Minister: More Afghan helicopters needed

July 22, 2009 at 11:26 AM
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LONDON, July 22 (UPI) -- Retiring Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Mark Malloch-Brown agrees that British troops in Afghanistan don't have enough helicopters.

Malloch-Brown became the first British government minister to admit the shortage of equipment Wednesday in an interview with the The Daily Telegraph, appearing to side with British Army chief Richard Dannatt in his argument with Prime Minister Gordon Brown over access to helicopters.

"We definitely don't have enough helicopters," he said. "When you have these modern operations and insurgent strikes what you need, above all else, is mobility."

The minister also disagreed with Brown on the main reason for being in Afghanistan, which Brown says is to stop the spread of terrorism into Britain, saying, "The main terrorist threat comes from Pakistan and Somalia -- not Afghanistan."

Malloch-Brown told the Telegraph that the government has not been fully informing the public on the fight in Afghanistan, saying, "We didn't do a good job a month ago of warning the British public that we and the Americans were going on the offensive in Helmand (province). This is a new operation; the whole purpose is to win control. These deaths have happened after we chose to go on the offensive."

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