As July draws to a close, the deaths of nine British soldiers killed in Helmand this month have brought the question of the Afghanistan campaign into the centre of public debate. The deaths have precipitated extensive coverage in the media. Politicians and, perhaps, the public finally seem to be recognising the level of commitment Helmand demands. That realisation is to be welcomed. However, almost exclusively, the discussions about the campaign have focused on equipment, more specifically, on transport.
Continuing a long-standing theme from Iraq, the focus has been on the inadequate protection of land vehicles, especially the Snatch Land Rover, and the related lack of helicopters. The lack of aviation has always been a concern in Helmand, and the increased improvised explosive devices (IED) threat has added force to the argument that British troops need to reduce their vulnerability on the ground. And, at the same time, commanders have called for more troops.
It is undoubtedly true that more British troops are required. It also seems unarguable that the lack of helicopters, especially for re-supplying troops in the various Forward Operating Bases (see this map), is a serious problem. However, rectifying these shortages will not remedy a campaign that some already see as failing.