PRIME MINISTER – SHORTAGE OF HELICOPTERS – 14 October 2009
Dr Julian Lewis: The Prime Minister admits that 80 per cent. of our casualties have been caused by roadside bombs. What proportion of the convoys attacked by those bombs were resupply convoys, which could and should have been transported by air but which were not because of the disgraceful shortage of air transport capacity?
[The Prime Minister: I just do not accept the hon. Gentleman's conclusion. A lot of the casualties have, unfortunately, been those people who have been on foot patrol, trying to build relationships with the Afghan people, so that we are seen not as an occupying army, but as an army that works with them. Where vehicles have been blown up we investigate what has happened, and I am happy to give him the details.
Mr Adam Holloway: Frankly, I am staggered at the Prime Minister's characterisation of the deaths from IEDs as being caused by foot patrols and not by the lack of helicopters. Commanders regularly complain of unnecessary logistical road moves. Will he not admit that many of these people are dying for lack of helicopters – yes or no?
The Prime Minister: The hon. Gentleman will have seen that Tim Radford, who commanded Operation Panther's Claw, said that the operation was not hampered by the absence of helicopters. The hon. Gentleman must recognise that the deaths that have occurred from IEDs have occurred in different ways – some have been from vehicles that have been blown up and some from foot patrols – and he must look at the evidence.]