British troops in Afghanistan hit out against ``ironed uniforms” policy

British soldiers fighting the Taliban have been told to iron uniforms.

Updated: Apr 13, 2011, 15:47 PM IST

Kabul: British troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan have hit out at the ‘ironed uniforms policy’, saying that they have enough to worry about without being forced to press their combat gear several times a week.

In a letter to the British Army’s magazine, Soldier, a serviceman known as Corporal Atherton, said he was ‘horrified’ by the rule, which ‘has clearly been thought up by somebody sat bored behind a desk’.

‘We are at war after all and should be focusing on our jobs, not unnecessary policies,’ The Daily Mail quoted him as saying.

The Corporal also calculated that it would cost almost GBP 40,000 a year for 6,000 UK troops at Camp Bastion to spend 40 minutes a week ironing their kit.

His views were echoed by a senior non-commissioned officer, who said, “I would be amazed if Field Marshal Slim [a renowned British commander in the Second World War] moaned about shaving and sloppy dress while on their long-range patrols in Burma. Instead he would have been concentrating on winning the war.”

Responding to the comments, Colonel Richard Kemp, who commanded UK forces in Afghanistan in 2003, said: “In a relatively stable, secure, well-resourced place like Camp Bastion, there is no reason for soldiers to look like scruffy tramps.”

“It is important that soldiers do as best as they can to maintain their appearance. Looking the part, looking disciplined and well organised is a tradition the British Army has had for many years. This should not necessarily be adhered to rigidly if it is detrimental to operations,” he added.