July 8, 2016
Burnham-On-Sea's MP speaks out on Iraq after Chilcot Report

Burnham-On-Sea's MP James Heappey - a former army officer - has spoken out in the House of Commons about his time in Iraq following the publication of the Chilcot Report this week.

Mr Heappey, who served in Iraq in 2007, told the House: "It has been sobering to hear the reflections of those who took part in the decision making process in 2003."

"I served in Iraq in 2007, and it was a difficult and dangerous time. During that summer and the rest of my service many of my friends and colleagues were sent home dead or injured."

Mr Heappey asked the Prime Minister to continue with the Urgent Operational Requirement system that allows the armed forces to buy and issue up-to-date equipment to troops, sailors and aircrew who are in the field.

The practice was introduced after soldiers found themselves serving in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan with equipment that was not up to the job needing to be performed.

This included 'Snatch' Land Rovers which were replaced by vehicles more capable of withstanding roadside bombs, higher calibre long range rifles, and replacements for the army's aging Browning pistols, which had been first used in the Second World War.

Mr Heappey said that the threat from the enemy evolves more quickly than the current supply arrangements on the battlefield and in an insurgency.

He added: "Can the Prime Minister reassure the house the urgent operating requirement system is now quick enough so that never again will we send troops into battle in vehicles that are not fit-for-purpose."

Mr Cameron said that one of the positive things that had come out of Iraq and Afghanistan is the Urgent Operating Requirement system. "It means we have commissioned some fantastic kit for our soldiers, sailors and airmen more quickly and responded to their needs," he said.

"I felt that by the time of our troops coming out of Afghanistan for instance, and I've been there 13 times over six or seven years, they were saying that our equipment was now better than the Americans, we had things more quickly and new bits of kit could be produced so there are some positive lessons to learn."

Earlier in the day, Mr Heappey had posted on Twitter that "Chilcot Report has been pretty tough reading. Parliament not given the right information; poor or no planning."

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