'Brown neglected Afghanistan military operation'

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Washington, July 13 (ANI): British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been accused of "the ultimate dereliction of duty" in his handling of the military operations in Afghanistan.

The shadow defence secretary, Liam Fox, criticized Brown for "catastrophically" under-equipping the armed forces, which was evident from the deaths of 15 British soldiers in Afghanistan this month.

"Brown is now resorting to spin rather than confronting the life-threatening reality that the troops faced. For this Government to have sent our young people into battle without adequate equipment and protection is the ultimate dereliction of duty," The Telegraph quoted Fox, as saying.

The Conservatives accused Brown of attempting to cover up the fact that British troops do not have enough helicopters, which has forced them to travel by road and left them vulnerable to the Taliban's road-side bombs.

Lord King, the former Defence Secretary, said: "Where there really is a shortage, a really critical shortage, is helicopters. There are serious worries that troops were dying as a result of the shortage."

In April, the Treasury had blocked on financial grounds an attempt by the Ministry of Defence to match a US troop "surge" with a permanent deployment of thousands more British soldiers.

Pressed yesterday on whether the Government could increase numbers on the ground, both Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, and Lord Drayson would said: "We keep the numbers of troops under review"

Colonel Bob Stewart, the UN commander in Bosnia, said that the British fatalities were the results of Gordon Brown's failure to support the Armed Forces.

"We do not have enough manpower, ammunition or equipment," Col Stewart said. "It's grossly inadequate. If this is how we handle a vital interest, God help us when it's not vital.

"The Government tells us that our presence in Afghanistan is in the vital interests of this country but I have never seen our interests so poorly defended." (ANI)

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