12 November 2009 – By Ben Robinson

Former SAS soldier turned novelist Andy McNab used a visit to Preston to demand more troops and helicopters be sent to Afghanistan. The ex-soldier uses the pseudonym Andy McNab to protect his identity after a long military career in which he served in the first Gulf War, as well as undercover missions.

He left the SAS in 1993 before becoming a best-selling author and visited County Hall in Preston on Wednesday for a question and answer session to promote his new book.

In an interview with the Lancashire Evening Post ahead of a meeting where he spoke to guests, he claimed there are not currently enough resources in Afghanistan.

He said: “The fact is there is a shortage of men on the ground.

“There is a shortage of helicopters. The problem which arises is if there is a shortage of guys and girls on the ground, they cannot dominate on the ground.

“The Taliban has the freedom to move and plant IEDs (improvised explosive devices).

“Because there are not enough aircraft buzzing around this means troops have to move in vehicles – they are more exposed.”

Mr McNab, promoting his new book Exit Wound, added that even with extra helicopters soldiers would still be at risk from IEDs.

He regularly visits Iraq and Afghanistan, where he works in an advisory capacity and claims bureaucracy is slowing down resources reaching the front lines.

He said: “£350m, the money is there to upgrade Puma helicopters but it is going to take two years – why so long?

“There are so many civil servants and so much bureaucracy.

“We know money is being made available. Politically getting them on the ground takes a long time – we need to sort that out.”

He also agreed that Jacqui Janes, the mother of Grenadier Guardsman Jamie Janes, who died in Afghanistan, was right to be upset when Prime Minister Gordon Brown appeared to have mis-spelt her son’s name.

He said: “It is not necessarily his job to write.

“If he has messed up, no matter what he does he is damned – he is one of the few Prime Ministers who have written letters to the families of dead servicemen.

“If I was a mum and got a letter which said he cannot spell his name I would be annoyed – absolutely.”

Source: Lancashire Evening Post