Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Ignorance on parade

It was yesterday that the MoD informed us with great regret that another soldier has been killed in action in Iraq. Yet another from the 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, the soldier is un-named as yet. But he was the 131st to die in Iraq since the invasion in 2003 and the 100th to die in action.

According to the MoD, the soldier died after a "routine patrol in Basra" was hit by a roadside bomb. It is understood that he was part of a Warrior patrol although, as before when Warriors have been involved in bomb incidents, there has been no confirmation as to whether the soldiers have been riding in the vehicle, or have been dismounted.

However, this now makes the third fatal incident involving Warriors since the end of December and may mark a new development in the insurgents' campaign against British troops.

Certainly, it has been practice for some time now for the more vulnerable "Snatch" Land Rovers to be escorted by Warriors and, in high risk operations, Warriors are to the fore. Thus, it stands to reason that the insurgents may have changed their tactics. The trouble is that us mere mortals are not given enough information on which to make a judgement and the media is not giving us any detail.

What we do know about the Warrior though is that it is a fighting vehicle designed to work alongside Challenger tanks in a northern European theatre, on conventional operations. As such, it is not equipped to deal with the IED threat, as we have repeatedly observed on this blog (see, for instance, here and here).

Thus we do await the delivery of the Mastiffs in theatre, which are better equipped to deal with this threat. But, as the delays mount (no doubt in part arising from the insistence on carrying out modifications which could and should have been done in theatre - or even on the ship coming over) can it really be a coincidence that, on the same day that another soldier is killed while taking part in a Warrior patrol, the MoD posts a long "puff" about the newly introduced Bulldog (pictured)?

Once again, also, one worried out the MoD writers. The describe the Bulldog as an FV430 Mk3. But there is no such thing as an FV430 – there is the FV430 series, or family of vehicles, of which the Bulldog is one, an up-armoured FV432. And then we get Associated Press, which published the picture of the Warrior shown above, giving it the caption: "A British soldier stands in front of a tank in Basra …".

With such ignorance on parade, it is hardly surprising that the media finds it hard going dealing with military equipment issues - and that the MoD gets away with so much.

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