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CAMP DO-NOTHING

Posted by Richard Sunday, October 29, 2006 , , ,

Not only the Telegraph but also the Mail on Sunday, The Independent and The Sunday Times all pick up on the story of idle troops at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan.

The Sunday Times has "British troops hide from bombers" and the Independent runs "Troops 'locked down' by suicide bombers", while the Mail on Sunday has a particularly strident headline: "Camp Do-Nothing". Its photographs tell the tale, some of which we have reproduced below, demonstrating how tough it is out at the front - something us "armchair soldiers" could never really appreciate before.


What is interesting about these pieces is that they all tell the same story - with at least four newspapers carrying it. Yet four newspaper editors did not suddenly and independently come up with the idea of looking at the conditions at Camp Bastion, and their journalists did not all come up entirely independently with exactly the same story. At the very least, there is some collusion and there may well be a "guiding mind". In that case, who is doing the spinning, and why?

Whatever the reasoning behind the spin, it clearly has MoD approval as all of the papers seem to quote Lieutenant-Colonel Andy Price and they all mention the recent death from a suicide bomb of Marine Gary Wright (pictured right), although none specifically point out the vulnerability of the "Snatch" Land Rover in which he was riding.

And neither do any of the newspapers mention an ealier incident - this one in Kabul in early September. This was also another suicide bomber, in this instance driving a Toyota Hilux truck, but it was also another instance of a highly vulnerable "Snatch" Land Rover being targeted.

Now, purely on journalistic grounds, you would have thought that there was a story here, especially if a contrast was then made with the fate of a Canadian RG-31 which had recently been attacked by a suicide bomber, the crew having escaped without injury, the vehicle itself having limped home under its own power, needing only relatively minor repairs.

Add to this the recent experience of the crew of another Canadian RG-31 escaping injury after a mine explosion, and the similar fate of a German crew riding a Dingo mine protected vehicle and you have a superb story of British government incompetence.

Neither Canadian nor German (nor any other) troops have been confined to base because of a bomb threat yet here we are with all those tough Marines having to act like big girls' blouses and stay at home with mummy all because their patrol vehicles are crap.

But rather than engaging their brains, we get the MSM hunting as a pack, all following each other down the same line, holding each others' hands for comfort. Thus does the Mail on Sunday, like the Sunday Telegraph give the Marines' "Vikings" a puff, not stopping for one moment to look beyond the MoD spin and do their own background research.

Nor even do they get their facts right, the MoS citing the top speed as 60 mph, when it is in fact 60 kph (approximately 40 mph, and then only for relatively short periods), and the price as £80,000 when it is in fact $1,000,000 (as opposed to the £1m cited by the Telegraph).

Most significantly, the Viking is an amphibious vehicle, designed in Sweden primarily for amphibious operations and for their ability to move through swampy terrain, as well as snow. At twice the price of either a Bushmaster or RG-31, to use (and wear out) these highly specialised vehicles in a landlocked desert is little short of stupidity.

Luckily for our government and military, however, while this commodity is available in copious quantities, the MSM seems to be totally blind to it.

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