Lt Col Rupert Thornloe memo on lack of helos in Daily Mail

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by jim30, Oct 30, 2009.

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    I think this has the potential to make a lot of people very angry indeed. The target of our anger needs to be the current incumbent of No10 - he is the man who has systematically starved us of funds for a generation. He is the man who I hold personally responsible for the death of so many of our people. He is Gordon Brown.

    Colonel foresaw his own death: His emails to MoD warned helicopter shortage would cost lives... weeks later he was dead
    By Tim Shipman, Deputy Political Editor
    Last updated at 10:04 PM on 30th October 2009
    Comments (0) Add to My Stories Damning memo: Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, the most senior casualty of the Afghan war
    The most senior soldier to be killed in Afghanistan foreshadowed his own death in a damning memo about the shortage of helicopters.
    Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe told his superiors that British troops would die because they were being forced to make trips by road.
    Less than a month later, he was blown up by a roadside bomb.
    In his final despatches to commanders in London, classified 'Nato Secret', he had dismissed helicopter operations in Afghanistan as 'not fit for purpose'.
    The leaked email, seen by the Daily Mail, dramatically undermines Gordon Brown's claims that helicopter shortages have not caused the deaths of troops fighting the Taliban.

    It amounts to a devastating condemnation from beyond the grave of Labour's stewardship of the war in Helmand province.
    Colonel Thorneloe, 39, commander of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, died with Trooper Joshua Hammond on July 1 when their convoy set off an improvised explosive device (IED) during a patrol north of the town of Lashkar Gah.

    On June 5, he had chillingly predicted the circumstances of his own death in his weekly report to the Ministry of Defence.

    Headed 'Battle Group Weekly Update', it reads: 'I have tried to avoid griping about helicopters - we all know we don't have enough.

    'We cannot not move people, so this month we have conducted a great deal of administrative movement by road. This increases the IED threat and our exposure to it.'

    Colonel Thorneloe goes on to spell out in graphic terms how he had 'virtually no' helicopters of the type which would allow him to move troops by air rather than road. He added: 'The current level of SH (support helicopter) support is therefore unsustainable.'
    Victim of a Taliban booby-trap bomb: Thorneloe with children Hannah and Sophie
    In a damning assessment of Nato operations, he concluded by saying that the system used to manage helicopter movements in Afghanistan 'is very clearly not fit for purpose'.

    He also observed that helicopter operations in Iraq 'were managed in a more flexible, efficient manner'.

    Sally Thorneloe at her husband's funeral service
    The Mail is not printing the precise details of his complaints since their publication might endanger the lives of troops still serving on the front line. But they paint a devastating portrait of an Army starved of resources.
    Another leaked report by a senior officer in Afghanistan, written on July 10, proves that the problems still persisted.
    It reads: 'Aviation has been erratic throughout this week. This has forced us to conduct more road moves than I would like. I understand the strains in the fly programme but any improvement would greatly assist.'
    The officer added that he had received just half the helicopters he had requested for operations that week. And he also complained about the 'attrition of Vikings' - armoured vehicles overused because of the helicopter shortage.
    Yet just two weeks later, on July 22 the Prime Minister insisted that soldiers had not died because of MoD penny pinching.
    He told Parliament: 'In the operations we are having at the moment it is completely wrong to say that the loss of lives has been caused by the absence of helicopters.'
    More...Poppycock! Remembrance Day collectors banned from shaking tins to avoid 'intimidating shoppers'
    Put to shame by a dead hero: Why we've got it so wrong about the Taliban

    The memos were leaked by a disgusted MoD official to Tory MP Adam Holloway, a former Grenadier Guards officer who regularly visits Afghanistan.
    In an email, the official referred to the second memo, telling the MP: 'As you can see, situation: no change, despite Rupert Thorneloe's death. Still no aviation, still unnecessary administrative road moves which are killing people.

    'Still claims by the Government that the military have got enough helicopters and all the tools they need. Lies.'

