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Major UK warfare exercise in the Falklands to repel “enemy invasion”

Saturday, December 26th 2009 - 13:05 UTC
Full article 27 comments
The Typhoon jets, the RAF most modern multi-role fighter were also involved in Cape Bayonet The Typhoon jets, the RAF most modern multi-role fighter were also involved in Cape Bayonet

British forces have been taking part in a major warfare exercise in the Falkland Islands, where hundreds of servicemen died during the 1982 conflict. The Highlanders (4 Scots) joined the Royal Navy and RAF in a two-day operation after an “enemy invasion” on the islands, 8,000 miles from the UK, in the South Atlantic.

Argentina invaded the Falklands in April 1982. The war lasted 74 days and led to the loss of 255 British service personnel, three civilian Falkland islanders and 649 Argentine servicemen.

According to the Highlanders are currently on a tour of the Falklands and form part of the permanent joint protection force in the South Atlantic until January, when they will be replaced.

The regiment is expected to deploy to Afghanistan in early 2011 and the exercise, Cape Bayonet, was seen as a vital part of their pre-deployment training.

Officer commanding Major Jonas Fieldhouse said: “The key thing for us here is that we have come as a whole company. Back in Germany where we are based it is very hard to get everyone together at the one time to do this kind of training.

”We're back to the basics of training, all the companies here are getting a lot done and that will help us wherever we go in the world in the next two and a half years, and not just Afghanistan.“

The exercise saw 100 Highlanders picked up by state-of-the-art protection vessel HMS Clyde at Mount Pleasant and transported overnight to San Carlos, scene of a major British amphibious landing during the 1982 conflict.

The soldiers arrived in a landing craft in three lots and marched ten miles before spotting the enemy embedded up a steep hill. Their orders were to identify attack and defeat the force on foot.

After an hour of fierce fighting, the enemy was captured and the company marched onwards over the unforgiving terrain.

Before being picked up and transported by Search and Rescue helicopter for the second stage of the gruelling exercise, the troops, each carrying upwards of 40lb of kit as well as rifles and ammunition, visited a memorial to pay their respects to the fallen at San Carlos.

Then they spent a night at Onion Range, a remote part of East Falkland, before embarking on a live firing exercise which saw them use live ammunition in a training field.

As they did so, two Typhoon jets, the RAF's most modern multi-role fighter, were called in to join the exercise offering unrivalled air support to the troops on the ground.

It was vital that all three services worked in unison to defeat the enemy. The exercise is seen as important training in the planning and execution of tactical manoeuvres which the forces will experience in the battlefield.

Regimental Sergeant Major Robert Loudon, 34, from Motherwell, Lanarkshire, has already completed two tours of Iraq.

He said: ”This is ideal training for Afghanistan. It is good to get the boys back out on their feet and into the field, back to soldiering. It means they can sharpen their skills.“

The exercise was deemed a success following a debrief with all the officers involved.

But the Highlanders are not just in the Falklands to train, they are there to carry out protection duties.

Following the conflict there has been a strong military presence in the Falklands, and a major base and airport were built at Mount Pleasant, 35 miles from the capital Stanley.

Daily patrols throughout the Islands, nicknamed the Penguin Patrols, are seen as a visible demonstration of the United Kingdom's sovereignty over the Falkland Islands and they are welcomed by the locals.

Maj Fieldhouse said: ”We're here in support of the mission that the British forces have in the South Atlantic to deter military aggression against these Islands”.

Categories: Politics, Falkland Islands.

Top Comments

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  • nitrojuan

    The circus of Colonization continues in the XXI Century..

    Dec 28th, 2009 - 09:34 am 0
  • Carl

    Better than being part of the third world circus that is currently Argentina, and it wouldn't be necessary if Argentina wasn't a bully intent on making life for the Falkland Islanders difficult.

    Dec 28th, 2009 - 08:11 pm 0
  • Islander

    Nothing new Nitro - this excercise happens 2 or 3 times a year every year - it,s callled commonsense and done in public so your side knows this side will not be caught unaware again - so less chance of a silly leader trying to launch another attack. But as Carl says - there would be no need at all for exercises and military forces here if the threat from across the water was lifted.

    Dec 29th, 2009 - 04:28 am 0
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