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

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Bombproof vehicles for troops in Iraq

Sunday Times

More than 100 new heavily armoured patrol vehicles have been ordered by the government to protect British troops in Iraq against roadside bombs, writes Michael Smith.

The move - to be announced this week - follows a review ordered by Des Browne, the defence secretary, after the father of a soldier killed in a Snatch Land Rover accused the government of allowing soldiers to die needlessly to save cash.

Roger Bacon, whose son was killed by a roadside bomb last September, spoke out after the 18th death of a soldier in a Snatch Land Rover. Yesterday he welcomed the new move.

The latest vehicles will be upgraded versions of the armoured Cougars used by US marines in Iraq. They will have additional armour, making them the most protected vehicles of their kind in the world.

Browne, a former chief secretary to the Treasury, asked his former boss Gordon Brown to provide the tens of millions of pounds to rush new vehicles to Iraq, a senior defence source said yesterday.

Snatch Land Rovers cost about £50,000 apiece. The new vehicles cost about eight times as much but carry more troops.

Ministry of Defence (MoD)officials were ordered to bypass their complex procurement system and buy the best vehicle available. The Cougar, built in America by BAE Systems, came closest to fulfilling the requirement, but despite surviving a number of bomb attacks in Iraq it was still deemed to have insufficient armour.

"Browne accepted the arguments in favour of the Snatch Land Rover but ruled that the new range of roadside bombs meant that the situation had changed," the source said. The MoD aims to have the Cougars in Iraq by the end of the year. Read more