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MP's report uncovered UK failings in war

PUBLISHED: 11:19 05 November 2009 | UPDATED: 11:11 23 August 2010

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - OCTOBER 13:   Afghan soldiers are put through training exercises under the supervision of British troops at Ghar Ordoo military base, on October 13, 2009 in Herat, Herat province west of Kabul, Afghanistan. Foreign NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops across 42 countries are involved in training Afghan National Forces in the fight against the Taliban insurgency. (Photo by Majid/Getty Images)

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - OCTOBER 13: Afghan soldiers are put through training exercises under the supervision of British troops at Ghar Ordoo military base, on October 13, 2009 in Herat, Herat province west of Kabul, Afghanistan. Foreign NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops across 42 countries are involved in training Afghan National Forces in the fight against the Taliban insurgency. (Photo by Majid/Getty Images)

2009 Getty Images

THE war in Afghanistan is on the brink of failure according to a damning report by a member of the Commons Defence Select Committee. Gravesham MP Adam Holloway (pictured, inset) - a former Grenadier Guards Officer - lays out mistakes that have cost Br

THE war in Afghanistan is "on the brink of failure" according to a damning report by a member of the Commons' Defence Select Committee.

Gravesham MP Adam Holloway (pictured, inset) - a former Grenadier Guards Officer - lays out mistakes that have cost British lives in his report to the Centre for Policy Studies. It follows a leaked memo sent to him from a disgruntled MoD worker over the death of Lt Colonel Rupert Thorneloe. Colonel Thorneloe, 39, father-of-two and commander of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, died on July 1 in a roadside bomb attack in Afghanistan just weeks after updating military Top Brass about a severe shortage of helicopters. He is the highest ranking officer to die in the conflict.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown later told a press conference on July 22: "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."

Mr Holloway sits on the Defence Select Committee, whose role is to monitor and hold to account the Ministry of Defence and our armed forces.

He has also visited Afghanistan to see the conflict for himself. His latest report - In Blood Stepp'd In So Far - he accuses top ranking MOD officers of covering over the grim reality of equipment shortages.

He says: "The lack of big ticket items - helicopters, armoured vehicle fleets - has resulted in many deaths."

It reveals the MoD were given an option to provide numerous helicopters at a meeting on September 8, but was declined because "the flaw was RAF honour".

The report contains Colonel Thorneloe's grim warning to Army top brass dated June 5 which 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 [Improvised Explosive device] threat and our exposure to it."

The Colonel spells out in graphic terms how he had "virtually no" helicopters of the type needed to move troops by air rather than road, adding: "The current level of SH (support helicopter) support is therefore unsustainable."

Mr Holloway's report says that soldiers are dying in Afghanistan because lessons learnt during conflict in Northern Ireland have been forgotten, where troops were mostly banned from vehicle movement because of roadside bombs.

He said: "The reason that a blinding flash of white light from such a bomb is the last thing that 80 per cent of our dead soldiers in Helmand ever saw is because we have forgotten the lessons of South Armagh."

Mr Holloway adds: "NATO's ill-conceived operation in Afghanistan is on the brink of failure.

"Much of what NATO is doing is aggravating the problem and is making attacks on the UK more likely, not less."

He also says support among Afghan locals for UK and NATO forces has plummeted since last year.

His report blames over-

ambitious senior officers

in the MOD, the "over-keeness to please" inexperienced ministers "as a result, the most senior officers at the MOD

have sometimes looked like politicians in uniform battling to make it look business as usual when in

truth things are extremely difficult for them.

A spokeswoman for the MoD said: "We remain absolutely committed to providing our forces in Afghanistan with the best possible equipment. Our troops are as well equipped as any Armed Forces in the world - since 2003 we have invested over £4 billion on new equipment to meet the specific demands of operations, on top of the £6 billion the MoD spends annually on its forward equipment programme.

"We are making progress in Afghanistan.

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