Praise for FIDF from UK Forces, one of the best equipped reserve forces
The Falkland Islands are the UK’s most remote overseas territory, being more than 8,000 miles away from Britain. The isolated nature of the Islands means that the troops stationed there must be almost self-sufficient.
The job of protecting 3,200 Islanders, 500,000 sheep and more than a million penguins falls onto the Falkland Islands Defense Force (FIDF).
The FIDF is a 40-strong reservist unit made up of mechanics, tax inspectors, builders and even a world-renowned seal scientist. The part-time force, while small, is tasked with overseeing more than 700 islands.
The unit is made up of locals who were born on the Islands and know it intimately. They are trained as a light infantry unit but perform a wide variety of tasks making them one of the most useful armies in the world.
Major Justin McPhee, Commanding Officer Falkland Islands Defense Force, said: We are very much seen as local advisors. It’s a unique terrain, quite arduous environment, quite challenging climate so we bring lots of knowledge.
The FIDF are self-sufficient, funded by their own government and not the UK Ministry of Defense. They are perhaps one of the best-equipped reserve forces with heavy weaponry, armored vehicles and quad bikes as part of their arsenal.
In the last 40 years, the Falklands have developed a booming economy with their per capita income now on par with Norway or Qatar. However, the Falkland’s financial fortunes have only recently changed in part due to fishing, tourism and the prospects of oil.
When veteran Brian Summers joined in 1982, he remembers that the reserve force had a Dad’s Army Reputation and even recalls having to share a Land Rover with the post office. But today, the FIDF is trained by elite marines and send soldiers to the UK for regular training to gain further skills.
While the soldiers of the FIDF are proud to be British they are also proud to protect their nation. Private Sorrel Pompert-Robertson believes that the Falklands are in a good position to defend themselves against any threat.
She said: I am very proud to be able to defend the Falklands in my own small way. Argentina does pose a very real threat, but Britain has given us a lot of support, a lot of strength.
If an attack was to happen again, we are in a very good position to defend ourselves.
Lance Corporal Alastair Baylis is a world-renowned scientist. In his day job, he studies the fauna of the Islands, tracking the movement of birds and seals. As a soldier, he said he is willing to do whatever it takes to defend the land and all of its inhabitants.
The FIDF is not the only military force on the Islands. After the end of the Falklands War in 1982, Britain strengthened the Islands’ defenses, building an airfield at RAF Mount Pleasant, 35 miles west of the capital, Stanley.
Forty years on the British troops continue to have a strong military presence in the region with 1,000 personnel from all three services stationed at Mount Pleasant.
But Falklands have not forgotten the losses from the conflict with their much larger neighbor. Major McPhee said: We’re very conscious of what happened in 1982 and the sacrifice and effort that was made to give us our freedom. And it is important that we protect and maintain that freedom.
Whilst we’ll never defend ourselves alone, it’s really important that the UK sees and the Falkland Island sees that there are Falkland Islanders here and we are very willing and very happy to contribute to our own safety and security.
The origins of the Falkland Islands Defense Force (FIDF) can be traced back as far as 30 December 1847 when Lt Richard Clement Moody, RE, the first Governor of the Falkland Islands, formed what he called the Militia Force of the Falkland Islands. The Force consisted of mounted and artillery corps, plus two infantry platoons.
FIDF holds a 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. The nominal role of the force shows many names of early settlers, nine generations, whose descendants still live in the Falklands Islands, some of whom are current members of the FIDF
The Governor of the Falkland Islands is Commander in Chief and MLA Ian Hansen has portfolio responsibility for the Defense Force.