View Full Version : Our Underequiped British Troops

Saturday, October 18th, 2008, 07:45 AM
My sons best friend is serving in Iraq at the moment. He loves being in the Forces but have to say, I was openly appalled at his having to purchase most of his equipment with his own money. What happened to our Forces, when it comes to that?:thumbdown

Source, The Scotsman Online.

MoD should 'hang their heads in shame'

By Nathan Rees
MINISTRY of Defence chiefs "should hang their heads in shame" over the lack of equipment and funds that led to the death of a soldier in a minefield in Afghanistan, a coroner said yesterday.

Corporal Mark Wright, 27, from Edinburgh, was killed when a mine exploded as a Chinook helicopter tried to rescue a stranded platoon of Paras.

Coroner Andrew Walker, who yesterday recorded a narrative verdict following a two-week inquest in Oxford, said a catalogue of serious failures had contributed to the death.

He highlighted three factors the lack of appropriate UK helicopters in Afghanistan fitted with a winch, the downwash from the Chinook sent to the minefield, and the delay in sending a suitable helicopter.

Mr Walker said the lack of suitable helicopters was "lam-entable" and "simply about money". He added: "When life is lost where it need not have been because of a lack of equipment and assets, those responsible should hang their heads in shame."

The inquest heard the Chinook was sent to rescue troops from the Parachute Regiment's 3rd Battalion, injured by explosions after a sniper strayed into the unmarked danger zone.

The soldiers requested that a helicopter with a winch be sent to extract the sniper, whose leg had been blown off, but were told none was available.

Instead, the Chinook, which was not fitted with a winch, was dispatched but waved away for fear of causing further explosions as it tried to land.

As it took off, a mine exploded causing Cpl Wright, who was trying to help injured comrades, to suffer severe shrapnel wounds from which he later died.

Cpl Wright was posthumously awarded a George Cross medal. He was described by Mr Walker as an "exceptional soldier" who acted with "unhesitating courage in the most desperate circumstances".

Six others were hurt, including three who lost limbs, during the incident in Helmand Pro-vince on 6 September, 2006.

Two American Blackhawk helicopters, fitted with winches, were sent to rescue the soldiers three-and-a-half hours after the first explosion was reported.

Following the inquest Cpl Wright's father Bob, accompanied by his wife Jem, said the family was given some peace of mind by the fact their son did not cause his own death or contribute to it in any way. He said: "It has been painful to listen to the fatal catalogue of errors.

"However, the coroner has made recommendations that must be followed. Jem and I don't want any other families to experience the loss of their child in similar circumstances."

The MoD has agreed to pay compensation to the Wright family and five of the soldiers involved in the incident.

Mr Walker listed a number of serious failures that contributed to the death of Cpl Wright.

He said the lack of batteries for radios at observation posts, forcing soldiers to fire shots in the air to attract colleagues "simply beggars belief". He also criticised teaching methods used to train soldiers to locate and mark mines which failed to take account of available technology.

Other failures included no assessment of the mine threat, an officer's inability to interpret mine maps and the fact that the injured troops got no advanced medical treatment within the Nato doctrine of one hour.

Commander of Joint Helicopter Command, Rear Admiral Tony Johnstone-Burt, said later he was confident that current resources enable British forces to meet the tasks that they face.

Saturday, October 18th, 2008, 07:47 AM
Sorry, I meant to put this in the Scotland forum, but can`t see how to delete and move it. :??:

Saturday, October 18th, 2008, 09:50 AM
The moderators will be able to move it if you ask them.

I would see the problem originating from the MOD being run more and more as a privatised business, with sub-contraction to private companies.

Even the royal family is being privatised, with Buckingham Palace Gardens opening to be public soon.

Whatever one's opinion on the royals, there are some components of the nation which should be independent of the vagaries of the markets, and these include healthcare and defence, possibly transportation, and possibly some heavy industries where economy of scale favours that they should be managed by large rather than small companies.

Royal Ordinance used to make our bullets. Now they are imported from France.

