British troops deployed in the Persian Gulf lack the necessary desert kit and equipment for a possible war with Iraq and it could be months before they are combat ready.

According to the BBC website, contracts have hastily been drawn up for 20,000 desert boots, 90,000 light trousers and 90,000 jackets.

These findings back a recent survey by the Ministry of Defence which discovered more than half the soldiers heading to Iraq buy their own jackets, boots and rucksacks because the kit they are issued with is not good enough.

A major military exercise to Oman in September 2001 highlighted some of the problems - including insufficient desert clothing and boots for the troops, boots that melted in the desert heat, and combat suits that failed to cope with the sand.