A Whitehall report on the state of the British army’s operational forces in the event of desert combat has issued a scathing attack which would place a question mark over any British involvement in a war against Iraq.
The report proves that certain military equipment is inadequate for the task of desert combat. At 45 degrees Celsius, air filters melted in vehicles, rendering them useless. The SA-8= rifle jammed consistently. Military boots melted. 45% of the Lynx helicopters were placed out of action after a few hours.
The four-million USD Chieftain tanks did not operate because their sand filters, costing some 300 USD, were insufficient in number and the AS-90 Self-Propelled Gun suffered from similar problems.
The Clansman radio system broke down, as in Kosovo, when the British soldiers and officers contacted each other on their cellular phones, for which they had paid for roaming contracts out of their own pockets.
The Whitehall report is based on military exercises in Oman in 2001 and is welcomed by the government as an important learning curve.
John ASHTEAD PRAVDA.Ru London United Kingdom
The choice of the city of Helsinki is not incidental as the capital of Finland had hosted US-Soviet negotiations on the limitation of nuclear stockpiles in 1969