Tuesday, December 1, 2009
By Bob Roberts , Mirror
Vital equipment to help our troops defeat the Taliban is now available, the MoD announced yesterday.
Defence secretary Bob Ainsworth said Merlin helicopters, mine protection vehicles and body armour are all ready for action.
It paves the way for an extra 500 British troops to be sent to Afghanistan this month.
Gordon Brown insisted the kit be in place as one of three conditions before deploying more troops.
Yesterday he confirmed all those had now been met. The move will boost the frontline total to 9,500 but the Prime Minister also revealed 500 elite SAS, SBS and Special Reconnaissance Regiment troops have already been sent out to target insurgents. It means Britain's force will be around 10,000 by the end of the year.
President Obama, who held a video conference with Mr Brown, is today expected to announce he will send an extra 30,000 US troops. And with eight other countries said to be offering another 5,000, Mr Ainsworth said: "It'll give them (our soldiers) the density they need to really take on the insurgents."
At a training facility in Norfolk, yesterday he disclosed a fleet of Merlin helicopters are on operations a month ahead of schedule. He said there are "almost twice as many" mine protection vehicles now with new tactical support vehicles complementing 5,000 sets of lighter Osprey body armour.