Land Rover SNATCH: Pay up and save lives
It is of course a hugely sad matter that the toll of British soldiers killed in Iraq has been growing steadily to reach its current total of 113. Every military death is a blow for the country and a tragedy for the family and friends of those who fall victim. So it is reasonable to assume that the Ministry of Defence will do all it can to prevent the deaths or injuries of our troops. including providing them with the best weapons and armour to do such a dangerous job.
Now we learn that British soldiers have been patrolling the streets of Iraq in Land Rovers that offer almost no protection against lethal roadside bombs. Nearly a quarter of British soldiers so far killed in hostile action have been the victims of roadside bombs and were patrolling in these so-called "Snatch" Land Rovers. The vehicles, some up to 20 years old, were shipped to Iraq from Northern Ireland, where they were used to police a very different and much less bloody conflict. Their bodywork and floors offer only thin protection against the improvised explosive devices used by the insurgents. Aware of this, the terrorists have started to target the Land Rovers and the risks of more fatalities are increasing every day.
We would naturally expect the ministry to do something about this. Far from it. The bureaucrats are digging in. It is not as if there is no alternative. The RG-31, an armoured Land Rover built by BAE Systems, is being used by the Americans and the United Nations. Some deaths from roadside bombs can never be prevented but other countries' soldiers seem better protected.
Complaints about inadequate equipment have dogged the British mission from the start. When Sergeant Steve Roberts was shot two years ago it emerged that the protective vest he should have been wearing was not available. The six military policemen killed by a mob three years ago had antiquated radios and inadequate ammunition. The scandal over Land Rovers not fit for their purpose is just the latest sorry example of Whitehall warriors sending our fighting men badly protected into the field. Link
db: For info on the RG31 see links at foot of this item