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MoD 'put Iraq soldiers at risk'


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MoD 'put Iraq soldiers at risk'

British troops fighting in Iraq were exposed to greater danger than necessary by being ill-equipped.

The findings come in a report published by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee.

The report comes amid controversy over the death of Sergeant Steven Roberts who was shot in the chest near the Iraqi town of Basra last year.

Sergeant Roberts, from Wadebridge in Cornwall, was asked to hand in his body armour because it was in short supply.

The report says troops were put in danger because of an "utterly unacceptable" shortage of the correct protective equipment.

Badly equipped

The parliamentary committee said the MoD had not managed equipment well, stating that 200,000 body armour components had been issued since 1999 but the department did not know their whereabouts.

Despite investing £550m since the first Gulf War in computerised systems, the committee said the MoD still lacked a "credible consignment tracking system", and it could not successfully track its kit from storage to front line.

"This is utterly unacceptable and the MoD must take the necessary steps to identify gaps in provision and how these may be best addressed in time for any future operations," said committee chairman Edward Leigh.

The MoD has acknowledged difficulties in ensuring front line forces received supplies in time, and a report from the National Audit Office (NAO) watchdog in December last year found troops were sent to Iraq badly equipped.

The NAO said while the logistics effort had been successful overall, the means of tracking supplies had been ineffective.

Sgt Roberts, of the Second Royal Tank Regiment, had been living in Shipley, West Yorkshire when he was posted to Iraq.

His wife Samantha, who still lives in the area, has been fighting for the full details surrounding his death to be revealed.

She said: "It says exactly the same as the NAO report and we are still in exactly the same position.

"It is very difficult to pass any blame. All I do know is that the pathologist's report said he would still be alive today had he been wearing that body armour so that speaks for itself.

"Eighteen months on, nothing has been done about that and I assume that the men are in the same position in Iraq even now."


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