The Borrowers and the Flintstones

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Troops 'not ready for war'
By Keith Dovkants in Camp Eagle, Kuwait, and Charles Reiss, Evening Standard
7 March 2003
British soldiers preparing for war in the Gulf say they are underfed and ill-equipped.

The Americans have labelled them "The Borrowers" and "The Flintstones" because of their lack of key supplies, it emerged today. Soldiers who could be fighting Saddam Hussein within days say they still want for a whole range of necessitiesincluding proper clothing, vehicles and guns, forcing them to go cap-in-hand to US colleagues. Some even claimed to have no respirators to protect against chemical attack.

They were derided by Army commander General Sir Michael Jackson, in Kuwait today, who said his troops were ready for war, with the logistics operation in place within the next five days. "I am a little concerned it might be too comfortable," he added.
That was not the picture painted by the complaints which poured into the BBC from soldiers and their families today.

One Royal Marine commando, who has also served in Kosovo and Sierra Leone, sent an email saying that food supplies were still short and that weapons and other key equipment - from desert boots to life-saving camouflage for vehicles - had still not arrived. He went on: "Scrounging everything from the Americans. As it stands, people here will die."

Other servicemen, resurrecting a complaint which first surfaced weeks ago, have had to buy their own boots.

Complaints about shortcomings in the massive supply operation surrounding the troop build-up in the Gulf region first started some weeks ago, but were dismissed as teething problems by the Ministry of Defence. Yesterday Tony Blair called the complaints "misleading and irresponsible", while the MoD claimed early difficulties had been sorted out. But today the BBC said it had received more than 50 examples from families, only minutes after broadcasting an item on the subject.

One demanded: "The American troops refer to our troops as the Flintstones - how shameful is that, Mr Blair?" Another said: "My daughter tells me she has rice three times a day. The Americans call them The Borrowers. She says they (the Americans) have burger bars, Pizza Huts and shops. We have nothing."

General Jackson, Britain's most senior soldier, scorned suggestions that soldiers were poorly supplied and equipped. Asked about the conditions, he said: "If anything I am a little concerned it might be too comfortable," but added: "That was tongue-in-cheek. If they are required to do a dangerous job, they will do it."

Asked about complaints of lack of lavatory paper he retorted: "Any soldier who doesn't have a loo roll in his Bergen (pack) is not a very good soldier." A minority of the BBC messagesbacked the General's view. A veteran of the last Gulf war voiced agreement with Mr Blair, saying: "It is the nature of Tommy Atkins to swap (not necessarily scrounge) kit; it is also his prerogative to complain, but not to bleat to mummy."

The General was visiting men of the Royal Irish Regiment and other elements of 16 Air Assault Brigade, presently training at Camp Eagle in northern Kuwait.

He was asked about anxieties some soldiers have expressed about their ability to cope in case of war, and he said: "It's always difficult for families back home and we are in a period of uncertainty. Things will become clearer over time - hang on in there." He said Britain's soldiers had been properly trained and equipped to deal with the threat of nuclear or chemical attack. He said: "We are well prepared in terms of training and defensive equipment.

General Jackson, flying into the Kuwaiti desert in a sandstorm, told British troops: "If it's today - it's good to go." That brought a rapid note of caution from Downing Street, where Tony Blair's spokesman said: "As I am sure he fully acknowledges, the decision whether troops are ready is one thing. The decision as to their use is another."  


War Hero
Yes it is sad that the yanks may use derogatory remarks reference Brit Kit.

It is distasteful that a Government that sings praises about an institution (whilst historically despising in it) and under funding it

Now uses for politics.

Fortunetely Tommy Atkins cares naught for politics.

Lack of kit  makes our soldiers hardier, F##k all that pizza bar nonsense.

It does Chris.....
But how fcuking hard do you want them without personal weapons ,desert uniforms, NBC ensembles S10's and Boots?

I know it's not as bad as that, but why the hell are the troops having to rely on a rolling resupply?

Let me guess, the Government committed us to this, without looking at QM's returns? Oh sorry, they couldn't could they, because the supplier, with a history of cockups around software contracts screwed the really important one as well?

Maybe they'll learn something from this? That something should be, a well planned welfare package keeps troop  morale up.


Perhaps the current government do despise the armed forces.  But this is nothing new.  I remember a government that planned a series of rash defence cuts announced 22 years ago that resulted in a nasty little war in the Falklands 21 years ago.  They then spent the next 8 years actually bringing about most of those cuts by stealth.  There were also the same government who leaked to the press a story about a senior RAF officer wasting money on his official residence.  His career ended in disgrace after 34 years honourable service.  Oh and why did they leak the story to the press?  Because they wanted to create the perception that the armed forces were wasteful ahead of another round of defence cuts.

I’m not making a party political point here, but a more general one.  In a democracy that’s how governments, rightly (because they have the moral authority of being elected, we do not), treat the military.


Troops that whinge to mummy need to take a reality pill.  Its time to stop comparing our 'lot" with the spams, who are a bunch of over regulated and pampered milk-sops anyway, and get down to it; prep for war-fighting ops.  

I am quite sure there is a minority of Tps not fully satisfied with their Sup situation, but I am also sure they are in the minority.  

