All that news came home to roost with a vengance with the current spate of soldier deaths in Afghanistan. Some because we are using unsafe vehicles:
An MoD official working on urgent operational requirements for Afghanistan said the Treasury had made it clear that there was no extra money for vital equipment, including armoured vehicles. [Times]
The vehicle chosen by the Ministry of Defence to replace the controversial Snatch Land Rover - in which 37 British soldiers have been killed by roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan - was rejected by the U.S. Army after it allegedly failed explosive 'survivability' tests.
And others for lack of helicopter transport and cover. Plans to send extra helicopters to southern Afghanistan to support British special forces had been cancelled, one defence source said. (same link) This last has finally resulted in the political gloves coming off. Browns dereliction of duty: "Labour's decision to cut the helicopter budget in 2004 by £1.4 billion was catastrophic. Gordon Brown has always been unwilling to fund Tony Blair's wars." Liam Fox (shadow defence secretary) said.
David Cameron condemned the 'scandal' of UK helicopter shortage in Afghanistan. In a speech on international aid today, the Tory leader said the government should supply British troops with more equipment.
The 5,000 British troops in Helmand, who comprise more than half the total British deployment, have just 10 Chinook helicopters and five smaller Lynxes between them.
In comparison the 8,000 US marines serving in the province have 120 Chinooks, prompting British forces to have to borrow from their US counterparts.
And just to show that the Navy are struggling too (hattip colonel blimp R5L): MPs slam 'disgraceful' Type 45 destroyers: "Perhaps the term 'disgraceful' is a bit harsh for merely supplying ships years late, massively over budget and without their main weapon system. That would actually be about par for the course in the MoD."
"The government must deal with that issue as a matter of extreme urgency."
Brown insists that the UK has the troops and the equipment to do the job. The army disagrees; I know this sort of clash has always happened but it just seems that now resources aren't being made available which is especially strange and frustrating when Brown and Darling say things like "You can’t send troops to the front line and not be prepared to see it through in terms of the . . . resources that they need" Then get on and do it!
But deliberately choosing to pay double for mostly French and Italian weapons, thus rendering yourself so cash-strapped as to turn the resulting ships into largely irrelevant one-trick ponies, when you could have bought powerful Aegis ships in a Scottish tin... that's disgraceful, yes