By Jason Moore
I suspect that the head of the British army will be resigning this week along with other senior generals because British troops were allegedly sent to the front without adequate equipment. The British army in Afghanistan is desperately short of helicopters so perhaps the head of the Royal Air Force should also be pondering his future. But this is not the case is it? No-one is saying that the defence chiefs should go. The alarming and tragic death toll being suffered by British troops in Afghanistan has just been turned into a political football. As I said in this space a week ago the British armed services have hundreds of helicopters of all shapes and sizes but only a handful have been sent to Afghanistan. Why? This is the question that the army top brass should be answering. For as long as I can remember the British armed services are not equipped to do the job. In the Falklands a lack of helicopters meant that troops had to walk from San Carlos (the landing area) to Port Stanley. In the first Gulf war, the army´s SA80 rifle didn´t work; in Bosnia and Kosovo the army´s radios malfunctioned and in the second Gulf war there wasn´t enough body armour and the armoured vehicles didn´t work. So just what is going on in the British army? Despite defence spending being one of the highest in the world the British armed forces never appear to have the right equipment. This is an important question and it needs to be answered. Is money for defence being mis-spent? Is there a severe recruitment problem? I am no fan of Gordon Brown´s government but I must admit that the Treasury has provided funding for state-of-the- art armoured vehicles, similar to the ones used by the Americans. They were clearly visible on BBC2´s Top Gear on Sunday night chasing Jeremy Clarkson. The Royal Air Force also has new helicopters. As far as I know the troop carrying Merlin (smaller than the heavylift Chinook) has never being sent to Afghanistan. The Ministry of Defence realising that there was a shortage of helicopters bought eight more of these capable machines but they are back at base in Britain. The hugely expensive Eurofighter has recently been cleared for the ground-attack role but it is also sitting back in Britain. Supporting British troops in Afghanistan is the good old Tornado fighter/bomber which entered service during the Falklands war. Despite eight squadrons in service with the Royal Air Force only a handful are in Afghanistan. Why? While Gordon Brown will take the political flak the service chiefs should be taking the military flak. Winston Churchill once said to the Americans “give us the equipment and we will finish the job.” Perhaps Gordon Brown should echo his words and I am sure that the Americans will help out again because there does appear to be a real problem. If the British kit is not good enough then Britain will have no option but to buy American kit which it did in the Second World War. Even then British tanks didn´t work properly. It is evident that there is a serious problem in the British armed services which needs to be investigated thoroughly. Another defence review is on the horizon which clearly shows that the last one 10 years ago was not successful. Britain´s main defence issue at the moment should be Afghanistan not whether the Royal Nayy gets two aircraft carriers or the RAF gets more American jets. If there is a shortage of equipment on the frontline then someone should pay the price.


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