Delay in armoured vehicle provision for troops

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British troops in Afghanistan will not have the number of armoured vehicles needed until the end of next year.

Although armour providing greater protection such as the Warthog, Ridgeback and Husky are being introduced as part of a £ 700m package the expansion in the size of the force means a timegap in the delivery of the vehicles, senior officers acknowledged today.

It will be Spring next year before enough vehicles are provided for the force which previously stood at 8,100 personnel. But the numbers were increased six months ago to 9,000 leading to the need for more vehicles. A further rise to 10,000, the choice of defence chiefs, would mean an even bigger ‘armour’ gap, stretching into 2011.

Brigadier Gordon Messenger, commander of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, in charge of British troops in Helmand earlier this year said that the gap between troop numbers and the armoured vehicles they need to protect them on operations is one of the “constraining factors” being faced in the conflict.

However, Brigadier Messenger added that commanders were able to complete missions successfully by juggling assets and the new equipment being sent would be hugely beneficial for operations.

Brigadier Kevin Abraham, head of joint capability at the Ministry of Defence responsible for delivering armoured vehicles to Afganistan, said “ Vehicles for the force of 8,100 will not all be in theatre until the spring of 2010, and the vehicles for the current force of 9,000 will not be delivered until the end of next year…. Orders for new vehicles and training programmes for drivers were completed as rapidly as possible.”