Public blames casualties in Afghanistan on poor equipment,

From The Times
July 22, 2009
Public blames casualties in Afghanistan on poor equipment, poll shows
Peter Riddell

The Government is losing the public debate over Afghanistan because two thirds of voters think that British soldiers have been killed or injured as a direct result of being poorly equipped, according to a poll.

The Populus survey for The Times, undertaken over the weekend, also found that two thirds of those polled believe that British troops should be withdrawn either now (34 per cent) or within the next year (33 per cent). Only 29 per cent say that they should stay until the situation in Afghanistan becomes stable, even if it takes many years.

These ominous findings for the Government come after a soaring casualty rate and some bitter parliamentary exchanges about the quantity and quality of equipment available in Afghanistan, especially the number of helicopters.

Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, insists in an interview with Tribune, the left-wing weekly magazine, that “the Army has said this is what we want in terms of troops and equipment and we have provided that and financed it”.

Of those questioned, 67 per cent believe that British soldiers have died or been injured because of inadequate equipment. Only 25 per cent disagree. Moreover, 64 per cent believe that Britain’s troops are either quite badly or very badly equipped to fight in Afghanistan.
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