Sunday, March 8, 2009

Ex-SAS chief in Afghanistan slams 'worthless' war

The Ministry of Defence admits the Snatch Land Rover is 'not suitable for high-risk environments'

7th March 2009

A former SAS commander in Afghanistan has claimed the Government had 'blood on its hands' over the 'unnecessary deaths' of four soldiers killed when their Snatch Land Rover hit a roadside bomb.

Major Sebastian Morley reportedly said Whitehall officials and military commanders repeatedly ignored his warnings troops would be killed if they continued to use the 'unsafe' vehicles. The 40-year-old resigned following the death of Corporal Sarah Bryant, the first female soldier to die in Afghanistan, and three of her male colleagues. Speaking for the first time since he stepped down, Major Morley accused Quentin Davies, the Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, of telling an 'unacceptable lie' in the wake of the deaths, that commanders had a choice of vehicles to use. And, speaking for the first time since he stepped down, he added that operations in Afghanistan were 'worthless' and likened the situation to the Vietnam war. He said: 'I had to resign. I had warned (the MoD) time and time again that there were going to be needless deaths if we were not given the right equipment, and they ignored this advice. There is blood on their hands.'

Major Morley said he was outraged by Mr Davies' suggestion, made shortly after his resignation was made public, that commanders had a choice of vehicles to use. Mr Davies said: 'Obviously, there may be occasions when, in retrospect, a commander chose the wrong piece of equipment, the wrong vehicle, for the particular threat that the patrol, or whatever it was, encountered and we had some casualties as a result.'

Mr Davies later said he had not meant to cause offence by his comments. But Major Morley told the Daily Telegraph: 'A Government minister is on record telling a lie about four deaths, and this is unacceptable. For him to reverse his position now is too little too late. To accuse an operational commander of having a choice, and for that man to have made a choice that led to death, is to accuse him of negligence. 'There was no other vehicle to use. The simple truth is that the protection on these vehicles is inadequate and this led to the unnecessary deaths.'

The grandson of the late newspaper tycoon Lord Beaverbrook, who was educated at Eton, said SAS soldiers under his command had nicknamed the Snatch the 'mobile coffin'. He predicted that the conflict in Afghanistan would escalate, saying: 'This is the equivalent to the start of the Vietnam conflict, there is much more to come.

'We hold tiny areas of ground in Helmand and we are kidding ourselves if we think our influence goes beyond 500 metres of our security bases. It's just crazy to think we hold that ground or have any influence on what goes on beyond the bases.

'We go out on operations, have a punch-up with the Taliban and then go back to camp for tea. We are not holding the ground. The Taliban know where we are. They know full well when we have gone back into camp.'

No comments: