Anon soldier during exercise on Falklands Onion Ranges

Falklands: MPs Call For Clarity On Future British Role

A group of MPs is touring British military locations to learn about service life.

Anon soldier during exercise on Falklands Onion Ranges

Soldier during exercise on Falklands Onion Ranges (Picture: Crown Copyright).

Two MPs have called on Parliament to clarify the future role of the British military in the Falklands.

A total of eight representatives have made the journey to the region as part of a visit organised by the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme (AFPS).

The AFPS, governed by the Armed Forces Parliamentary Trust, allows Members of Parliament the opportunity to visit various military locations and provides education about service life. 

Politicians were shown how the three services operate on the islands, meeting 2 SCOTS, sailors from HMS Clyde and also seeing the Rapier defence missile system.

Two of the MPs, speaking to BFBS Falkland Islands, called on the Government for clarity on the future role of the Armed Forces in the territory.

Luke Pollard, Labour MP for Plymouth Sutton & Devonport, said: "For me this is about learning, about what our forces are doing in the Falklands, and why their presence here in the south Atlantic really matters - not only to the Falkland Islanders, but also for the folks back home in the United Kingdom.

"Seeing how the RAF, the British Army and the Royal Navy are collaborating and co-operating here, to not only keep these islands safe, protected and British, but also to train and improve their skills - it's been a real privilege actually.

"We need to rediscover the importance of that strong British connection to the Falkland Islanders and to our military presence here."

The AFPS, governed by the Armed Forces Parliamentary Trust, allows Members of Parliament the opportunity to visit various military locations and provides education about service life.

"There's a lot we can learn from what's happening in the Falklands - because the new military strategy for the Royal Navy is to forward deploy ships.

"The new frigates will be forward-deployed in the Gulf, and potentially as far as the Far East as well. But we're already forward-deploying.

"HMS Clyde is a forward-deployed ship, and so learning the lessons about what it means for the upkeep of the ship, but also the crew - making sure that we keep the morale and retain the skills within the crew of HMS Clyde is a really good learning experience that we should be able to apply to other ships in the future.

"The stronger the link between our armed forces, and the British people and the Falkland Islands, the stronger our collective connections will be, the better trained our forces will be, and the safer the Falkland Islands and the UK will be as a result."

Alex Chalk, Conservative MP for Cheltenham said: "We've been learning a huge range of things - some time spent on HMS Clyde, some time going up Mount Harriet to see some of the engagement from 1982, other time spent with 2 SCOTS.

"We've seen a whole range of things, hugely informative, and a real privilege to be here.

"I think the range of specialisms down here has come as a bit of a surprise, to see the level of expertise in so many different aspects of the armed forces work has been very impressive and very striking.

"I think there's going to have to be a decision made back in Whitehall, no doubt on military advice, as to what is going to be the posture here in the Falklands.

"What is it going to be for? Is it going to be used increasingly as a training range, is it all about deterrence?

The group also criticised problems with WiFi and internet connectivity on the islands.

"Then once we've made that decision, it seems that the equipment and the accommodation is going to have to fit that posture.

"Given that this equipment and the infrastructure is quite old, that sort of decision needs to be made relatively promptly I think." 

When asked about his thoughts on the main challenges facing service personnel on the islands, he said: "I think the overwhelming one is communications, and being able to stay in touch with loved ones, and increasingly, particularly young soldiers, airmen and service personnel, want to be able to use the internet.

"This is an issue that's arisen again and again, that the quality of the WiFi isn't good enough.

"I think that's a real issue, but in some ways that's a stand-alone issue. A lot of the other things are very positive.

"If there's one single thing they need to improve, it's the WiFi."

RAF Mount Pleasant.