Sunday 22 March 2009

There is no hope

For sure, it is only the News of the World, so you don't actually expect it to get anything right. But this comment on the Pinzgauer Vector takes the biscuit:

He [Sgt Lee Johnson] attempted to reinforce the old army banger himself with Kevlar armour plates. But he had to throw them out again because there wasn't room left for him to get into the cab with his own helmet and kit on.
War reporter Stephen Grey reveals how Jonno had told him, "I don't feel safe in this" days before he died. "Everyone 'bastardized' their Vectors. It was almost a kit car," says Grey. "Unlike the American's Humvees, they had a crucial design flaw which made the driver or front passenger particularly vulnerable to being killed if the vehicle struck a mine."

Er … excuse me. The Vector was a brand new vehicle, chosen specifically by the Army as its preferred design for a protected patrol vehicle for use in Afghanistan.

However, the NOTW's agenda is clear with the title of its piece, which declares: "Sergeant's last email to fiancee shames MPs who short-change our soldiers". Says the paper: "It was Jonno's love of the army—despite the lack of proper equipment and public apathy back home—that put him in that deathtrap Vector at that moment." It then adds:

But the people who should kick themselves over this eager and loyal soldier’s death were safe back home in Parliament when Jonno was blown apart. The Vector design flaws and a dangerous lack of helicopters are just two examples from an appalling catalogue of chronic equipment shortages on the Afghan front line.
That first sentence is indeed true, but incomplete. This vehicle was the ARMY choice. The got it wrong. They made the wrong choice. But the MPs are rightly targeted, as we make plain here. Particularly in the frame is the Commons Defence Committee, which has the specific brief to watch over the military.

It failed in its duty, but above all, the procurement of the Vector was a criminally stupid decision, made by Army procurement "experts" who should have known better.

But never mind, shadow defence secretary Dr Liam Fox is on the case. He declares: "The government has never invested in or procured a full range of modern vehicles which give adequate agility and protection to our armed forces."

And how many times did he complain about the Vector? It seems to us that his a only complaint was that the Vectors were not being delivered fast enough.

But, with newspapers like the NOTW around, no one will ever know any different.