would like to see here: shorting the military on gear because they'd rather spend it buying votes.
The Sunday Telegraph has been told that a £400,000 "contingency fund", financed by private donors, was used to purchase body armour for members of 21 SAS, one of the service's two territorial regiments, prior to their deployment to Helmand in 2008.
Cash from the fund was also used to pay for operational welfare equipment, personal kit and to pay-off the mortgages of two members of 23 SAS killed in southern Afghanistan in an earlier deployment.
The 21 SAS fund was created prior to the regiment's deployment to Afghanistan in 2008 and was supposed to be used to help families of soldiers who were either killed or wounded on operations.
But after the regiment was mobilised in the spring of 2008, commanders feared the unit did not have access to enough equipment or body armour to properly prepare the SAS troops for their six month tour.
The Sunday Telegraph understands that those individuals who contributed to the fund were asked and agreed to allow some of the money to be used to buy body armour, training and operational welfare equipment, such as computers and satellite telephones.
Sources have said that the kit issue became crucial after Lance Corporal Richard Larkin and Trooper Paul Stout, both members of 23 SAS, also a territorial regiment, were killed along with Corporal Sean Reeve, from the Royal Signals, and Corporal Sarah Bryant, of the Intelligence Corps, when their Snatch Land Rover was blown up by an improvised explosive device in June 2008.