General Jacko is right, soldiers need to be a wee bit more self-reliant and realise that they are preparing for war, not a PSO in the Balkans which most of our current crop of "bright young things" are basing their expectations on.  There will be cock-ups and you will from time to be eating Dry Rations for a time, so what, stop whinging, our Grandads all spent years away on proper ops in WW1 and WW2 without half the stuff we have at our disposal.

So, before writing home to mummy etc, lets take a deep breath, think what's really important to sustaining you, expect the worst, make do with what you're given and support one another.

PS: keep the carping till after, and through the chain of command.

Good luck to all out there, no matter what the current pol view is of the "rightness" of this war.  the great british public loves their armed forces and will stick by you.


What planet are you on toptotty?

You need to wake up and smell the coffee. Either you are not hearing things straight from the horses mouth or you are as inciteful as you seem arrogant.

How dare you talk about bright young things in such as condescending and offensive manner. Don't you know that there are many men serving over there who have been in the army for a very very long time and find this deployment a very negative experience.

You make reference to not saying anything until they get back, well lets face it, without some of the kit they are waitng for, they'll be bloody lucky to get back. The phrase "standing out like a sore thumb" springs to my mind!!

If you would like to stoop low enough to tell me to get back to my sink, please do. But I will point out now. the British Public is not behind the men, it also does not love them - unfortunately. Like you they have a very selective memory....

I think the British people will get right behind the guys and girls on the ground, as soon as the first round goes downrange.

It's just for the first time, I think what we'll see, is a British public supporting their forces, whilst not supporting the government.

And if they don't? Then we'll just have to get very very vocal in support of our loved ones, or really good mates, who are currently kebabside.

The families, who have brought up the situation about kit shortages etc, are just as supportive of our people, as the rest of us. They just want them home and safe. They want to be sure, they have everything they need.

Everything they need, is not Playstation II and Pizza Hut, but it is the right kit to perform the task in hand. I notice a report in the Sunday Times, that an armed forces minister says "We are sharing a supply chain with the Americans" Does anyone know what this means? Letters from home, are not a "luxury" They are regarded, and have been for a very very long time, as critical to a units morale.

I'd just like to know, if all the CIS promised by Geoff Hoon, have actually been delivered and fitted now?


PTP - I hope you are right in what you say about public support, I really do.

You are also bang on when you talk about mail and morale boosts.

Lets just hope that it hurries up, so we can all get through it, over it and on with life again - eg:Op Fresco and other fitting ops (that was said with my tongue firmy fitted in my cheek!)
Ever thought of running for Parliament Lucy? lol

Muttley, I think we have a winner :)


Nah, parliament is full of graduates who have never experienced life. Bit like officers - oops, that was my turrets again.


Dear Lucy,

You are indeed entitled to your opinion, and please do not prejudge my response with the "sink" remarks.  I think these things need to be placed in the correct perspective, which they are.  In my experience, 24 years and still counting, many gripes do tend to be overstated at times in the Army.  i am quite sure all that needs to be in pplace will be in place.

The British public do have selective memory syndrome,  but fortunately it is usually all good as far as HM forces are concerned.  You are way off the mark if you think otherwise.  Do not confuse public concerns with the government's decisions on war with the attitude to tommy Atkins et al.


I won't stoop to any personal tirade against you or any other.


Message to Tony Blair

Stop plagarising me posts bloke :)

Quote on the Trevor McDonald programme last night

"I believe the British Public will support our forces, even if they can't support the Government"


The crux of the problem is one of perceptions.

Perceptions of firstly those at home who are wholely influenced by the media.  They have shown the burger bars and moderate comfort of the yanks, which contrasts poorly with "Tommy Atkins" who is still there in his green CS 95 and not fully prepared for the desert.  (We have after all trained for war in Europe not the desert (less for Ex SS last year)).  The troops are hardly whinging to mummy they merely tell the truth of what living conditions are actually like, which would never make the News at Six due to censorship.

Secondly there are the perceptions of the troops themselves.  Why the hell should we not have isssued two sets of dessert cam gear for when we deploy to these climes?  Why the hell should we not expect to be fed decent meals?  Why the hell shold we not expect to have decent kit that works preferably before we deploy?  

And finally there are the perceptions of the politicains and generals.  Who the hell advises them?  Call me naive but I cannot believe that both Hoon and Ingram would blatantly lie about the conditions that the troops are living in and regarding any logistical problems that have occurred.  Perhaps senior generals are too worried about their knighthood and their MAs about their next OJAR grading to tell the truth?

When will the powers that be realise that while our soldiers could be a first class Army, we are now a second class Army solely due to the lack of supplies and ability to get them in the right place at the right time.  The DLO has much to answer for "just enough just in time" may work for Tescos but it has no place in expeditionary warfare...


Toptotty, whilst I respect your 24 years and all that comes with it, I actually work in a civillian and a military capacity, this involves me coming across all sorts of people. Although I wish I was wrong, people really don't seem to be supportive at all and what keeps popping up are the they've been trained for it and queen shillin remarks, rightly so when I think about it. But the support I have witnessed with Macedonia, Op Paletine and other "stuff" is just not there - honestly!

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