Surge and Destroy

From The Sunday Times
July 5, 2009
New British and US strategy to break Taliban
Michael Smith, Sarah Baxter and Jerome Starkey in Kabul
In the baking heat and dust of Afghanistan last week Lieutenant-Colonel Rupert Thorneloe was heading into hostile territory to check on his men engaged in a big operation against the Taliban.

He was riding in the front passenger seat of a Viking BVS10, a tracked vehicle with two cabins, originally designed for Arctic combat. The air-conditioning is poor and the armour not much better. Vikings are protected on the upper side but vulnerable to bombs exploding below.

In other circumstances, Thorneloe, a senior officer with 1,000 men under his command, would have travelled by helicopter; but it appears none was available (though yesterday the Ministry of Defence declined to confirm or deny this).

“He wanted to get up among his boys at the first possible opportunity,” said an MoD spokesman. “A resupply convoy was going up there and he hitched a lift on that.” The commander, he said, wanted to “get the lie of the land” in the offensive against insurgents.
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