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Saturday 31 October 2009

Chopper Cropper – 6

The Afghan helicopter ruckus had quietened down recently, but expect things to kick off again in short order following the revelation that a senior officer killed recently by yet another Taliban Improvised Explosive Device (IED) had pointed out a shortage before his death.

Officer casualties are relatively rare. This isn’t a selfish thing: if the men in theatre lose their commander, the consequences can be disastrous. L/Col Rupert Thorneloe had been in an armoured vehicle when an IED was detonated close by, and it must have been a large one to penetrate the vehicle sufficiently to kill two of the men travelling in it.

Thorneloe was apparently explicit in his assertion that there were not enough helicopters available to move men around, and that he didn’t have access to any of them. The nature of journalism being what it is, after all the coverage of this issue back in August along with the subsequent arguments, the story dropped off the radar, so it’s not clear how the situation is right now.

The armed forces have been hiring helicopters, some of which are Russian built, but whether they are being used to ferry troops is unclear. There may also be more of our own machines in theatre. But one thing is certain: there will still be another round of arguments – expect this to feature in tomorrow morning’s Andy Marr Show.

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