... read Richard North's Ministry of Defeat, which will make you so angry you'll instantly want to rush out and strangle an awful lot of people. Top candidate would be Tony Blair, whose championing of the ludicrous European Rapid Reaction Force (mainly, suggests North, as his consolation prize to the EU for having failed to drag Britain into the euro) siphoned off truly eye- watering sums from our defence budget on mostly stillborn or pointless projects. Over ten years, joint European projects cost the MoD £8.8 billion. With that kind of money the MoD could have bought a hell of a lot of useful helicopters and improvised explosive device (IED) resistant vehicles.He continues:
The indefatigable Richard North calculates that 50 British lives in Afghanistan alone have been lost as a result of insufficiently protected vehicles. Lt Col Rupert Thorneloe, for example, was killed by around 30 kilos of homemade explosive (almost certainly made using fertiliser provided to local farmers by the British). Had he been travelling in an MRAP, rather than a Viking, the vehicle would scarcely have been dented.Good stuff.
So while the Americans have just spent $1.2 billion procuring a fleet of highly mobile, mine-protected vehicles for their men in Afghanistan, we continue to let our men die needlessly. Yes, I appreciate that our casualty rate is negligible compared with, say, the world wars; that these days we seem to make more fuss about the loss of one man than in the old days we would have done about an entire company. Those, though, were wars of national survival where it was much easier for everyone to comprehend the purpose of the sacrifice. They were also of limited duration, with clear aims. The one in Afghanistan could run and run, and how are we supposed to know when we've won?