MoD Denies Shortage Allegations, Says Assets Are "Shared"
British soldiers in Afghanistan are
reportedly facing severe shortages of helicopters and armored
vehicles. The Daily Telegraph reports only half the Apache
helicopters assigned to British forces in the country are operable
and just 70 percent of the Chinook transport helicopters are
available for use.
A Daily Telegraph reporter spent three weeks with troops in the
Helmand province and discovered what was termed an "alarming"
amount of deficiencies, the newspaper reported.
Of 96 new armored vehicles allotted to troops in the Helmand
province, only 16 have been delivered. Soldiers have reportedly
resorted to "scrounging" equipment from a small Estonian contingent
serving alongside them.
Things are getting so bad that one garrison was down to its last
200 mortar rounds because there were no available helos to supply
them, according to the Yorkshire Post.
The Ministry of Defense said that more equipment was on the
"Our military commanders have the helicopters required to
provide combat and medical support for our troops in combat. These
helicopters have proved vital to the success of our operation in
Afghanistan which is why we are spending (more than) $456 million
making 14 additional aircraft for deployment over the next two
years," said a spokeswoman.
"There is no shortage of combat fighting vehicles in
Afghanistan. We are part of a coalition and so we share assets,"
The Telegraph also claims engineers travel in soft-skinned
trucks while carrying explosives and soldiers use their personal
binoculars because those issued by the Army are inadequate.
The Duke of Gloucester was reported to have had to cancel a
frontline visit because no Apaches available.
The situation is reportedly causing some morale problems.
Combine lack of proper equipment with less-than-desirable pay
scales and the British Army could be facing the loss of seasoned
An engineer with 11 years in the service told the Telegraph
reporter he had recently decided against reenlistment for just
those reasons. He only received about $1.50 a day pay raise for a
promotion from senior corporal to junior sergeant.
"It's just not worth staying on," he said. "I will have to spend
(almost) $800 on a new mess kit and (about) $118 a month on the
mess bill rather than the (nearly) $32 I currently pay."