I know that this is a contentious issue but I think the debate on Afghanistanoften misses an important point about the nature of the conflict. This is not just a group of ill equipped tribesmen fighting the international forces but a mixture of sophisticated and very determined groups with a common aim of restoring Taliban rule.
To combat that we need a real hearts and minds effort as well as a military effort. The latter has been more successful then people give it credit for. The supporters of the Taliban are not stupid. They change tactics and are now using terrorist methods to undermne the morale of local people and of the overseas troops.
They make good use of the internet and know that successful attacks on British or other forces gets high publicity and it is intended to raise doubts about the willingness of those forces to stay. Local Afghans who show no sign of wanting the Taliban back are nevertheless worried that the international commitment will weaken and that they will be left to face them on their own.
That is why I think we need to choose our criticisms with care. The troops do have to make a conscious choice about different types of transport. Excessive use of helicopters or of heavilly armoured vehicles makes the hearts and minds operation harder. The choice can have deadly consequences as it had recently.
In the following question I tried to make that point drawing on my memory of the Northern Ireland debates where we were faced with similar choices. Troops going to and from certain border areas often had to go by helicopter but they also chose to go by land rover. Then, as now, it had at times deadly consequences. These are not easy choices and it shows the exceptional courage and training levels of our troops.
None of this should be taken as meaning there are not equipment short falls but the way we express this matters. We should not give a propaganda advantage to our opponents.