Professional troops deserve a supply system to match

Share
Related Topics

Not for the first time, the voters and taxpayers of this country have reason to thank the Commons Committee of Public Accounts

Not for the first time, the voters and taxpayers of this country have reason to thank the Commons Committee of Public Accounts. Its latest report reveals a disgraceful catalogue of shortcomings in the way British troops were equipped for combat in Iraq, and it does so with exemplary clarity and conciseness - qualities not automatically associated with the politicians of today.

While the war in Iraq was, and remains, a deeply divisive issue, there are two points on which supporters and opponents of military action will probably agree. The first is that, in purely military terms, the initial operation was a spectacular success, reflecting the skill and professionalism of our military. The second is that, whatever the rights and wrongs of any war, those sent to fight for their country are entitled to be properly equipped. A government that cannot guarantee adequate supplies risks forfeiting loyalty as well as lives.

We knew, from complaints of soldiers and their families at the time, that there were serious failures in the supply system. We also knew that a shortage of body-armour led directly to the deaths of several soldiers. What emerges from the report, however, is the extent of the shortages and the fact that similar supply problems have dogged each conflict in which British troops have been engaged, from the 1991 Gulf War on. From desert boots to chemical detection kits, equipment was in short supply or defective.

This time, unusually, the problem was not one of funding. Money was, and had been, thrown at the procurement problem, including £55m spent on computerised tracking systems over 10 years. Even so, 200,000 units of body armour - life-saving equipment - were untraceable. Any supermarket chain does a better job of keeping tabs on its stock.

Unusual, too, was the role of the political climate. The sensitivity of the Iraq war, the committee found, led ministers to delay decisions on procuring equipment that should have been made much sooner. This is a salutary lesson: unpopular wars not only affect the standing and credibility of the government of the day, they can also have a direct impact on the safety of our troops.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The people of Iraq cannot be left to suffer alone

Dominik Stillhart
 

Anyone who bothers about the stones of Palmyra will also care about the souls of Tadmur

Boyd Tonkin
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable