updated 5/8/2006 9:00:24 PM ET 2006-05-09T01:00:24

A former British army colonel said Monday that the fatal crash of a British military helicopter in Iraq was a “double tragedy” because it highlighted the military’s lack of resources in fighting the insurgency.

Col. Tim Collins, speaking at the Oxford Union, said British troops in Iraq were in danger, and that the British government faced the “clear choice” of either giving them adequate body armor and other resources or withdrawing them from Iraq.

The helicopter crashed Saturday in the southern city of Basra, killing the five-member British crew. Apparently downed by a missile or rocket, it hit a two-story house. A crowd of Iraqis cheered and threw stones at British forces who raced to the scene to seal off the area.

Collins said that British forces had long since “abandoned” Basra and the rescue team had to be led to the scene by private security firms to recover the bodies. Once there, they had no equipment to tackle the flames and had to borrow fire extinguishers from the security firms.

“They are doing an amazing job with no resources,” he said. “But we have already, in terms of our mission, failed in southern Iraq and we are potentially facing disaster.

“There is now a very clear choice: Either reinforce and give them body armor and fire extinguishers or accept that we have failed and for the sake of those servicemen and other people around them, get them out.”

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments