Page last updated at 06:35 GMT, Thursday, 14 May 2009 07:35 UK

MoD 'still failing' on kit supply

snatch land rover
Snatch Land Rovers are lightly armoured

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is still struggling to get essential equipment to front-line troops in Afghanistan, according to the National Audit Office.

It has published a report saying that 57% of consignments reach units within the allocated time.

The NAO also says armoured vehicles brought in to replace Land Rovers deemed to be too lightly armoured are themselves unreliable.

Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth says he will address any issues raised.

BBC defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt said the NAO report found the MoD was failing to meet its own targets for getting equipment and supplies to front-line troops.

It highlighted problems getting spare parts for armoured vehicles, many of which were breaking down in Afghanistan's harsh conditions.

Reliability queried

Although the NAO says much of the extra equipment brought out to meet urgent operational requirements works well, it says the armoured vehicles introduced to replace lightly armoured Snatch Land Rovers have suffered from poor reliability.

Snatch Land Rovers have been criticised about the amount of protection they offer from roadside bombs.

We will be looking closely at all the recommendations and where there is more we can do to hasten progress, we will do so
Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth

An SAS reservist commander in Afghanistan resigned last year after four service personnel were killed when a Snatch Land Rover struck a roadside bomb in Helmand Province.

He accused the MoD of ignoring his warnings over the safety of the vehicles.

Our correspondent said Defence Secretary John Hutton told the defence committee in April that the new vehicle brought in to replace the Snatch was being withdrawn due to mechanical issues.

She says the NAO report also highlights a shortage of helicopter spares in Afghanistan which means some have had to be cannibalised for spare parts to keep others flying.

Criticism over equipment supply has been a recurring theme in inquests into the deaths of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The MoD said 300,000 personnel and 90,000 tonnes of freight had been delivered to Afghanistan and Iraq during the last two years, which was "no easy task".

Mr Ainsworth welcomed the report saying it provided a clear indication of where the MoD was performing well and where it could improve.

"The report is clear about the challenges and pressures faced by the MoD and the balances that need to be struck between prioritising our forces serving on the front line and providing the best possible equipment for training purposes," he said.

"We will be looking closely at all the recommendations and where there is more we can do to hasten progress, we will do so."

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