Monday 6 April 2009

Boys and their toys

"With a barrage of ear-shattering bangs, the British Army showed off the full array of firepower it has at its disposal during a Land Combat Power Display on Salisbury Plain last week."

That is the current offering from the MoD website, under the heading: "Army shows off its firepower", describing in near lyrical terms how:

With Guns N' Roses music coming from loud speakers in the grandstand, out came the Armoured Fighting Vehicles. Skidding around in the gravel with their drivers encased within their heavily armoured bodies so that no human presence was visible, the vehicles looked like Transformers from another planet as their gun turrets menacingly surveyed the audience and the undercarriages danced around in a mechanical ballet.
The demonstration culminated in a display, "to the music of 80s TV show Airwolf", as:

… an Apache attack helicopter descended in front of the grandstand before most of the audience jumped out their skins as a Tornado jet screeched across the skies from behind, dropping its explosive payload onto the hills and sending shock waves heavenwards.
Thus we are told, "the combined use of all this equipment during the final live ammunition 'attack' on enemy compounds was ferocious and frightening, as well as deafening!" And, of course, this "attack" was completely successful, as they always are against a compliant, hypothetical enemy in front of an invited audience in Salisbury Plain.

Meanwhile, in the real world, the Taleban has unveiled its new bomb detonator, which is cunningly defeating all known counter-measures. It is constructed of string and a wooden clothes peg. This has US Gen Thomas Metz admitting frustration at being forced to build "million-dollar solutions to $100 problems." That's just isn't smart business, he fumes.

Back on Fantasy Island, the MoD has invoked that great military authority, Trooper James Hawley, to talk up the Jackal (only 18 plus destroyed so far). Hawley was deployed to Helmand last year where he went out on reconnaissance patrols for up to three weeks at a time using Jackal vehicles. He tells us, courtesy of the MoD spin machine:

The Jackal is an awesome bit of kit. The speed and ground you can cover makes it ideal for reconnaissance. You can only have so much protection before you loose manoeuvrability but they do offer a lot of protection.
Doubtless, next year, the MoD will be able to get another obedient Trooper to enthuse about the wonderful Husky, again telling us that "you can only have so much protection".

That MoD kit so often comes with free body parts, however, is something they are less keen to tell us. Still, if you play Guns N' Roses music loud enough, no one will hear the screams.