They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Dodgy Minister defends useless 'Snatch' vehicles

Private Phillip Hewitt with 'snatch vehicle'

db: A growing number of people are increasingly worried about the useless Land Rover 'Snatch' vehicle, in which British troops die on a regular basis in Iraq, and with which troops are lumbered in Afghanistan [raised this week by the Times Defence Editor in his article Afghan summer of bloodshed].

In the House of Lords on Tuesday Lord Astor of Hever [didn't pay cash for the peerage] asked 'Lord' Drayson whether it was the government's intention to give the troops equipment that is fit for purpose.

On May 1 2004 Paul Drayson was given a peerage. On June 17 2004 he gave Labour a £500,000 cheque. Now he sits in the Lords as minister for defence procurement. Link

Hansard - Armed Forces: Armoured Patrol Vehicles

12 Jun 2006: Column 2

Lord Astor of Hever:
My Lords, we on these Benches, too, extend our condolences to the family of the soldier killed in Afghanistan yesterday. Our thoughts at this time are also with the two soldiers who were seriously injured yesterday, and we wish them a speedy recovery. I thank the Minister for his reply and understand completely that any answer that he gives must not prejudice troop protection, but the Snatch Land Rover is not remotely adequate for patrolling areas where insurgents use landmines. Can the Minister assure the House that the Government will provide our soldiers with equipment that is fit for this role? What assessment have the Government made of the RG-31 which, with its V-shaped undercarriage, has a greater resilience to IEDs and which the Americans have bought in large numbers just for this role?

Lord Drayson:
My Lords, I do not accept that Snatch Land Rovers are not appropriate for the role. We must recognise the difference between protection and survivability. It is important that we have the trade-offs that we need for mobility. The Snatch Land Rover provides us with the mobility and level of protection that we need.

We had 14 RG-31s in Bosnia, which we took out of service some time ago due to difficulties with maintenance. We have looked at the RG-31 alongside a number of alternatives for our current fleet and concluded that the size and profile did not meet our needs. Size is important in the urban environment. The RG-31 cannot access areas that Snatch Land Rovers can get to.
Lieutenant-Colonel Nick Henderson would disagree, he is the former commander of the 1st Battalion,Coldstream Guards who resigned over the MoD's refusal to supply "armour protected" Land Rovers for his men - one of whome - Sergeant Christian Hickey was killed when his 'snatch' vehicle was blown up by a roadside bomb on patrol in Basra. Link

Mr and Mrs Roger Bacon, parents of Matthew Bacon, would also take issue with the 'Lord's' assesment. From a letter they sent to the Independent:
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. Link

And Pauline Hickey, another bereaved parent, surely would have a thing or two she would wish to say to the Dodgy 'Lord' Drayson. From the Guardian
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[in a letter to Blair]: "I would question as to whom is at most risk, the British troops in a war zone or your wife driving round London." Link
Drayson seems to be saying that there is no alternative to the useless 'Snatch' vehicle for the British Army to protect its troops - who are currently engaged in politicaly motivated Blairwars in Afghanistan and Iraq - which have little to do with the security of the UK but are no less lethal for those forced to fight them. This is clearly a lie. Drayson should get a refund on his cash from Neo-Labour, get out of the House of Lords, and promptly return to defending the morality of vivisection - which was an easier task for him than defending the utterly indefensible - the reckless deployment of the useless Landrover 'Snatch' vehicle. db


Update: See what an RG-31 looks like - post IED blast - here
Update 2: Added portrait of Dodgy 'Lord' Drayson. Original pic, which was abused in photoshop, was of his visit to the 'front line' - the one at RAF Martham:
21.6.06 - See: Britain's unprotected troops in Iraq and Afghanistan