Saturday, October 18th, 2008, 09:59 AM
Hate to point this out but infantry are expendable. Of course not expendable to love ones, but to the Bureaucrats

Saturday, October 18th, 2008, 10:02 AM
True, but isn`t it in the interests of the men `at the top` to equip their troops with a view to winning the actual war or conflict they send the troops into? To be honest, I don`t know the recruitment figures for the British Forces nowadays, but can`t imagine there are queues to join up giving the bad PR re such stories.

Saturday, October 18th, 2008, 10:09 AM
True, but isn`t it in the interests of the men `at the top` to equip their troops with a view to winning the actual war or conflict they send the troops into? To be honest, I don`t know the recruitment figures for the British Forces nowadays, but can`t imagine there are queues to join up giving the bad PR re such stories.

Not sure about Britain but in the United States/Canada it's all about minimal guidelines and government contracts.
If the troops were considered valuable, each single one would be issued dragon skin protection armor, given armored transports and so forth. Not to mention the latest in small arms technology. Personally I was dismayed that the United States cut funding to the XM8 project, especially because it looked too ''futuristic" (morons...)

even though in reality it was all politics because Colt had men in the US Government and adopting to the XM8 would had mean no contracts (well no contracts for Colt :P )

Saturday, October 18th, 2008, 10:17 AM
Well, here in the UK, the boy I mentioned in Iraq had to buy his own flak jacket and various other pieces of equipment I would consider essentials that should be provided by the Air Force already.
When they are having to buy such basic things as boots, then one can hardly say that Brit troops are overequipped. :(
I don`t think anyone even expects them to be provided with the latest advancements in military technology, but the basics? Oh, for sure....;)

Saturday, October 18th, 2008, 10:22 AM
I feel that the civilian population needs to be more militarized and that we need to locally elect our police chiefs and our judges.

With regard to the armed forces I have similar concerns:

Something tells me that the continuing centralization process of amalgamating regiments is going to make what we have already seen even worse.

The more the MOD rationalize the armed forces, the less the people will be willing to support our troops and vice versa.

Saturday, October 18th, 2008, 03:46 PM
To be honest, I don`t know the recruitment figures for the British Forces nowadays, but can`t imagine there are queues to join up giving the bad PR re such stories.

"...The British Army includes 98,000 regular soldiers and 34,000 Territorial Army soldiers, giving it a total of around 132,000 soldiers..."

The Army mainly recruits within the United Kingdom, and normally has a recruitment target of around 25,000 soldiers per year.

Low unemployment in Britain has resulted in the Army having difficulty in meeting its target , and in the early years of the 21st century there has been a marked increase in the number of recruits from other (mostly Commonwealth) countries. In 2008 Commonwealth origin volunteers comprised approximately 6.7% of the Army's total strength. In total 6,600 foreign soldiers from 42 countries were represented in the Army, not including Gurkhas. After Gurkhas, the nation with most citizens in the British Army is Fiji, with 1,900, followed by Jamaica and Ghana with 600 each; soldiers also come from more prosperous countries such as Australia, South Africa and the Republic of Ireland.

The Ministry of Defence is now considering capping the number of recruits from Commonwealth countries, although this will not affect the Gurkhas. If the trend continues 10% of the army will be from Commonwealth countries before 2012. The cap is being debated, as some fear the army's "Britishness" is being diluted, and employing too many could make the army seen as employing "mercenaries".[10]

The minimum recruitment age is 16 years (but only after the end of GCSEs), although soldiers may not serve on operations below 18 years; the maximum recruitment age was raised in January 2007 from 26 to 33 years. The normal term of engagement is 22 years, and once enlisted soldiers are not normally permitted to leave until they have served at least 4 years.[11]

There has been a strong and continuing tradition of recruiting from Ireland including what is now the Republic of Ireland. Almost 150,000 Irish soldiers fought in the First World War; 49,000 died. More than 60,000 Irishmen, more than from Northern Ireland, also saw action in the Second World War; like their compatriots in the Great War, all were volunteers. There were more than 400 men serving from the Republic in 2003.[12]

Source: Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Army)

I remember reading the current trend of Southern Irish lads joining the British Army.
Apparently they outnumber the recruitment levels of the Ulster lads who enlist.

Edit: The highlighted section caught my eye. There is desperation for you, right there!