If you try hard and cast your mind back a few years the news media was awash with righteous indignation after some high profile and tragic losses in Afghanistan due to the deployment of the completely unsuitable 'Snatch' Land Rovers. While our troops did slowly start to get more suitable armoured transport - though even then there has been controversy about the suitability of some of the purchases - it has taken this long to finally get a light protected vehicle that replaces the slot left by the withdraw of Land Rover.
A Foxhound light protected patrol vehicle in Afghanistan
[Picture: Sergeant Andy Reddy, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
On the 17th of June the first of the British Army's new Foxhound vehicles arrived in The Stan. Being smaller than the big brutes like the Ridgeback and Mastiff it means soldiers can get on with those bread and butter liaison duties that requires smaller numbers of troops to go out and about. The sort of tootling around that the old Landies were ideal for.
People tend to forget that while replacing unprotected vehicles was a good idea - and that troop safty is paramount - the Land Rover was actually very good at what it did, or rather for what it was designed to do. Provide good cross country mobility over harsh environments.
The new Foxhound brings back the light transport 'car' in a package that gives our lads and lassies a good level of protection (although nothing is ever a guarantee).
What always annoyed me about this issue - and caused me to rant about it many times on this blog - is how long it took the politicians, bureaucrats and pencil pushers in charge of military procurement in this country to learn a lesson that I certainly remember was learned by the South Africans in the 1970s*. It always makes me smile rather wryly when the designers and military sing the praises of a new vehicle's 'V' shaped body - which adds valuable blast protection from below - when the South African army developed similar vehicles over thirty odd years ago!
They say the British Army takes time to learn lessons - but even that one is stretching the notion.
* The Buffel was an strange armoured troop transport that is indelibly linked - thanks to news coverage - to the South African Bush Wars and the Apartheid policing of townships. It's ungainly look was due to the height of the crew cabin off the ground and the distinctive 'V' shaped body, which deflected mine blasts away - in theory - and so increased the chances of passenger survival. It was first seen in 1978!