'Snatch' vehicles putting troops' lives at risk

November 24, 2008 3:10 PM

CHELTENHAM Liberal Democrat MP Martin Horwood is to contact the Ministry of Defence again on behalf of a Cheltenham family whose son is on patrol in Afghanistan. Martin was first contacted by the family three years ago to protest at how vulnerable the so-called 'snatch' land-rovers are to roadside bombs. Three years on, the family have received a telephone call from their son revealing his resignation at the continued use of these poorly-protected vehicles.

Martin raised the issue with the Ministry of Defence three years ago and the issue has since been taken up by more and more politicians and by the media. Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg highlighted the issue again in a speech this summer to foreign policy institute Chatham House. The government have finally pledged to replace the vehicles but the situation on the ground is that they are still in use.

Out of respect for their son's wishes, the family have chosen to remain anonymous.

In the telephone call, their son said: "if we hit a mine, the driver and commander are dead, no doubt about it".

His father commented: "Complaints have been made by the troops using these vehicles but three years after my first complaint these death-traps are still being used. Even the press have reported their nickname - 'mobile coffins'."

He went on: "My son is out on patrol tonight in a Snatch vehicle. There was an air of resignation in his words and the way he spoke them. He said deaths were inevitable, it is not a question of 'if', it is a question of 'when'. The Army know this too, as do the Ministry of Defence. This matter needs to be raised NOW.'

Martin commented: "Three years ago the Ministry tried to tell me they had the right mix of armoured and non-armoured vehicles in Afghanistan. But they obviously never convinced their own troops of this and have now admitted they need to spend more on protecting them. But if our bravest frontline troops don't want to use these vehicles, surely we should replace them as soon as humanly possible. My thoughts are with this courageous family. It must be difficult enough to have your son on active service without also worrying that he is at unnecessary risk."