Army families lose fight for inquiry into deaths (UK)
Westminster An appeal by Armed Forces families for a public inquiry into the deaths of 37 service personnel killed by roadside explosions in Iraq and Afghanistan while travelling in lightly armoured Snatch Land Rovers has been rejected.
Mr Hutton said the military advice was that the use of such vehicles was still justified, despite claims that they fail to withstand blasts from bombs and landmines. "Snatch remains essential to the success of our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan," he told MPs in a written statement. A public inquiry, he added, was inappropriate and unnecessary.
The Ministry of Defence has ordered 700 better-protected vehicles and the number of Snatches has been reduced from nearly 600 in the two countries to just under 200.
Lieutenant-General Nick Houghton, chief of joint operations, acknowledged that more soldiers had been killed in incidents involving Snatches than any other vehicle. Mr Hutton rejected their complete withdrawal in favour of heavier armoured troop-carriers, saying that these were not suitable for all missions, particularly where the object was to win "hearts and minds".
Liam Fox, the Shadow Defence Secretary, said that troops were being put at unnecessary risk and called it "a national disgrace".
Von: 17.12.2008, Michael Evans, www.timesonline.co.uk