Sadly I missed the announcements on Friday of the deaths of two further British Soldiers in Afghanistan. And then today we have the further sad news of the death of a third soldier. The BBC has this:
A British soldier from 3rd Battalion The Mercian Regiment has been killed in Afghanistan, the MoD has said.
The announcement came shortly after two other soldiers, who died in separate incidents on Thursday, were named as Corporal Lloyd Newell and Craftsman Andrew Found.
The latest casualty was killed on Saturday when he was shot on patrol. His next-of-kin have been informed.
The total number of service personnel killed in Afghanistan stands at 374.
Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Lt Col Tim Purbrick, said the soldier who was killed on Saturday was part of the protective cordon guarding a meeting between the Afghan National Army and people who had recently reoccupied the Haji Tor Aga Kalay area in the Nahr-e Saraj District.
He said insurgents with “engaged them with small arms fire during which he was fatally wounded. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”
On the deaths of the soldiers on Friday the BBC has this
Corporal Lloyd Newell, a member of the Parachute Regiment, was killed by small arms fire in Helmand Province on Thursday.
Craftsman Andrew Found, 27, from Whitby, Yorkshire, was a member of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, he died in an explosion while trying to rescue a vehicle.
‘Man of integrity’
Cpl Newell was married with a nine-week-old daughter. The MoD said it would not be releasing details of his age or where he was from “because of the nature of his work”.
An MoD spokesman said the paratrooper “was a man of integrity and principle”.
“He was a natural and talented soldier who loved his work and the military lifestyle.
“He personified the great British Paratrooper – selfless, humble, cheerful and utterly reliable. He did his duty, relishing discomfort as a personal test, and always acting in the greater interests of the team.”
‘Laughter and love’
Craftsman Andrew Found, of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, serving with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, was killed by a bomb in the Gereshk Valley area of Helmand.
A father-of-two, his wife Samantha said: “You’re my husband, my best friend and are my world. I cannot explain my pain and the hole you have left in all our lives.
“You are the best husband anyone could have wished for; a great dad, friend and you have touched the hearts of many in your life.
“You loved your job, your family and friends and always loved a good joke. You always made me smile. I will love you always and forever. You were my rock and my hero and always will be. I love you so much.”
The couple had a son, Jaxson. Craftsman Found also had another son, Michael, from a previous relationship.
His parents Jennifer and Alan Found, and his brother Simon, said: “Even though we are all in pain now, we will remember the fun, the laughter and all the love he brought to all the people he knew and loved.”
Another sad week for our Armed Forces in Afghanistan. My thoughts are with all the families and friends of the three soldiers.
Sadly it seems that Afghanistan has taken a further toll on our Forces. The MOD reports:
It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must announce that two Royal Marines from 42 Commando Royal Marines were killed in Afghanistan yesterday, Friday 27 May 2011.
The Marines were killed by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) while on a joint Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operation to clear parts of the Loy Mandeh area of the Nad-e Ali (North) District of Helmand Province.
Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Major Rolf Kurth, said:
“It is my sad duty to inform you of the death of two Royal Marines from 42 Commando Royal Marines in the Loy Mandeh area of the Nad-e Ali District of Helmand Province.
“The two Royal Marines were on patrol, disrupting insurgent activity when they were killed by an explosion caused by an IED. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends in their time of grief.”
Next of kin have been informed and have asked for a period of grace before further details are released.
My thoughts are with their family and friends at this sad time.
I had hoped it would be a while before I had to blog about the deaths of our Armed Forces in Afghanistan but sadly it seems not. I can only hope it will be a while before I have to again.
As a result of Mr Brown’s malfeasance – abetted by Mr Blair’s cowardice – men have died who should have lived: men have been crippled who could have escaped with minor injuries. All war leads to a butcher’s bill. Even with the best equipment, there comes the moment when discipline, training, group-bonding, patriotism and courage must inspire flesh and blood to stand up to lead and high explosive. Flesh and blood do not always win. The gods of battles choose the best and the bravest to dine with them in Valhalla. War means heart-rending sacrifices. It is the duty of prime ministers to minimise those sacrifices: few duties more solemn. This one has treated that duty with contempt. “You’ve ruined my life” he once yelled at Tony Blair. What nonsense, what pathetic nonsense. But lives have been lost, because Mr Brown would not do his duty and Tony Blair would not make him.
There is an error in the column when he says 1000 personnel were to be returned from Afghanistan, It should be Iraq, hopefully it will be corrected, but it takes no sting out of his correct and damning indictment of Gordon Brown.
