Gordon Brown attacked over Forces funding By Gethin Chamberlain, Sunday Telegraph Last Updated: 11:43pm BST 25/08/2007 Gordon Brown has come under fire on both sides of the Atlantic for starving the Armed Forces of funding, leaving them struggling to fight on two fronts, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Robert Foster, Aaron McClure and John Thrumble The Prime Minister was attacked by Liam Fox, the shadow defence secretary, and a White House adviser over ten years of "underspending". He was accused of refusing to give British troops the money to defend themselves as they combat insurgents in southern Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The claims came as the three soldiers killed by a US jet in a "friendly fire" incident in Afghanistan were named as Privates Aaron McClure, Robert Foster and John Thrumble. Critics said that the men, who were hit by a 500lb bomb in Helmand, should have been protected by high-tech systems to identify them to friendly forces. Dr Fox said that cuts in defence spending demanded by the Treasury had left the Army unable to invest in equipment that could have saved the soldiers' lives. "Gordon Brown showed no interest in the Armed Forces in his time as chancellor," said Dr Fox. "We know what he thinks about casinos and cannabis but we have heard scarcely a word from him on Afghanistan. When it comes to people putting their lives on the line there is a deafening silence. advertisement "As chancellor, Gordon Brown never gave defence much priority and now the skies are black with chickens coming home to roost." Since Mr Brown became Prime Minister on June 27, 13 soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan and 15 in Iraq. Frederick Kagan, an adviser to President George W Bush and the architect of the US surge strategy in Iraq, said the special relationship between Britain and America was under threat because defence cuts had left the Army unable to sustain simultaneous operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Britain has a lot of problems, principally that their ground forces are too small and are now paying the price," Mr Kagan said. He disclosed that 3,500 US troops would have to be taken out of the surge to step into the breach when the British leave southern Iraq. "I do worry about the short-term effects on the relationship between the two countries. It will create bad feeling with American soldiers if they can't go home because the British have left." The commander of British forces in Helmand last night paid tribute to the three soldiers from 1 Bn, the Royal Anglian Regiment, who died in Thursday's blue on blue attack. Speaking in Lashkar Gar, Brig John Lorimer said that their deaths were a tragedy that had dented morale. The incident is under investigation and serving officers were at pains not to lay the blame on either the American pilots or on shortages of combat identification systems designed to reduced the chances of such tragedies. Liam Fox: 'Gordon Brown never gave defence much priority' But a powerful Commons committee and the National Audit Office have publicly condemned the Government for its failure to invest in equipment to prevent blue on blue, or friendly fire, incidents. In 2003 the public accounts committee criticised the MoD for diverting billions of pounds that should have been spent on battlefield recognition technology into other projects. In May this year, the committee's Conservative chairman, Edward Leigh, said: "At the moment, pretty well the only solution to avoid being shot at by an American aeroplane if you're in a war... is to have a great big Union Jack flying on top of your tank." An MoD spokesman said: "We take the risk of fratricide very seriously and continue to invest in combat ID technologies to help prevent it." The Government claims that defence spending has risen, but its critics say it has fallen compared with other areas. The Conservatives say that the proportion of GDP spent on defence is at its lowest since 1930. Spending on health and education has more than doubled since 1999 while defence has risen from £22 billion to £32 billion. Col Clive Fairweather, a former deputy commander of the SAS, said that it was cuts imposed by Mr Brown that had reduced the Armed Forces to having to call in the Americans when they needed close air support in Afghanistan. "It is the fault of Gordon Brown's Treasury that the Army is under-resourced," he said. "We don't have enough aircraft, troops or equipment".