http://www.thisislondon.com/news/articles/3723939?source=Evening%20Standard 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."