Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Troop conditions in Afghanistan

Transcript of a report from this morning’s Today on Radio 4 concerning troop conditions in Afghanistan (and for once I’m not having a go at the BBC). The names of the interviewees were changed at their request. (Listen here - streaming RAM)

Zubeida Malik: Even though she doesn’t want to, Carol Ann says she can’t help watching the news. It’s always on in the background.

Carol Ann: It’s on 24 hours a day - for the past, I’d say, 2 weeks. Something happens and I’ll ring my a mum and “I’m not watching it again, we’re not going to watch it again.” But you can’t help it - you turn it back on again.

ZM: Carol Ann’s brother has been in Afghanistan for 6 months. Serving in the army is a family tradition, but Carol Ann says she feels compelled to speak out.

CA: My brother is such a loyal soldier. He’s done so much for the British Army. All I want is for that army to support my brother, y’know, not just leave him and not re-supply them and give them the resources they need. If he’s so loyal to them why aren’t they loyal back to him? He’s been on one of these outposts for the past 6 weeks and he hasn’t been back to Camp Bastion, and if the fighting is so strong out there and they are getting attacked by the Taliban on such a regular basis, why aren’t they rotating these soldiers? Why are these soldiers left out there for 6 weeks?

ZM: Her main concern is the satellite system which enables families to email soldiers. She claims it’s not been working for several weeks.

CA: Up until 3 weeks ago we had regular contact through an email satellite system, and that’s been down over the past 3 weeks. Y’know, there’s been no communication via email. We could communicate with them but now we just get a quick satellite phone call once a week and there’s no way of us contacting them.

ZM: 63 year-old Moira’s daughter is a doctor in the army. She was in Afghanistan this summer but to her relief is now safely back home. Moira recalls her description.

Moira: Initially, and I’m quoting her, the description was “a hell hole”.

ZM: Her daughter told her that the American soldiers were in comparison living in luxury.

M: She said it’s almost like the Dorchester in the sense that the tents were air conditioned, there was entertainment, live shows in fact while she was there, access to the equivalent foodstuffs like McDonalds. The general list of comforts was almost endless.

ZM: Carol Ann’s mother has spent several hundred pounds sending weekly food parcels to help boost her brother’s rations.

CA: 2 or 3 a week for the past couple of months, and the thing that I don’t understand is why she’s paying for these food parcels. She’s spending £7.90 to send a 2kg food parcel out to these lads. The reason is because it’s considered by the Ministry of Defence a Nato peacekeeping mission which is a non-combat mission. The thing that I don’t understand is how on earth they can consider it a non-combat mission when these lads are probably fighting out there every single day.

ZM: Both Carol Ann and Moira accept that when you join the army you live by its terms and conditions but they both feel that they’re not getting enough support. Carol Ann says she doesn’t want to get involved in politics, but Moira says she feels let down by the Prime Minister.

M: The reality is the distressing sight of coffins arriving back at Brize Norton, and where, incidentally, Tony Blair has not once joined the mourning families.

Ed Stourton: That report by Zubeida Malik. The Ministry of Defence declined to gave us an interview in response to those interviews but they issued a statement in which they said all service personnel in Afganhistan have the means to send emails wherever local circumstances allow and they added “In this complex and dangerous mission forces are rotated and rested as conditions allow”.

Our troops are dangerously overstretched and shamefully under-resourced, and yet vast amounts of money continue to vanish into the black hole of European defence integration. Sickening.


Blogger CityUnslicker said...

the list of silly spending is endless; the lack of money for our forces defending our very existence is callous.

Electing socialists to run the army is banana's; allthey ever did was rail against authority in their mispent youth.


3:30 pm  
Anonymous Clematis Fraudster said...

We could apply the MoD's terminology to World War 2 and say that the Allies did not fight the Germans but took part in a huge 'reconstruction and redevelopment' exercise in mainland Europe.

And 9/11, 7/7 were the jihadists' (or Mossad for any moonbats who may be reading) attempts at 'reconstruction and redevelopment'.

But who really cares? After all, Gordon Brown drove to Oxford in a Mini today to promote himself...I mean...the new Mini Cooper.

5:05 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If only you really knew how badly we are resourced, financially things are even more desperate than you can perceive.

9:48 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm curious. We have a fair amount of "adopt-a-soldier" programs in America (Adopt-a-Sniper, Soldiers' Angels, Operation AC, Any Soldier, etc.) so that the public can support troops through letters and care packages. Are there any such programs for British troops? While waiting for the MoD to provide the bigger better equipment, I would love to help send the smaller things that help in the smaller ways.

1:02 am  

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