Mum’s fears for soldiers’ safety

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THE worried mum of an RAF gunner who is due to return to Afghanistan for a third tour next year fears troops could die unnecessarily if vital supplies fail to reach them.

Trudy Roberts says she is terrified at the prospect of her son trying to do a difficult job in a battle situation without even basic things such as ammunition and medicine, following an admission by the Ministry of Defence that IT systems managing supplies to the front-line were “not adequate”.

A report out last week said there was an “extremely high risk” the MoD’s warehouse inventory systems could fail – resulting in shortages of everything from medical supplies and clothing within as little as 30 days.

A former Royal Marine, who has done two tours of duty in Afghanistan, believes troops will “struggle on in the face of adversity”.

Steve Lane (28), who was medically discharged from his role as a general duties rifleman in the Marines at the beginning of July and is now enjoying some time at home with wife Rebecca and their two young daughters in Spalding, said: “It sounds truly shocking, but I wouldn’t mind betting this has happened before and perhaps been even closer with supplies expected to be lost within a couple of days.

“I would think that if things were getting that close they would concentrate on the priority stuff, which is ammunition and medicines. The troops could survive for a day or two without food, for example.

“I would think for everyone’s safety things would be rationed until they got back on top of the situation.

“It sounds terrible, but it’s hard to describe to someone who has never been out there what it is like. If you are in that situation, you just have to get the job done and keep a sense of humour in the face of adversity.

“Those out there tend to have a make-do attitude and they will do their best to overcome any problems the best they can.”

But Mrs Roberts, of Pennygate, Spalding, whose son Tim returned from Afghanistan’s Helmand Province after his second tour of the country in May and is due to return next year, said she is “extremely worried” about the supply threat and fears lives could be lost.

Tim (28) returned in May after seven months in Afghanistan where his work was split into two-week rotation, switching from driving armoured vehicles and making helicopter pick-ups of injured soldiers.

She believes the Government should make sure the money is made available to ensure troops get everything they need, when they need it.

She said: “It is a hard enough job as it is without trying to do it without the necessary supplies.

“I am hoping and praying the situation in Afghanistan is all tied up before 2012 as I don’t want Tim to go again.

“It is hard to believe how many people in this area have loved ones out there, and as a parent or grandparent it is as scary as hell.

“I don’t feel we can face another tour as each time he goes back you feel as though you are pushing your luck.

“It’s vital they have the right supplies. Even running out of something as simple as antiseptic can be fatal in a battle situation and unnecessary lives could be lost.”

l Mum’s 150-mile trek in memory of son who died in Afghanistan: See Page 2.