Archive for the ‘MoD’ Category

British troops back from Afghanistan are 10 times more likely to suffer mental illness, say MOD

November 5, 2008

British troops returning from combat in Afghanistan are 10 times more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder than colleagues who stay at home.

Last year almost 4,000 military personnel were diagnosed with mental health problems including hundreds suffering from depression, mood swings, alcoholism or ‘adjustment disorders’ after serving in war zones.

By Matthew Hickley
The Mail (UK)

This is because mentally-scarred troops often suffer in silence for many years before seeking help.

Mental health statistics released by the Ministry of Defence showed 3,917 serving armed forces were assessed as having mental disorders in  2007.

While most conditions showed no significantly heightened risk for those returning from Iraq or Afghanistan, PTSD was a dramatic exception.

Officials said that while numbers of new PTSD cases were modest there was a ‘marked increase’ in the risk for those recently deployed on combat operations, accounting for 38 out of 43 of the cases recorded in the last three months of the year.

Overall those who have served in Afghanistan were more than nine times more likely to develop the crippling condition than their colleagues who have not served abroad, while for Iraq the figure was almost seven times.

While defence officials insisted the number of PTSD cases was ‘fairly low’ – with 180 servicemen and women diagnosed last year – veterans’s charities warned that the figures could be only the tip of the iceberg.

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Figures showed 3,917 new cases of armed services personnel assessed to have a mental disorder


UK Minister blasts claim that British troops in Afghanistan are not being given proper equipment as a ‘travesty of reality’

November 2, 2008

A government minister has angrily rejected claims that British troops in Afghanistan have not been given proper equipment.

Daily Mail (London)

Defence Equipment Minister Quentin Davies said SAS commander Major Sebastian Morley’s complaints were a ‘travesty’ which he found hard to take entirely seriously.

Major Morley reportedly resigned his commission in disgust following the deaths of four his soldiers who were killed when their lightly-armoured Snatch Land Rover hit a landmine in Helmand province earlier this year.

But Mr Davies suggested that such incidents could be the result of commanders on the ground sending out their troops in the wrong vehicles with the wrong equipment.

He also challenged the suggestion that Major Morley, who commanded D Squadron, 23 SAS in Afghanistan, had repeatedly raised his concerns with the Whitehall officials and senior commanders.

A British soldier in southeast Afghanistan. The head of Britain's ... 
A British soldier in southeast Afghanistan. The head of Britain’s special forces in Afghanistan has resigned, it emerged Saturday, reportedly in disgust at equipment failures that he believes led to the death of four of his troops(AFP/File/Mandel Ngan)

‘There are a couple of things that are odd about this resignation.

‘He said that he tried to alert the Ministry of Defence to the inadequacies as he saw it of his equipment,’ Mr Davies told BBC News.

‘I have asked several questions in the ministry and no one can trace any such communication from him.

‘Maybe we will come up with it but it does seem rather surprising, the whole of that aspect.’

In his resignation letter, Major Morley was said to have blamed ‘chronic under-investment’ in equipment by the MoD for the deaths Corporal Sarah Bryant – the first female soldier to die in Afghanistan – and three male colleagues, the SAS soldiers, Corporal Sean Reeve, Lance Corporal Richard Larkin and Paul Stout.

Brit SAS chief quits over ‘negligence that killed his troops’

November 1, 2008

The commander of Britain’s SAS troops in Afghanistan has resigned in disgust, accusing the Government of “gross negligence” over the deaths of four of his soldiers.

By Thomas Harding
The Telegraph
London, UK
Major Sebastian Morley claims that Whitehall officials and military commanders repeatedly ignored his warnings that people would be killed if they continued to allow troops to be transported in the vulnerable Snatch Land Rovers.

As a result, he says Cpl Sarah Bryant – the first female soldier to die in Afghanistan – and three male colleagues, the SAS soldiers, Cpl Sean Reeve, L/Cpl Richard Larkin and Paul Stout were killed needlessly.

All four died when their lightly armoured Snatch Land Rover split apart after hitting a landmine in Helmand province in June.

In his resignation letter, Major Morley, the commander of D Squadron, 23 SAS, said “chronic underinvestment” in equipment by the Ministry of Defence was to blame for their deaths.

The Old Etonian officer, a cousin to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, is understood to have described the MoD’s failure to buy better equipment as “cavalier at best, criminal at worst”. The resignation of Major Morley, the grandson of the newspaper tycoon Lord Beaverbrook, follows those of Col Stuart Tootal, Brig Ed Butler and a commanding officer of 22 SAS.

“We highlighted this issue saying people are going to die and now they have died,” said a soldier who served with Major Morley. “Our commanding officer and RSM (Regimental Sergeant Major) tried everything in their power to stop us using Snatch. The point of failure here lies squarely with the MoD.

“The boys nicknamed Snatch the mobile coffin.”

The resignation of Major Morley will reignite the debate on the standard of equipment for troops, with many front line soldiers believing that their lives are being put at risk.

In recent weeks the MoD has been criticised by coroners who said the right equipment could have saved lives.

The frailties of Snatch Land Rovers have been responsible for 34 British fatalities – or one in eight of the total killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are only now being replaced.

The reservists of 23 SAS were first asked to send a squadron of about 100 men to Helmand in Afghanistan because the regular soldiers of 22 SAS were severely stretched in Iraq. Their mission was to supervise elite elements of the Afghan police.

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Above: Snatch vehicles

Chinese hackers targeted British government too – report

September 5, 2007

London – Chinese computer specialists, some thought to be from the military, have been attacking computer networks of British government departments, the Guardian newspaper reported Wednesday.The report follows allegations that China’s military hacked into a computer network of the Pentagon in Washington, a charge rejected as “groundless” by the government in Beijing.

According to the Guardian, hackers, some believed to be from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, hit the network at the Foreign Office in London as well as those in other key government departments.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) to say whether it had been hit, added the Guardian. It recalled an incident last year that shut down part of the House of Commons (parliament) computer system. After it was initially believed that an individual was responsible, it was later discovered to be the work of an organized Chinese hacking group, officials told the newspaper.

While security and defence officials are “coy” about what they knew of specific attacks, one expert described it as a “constant ongoing problem.”

China denies hacking Pentagon