British military presence in Falkland Islands serves as an important deterrent to Argentina and reassures islanders who are still haunted by the war 33 years ago, according to the British acting governor of the Falklands, Sandra Tyler-Haywood.
She told IBTimes UK after Defence Minister Michael Fallon's statement to MPs today (24 March) – in which he earmarked £280m ($416m) to upgrade military facilities in the islands but ruled out an increase in troop numbers – that neither Britain nor the islands should be complacent.
"The British military is in the Falkland Islands as a deterrent against any possible future action. It is here as reassurance to the islanders and is based here because of actions taken by Argentina in 1982," she said from her office in Port Stanley.
"You have to remember the Falkland islanders suffered a lot during the conflict. It was their island and their home that was invaded. That feeling stays with them. They're not [...] forgetting actions of Argentina in the past."
Tyler-Haywood is governor of the Falklands in the absence of Colin Roberts, who was out of the islands on business. She had postings in both Iraq and Eritrea prior to moving to Port Stanley in 2012, a year before 99.8% of islanders voted to remain an overseas territory of the UK rather than independence or union with Argentina, which calls the islands Las Malvinas.
But she said that while islanders had got used to regular statements from Argentina about reclaiming the Falkland Islands, few felt that the country would actually invade the territory.
"[Falkland islanders] are moving on. They are working towards their own development. I don't think there is a sense of a risk of invasion," she said.
Fallon told MPs that the UK will deploy two Chinook helicopters to the Falklands Islands and that the islands' land, sea and air counter-measures would be modernised as the government committed £280m worth of defence investment over the next 10 years.
British and Argentine forces went to war over the islands in 1982 when Leopoldo Galtieri's regime invaded the territory. The conflict left 255 British fighters and 649 Argentine military personnel dead.
The war was a defining moment for former prime minister Margaret Thatcher's administration after UK forces took Port Stanley and won the war.