In recent years Rangers have made much of their affection and respect for Her Majesty’s armed forces. Last season the Ibrox club has given soldiers free match tickets and invited Falklands hero Simon Weston to be a guest of honour at an Old Firm match. During the time that RFC was using the controversial offshore Employee Benefit Trust to save on their tax bill the United Kingdom has been in two wars.
Wars cost money.
Lots of money.
British soldiers have died in circumstances where military experts believed that a lack of appropriate kit was at least as responsible as enemy action.
What would the £24 million that Rangers DIDN’T pay Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs have bought the troops at the front line?
During these wars lack of appropriate body armour and safe vehicles has, allegedly, caused the deaths and serious injury to British soldiers.
In the invasion of Iraq in 2003 Sergeant Steven Roberts was forced to hand over his body armour because there was a shortage. He was later shot dead in Basrah.
On the tape to his wife Samantha, Sergeant Roberts, 33, who had been forced to hand over his body armour to other troops, lamented ‘disgraceful’ shortages of kit which left him and his men facing combat with ‘absolutely nothing’.
An official Army Board of Inquiry confirmed that bulletproof plates on his Enhanced Combat Body Armour would have saved him.
Even those lucky enough to have body armour complained that the kit wasn’t good enough.
Lack of money in the MOD budget was blamed.
For example British soldiers had to wait until the autumn of 2009 to get issued the advanced “Osprey Assault” body armour and the new Mk7 helmets.
The new Osprey armour still has the “stopping power” of the previous Osprey kit, but the new model is less bulky and serves as a closer fit for troops. It will also have pouches for troops to carry ammunition and first aid gear according to the MoD.
The previous Osprey added additional weight to the already heavy loads troops have to shoulder. In some cases it is alleged that troops were injured or killed as a result of the loose fitting armour because bullets were able to enter the body through the wide gaps between the arms and chest.
A recent coroner’s inquest was critical of flaws in the body armour design.
Minister for defence equipment and support Quentin Davies said that 10,000 orders of body armour and helmets had been made at a cost of £16m.
Many believe that the cost of this kit meant that it wasn’t acquired earlier for our lads at the front line.
Rangers’ £24 million in tax would have supplied 15,000 squaddies with this life saving kit.
Many British soldiers have been killed or seriously wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan because they were driving in poorly protected “Snatch” land rovers.
Scores of British soldiers have died in these unsafe vehicles from roadside bombs including Corporal Sarah Bryant, the first female British soldier killed in Afghanistan.
The government’s failure to replace it with a vehicle providing more protection from enemy forces is “cavalier at best, criminal at worst”, Major Sebastian Morley, the head of the SAS reservists in Afghanistan.
These vehicles, originally designed as a vehicle to transport troops in Northern Ireland, are referred to by soldiers as “mobile coffins”.” You drive over a landmine in a very-lightly armoured Land-Rover Snatch – it’s not much different from driving over it in a Ford Escort,” a former member of the Royal Green Jackets who served in Iraq, Steve McLoughlin, said.
MPs on the Commons cross-party defence committee were critical in a 2006 report about the vehicle’s lack of armour and urged the government to immediately purchase an “off the shelf” replacement.
Once more cost was the major reason that our troops weren’t in better vehicles in a war zone.
Lives would have been saved had they been travelling in the heavily protected, specially designed “Cougar” rather than the “snatch” land rovers.
Called the “Mastiff” by the British army this tough vehicle doesn’t come cheap at £400,000 a pop.
£24 million would provide 60 of these mine proof vehicles capable of carrying 360 troops in safety.
A PROPER ARMY?
The lavish equipment of the US forces in Afghanistan not just in quantity, but also in higher quality is clear for all who care to see.
The chances of the US soldier or Marine surviving a battlefield wound in Afghanistan or Iraq has been calculated to be 95% if he survives the first five minutes after being hit.
British soldiers, on the other hand, have “bled out” as they waited, and waited, and waited to be “casevaced” to a field hospital.
These British soldiers have died because they could not be delivered on time to waiting medics.
Had these young men been in the uniform of the United States they would have lived.
Quite simply the British forces didn’t have enough helicopters with enough flying hours to move troops safely and to quickly get wounded men to the hospital in Camp bastion.
Moreover they travelled overland because there weren’t enough British helicopters.
Simply put the British effort in Helmand province has been woefully under funded.
Thankfully now the Americans have taken over in Helmand and the British are reduced to a small area their meagre resources can cope with.
This time, unlike in Basra, the British have not been defeated. The United States military stepped in before that happened.
However the tale of the British in Afghanistan has been one of brave soldiers being sent into harms way without the resources to do the job.
Strange then that a football club that has launched a PR offensive on how much they love Her Majesty’s Armed forces are in dispute with her Majesty’s Exchequer over taxes owed.
It isn’t very loyal is it?
Perhaps instead of giving the lads in uniform free tickets to Ibrox they should just pay their taxes immediately to equip the men at the frontline doing their bit for Queen and country.
Wouldn’t that be more dignified?
Wouldn’t that be more quintessentially British?