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Volume 535: debated on Monday 14 November 2011

15. What recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of equipment supplied to troops in Afghanistan. (80083)

The provision of equipment for our forces in Afghanistan is regularly reviewed, with new equipment and capabilities being developed and delivered in response to emerging requirements. The military assessment is that our forces are now being provided with the equipment they need to undertake the tasks they are doing and that no missions are being compromised by the inadequacy or unavailability of equipment. Having met both 16 Air Assault Brigade and 3 Commando Brigade after their respective tours in Afghanistan, I know that that view is shared by those on the front line who actually use the equipment.

I thank the Minister for his response. There has been much criticism of the kit supplied to front-line troops, particularly those on foot patrol in Afghanistan. Will he advise us of any improvements made specifically for those troops on foot patrol to mitigate these threats?

As I said in my original answer, constant improvements are being made. One of the two that I would highlight has already happened—tier 1 and tier 2 pelvic protection against blast, which is being well received by our own armed services and is now being emulated by the Americans. Secondly, for the future, there is the provision of the light protected patrol vehicle, Foxhound, which will come into service in the early part of next year.

What proposals does the Minister have to improve the equipment that will reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries among British troops dealing with improvised explosive devices and bombs?

I am glad to tell the hon. Gentleman that the third layer of pelvic protection—the tier 3 protection—does precisely that. I can reassure him that work is being done constantly to ensure that those very brave operatives have access to the best possible equipment to do their important task. It is important that they are allowed to disassemble IEDs because they provide vital clues about the tactics of the enemy, which helps prevent further deaths among the widest number of forces serving in Afghanistan.