhouse gas emissions
US eyes action on climate, terrorism, trade at EU summit
Climate progress possible in Cancun despite problems: UN
US scientists to speak out on climate change
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|