Dateline 11 September 2003: A row of armoured Land Rovers line up in preparation to board a merchant vessel in Belfast Harbour, on the first leg of their journey to Iraq. Bound for Iraq 178 armoured Land Rovers shall be leaving Belfast bound for Iraq. The Land Rovers, all drawn from reserve stock or currently surplus to requirement in Northern Ireland, will give much needed and potentially life-saving protection to army patrols in southern Iraq.
Dateline 4 October 2003: 180 armoured Land Rovers arrive at the Iraqi port of Umm Qasar. The wagons were delivered on Dart 10, a chartered roll-on roll-off ship. British peacekeeping troops will use the new batch of armoured Land Rovers alongside the dozens of civilian all-terrain vehicles already in use. Some of the vehicles await collection after being offloaded from the Dart 10 ship.
With a daub of sand-coloured paint, the vehicles were soon put into use patrolling the streets of Basra and in other British occupied areas in what was to become known as "occupation-lite". But, if the Brits thought they knew counterinsurgency better, this year the light-touch was seen to go badly wrong as violence erupted in the streets and the militias ran riot. But, as lightly-armoured Land Rovers proved to be inadequate for the task, the MoD was not to be moved, hence:
Dateline 12 June 2006: Lord Drayson. My Lords, I do not accept that Snatch Land Rovers are not appropriate for the role. We must recognise the difference between protection and survivability. It is important that we have the trade-offs that we need for mobility. The Snatch Land Rover provides us with the mobility and level of protection that we need.Yet, having dumped second-hand and distinctly battered "reserve stock" vehicles, and those "currently surplus to requirement in Northern Ireland" into the middle of a shooting war in Iraq, nothing was too much for our gallant lads who were set to joint the European Rapid Reaction Force. For them, the very best in Italian-built chic:
Dateline 6 November 2003: Lord Bach. We are pleased to announce that the Ministry of Defence has today signed a contract worth £166 million (including VAT) with Alvis Vickers Ltd, for the manufacture of the Future Command and Liaison Vehicle (FCLV).There we have it – at £413,000 apiece, these are the Rolls-Royce of military SUVs, the very latest in fashion accessories for the image-conscious commander. Meanwhile, the peace-loving Swedes had different ideas:
The FCLV will perform the command and liaison role and replace the ageing and disparate vehicle fleet within the manoeuvre support brigades comprising elements of the 430 Series, Saxon, Land Rover and Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) fleets. From its planned in-service date of 2006, the FCLV will provide levels of crew protection and mobility commensurate with their roles in an increasingly extended ground manoeuvre area. It will offer protection against small arms, blast and anti-personnel mines.
Dateline 19 May 2005: South Africa's leading armoured and peacekeeping vehicle manufacturer BAE Systems Land Systems OMC has scored another export success with FMV, the Swedish Procurement Agency, confirming a production order for 102 specialist RG-32M patrol vehicles valued at close to ZAR 180 million.At a mere £152,000 each, the Swedes are well-chuffed to have acquired the latest in mine-protected vehicles for their peacekeeping forces. The picture shows the vehicle being put through its paces by a Swedish motoring journalist, who declared himself "impressed". But such luxuries are not for our troops in Iraq. According to Lord Drayson, "The Snatch Land Rover provides us with the mobility and level of protection that we need."
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