By Rory Reynolds
THE HEAD of the British Army General Sir Richard Dannatt yesterday (mon) vowed to deliver swift retribution to sneak bombers who attack UK soldiers with deadly booby traps in Afghanistan.
He called for his troops to be given better “technical” equipment to locate the devices and catch those responsible in the act so they can be eliminated.
General Dannatt has been forced to endure reports of death and injuries inflicted on those under his charge by so called IEDs – Improvised Explosive Devices – many of which are packed with nails and shrapnel to cause horrific injuries.
And, with the death toll of British troops standing at 204, the Chief of the General Staff issued one of his most robust messages of the bloody campaign so far.He said: “We have to make sure we have got the right people and the right number of boots on the ground to hold the areas we clear – so that we can persuade the Afghan people there is a better life than being under the Taleban.”
“IEDs are a critical issue at the moment.
“We need more technical equipment to have 24/7 surveillance and the ability to target these people and kill them, if necessary, when they are laying these devices.”
Unmanned drones capable of launching surgical strikes, radio frequency jammers and the ability to eavesdrop on enemy communications are just some of the armoury that could be deployed to help bolster the front line.
He refused to be drawn on any support for Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth’s comments about pulling out of Afghanistan within 12 months, adding: “I’m not interested in a debate about whether the Secretary of State meant to say a year or two or three or four years.
“Our interests are all about generating the Afghan national forces as quickly as we can.
“In my view it’s a handful of years and the less the better.”
“I haven’t heard those comments being made.
“The realistic assessment is that we need to keep the level of forces we have until the Afghans can take over.
He added: “It’s their country – it’s up to them to provide the security of their own country and for the international community to go on building and providing development where we can.
“We’ll do the job while we have to.
“But it’s up to the Afghans to do it for themselves as quickly as they can.”
General Dannatt – who was awarded the Military Cross at the age of 22 while serving in Northern Ireland – made the comments on a visit to open the first purpose built veteran’s rehabilitation centre to treat casualties from military operations.
It was built as a joint operation between the Ministry of Defence, Erskine veterans’ charity and Help for Heroes.
Under-Secretary of State for Defence Kevan Jones, who was also on the visit, said successful elections were essential for Afghanistan to avoid becoming a failed state.
He said: “Once the security is in place, we can start to create sustainable economic and other developments.
“Hopefully by early next year the situation will have improved for the creation of Afghan forces – it’s essential that security there has an Afghan face.”