Reuters says the death of eight soldiers in a single day has shocked and angered the public and led opposition politicians to demand the government say what it is doing to get more helicopters and well-armored vehicles to stretched frontline forces.
“The government must explain why our armed forces are having to do so much with so little,” said Liam Fox, defence spokesman for the opposition Conservative party, emphasizing Britain’s lack of heavy-lift helicopters.
“If we cannot move our forces by air, they are more vulnerable on the ground. How on earth did we get into such an unacceptable position?” he asked.
Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said helicopter flying hours had been increased and additional helicopters and vehicles with heavier armor would be sent to the war zone — next year.
“We have made great strides to increase helicopter capability and availability with a large degree of success over the last two years in
US and British troops have launched an operation across southern
Both British and US troops have suffered heavy losses in the offensive, largely because the Taliban are using powerful roadside bombs to deadly effect.
One of the biggest problems British forces face is a lack of helicopters, especially Chinooks, which can carry large numbers of men and much equipment over long distances, essential in
At present, troops usually have to move by land, over poor roads, making them more vulnerable to roadside bombs.
“We have put (our troops) on the ground in very, very difficult circumstances, but … without the necessary material support, insufficient numbers of troops, insufficient equipment, with no political strategy on the ground to speak of,” Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg told Reuters during a Web discussion forum.
“It’s a patchwork of different efforts that isn’t properly coordinated … What defines success hasn’t been properly defined. I think we are deluding ourselves if we think there is suddenly going to be a victory.”
Fox said the Americans had eight times as many aircraft available, and criticized the government for cutting 1.4 billion pounds ($2.25 billion) from the helicopter budget in 2004.
Ainsworth rejected the criticism and said Merlin helicopters would shortly be moved from