Britain is to spend 189 million pounds from the nation’s Treasury Reserve for new equipment for its 9500 troops in Afghanistan. Defence Secretary Liam Fox says the additional funding will be used to buy a range of base protection equipment, including surveillance technology, communications means and logistics.
Fox says this will enable British forces “to continue to increase the number of bases in theatre as the force thickens in central Helmand, and to partner the Afghan security forces more effectively.”
Together with the 67 million pounds for a counter-improvised explosive device (C-IED) campaign announced by the Prime Minister on June 10, this totals 256 million pounds of Reserve funding allocated to equipment since the beginning of June, the Ministry of Defence says.
This extra funding will allow the Ministry of Defence to equip an increase in the number of specialist C-IED teams and reflects the continuing move towards partnering the Afghan National Army and Police and the thickening of our force across the area of operations. Fox says countering the IED threat faced by British forces in Afghanistan is a top priority for the government. “There are real challenges; the threat does not stand still and nor does our response. I will make sure that everything possible is done to ensure that our forces have what they need to deal with this indiscriminate threat.
“They deserve nothing less. As I have seen during my visits they are doing fantastic work in Afghanistan in support of the UK’s national security.”
The Secretary of State has also made it clear when looking to the future that when the Afghan security forces have been sufficiently trained to take control, Britain’s troops can withdraw: “…our forces are making progress. In Helmand, the heartland of the insurgency, six districts were under government control in 2008 – now 11 out of 14 are. We are also ahead of target in training the Afghan National Security Forces. As soon as they are able to keep their country secure our forces can come home.”
The equipment package for operations and pre-deployment training includes the following:
— Base equipment (GBP158M) including:
– secure communications systems;
– ground-based ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) systems to protect bases.
— Dismounted Close Combat equipment (GBP19M) including:
– Osprey body armour and helmets;
– weapons systems including light and heavy machine guns and combat shotguns;
– weapon sights and night vision equipment.
— Other (GBP12M) including:
– additional MAN logistics support vehicles modified for use in Afghanistan (equipping existing vehicles to Theatre Entry Standard to allow them to deploy).
The C-IED equipment package announced by the Prime Minister (GBP67M) includes:
— Force Protection Industries Mastiff protected mobility vehicles;
— remote-controlled vehicles;
— specialist IED disruptive and exploitation equipment;
— highly trained military working dogs.
“These additional resources are aimed at dealing both with the IED threat of today whilst looking to the future by partnering with the Afghans, to whom responsibility for security will be transferred,” the UK MoD said.