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Falklands : Motion for Adjournment Speech by Brigadier Bill Aldridge Commander British Forces South Atlantic Islands
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 06.01.2013 (Article Archived on 20.01.2013)

Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, there is a possibility that this will be my last chance to attend the Legislative Assembly if I am to have the opportunity to visit what is a significant part of my patch, namely South Georgia.

Brigadier Bill Aldridge Commander British Forces South Atlantic Islands:


 


Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, there is a possibility that this will be my last chance to attend the Legislative Assembly if I am to have the opportunity to visit what is a significant part of my patch, namely South Georgia.


 


Surprise to say, though, reports of my early demise are greatly exaggerated.  And I am not due to depart the Falkland Islands until Easter.  I know it has been commented on elsewhere but I donít go until early April.


 


If I may, can I reflect on what has been a particularly busy year?  As the 30th Anniversary year it probably was always going to be thus. It has, however, been a huge privilege for most of us who are currently serving to have been involved in assisting in the various visits and pilgrimages by veterans of the 1982 war.


 


It has been particularly humbling to understand better just how much was achieved 30 years ago and indeed it is enlightening to see what has been achieved in the intervening three decades.


 


Honourable members will be aware of the recent fire in the Malo Hills to which the Honourable jan Cheek has already alluded.  I have said elsewhere that this is not the way I would have chosen to exercise our emergency response capability.  But I must record my admiration for the efforts expended in extinguishing the fires.  Honourable Members might be interested to know that in a period of some 10 days in excess of 8500 man hours were expended by British Forces South Atlantic Islands personnel in dealing with the fires and more than 72,000 gallons of water were moved and deposited by the Search and Rescue Rainmaker alone.  The fires were not defeated by Military personnel alone and I must formally record my thanks and admiration for the Falkland Islandsí Fire and Rescue Service whoís regular and retained fire fighters were all singularly impressive in their professionalism and application.


 


It was also the reaction of the whole community that impressed with support given by the Falkland Islands Defence Force, Public Works Department and a whole range of private individuals.  And I must not forget the local businesses who, without exception took the hit in allowing their retained fire fighters to deploy.


 


I will not be over complacent in thinking that all the underground peat fires are out.  But in the last three or four weeks we have dug out and extinguished over 80 hot spots and therefore I am reasonably confident that we are almost there. 


 


There was, perhaps, the close co-ordination achieved between the Falkland Islandsí Emergency Services and the Military that was an even greater highlight; and one that should give us all a degree of reassurance.


 


That co-ordination and co-operation has also been evident elsewhere recently.  I previously reported on the progress of localisation and it is especially pleasing to be able to note the re-opening of the arrivals hall at the Mount Pleasant Air Terminal.  The undoubted improvement in the visitorsí experience is indicative of what can be achieved by Civil/Military co-operation.  And it is, I believe, of significance to the civilianisation of the whole air terminal.


 


Certainly the progress of the development of the Mare Harbour Wind Farm is especially heart-warming.  And I wish to record my formal thanks to all in the Falkland islands Government for helping make this important project a reality.


 


On behalf of all the defence community here in the South Atlantic, I am extremely grateful for all your good wishes on their behalf.  It remains a distinct privilege to be a part of the Falkland islands community and to be able to enjoy the freedoms and opportunities of this unique country.


 


Therefore, on behalf of those at BFSAI I wish Honourable Members and all Falkland Islanders a very Happy Christmas and a safe New Year..


 


Mr Speaker, I support the Motion.


 

 

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