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Budget cuts leave UK 'unable to hold Falklands'

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Budget cuts leave UK 'unable to hold Falklands'
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If Argentina were to attack the Falklands again, Britain would risk losing the islands due to cuts in defence spending, according to the naval commander who led the re-capture of the Falklands for the British 29 years ago.

“As things currently stand, we’d have serious trouble defending anything much further than the other side of the English Channel,” Admiral Sandy Woodward wrote in an article in the Daily Mail newspaper.

“Twenty-nine years ago today, we re-claimed the Falklands for Britain in one of the most remarkable campaigns since the Second World War,” wrote Woodward, adding that the Falklands “are now perilously close to being indefensible”.

“The simple truth is without aircraft carriers and without the Americans, we would not have any hope of doing the same again today,” he says.

The bloody 1982 conflict left 649 Argentine and 255 British forces dead. Britain has held the islands since 1833.


A Ministry of Defence spokesman rejected the assertions, saying “claims that the Falkland Islands could be taken without a fight are completely without substance,” AFP news agency reported.

“The current garrison in the Falkland Islands is much larger in scale and has a greater capability than in 1982 and this, together with our ability to reinforce rapidly by air, has been maintained.”


First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope said on Monday that the British navy will have to reduce its fire-power in Libya in 90 days, claims another report in the Daily Mail. Axing the country’s last aircraft carrier, HMS Ark Royal, has undermined efforts against Muammar Gaddafi’s forces, he was quoted as saying.

The Royal Navy chief’s assessment that Britain “does not even have enough ships to continue even the small operation in Libya highlights the weakened state in which defence cuts have left our navy; a position from which we are incapable of defending our territory in the south Atlantic,” wrote Woodward.

But the head of Britain’s armed forces, General Sir David Richards, said Admiral Stanhope’s comments had been “misconstrued” and UK operations can continue in Libya as long as necessary.

The defence budget was cut by eight percent by the government of Prime Minister David Cameron as a way to tackle the country’s deficit. That means Britain will be without an aircraft carrier for the next decade.

By Ali Sheikholeslami
London Correspondent