Britain will “stand up to bullies” around the world no matter the distance, the Defence Secretary will announce as he marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Falklands War.
Ben Wallace will say that the conflict in 1982 still holds lessons for Britain today and stands as a reminder that “threats to our people” can come from “any direction, at any time.”
Reflecting on the sacrifice of the British soldiers who were deployed to the islands in the South Atlantic, Mr Wallace will add that the country must continue to invest in the Armed Forces to ensure it is “always” ready for war.
In comments that appear to be aimed squarely at Russia, he will also warn that the UK’s determination to defend its allies and overseas territories remains undiminished.
Speaking at the Falklands 40 Margaret Thatcher Day Lecture, hosted by the Policy Exchange think tank and delivered by Lord Moore, the former editor of The Daily Telegraph, Mr Wallace will add: “Our enemies should not doubt Britain’s determination to stand up to bullies, to defend those that cannot defend themselves and our values.
“Distance will not deter Britain, nor will the scale of the challenge. History is littered with the consequences of those that underestimated this small island. General Galtieri was no different.”
Tribute to Scots Guard
Mr Wallace will also pay tribute to his regiment, the Scots Guards, which was deployed to the Falklands as part of the taskforce sent by Baroness Thatcher to retake the islands after Argentine forces invaded.
“I was privileged to have served with a Regiment that fought in the Falklands conflict. In their 380 years history the Scots Guards have beaten Hitler, Napoleon, Tzar Nicholas 1st, and even Geroge Washington,” he will say.
“Their own tale of a journey from Public duties to Tumbledown mountain is a measure of the quality of the British Soldier.”
The event will take place on the day that the Falkland Islands celebrate Margaret Thatcher Day, a public holiday created as a mark of gratitude to the former prime minister.
A street known as Thatcher Drive is also named after her in the capital, Port Stanley.
It forms part of a series of lectures, memorials and other events that will be held this week to commemorate those who died in the conflict and to celebrate the progress made in the islands over the past 40 years.
The war, which lasted for 74 days, began after Argentine forces invaded the Falklands on April 2 1982.
Three days later, a task force set sail from the UK, eventually involving almost 26,000 armed forces and 3,000 civilian crew, of whom 255 died during the campaign, as well as three civilian Falkland Islanders.
A total of 649 Argentine military personnel died.
Following several weeks of intense fighting, Argentine forces surrendered on June 14 1982, a date that has since been known in the Falkland Islands as Liberation Day and is a national holiday.
Speaking ahead of the anniversary, a Falkland Islands government spokesman said: “Falkland Islanders continue to be profoundly grateful for the strong support that the UK Government continues to provide, in acknowledging our right to self-determination and our choice to remain a UK Overseas Territory.
“Today, the Falkland Islands is a forward-looking community, with a strong sense of culture and heritage.”