Wednesday, 19 August 2009



On the eve of the Afghan elections the SNP has repeated calls for a strategic rethink of operations in Afghanistan . The calls come as the head of the Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, has called for more resources warning that key shortages are undermining operations to protect troops from roadside bombs.

SNP Westminster leader and Defence spokesperson Angus Robertson MP, who visited forces on the frontline in Afghanistan earlier this year, has argued that a candid review of strategy is essential to convince people that the government has an achievable strategy.

Mr Robertson said:

“General Dannatt’s calls must be a wake up call for Ministers and his intervention heaps even more pressure on the Government for a major rethink about operations and resources in Afghanistan .

“In particular General Dannatt’s demand for more surveillance systems raises serious questions just as the MoD has cancelled the Soothsayer intelligence system and as Ministers review plans to buy or upgrade surveillance aircraft.

“There are also doubts over the future of the Reaper drones used to locate Taliban forces. At present only two of the five drones ordered are operating, and it has emerged that the third has not been cleared to fly in US airspace for training purposes while the remaining two are not scheduled to be delivered until 2010.

“These concerns clearly add to growing fears that resource limitations are contributing to the deaths of service personnel in Afghanistan , and Ministers need to address that immediately.

“As well as getting the resources they need, our military personnel deserve a realistic and focussed approach from the UK government – and Ministers must take the initiative after the Afghan elections to rethink our strategy and objectives reflecting the wider regional concerns.

“Earlier this year I saw at first hand the reality of the situation facing our brave forces, now is the time for total candour on the human and material cost of the ongoing operations, its timescale and its chances for success.”

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