Ex-top brass labeled the sale of Army weaponry to African countries as “morally supsect.”
Defence ministers have approved a massive sale of frontline operational equipment to African states, including armored vehicles, planes, and weaponry. General Lord Dannatt, the former head of the British Army, described the news as “morally suspect,” and Lt Gen Jonathan Riley, who served as deputy command of coalition troops in Afghanistan, predicted that Britain would soon lose its traditional role as Deputy Supreme Allied Commander in Europe due to a lack of political will to engage in ground operations.
It comes after the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Export Sales Authority inked a framework deal with the dubious South African government agency Armscor to sell the so-called “pocket army,” claiming that it will “raise its brand awareness.”
22 Puma helicopters, recently returned from operational deployment in Afghanistan and only four years after a £190 million upgrade, and C-130 Hercules planes are among the items listed on the 30-page inventory. Both have been heavily lobbied for by UK Special Forces officers who wish to maintain them.
Other items include the Army’s tracked Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles (CVRT), which have yet to be replaced by the Ajax, Halmatic fast attack craft used by the Royal Marines, hundreds of Land Rovers, including special machine gun-mounted editions adapted for desert operations, Husky tactical support vehicles, and the Army’s latest MAN logistics trucks.
The list also includes Britten-Norman Defender surveillance planes and Royal Navy Scimitars fast patrol boats, all of which may be deployed to safeguard UK territorial waters and deter illegal immigration, according to one expert.
The proposed sale of thousands of Minimi machine guns, which were just deployed during the Afghanistan campaign, and the latest Sig Sauer handguns, which the MoD defines as “suited for crowd control,” are even more contentious.
In 1995, a South African independent assessment revealed that Armscor, located in Pretoria, had unlawfully diverted weapons meant for Lebanon to Yemen, in violation of a UN arms embargo.
“DESA is happy to be pushing sales opportunities with DDS (a wing of Armscor) of battle proven UK military weapons sharing knowledge and expertise in our fields,” the MoD boasted in its framework agreement.
Last night, some MoD officials emphasized the advantages of arming African countries with UK-friendly weapons. “Brinkwire News in Condensed Form.”