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Ironduke
07 Oct 06,, 08:02
Blair promises 'more for troops'

British forces in Afghanistan will be provided with whatever resources they need, the prime minister has said.

Addressing military personnel on the fifth anniversary of operations in the country, Tony Blair pledged "every support and every protection".

He said this included providing more armoured vehicles and more helicopters.

Mr Blair praised the courage displayed during a "very tough" operation and acknowledged it was still "lawless" in the south where most troops were based.

In September alone, seven soldiers died in Afghanistan due to hostile action and 14 died when a RAF Nimrod crashed after a suspected technical fault.

With 40 soldiers killed since September 2001, and high casualties in the past three months, Mr Blair was asked in the interview on the British Forces TV and Radio why troops are in the country as part of a Nato mission.

He said it was "frustrating" that some people did not recall the circumstances of the original deployment: "It came about as a result of 11 September, as a result of the need to drive the Taleban and al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan.

"If we let Afghanistan be used again as a training ground for the export of terrorism, it turns up on our streets - it harms British citizens.

"So what our troops are doing in Afghanistan is of fundamental importance not just to the security of our country but [to] global security."

He also said that the government was expected to announce "in the next few weeks" details of "the package we provide for our troops when they're abroad fighting" but did not elaborate.

"Let me just make one thing clear: if the commanders on the ground want more equipment, armoured vehicles for example, more helicopters, that will be provided," he said.

"Whatever package they want we will do and it's not surprising incidentally that as a mission proceeds so you may make adjustments as to what is necessary, what's not necessary."

Medical care

The prime minister went on to address recent criticism over the lack of dedicated military hospital facilities in the UK.

Mr Blair said when troops were injured on the battlefield, they were transferred to NHS services because "the specialist care for some of the injuries has to be of the top quality".

"Although we're looking, for example, at military-managed wards, to go back to the old military hospitals I don't think would be sensible in this day and age," he said.

British troops are mainly based in southern province of Helmand, in a situation described by Mr Blair as "very, very tough".

He praised the troops' efforts, saying they had been "truly courageous" in fighting the Taleban and that their morale was high.

He denied any suggestion that the government was trying to downplay the seriousness of the situation for UK troops, nor had it underestimated the danger.

"It was always going to be tough. In some senses whenever you go into a battlefield situation like that, there are always things that you learn, there are always things that come at you in a more intense way then you expect," Mr Blair said.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/5414974.stm

PubFather
07 Oct 06,, 18:13
Blair promises 'more for troops'

British forces in Afghanistan will be provided with whatever resources they need, the prime minister has said.

Addressing military personnel on the fifth anniversary of operations in the country, Tony Blair pledged "every support and every protection".

He said this included providing more armoured vehicles and more helicopters.

Mr Blair praised the courage displayed during a "very tough" operation and acknowledged it was still "lawless" in the south where most troops were based.

In September alone, seven soldiers died in Afghanistan due to hostile action and 14 died when a RAF Nimrod crashed after a suspected technical fault.

With 40 soldiers killed since September 2001, and high casualties in the past three months, Mr Blair was asked in the interview on the British Forces TV and Radio why troops are in the country as part of a Nato mission.

He said it was "frustrating" that some people did not recall the circumstances of the original deployment: "It came about as a result of 11 September, as a result of the need to drive the Taleban and al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan.

"If we let Afghanistan be used again as a training ground for the export of terrorism, it turns up on our streets - it harms British citizens.

"So what our troops are doing in Afghanistan is of fundamental importance not just to the security of our country but [to] global security."

He also said that the government was expected to announce "in the next few weeks" details of "the package we provide for our troops when they're abroad fighting" but did not elaborate.

"Let me just make one thing clear: if the commanders on the ground want more equipment, armoured vehicles for example, more helicopters, that will be provided," he said.

"Whatever package they want we will do and it's not surprising incidentally that as a mission proceeds so you may make adjustments as to what is necessary, what's not necessary."

Medical care

The prime minister went on to address recent criticism over the lack of dedicated military hospital facilities in the UK.

