Ainsworth called out on troop numbers

By politics.co.uk staff

The defence secretary faced calls for more troops from military personnel on the frontline in Afghanistan yesterday.

During a visit with home secretary Alan Johnson to British forces at Camp Bastion, Bob Ainsworth asked a bomb disposal expert what he needed most to do his job.

“More troops on the ground,” answered staff sergeant Kim Hughes.

“We have lost two guys. More troops are needed on the ground but the same could be said for equipment.”

The soldier’s response echoes calls for more reinforcements from the head of the British Army, General Sir David Richards.

Mr Ainsworth was forced to admit to the troops that help would be required from other Nato allies to provide the extra troops needed.

The defence secretary was also forced to defend the use of Vector combat vehicles after a soldier was killed on patrol near Camp Bastion the day before the arrival of the two ministers.

Mr Ainsworth and Mr Johnson were at the camp on a morale boosting mission before flying on to Pakistan for talks today.

It was the first visit by a British home secretary to the troops in Afghanistan.