Mr Reid - Why no armored Landrovers for Brits in Iraq?
Obviously IED's are a significant problem in Iraq. There is no guarantee that an armored vehicle would offer sufficient protection to always save lives. Having said that, it is clear that the Army's 'Snatch vehicles' - Landrovers with composite glass fiber 'protection' - are a penny pinching affront to those unfortunate enough to find themselves on the receiving end of rockets, bullets and bombs.
On October 23rd 2005 the Sunday Times reported:
Colonel quits as troops are denied armored land rovers in Iraq
The commanding officer of a battalion serving in Iraq has resigned after failing to obtain armored Land Rovers for his patrols.
Lieutenant-Colonel Nick Henderson, commander of the 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards, is understood to have been furious last week after one of his senior sergeants died as a direct result of the failure to supply "armour protected" Land Rovers for his men, defence sources said.
Sergeant Christian Hickey was killed when his vehicle was blown up by a roadside bomb on patrol in Basra late on Tuesday night.
The Ministry of Defence says frontline troops cannot have the armoured Land Rovers because they are not unsuitable for use off-road, but six weeks ago Britain supplied a number of the vehicles to Iraqi police in Basra.
British troops are equipped with the "snatch vehicle", a Land Rover protected by composite fibre glass designed to stop rifle fire. One senior source who has recently been in Iraq said: "They [the insurgents] have weapons that go right through the composite." Link
Clearly Colonel Nick Henderson's resignation had little effect. Neither did the letter to the Independent written by the parents of Matthew Bacon in November last year:
Defenceless British troops sent out to face roadside bombs in IraqAnd from today's Guardian:
Sir: We were absolutely horrified to learn of the death of another soldier and the wounding of four others in Basra last Sunday whilst travelling in a two-vehicle convoy. By all accounts the bomb and its triggering mechanism (passive infra-red) was the same that killed our son in similar circumstances exactly 10 weeks before. The published death toll of British soldiers (eight that we know about) caused by this evil, cruel and devastating bomb gives no indication of the number of soldiers who have also been wounded in at least 20 incidents using the same trigger and bomb since April this year.
Sending soldiers out in lightly armoured "snatch" vehicle convoys guarantees that if a bomb has been laid on the route of that convoy the first vehicle will be hit. There is no known counter-measure to this type of bomb. Therefore it seems quite extraordinary that vehicles of this type are still being used in this theatre of operations.
The death of all the soldiers, and the wounding of their comrades is a blot on the reputation of the senior army commanders who do not seem to care that they are allowing their troops to be sent into a hostile environment against which they have absolutely no protection. Days, weeks, months pass and you just wait to hear about the next bomb because it is inevitable; because that is all the insurgents or terrorists (call them what you will) are doing: waiting for another one of our defenceless patrols to come along so that they can be killed.
In addition, the devastation caused to their families is incalculable. And it is avoidable. It is a particularly cruel and evil way to die, as the families and loved ones of those who have suffered this fate know only too well. It has got to stop; it must stop. After all, as we are constantly being told, we are not at war with Iraq, we are at peace!
Mr and Mrs Roger Bacon
London EC2 Link
Pauline Hickey, mother of Sergeant Christian Hickey, 29, of the 1st Battalion, the Coldstream Guards, who died while on foot patrol in Basra, criticised the lack of armoured Land Rovers for her son's regiment, pointing out that Cherie Blair travels in a government-provided bulletproof vehicle. She wrote: "I would question as to whom is at most risk, the British troops in a war zone or your wife driving round London."The politicians - those who sent the troops out to Iraq in support of an illegal US war [it was Koffi Annan who declared the war illegal - not us in the 'anti Iraq war' corner] have been aware of this problem for some time. What are they doing about it? My guess is the recently announced deployment of more troops to Afghanistan will see more deaths attributable to the poor protection offered by Landrover 'snatch vehicles'. Isn't it now time that The Sun or some of those annoying pro-war bloggers did something useful and campaigned to force the government to act - before the deaths mount up over there as well?
Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon, 19, of the Royal Highland Fusiliers died in June 2004, revealed that she received a personally signed letter from Mr Blair two weeks ago which said: "I am afraid a meeting with you will not be possible." Link
The MoD's claim that "frontline troops cannot have the armored Land Rovers because they are unsuitable for use off-road" is just not good enough.
[This article was written by PLR]