The Right Honorable Member for Kirkaldy and Cowdenbeath and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown, PhD, MP, today:
The Prime Minister went on to defend himself against charges that the government failed to provide an alternative to the lightly armoured Snatch Land Rover, which is now being phased out. Mr Brown said that it was only belatedly clear that Snatch Land Rovers would be unsuitable as insurgents turned to the use of roadside bombs.
However, from Hansard:
Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, we on these Benches, too, extend our condolences to the family of the soldier killed in Afghanistan yesterday. Our thoughts at this time are also with the two soldiers who were seriously injured yesterday, and we wish them a speedy recovery. I thank the Minister for his reply and understand completely that any answer that he gives must not prejudice troop protection, but the Snatch Land Rover is not remotely adequate for patrolling areas where insurgents use landmines. Can the Minister assure the House that the Government will provide our soldiers with equipment that is fit for this role? What assessment have the Government made of the RG-31 which, with its V-shaped undercarriage, has a greater resilience to IEDs and which the Americans have bought in large numbers just for this role?
Lord Drayson: My Lords, I do not accept that Snatch Land Rovers are not appropriate for the role.
Mr. Ruffley: Nearly a quarter of the British soldiers lost in hostile action in Iraq were in Snatch Land Rovers at the time. Those vehicles are widely recognised to be inadequately armoured to withstand roadside bombs, and are consequently seen as a soft target for insurgents. In the interests of preventing unnecessary deaths, will the Secretary of State tell us which specific vehicles he is considering deploying as replacements for Snatch Land Rovers in Iraq?
Dr. Fox: Clearly, there is an increased risk. Lord Drayson told the other place recently that in Iraq, the Snatch Land Rover “provides the mobility and level of protection that we need.”— [ Official Report, House of Lords, 12 June 2006; Vol. 12, c. 2.] Fusilier Gordon Gentle was killed by a road-side bomb way back in June 2004, and since then other soldiers have been killed who would have survived if they had been in properly armed vehicles. Snatch Land Rovers do not offer the level of protection that our troops need in Iraq, yet we continue to use them. Why are our troops not given the level of protection that they need, and which American troops already enjoy? Commanders cannot deploy vehicles that they do not have.
I'm sorry if I seem to have it in for the 'Honorable' gentleman, but he is clearly a lying ratbag.
(H/t Iain Dale for the quotes)