    Mr Holloway told the Mail: 'What a heart-wrenching irony it is that Colonel Thorneloe wrote those words. It must have been terrible for him as the commander of 800 men to know that their lives were being put in danger because the Government, in whose name he had taken them to war, would not spend the money to make it safer for them to move across country.'
    He added that defence chiefs 'should be ashamed - hopefully now they will at last do the right thing and get our troops off the roads and into the air where they are safer.'
    Mr Holloway has written a devastating critique of the handling of the war in a pamphlet shortly to be published by the Centre for Policy Studies think tank.
    It reveals that despite clear evidence that a shortage of helicopters is killing British troops, defence chiefs are still refusing offers to supply more.
    Lt-Col Thorneloe said British troops would die
    Only last month the Ministry of Defence turned down another offer of helicopters which could double Afghanistan flying hours for British troops fighting the Taliban. The Mail has independently confirmed that former RAF pilots offered to supply 25 helicopters within three months to back up the Chinook fleet which is stretched to breaking point.
    The deal would have cost the MoD just £7million a month - a relative drop in the ocean - but the offer was rejected because the RAF did not want to share a role with private contractors.
    Colonel Thorneloe and his widow Sally had two daughters, Hannah, four, and two-year-old Sophie. At his funeral the mourners included the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, who knew him well.
    In a statement yesterday, Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said: 'My thoughts remain with the family and friends of Lt-Col Rupert Thorneloe, who was a courageous soldier and a fine man. Our brave forces deserve the very best equipment and we remain determined to provide it.
    'We know the value of helicopters on operations, and that commanders could do more with more. That is why we have increased the numbers and types, improved engines and almost doubled flying hours. To counter the roadside bomb threat we have also been improving unmanned air surveillance.'

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  2. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    I know this might be a little out of fashion but the MoD and Service Chiefs share the blame for the lack of helicopters. The defence budget is not insignificant and relative priorities, the effect of the DIS, decisions on major equipments and general DE&S fuckwittery all share the blame for the parlous state of our rotary fleet.

    Funding is but one element and the sooner people realise this the better
  3. No 10 ain't listening, they are only interested in their own self importance and their own long term interests, there should be no apathy at the next election we all need to make sure they are voted out, it is the only option open to us.
  4. This was a very prominent feature on the 10 o'clock news on BBC1 with two photos of Thorneloe and some video footage of him: he was very sympathetically depicted.

    No link as yet, but this is obviously an important breaking story and the BEEB rightly judge that the public want answers.
  5. I did wonder how long the mail has been sitting on this, waiting to detonate with best effect. The timing is perfect - HC is just done, where the papers have rightly sought to pin the blame on Brown for funding, and in 10 days time, he is going to stand at the Cenotaph, holding a poppy, at the end of a week where he will probably have been subjected to a huge political row about Defence funding. Like I said, the timing is almost too good to be true.

    Meridian - good point, much of it is Browns fault, but the MOD isn't perfect either - our Planning Rounds have been a nightmare of late, but I think this is as much due to the sheer lack of funding we've received, as it is to poor planning and reprioritisation of the EP in general.
  6. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    Jim, I am not excusing one eye in any way because the budget is the lowest it has been for ages in relative terms and it is not like we are at war or anything is it !

    What a cnut

    However, the default seems to be 'it's all Blair/Browns' fault and not only is that lazy, unthinking journalism it is also dead wrong

    How much has the MoD spunked up the wall in the last 5 or 6 years, BILLIONS

    FRES, nearly half a billion pounds for what exactly
    Type 45

    Plus lots of smaller projects, a 10 million here, 50 million there, pretty soon you are talking real money.

    and the list goes on and on and on

    So when the MoD ask for more money one can almost for a millisecond understand the treasury saying, sorry, put your house in order first
  7. There is already enough money in the MoD budget to properly support an enduring mission in Afghanistan of 10,000 tps.

    The 'fact' that it is failing to do so adequately tells us all in VERY loud terms how far up the priority scale Afghanistan really is to HMG and many of those wearing copious quantities of scrambled eggs in the forces.
  8. a) Meeting SDR requirements for rapidly deployable intervention "forces for good".
    b) Inter-service rivalry deeming it necessary to spend as much as possible before the others get their hands on it.

    The VERY same can be said of the 'CVF Project' and Typhoon before that.

    Keeping BAe in profit.

    Keeping BAe in profit.

    Keeping BAe in profit.

    Keeping the rest of the UK defence industry in profit.

    The BIG projects only get a superficial rubber stamping from the military. The decisions have already been made for political reasons.
  9. How can you trust our government ,When they would rather save money than our soldiers lives.
    To be honest how the government can go to rememberance ceromonies and lay poppy wreaths when they have treated our armed forces with so much disrepect. makes me ill just thinking about it .
  10. I hope the late colonel's sacrifice will not be in vain.
  11. During the TA debate it came out that the MOD had spent millions on modern Art FFS, Good men dieing so the cnuts can brighten up their workspace
  12. Is this true? How can it be? Does Brown live full-time on this planet?

    Can anybody expand upon this claim? Has anyone any details?
  13. Get a Television or read Hansard FFS