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13 Pages

The Fleet, the Falklands and the Future

WithDavid Green Wood

In the first half of 1981 the then Secretary of State for Defence, Mr. John Nott, conducted a far-reaching review of the United King dom's defence programme and budget. The business of "restoring British administration" to the Falkland Islands thus had all the appearance of a "Navy show." The policy statement The Falklands Campaign: The Lessons—published in December 1982—did no more than outline necessary changes in plans for the future Fleet arising from battle losses and the new obligation to patrol the South Atlantic. To elaborate on the first of these points: the Minister discovered that the Royal Navy was planning to invest in a remarkably expensive several-way bet. All but the most ardent naval lobbyists recognised that a "new look" Navy fashioned in this way would cut no less impressive a figure than the old in the eyes of the potential adversary.