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AFGHANISTAN – THE PAIN CONTINUES

02 Sep 06. What started as an Humanitarian Effort to support the agriculture communities of Afghanistan to wean them off dependence on opium production has grown into a full gown ground war with e accompanying casualties and tragedies. When will this Government and Tony Blair in particular ever learn to supply our troops with the proper equipment to do the job required. Humanitarian efforts require different and less military hardware than hill fighting with bands of nomadic terrorists who know the ground intimately. Tony Blair has waged war more than any other UK Premier, making this his tenth war since entering office.

The tragic loss of an RAF Nimrod announced yesterday is a case in point and we send our condolences to all the families concerned. Whilst an Inquiry into Afghan crash begins it is worth pointing out that this aircraft an RAF Nimrod MR2 was designed for high-level surveillance not low-level support of troops in a role previously handled by the venerable Canberra, recently taken out of service. (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.8 ISSUE 28, 16 July 2006, Canberra PR9: Disposal).

The BBC reported that an investigation has begun to find out why an RAF plane crashed in southern Afghanistan, killing 14 UK forces personnel on board. The Nimrod MR2 reconnaissance aircraft came down near the city of Kandahar. It is believed a technical fault was to blame for the loss of the plane, which came from RAF Kinloss in Moray. The Nimrod fault probably occurred at low level and the crew was unable to prevent the crash given that the design of the Nimrod for loitering at high levels does not allow for low-level emergency actions at what was probably less than cruising speed. This is purely speculation on our part.

Could this action spur the deployment of the first ASTOR Sentinel aircraft recently delivered to the RAF? The Army is desperately short of ISTAR assets hence the UOR for Predator B UAVs and a Watchkeeper interim buy.

U.K. Defence Secretary Des Browne paid tribute to those who had died and dismissed claims by the Taleban that militia had shot down the plane.

He said: “The Taleban regularly make claims which we know to be untrue and I think in this case, this is instructive of the nature of their dishonesty.” He called the crash “dreadful, shocking news”, saying that the priority was to help the families of those who had died. It was not enemy fire that brought the plane down, it was equipment malfunction

Twelve RAF personnel, a Royal Marine and an Army soldier were on board the plane. The next of kin have been informed of the tragedy. Mr Browne added: “In Afghanistan, we have secured the site and the investigation has begun.

“I can confirm that the indications both before the crash and since suggest that this has been a dreadful, tragic accident.” Patrick Mercer, the Conservative spokesman on Homeland Security, said British forces in Afghanistan needed to be better equipped if the campaign was to be successful.

Major Luke Knittig, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), said the aircraft, which had been acting in a support role to the Nato-led force battling the Taleban, had made an emergency call shortly before it disappeared. Coalition helicopters were reportedly seen flying to the scene of
the crash, about 20 km (12 miles) west of the city of Kandahar.

Defence analyst Dr Alexandra Ashbourne said the investigation into why the plane went down would focus on a number of areas.

“It was not enemy fire that brought the plane down, it was equipment malfunction,” she said. “It is normally a very safe plane but something catastrophic has clearly happened.”

Aviation journalist, Jim Ferguson, said the reconnaissance planes had been operating in and around the country for some time.

“It is used a lot for search and rescue and it may well be doing other interest

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