Friday, February 15, 2008

The scandal of ill-equipped troops - blood on Brown's hands?

Whatever our feelings about the various conflicts our troops are engaged in around the world, I think there is one thing we all ought to agree on. If we are to ask our young men and women to put their lives on the line in pursuit of our national political objectives, the least they should expect is that we honour our duty of care.

The news today that a coroner has criticised the MOD for failure to provide troops with basic equipment is inexcusable. James Phillippson was killed in a firefight with Taleban, part of a troop with 3 or 4 kits between 30 men. Mr Walker, assistant coroner for Oxfordshire, said: "They (the soldiers) were defeated not by the terrorists but by the lack of basic equipment."
He said sending troops into a combat zone without basic kit was "unforgivable and inexcusable" and "a breach of trust between the soldiers and those who govern them".

I can't imagine the anger James Phillippson's family must feel. His father commented that the real blame lay with the Treasury and then Chancellor Gordon Brown, for starving the troops of cash. It is surely time to withdraw from Afghanistan where we are now clearly seen as being part of the problem not the solution. But in the meantime, let's ensure that pressure is put on this government to honour the military covenant.

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