The Falkland Islands Defense Force (FIDF) is the locally maintained volunteer defense unit in the Falkland Islands and is currently recruiting. The FIDF works alongside the military units supplied by the United Kingdom to ensure the defense and security of the Islands
The force is manned by Reservists from the local community, supported by a small permanent cadre. Training is undertaken weekly and members of the Force have the opportunity to attend relevant UK Military Courses in the United Kingdom.
There is one recruitment cycle per year. Recruitment is open to men and women that are ordinarily resident in the Falkland Islands, who hold a British or Commonwealth passport and meet the selection criteria. Those interested are invited to visit FIDF HQ in Stanley on 25th August at 19:00 hours to learn more about the force. Training begins on the following 6th October
The FIDF is fully funded by the Falkland Islands Government. The Governor of the Falkland Islands is Commander in Chief and lawmaker MLA Ian Hansen has portfolio responsibility for the Defense Force.
FIDF currently holds the title of the oldest land force of the British Overseas Territories. Officially established in 1892, the unit has its origins in the late 1840s when the first Governor of the Falkland Islands, Richard Clement Moody, formed a small militia force.
Moody’s successor, George Rennie, facing the possibility of aggression from Russian privateers and warships during the Crimean War (1853-1856), supported the maintenance of a volunteer force, which, although not officially named, was known as the ‘Stanley Volunteers’. In June 1892, following the call into port of a Chilean steamer – with roughly 200 soldiers on-board – in the previous year, the unofficial volunteer force would become the ‘Falkland Islands Volunteers’. Governor Sir Roger Goldsworthy considered that the Chilean vessel, owned by one of the belligerents of the Chilean Civil War, presented an example of the security threats that could emerge to the Falklands.
In 1914, after the Great War broke out in Europe, military outposts around the Falkland Islands would receive the mobilized Volunteers. It is worth mentioning that 36 Falkland Islanders – many of them members of the Volunteers – enlisted in His Majesty’s Forces. Ten lost their lives during the war. In December 1914, the seemingly ‘calm’ watching duties of the military outposts around Stanley played a valuable role tracking a German squadron under the command of Vice-Admiral Maximilian von Spee.
On 8 December, the German vessels’ smoke was spotted by one of the outposts and civilians – which were later awarded medals and chivalry – near the Fitzroy settlement and soon after by the outpost on Sappers Hills. The information provided a strategic advantage to the Royal Navy and resulted in the British victory at the Battle of the Falkland Islands. In 1919, the Volunteers were renamed as the ‘Falkland Islands Defense Force’ (FIDF).
During the Second World War, the FIDF was mobilized again to operate the outposts throughout the Islands. Additionally, more than 150 Islanders enlisted in the British Armed Forces, of which 26 were killed during the conflict. In recognition of FIDF contribution throughout the war, representatives of the FIDF participated in the London Victory Parade.
The British Government maintained a small detachment of Royal Marines in the Falklands from 1952 until 1982. This military presence enhanced the training of the FIDF, forming a special bond between the Royal Marines and the local unit.
The current degree of training, leadership and modern equipment was recently praised by British Forces in a piece published in MercoPress on 30th July 2022. (FI Government and UK Defense Journal).