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Extra choppers in Afghanistan -would be “more tactically effective” for UK forces

Saturday, August 29th 2009 - 09:43 UTC
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Straight forward comments from Brigadier Tim Radford Straight forward comments from Brigadier Tim Radford

The commander of British forces in Afghanistan has said an increase in the number of helicopters would make the military effort “more tactically effective”. Brigadier Tim Radford said while there had been enough aircraft for the Operation Panther's Claw offensive, any commanding officer “would like more”.

But he added he was “realistic” about the speed with which extra helicopters could be deployed.

His comments came as the new head of the Army, General Sir David Richards, pledged to focus his attention on the battle with the Taliban.

Brig Radford said: “I had enough helicopters to do what I wanted on Operation Panther's Claw ... but ask any commander and they will tell you they would like more. More helicopters would certainly make us more tactically effective but I am realistic about the timelines required to deliver them to theatre.”

The brigadier was asked whether he endorsed former head of the Army Sir Richard Dannatt's call for more unmanned drones, which can spot where the Taliban have laid roadside bombs. He said: “Anything that is going to provide situational awareness for my soldiers is of benefit.”

He said his men have fought with resilience and fortitude in a war which has claimed 207 UK lives.

“Every loss we feel deeply in a very close-knit Task Force but morale has never wavered because the soldiers are well led at every level,” he said. ”They understand why they are here and they believe over the course of the summer that they have put the Taliban on the back foot. The British Army will remain here as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for as long as it takes to do the job and for as long as the Afghans want us to be here.“

Gen Richards, in his first day as Chief of the General Staff, said: ”As part of the Defence team, I will continue to focus on what is needed to meet the Government's aims in Afghanistan and the region, and ensuring the Army achieves the tasks laid upon it.“

Meanwhile, the mother of a serving soldier revealed she has spent more than £1,000 on extra kit for her son to supplement what she claims is insufficient army equipment. Lorna Daniel, 52, has sent items including a high-quality sleeping bag, vests, gloves, torches and ”dozens” of socks to son Paul, 29. Among the costlier items his parents have supplied is a pair of boots costing £280, rushed to him after his Army issues dissolved in the Iraq heat six years ago. Corporal Daniel, 29, of the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, is now in Afghanistan after previous tours of Northern Ireland and Iraq.

Categories: Politics, International.

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