Our soldiers are flying out to Falklands as tension rises
SOLDIERS from Derbyshire are to fly to the Falkland Islands for a two-month tour of duty.
The 150 members of the 2nd Mercian Battalion's B Company will be on daily patrol of the islands, which continue to be the focus of tension between Britain and Argentina.
A small number from the company have already arrived but the majority will take the 18-hour flight to the South Atlantic in the next two weeks.
The company will work with other British Army units as well as RAF and Royal Navy personnel who are based at the Falklands.
Lieutenant Colonel Paul "Shove" Gilby, commanding officer of the 2nd Mercian, Derbyshire's infantry battalion, said: "This is a routine tour that we have known about for some time.
"Their role will be to undertake regular patrols protecting key locations across the islands as well as training in heavy arms and small arms. There is also an educational element to the tour with the soldiers learning about the history of the issues in relation to past conflicts."
Prime Minister David Cameron vowed yesterday to fight to keep the Falklands in the face of mounting Argentinian pressure over the future of the islands.
Mr Cameron, who visited the Derby Telegraph last week, insisted British resolve was "extremely strong" and pointed out fast jets and troops were stationed on the Falklands.
His remarks came after Argentinian president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner accused Britain of colonialism and demanded the islands should be handed over.
In an open letter published as an advert in the Guardian, she says Argentina was forcibly stripped of the Malvinas – the Argentinian name for the islands – in "a blatant exercise of 19th-century colonialism".
Mr Cameron insisted he was "absolutely clear" that Britain would defend the islands. He said: "Of course we would and we have strong defences in place on the Falkland islands, that is absolutely key, that we have fast jets stationed there, we have troops stationed on the Falklands."
Lieutenant Colonel Gilby said, if the islands were threatened, his soldiers were fully trained and committed to fight. He said: "They are ready to protect the islands and reassure those people who live there."