UK plans defence of Falklands as planes are sent to Mali
Additional troops, warship and combat aircraft could be dispatched to the Falkland Islands
DEFENCE chiefs have reportedly drawn up new contingency plans designed to protect the Falklands Islands from hostile action by Argentina.
In March, islanders will vote on whether or not they want to remain an overseas territory of the UK. Intelligence chiefs have warned David Cameron that a resounding ‘yes’ vote could trigger an aggressive stunt from Argentina. Possibilities include planting their flag on the island or disrupting British oil and gas exploration.
As a result, UK defence chiefs are considering a series of military options, says the Sunday Telegraph. Additional troops, another warship and extra RAF Typhoon combat aircraft could be dispatched to the region before March.
Other options are said to include a “show of force” such as conducting naval exercises in the South Atlantic. This could involve the deployment of the Royal Navy’s Response Task Force Group, a flotilla comprising destroyers, a frigate, a submarine and commandos.
No orders have been given to any military units at this stage but “prudent planning” is taking place, a senior defence source told the Telegraph.
Around 1,500 troops are permanently based on the islands, along with four RAF Typhoon jets and anti-aircraft and artillery batteries.
Despite the increasing hostile rhetoric from Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, the British government believes that Buenos Aries currently lacks both the political will and military capability to recapture the islands. But just last week Cameron insisted that Britain would not shirk from defending the islands if Argentina attempted another invasion.
Meanwhile, Downing Street has announced that it will send two transport planes to Mali to assist French military operations against al-Qaeda-linked rebels.
No 10 insists no British troops will join the military mission – but there is a risk attached, says The Observer. The decision involves Britain in “a fresh conflict that could provoke terrorist reprisals against European targets”.