Sunday, January 14

On Whos Side ?

The Old War Office, Whitehall London

The many comments in newspapers and on many British based blogsites on the failings to of the Ministry of Defence to properly equip British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq reminds the editor of the old story from the 1st World War.

A young Subaltern (Junior Army Officer) from a Scottish Highland regiment was summoned at the height of the conflict to a meeting to the War Office in Whitehall. Not having been to central London previously the young man soon became lost amongst the imposing buildings of Whitehall.

Spotting a senior officer the Subaltern approached the Colonel, saluted and asked: '' Excuse me Sir, which side is the War Office on.'' ''Well'' came the reply from the seasoned officer, '' Our-side I am told - but it is becoming difficult to be sure''

Some ninety years later the same comment could be made.

Christopher Booker takes up the point:

Sean Langan's chilling filmed reports from Afghanistan for Channel Four's Dispatches last week showed British troops hopelessly overstretched and ill-equipped to fight a guerrilla war with the fanatical Taliban. In particular they highlighted the inadequacy of the unarmoured Land Rovers in which our soldiers have to patrol, and in which not a few have died.
One telling detail was the sight of a wounded British soldier having to be rescued by Estonian troops in a properly protected Mamba personnel carrier. This was one of the nine bought by Estonia last summer, when the Ministry of Defence sold off the 14 Mambas – bought for £4.5 million for use in Bosnia — for a mere £44,000. Four others, sold to a security firm, Blackwater, are now being successfully used to give US officers and officials safe passage on the dangerous road between Baghdad airport and the city.
Last July the UK's defence procurement minister, Lord Drayson, was caught out more than once misleading the House of Lords over these Mambas, claiming "we judged the size and mobility of the vehicle not to be appropriate to the needs of our Armed Forces today". Yet months later, when one of our men is injured, he has to be moved to safety by one of these same Mambas flogged off by the MoD for peanuts, because the Land Rovers the MoD prefers are wholly inadequate to the task.
Isn't it time all the ministers responsible for this horrible scandal resigned, led by the Prime Minister.

The present day Ministry of Defence, Whitehall London

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