I was struck by a report that I read in BBC News website dated Oct 31,2008, on the resignation of a British SAS Commander in Afghanistan, in protest over what he calls 'chronic underinvestment' in troops equipment. The equipment referred to by him is the British Army's Snatch Land Rover vehicle used extensively by British troops in Afghanistan, that are not designed to withstand roadside bombs.
He accused the ministers (presumably the Minister of Defence) for not heeding to his warnings about the safety of the vehicles which had caused the death from roadside bombs of four soldiers, including one female soldier recently.
I was struck because this report may have some relevance to the decision of the government to defer the purchase of new helicopters to replace the aging Nuri helicopters. Neither has anyone, be they ministers or military commanders that have spoken out to assume full responsibility, should anything untoward happens to the Nuri helicopters. I am not at all surprise that nobody would dare assume such responsibility, not even the pilots and crew that flies the Nuri helicopters. Of course, it will be too late for the pilots and crew to assume responsibility after something untoward has happened.
I am somewhat disappointed that the professionals i.e. in this instant the Chief of Air Force should have
been bold enough to demand that the government must do something now to replace the aging Nuri helicopters, within the financial affordability of the government. Keeping mute over this vital issue is not what the Armed Forces aspects of a commander, particularly one that affect the lives of troops.
The example shown by the British SAS Commander is to be learned by all commanders. And I am not implying here that the Chief of Air Force resigns over this issue, but for him to judge and think of the alternatives available to him.
It may not necessarily be 12 new Eurocopter helicopters, but maybe less of another model. And within the financial affordability of the government, the Air Force may want to change the specifications of the helicopter; maybe giving priority to search and rescue roles first and with option for modification to other roles at a later stage.
If the Air Force sees a dying need to change the Nuri helicopters (which I think is in urgent need), why not just do it, rather than wait.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION
Posted at 10.30am on Nov 1,2008