Wednesday, 5 August 2009

PRESSURE PILES ON BROWN OVER AFGHANISTAN


PM FACES MORE QUESTIONS ABOUT EQUIPMENT AND SPIN

Pressure is piling on Gordon Brown to answer yet more questions about how his government is dealing with the campaign in Afghanistan after a series of newspaper reports highlighted serious concerns about equipment and reporting of the campaign.

The Prime Minister faces continuing questions over whether troops are being provided with the necessary equipment to tackle the Taliban after it emerged in today's Daily Telegraph that life-saving vehicles built to withstand roadside bombs have been stranded in Dubai for the past month, while the Daily Mail reports that Defence chiefs warning that new Merlin helicopters being sent to Afghanistan lack Kevlar armour, making them vulnerable to small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.

In a separate development, it has also emerged in the Guardian that a military press officer is set to sue the MoD claiming that he was forced to tell "government lies" to the families of British soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan – by leading bereaved families and the media to believe that the soldiers had been properly equipped when they were killed, something he had come to believe was untrue and "morally indefensible".

SNP Westminster leader and Defence spokesperson Angus Robertson MP said the Prime Minister had serious questions to answer about his previous claims that there were enough helicopters in Afghanistan .

Mr Robertson said:

“To send brave soldiers into harms way without the equipment they need is unforgivable, inexcusable and a breach of trust. Gordon Brown cannot dodge the serious questions that are mounting about equipment in Afghanistan . He is already exposed for saying there were enough helicopters only to have Bob Ainsworth contradict that claim by saying he was 'busting a gut' to get more helicopters into theatre.

“It is extraordinary that today's reports say life-saving vehicles built to withstand Taliban roadside bombs have been parked-up in Dubai for the last month – during one of the bloodiest periods in the conflict. It is equally unbelievable that the new Merlin helicopters lack Kevlar armour. That armour would cost just £100,000 – a drop in the ocean compared to the billions Labour want to waste on a new generation of Trident nuclea
r missiles.

"To compound these latest revelations we also have those of a military press officer revealing that he could no longer tell "government lies" to bereaved families about equipment.

"These are serious allegations and they now put Gordon Brown under serious pressure.

“What he needs to do is end his defensiveness over questions about equipment and start delivering the kit that is needed by our forces on the frontline.”

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