A former army commander has claimed the Ministry of Defence (MoD) should publically apologise to the family of a Sussex soldier killed during friendly fire because the equipment provided to troops “wasn’t good enough”.
In an interview with The Guardian ahead of his book Honourable Warriors being published, former Major Richard Streatfeild said he had toed the MoD line for years but was now “ashamed” he had defended the Government agency.
Former Mjr Streatfeild, who was based in Helmand province, Afghanistan, claimed the MoD dithered about spending cash on beacons which would allow commanders to identify troops – and added this could have saved Eastbourne soldier Lance Corporal Michael Pritchard’s life.
L Cpl Pritchard was 22 when he died in December 2009 in Sangin in Helmand province.
East Sussex coroner Alan Craze subsequently said his death was an accident but one that could have been avoided.
He added communications failures, an inadequate briefings system and a lack of understanding about where the restricted firing line was contributed to his death.
In the newspaper interview, former Mjr Streatfeild said: "It's fundamental: you need to know where your people are. The Americans, the French, Norway, Israelis, the Germans, all have [this] equipment. It is widely available. We still don't have it."
Responding to his remarks, a MoD spokesman said: "Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Lance Corporal Michael Pritchard.
“The circumstances which led to L Cpl Pritchard's tragic death were fully investigated and the standard operating procedures used in Afghanistan were changed as a result.
"The armed forces constantly review equipment requirements to ensure they are best placed to meet the myriad threats faced on operations.
“In Afghanistan, we encountered a number of new and evolving threats that required different tactics and new, specific kit to be designed and deployed.
“Since 2003, the Urgent Operational Requirements process has delivered more than £5.8bn worth of world-class equipment to the frontline quickly, including thousands of vehicles, personal protection and counter-IED technology that has saved countless lives.
“Training is provided for all new equipment, whether in the UK or in theatre but personnel are never sent into action without the necessary training."