Mr Blair said when troops were injured on the battlefield, they were transferred to NHS services because "the specialist care for some of the injuries has to be of the top quality".

"Although we're looking, for example, at military-managed wards, to go back to the old military hospitals I don't think would be sensible in this day and age," he said.

British troops are mainly based in southern province of Helmand, in a situation described by Mr Blair as "very, very tough".

He praised the troops' efforts, saying they had been "truly courageous" in fighting the Taleban and that their morale was high.

He denied any suggestion that the government was trying to downplay the seriousness of the situation for UK troops, nor had it underestimated the danger.

"It was always going to be tough. In some senses whenever you go into a battlefield situation like that, there are always things that you learn, there are always things that come at you in a more intense way then you expect," Mr Blair said.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/5414974.stm
Sound bites from Tony are all very well - but when does it translate into action? Where are some of the extra resources coming from - from an already over-stretched army? They may well exist in theory - but I suspect they are already being used elsewhere.

The UK military is cripplingly short of helicopters at the moment full stop - whether it is attack, recon, transport or ASW. All the procurement orders of recent years have been far lower than they were originally envisaged.

What's Blair going to do? Magic them out of his backside?
Brown needs to losen the purse strings, and pump some extra money into the military now...

pdf27
08 Oct 06,, 17:33
Blair providing the armed forces with what they need? That really would be a first. All he usually provides is more work and fewer soldiers.

glyn
08 Oct 06,, 18:11
Blair providing the armed forces with what they need? That really would be a first. All he usually provides is more work and fewer soldiers.

And greater restrictions on their rules of engagement!

PubFather
08 Oct 06,, 20:48
And greater restrictions on their rules of engagement!
It's the old "punching above our weight" malarky. I support Britain playing an active role in the world. We have the money just not the will to spend it. We could, over 2-3 years raise defense and homeland security spending to say 3% or 3.5% of GDP. This still wouldnt be enough but much more like the amount we need, and still well below some of the Cold War spending levels.

The other battle is for someone to make the case for this spending to the public - make the link between us involved in peacekeeping/counter-terrorism and increased security, and helping other nations. (And helping to dry up some of the floods of aslyum seekers as well).

We also need to remarket our foreign policy too. No offence to the Americans here - but pushing the line that we need to be able to act independently of the USA would probably go down well with the voters as well.

glyn
08 Oct 06,, 21:11
I agree with every word. Two hearts that beat as one. I had a full military career and would have recommended it for anyone else once upon a time, but since my son was invalided out of the Army after being injured in Sierra Leone, and hearing from those who are still serving, it is plain to me that our government has little time for those who serve the nation. I wouldn't recomment HM Forces as a career for a young person today, nor will I until I can see some backbone in the government. I am not holding my breath either!

pdf27
08 Oct 06,, 21:34
I wouldn't recomment HM Forces as a career for a young person today, nor will I until I can see some backbone in the government. I am not holding my breath either!
I'm current TA, and just about everyone I know who's fully trained up has done at least one tour in sandy climes. If it's like that in the reserve, I dread to think what the regulars have to put up with.

The upshot of this all of course is that there is a huge churn rate - quite a lot of the guys joining nowadays have it in mind to do one tour then leave. Not so bad if you're using it as a Temping Agency, but we'd be utterly screwed if a real war kicked off and we had to deploy as formed units.

PubFather
08 Oct 06,, 21:51
I'm current TA, and just about everyone I know who's fully trained up has done at least one tour in sandy climes. If it's like that in the reserve, I dread to think what the regulars have to put up with.

The upshot of this all of course is that there is a huge churn rate - quite a lot of the guys joining nowadays have it in mind to do one tour then leave. Not so bad if you're using it as a Temping Agency, but we'd be utterly screwed if a real war kicked off and we had to deploy as formed units.
Thats the problem - we cannot realistically continue with both the Iraq and Afghanistan deployments indefinitely. Even with money - the other problem is recruiting enough troops. IIRC the USA is having recruitment difficulties as well.