British Afghan commander quits over ‘mobile coffins’


London : A British commando officer in Afghanistan has resigned after complaining of “chronic underinvestment” in troops’ equipment, as exemplified by a vehicle dubbed ‘mobile coffin’, a newspaper reported Saturday.

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Special Air Services (SAS) commander Maj. Sebastian Morley resigned over the death of four soldiers who were killed in June when their light armoured vehicle, Snatch Land Rover, hit a landmine in Helmand province, The Daily Telegraph said.

The commander said ministers ignored his warnings about the safety of the vehicle, which has been criticised because its armour is not designed to withstand roadside bombs.

The four who died included Corporal Sarah Bryant, the first British female soldier to die in Afghanistan.

In his resignation letter, Morley is reported to have accused British ministers of “gross negligence” in allowing soldiers to go into battle without adequate resources.

The lack of equipment, he is reported to have said, was “cavalier at best, criminal at worst”, the newspaper reported.

Snatch vehicles, which have been dubbed ‘mobile coffins’ by British troops in Iraq, were designed to fight insurgency in Northern Ireland but have been adapted and reused for other theatres.

The British government this week announced an extra 700 million pounds for 700 new armoured vehicles for Afghanistan.

The defence ministry said: “Equipping our personnel is a clear priority and we are absolutely focussed on providing them with a range of vehicles that will protect them from the ever-shifting threats posed by the enemy.”