Richard North of Eureferendum is nice to enough to credit this website for helping to call attention to his persistent and thought-provoking campaign to get better armor for British troops facing IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan. But along with others, we have done no more than echo North's own passionate efforts to save British soldiers' lives. Now he believes Eureferendum's campaign may be working!
A report in The Scotsman tells the tale.
"New armed vehicles saved our lives, say soldiers."
"British soldiers in Afghanistan told yesterday how they emerged unhurt after driving over landmines in new heavily armoured vehicles. Since arriving in Helmand province earlier this year the first of the fleet of Mastiffs have been through four mine strikes and 10 rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) attacks with no casualties.
Coated with layers of steel, the underside is designed in a V-shape to deflect the impact of any mine strike upwards and away from the vehicle. It played a key role in launching a push against the Taleban in the Gereshk Valley by driving through a hail of fire to deposit troops safely at a bridge.
Corporal Ben Roder, of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Tank Regiment, told how he had been in command of a Mastiff carrying a three-strong crew plus six infantry troops when they drove over a mine. "We just heard a loud explosion, it echoed around inside, the vehicle jumped a little bit in the rear," Cpl Roder, 25, from Essex, said.
Up above, Trooper Leslie Wareham, 23, from Kent, was providing top cover when the blast went off. "At first I heard an explosion... then all the dust came up in front of me. I was thrown up a little and fell into the turret," he said. "My ears were ringing, all the dismounts [infantry] were asking if I was all right. I just shook myself and said I was good to go."
Cpl Roder added: "If we had hit an anti-tank mine like that in a Scimitar you would have had three extra coffins back in the UK.""
And the Sunday Times adds:
"Richard North, an author and internet blogger who has been campaigning over the failure to invest in heavily armoured vehicles, said: "It was an incredibly crass decision to reject the (armored) RG-31 and shows yet again the MoD's knack of creating a disaster of every procurement decision."
"They looked at whether to stick with cheap, second-hand Land Rovers that were not safe for use in Iraq at that time, or buy a vehicle that would save lives. What did they do? They stuck with the Land Rovers.""
Political and media resistance was immense against properly armored vehicles. Richard North and a small number of other critics kept up the pressure for months, until the issue landed in the House of Lords, when the MSM and even the Tory Party ultimately came on board.
"... our blog, in mobilising the media, parliamentarians and allies showed what a blog can do. It was not enough and we do not lay claim to having done this all ourselves. It was truly a team effort, where the media and parliamentarians (and service personnel and their relatives) played key roles. But we are proud of what we did, even if we bear a savage hatred for those fools and knaves who still put our troops unnecessarily at risk - and for those who are indifferent to their fate."
Our congratulations to Eureferendum and Richard North --- and we sincerely hope that more properly armored vehicles will be sent to the fighting Brits very soon. Maybe the Bush Administration can reinvent Lend-Lease, and simply send whatever our forces are not using today. Or even better, there must be quite a few European armies with splendid equipment but no interest in fighting terror regimes. In that case, just send armor, mes amis.