Wednesday, July 19

Not enough helcopters

The British media's dominant preoccupation remains, quite naturally, the Middle Eastern situation, with headlines focusing particularly on the evacuation of British subjects which is wellunderway.
Earlier stories about the shortage of helicopters for British troops are somewhat difficult to reconcile with The Times report that six Sea King helicopters have left the Yeovilton Royal Navy Air Station in Somerset on a marathon journey to Cyprus, where they will be deployed to help in the evacuation.
Additionally, as we now know, the MoD managed to find some Chinook helicopters to carry out the initial evacuations and we learn from the BBC website that no less than five Chinooks are currently providing support to British officials in Beirut.
According to Wing Commander Carl Scott, chief of staff of Joint Helicopter Command, one Chinook "flew in [EU foreign policy chief] Javier Solana and took the opportunity to take 40 people out - the ill, the young, elderly and those you would expect to need to be taken out."
Thus, it was not the Cyprus-based Griffins that were used, but a heavy-lift helicopter, the like of which are needed desperately in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the moment, there are only two Chinooks in Iraq and a further six in Afghanistan, with another two promised. With only 16 of the RAF's 28-strong fleet of Chinooks currently "fit for purpose", the five being deployed in Lebanon now makes the whole of the fleet committed, bar one, Yet even the numbers committed are not sufficient for operations in our combat areas, where many believe that we have too few troops and too little helicopter lift capacity. Should there be any further emergencies, the cupboard is effectively bare.
All this goes to show just how perilously marginal the strength of British armed forces has become.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

This in a an impossible situation for your troops to be in! I feel that no matter how you feel about your military being in Iraq and fighting, that you should support your troops 100%. I feel that those politicians, governments employees or whomever who can't or won't get the best for our troops should be made aware that the next time they are up for my vote that they won't get it AND that they won't ge the votes of others who share my same thoughts.

Whether at war or at peace or even in a police action, no matter what our military is there to take the shots that we don't want to take for ourselves. They are in places and situations that we don't want to be in and they in all probability don't want to be in either. BUT THEY ARE THERE! and they need all the protections and supplies that we can give them.

If we can support our politicians and government employees stupid moves and expenses why shouldn't we do the same for those we place in harm's way.