We need to see more like this on other subjects in all the Nationals. Exposing the Brown Lies or Brownies between now and the General Election is essential in ensuring this man cane never again come anywhere near to power.
Despite pocketing over 1.8 billion pounds on the sale of MOD house back in 1996, the government has paid out only minimal amounts to maintain the houses, leaving them in poor conditions despite the fact they were sold-off to finance the refurbishment programme.
According to the Times:
Despite the payment of £1.67 billion to HM Treasury for the homes and a profit share of £156m on the sale of surplus properties, many are dilapidated and unfit to live in. New figures show that the MoD has been spending as little as £4.4m a year on maintenance and refurbishment.
Julie McCarthy, chief executive of the Army Families Federation, said her organisation received thousands of complaints every year about the poor conditions of these properties.
“There have been problems with damp, leaks, broken boilers and the general condition of the homes,” she said.
“The sale was supposed to provide the funds to address these problems, but there has been little evidence of that.”
Details of how little the government has spent on the properties emerged last week after The Sunday Times reported that General Sir David Richards, the head of the army, was concerned that many troops felt undervalued because of cuts to housing and shortages in other areas.
Amazing to hear that the Government are yet again screwing our Armed Forces. With Brown at the helm or as Chancellor , they are lucky they saw a penny.
Army at full stretch, navy over-committed and RAF pilots short of planes for training
That just about covers the full gamut. The Guardian goes onto report:
Britain’s forces need a period of “effective recuperation” after operating at a rate well above official planning assumptions, a report by the Commons defence committee says today. “The MoD was unable to tell us how long it would take before the armed forces return to satisfactory levels of readiness”, it says.
It describes how RAF pilots are unable to train because aircraft are tied up on operations, the navy has too many commitments and major exercises are having to be cancelled.
The report quotes Lieutenant General Sir Graeme Lamb, a senior commander, as saying that his fellow senior officers believed the army needed to expand from about 102,000 troops to 112,000 to meet demand.
This is the state our dithering and delaying Prime Minister has brought our Armed Forces to by his years of mis-management, first as Chancellor and lately as the Prime Minister.
The shadow defence secretary, Liam Fox, said the report
“exposes the damage that has been done across the armed forces by Labour’s refusal to hold a proper review for over a decade.
It is clear that radical reform is needed to ensure that our armed forces are best configured to defend British interests and that our procurement programme gets our troops what they need, when they need it,”
This is something I have been saying for a while, and despite this Ainsworth wants to ring fence spending on items such as Trident and the new Aircraft Carriers BEFORE the SDR is carried out. This is political posturing rather than strategy as they attempt to bribe voters in marginal constituencies.
General Sir Richard Dannatt, the former head of the army, said war in Iraq and Afghanistan had taken its toll on troops and echoed Lamb’s call for a boost to land forces.
“There is quite a strong argument to say that our land forces are not large enough, particularly units that may have done two or three tours in Iraq and are now on a second or third tour in Afghanistan,” he told GMTV. “Inevitably and sadly we have taken a number of casualties and people are tired. So those units need to be stronger. If they were 10% or 15% stronger they would be more resilient to casualties and if people become ill or injured.”
It is time to get the SDR done and sort out proper long term funding for our forces. How we sort out the shorter term problem of knackered soldiers and equipment is much harder without a substantial withdrawal from Afghanistan. It is time to get our supposed allies to help us in Afghanistan.
As UK forces prepare to begin yet another year embroiled in a gruelling struggle against the Taliban, defence chiefs have confirmed that more than 16,000 troops are not fit enough to fight.
As many as 22 per cent of the 73,000 Army personnel who should be available for combat operations are either classed as “non-deployable” or are only able to be sent to military bases with medical facilities to care for them.
This surely cannot have been unexpected after the huge pressure that the Army has been put under with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
What it does highlight is the severe pressure the Army is under to keep front-line battalions up to strength and the knock-on affect this has on soldiers time spent in Afghanistan and in the middle of the fighting. This then feeds back into more issues with fitness both physical and mental .
It also highlights the fact that, with over 1000 personnel having been wounded in the wars and another 2000 non-combat cases, that many are long-term injuries, who are unlikely ever to be deployed on the front-line again. Many of these injured personnel still want to contribute to the Army and also help their friends who are fighting. This has to be balanced against keeping up the active strength of the Army and means that much of the extra recruitment that has been made in the past few months has not filtered through to fill the gaps.
All this just goes to emphasise the short-term outlook that this Government and the MOD has in respect of the Armed Services. Having not performed a proper Defence Review in the past few years the Armed Services are just not prepared or budgeted for the current situations that we are in. Until this is done it is unlikely that the shortage of front-line soldiers will change.