Government’s duty of care to our soldiers in Afghanistan

Royston is very close to Bassingbourn barracks and many of my constituents have close links to the battalion based there. There are two letters in today’s Telegraph from family members of servicemen in Afghanistan that complain that the soldiers’ welfare needs are not always being met. I was deeply concerned to read that their family members do not seem to be receiving proper food supplies or the even the letters being sent to them. After contacting the regimental welfare office one of the family members was told that they are “being swamped with similar complaints and when they took up the issue with the forward base they are told the problem is a severe shortage of transport.”

As one of the letters rightfully points out, “so much for this administration’s protestations that our service units in Afghanistan have all the equipment they need.” These letters tie in with reports I have had when talking with serving soldiers.

The first duty of a Government in war is to provide proper facilities to the men and women it expects to fight. One accepts that it won’t always be possible to get all the comforts to troops serving in forward operations, but the idea that our soldiers are being asked to fight without the equipment to do the job is abhorrent. It’s a breakdown in the military covenant. I think everyone agrees that if we are going to ask people to risk their lives for their country the least we can do is ensure they are receiving the correct food supplies and their families’ correspondence on a regular basis. I will be taking this up with Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth.

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