The MOD has denied accusations that Britain can no longer afford the war in Afghanistan despite furnishing its parachute regiments with oversized golf umbrellas. ‘Our top priority is the safety of our troops. The notion that we would risk the lives of honest men by providing inappropriate equipment is scandalous’, said General Praetorius. 'These are top of the range, reinforced umbrellas; much easier to fold up than parachutes and they double as crutches. You don't see the yanks with any of these do you?'
However, there are genuine concerns that UK involvement is being hindered by poor preparation. In June an entire covert patrol was ambushed after the Morrison’s trolley being used to transport artillery developed a squeaky wheel, and thirty men lost their lives when their trolley kept veering to the left, accidentally setting off a landmine. Most observers are predicting an increase in British casualties in the coming months following the introduction of the umbrellas.
‘At first I thought it was a joke,’ said Staff Sergeant Andrew Willis, ‘but if push comes to deathly plunge, I’d rather an umbrella than nothing. It doesn’t break your fall as well as it does your leg, but you certainly look cooler when you land with a skip and a whistle. Actually, they make a cracking bayonette and they always come in handy for that unexpected bullet-hail, ‘heavy rain’ and the odd falling limb. Plus, it has been surprisingly good for morale – a number of the lads have been learning to tap dance and we’re planning to make a video of 'Singing in the Rain' at Christmas, if we've any legs left!’
Ironically, the strategy has provided hope for anti-war protesters, who believe that it may discourage US requests for support and hasten the British withdrawal. ‘We reckon we can only push the ‘eccentric’ tag so far and expect them to take it,’ said a spokesperson for the 'Stop The War Coalition'. ‘And what with the BP thing kicking off and the whole Lockerbie debacle, we’ve never had a better opportunity to get out. Just wait till they see our grenade briefcases, steel toe-capped galoshes and camouflaged top hats. We should be on our way home before you can say ‘Tally Ho!’
A government spokesperson refused to confirm whether further funds will be made available and stated that 'In this time of austerity we must all make a contribution, and the armed forces are no exception. Rather than expecting state-of-the art-equipment, it's about time soldiers took responsibility and stopped getting shot.'