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Head of Army ATO resigns in protest

#3
Colonel Bob Seddon held the post of principal ammunition technical officer for the Royal Logistics Corps.

Should have worked harder on the press release ;)
 
#7
British army's bomb disposal chief quits after speaking of Afghan pressures

Colonel resigns on eve of BBC Panorama revelations; 'psychological cost' of task raised in widow's inquiry
* Jo Adetunji and David Batty
* The Guardian, Monday 24 May 2010


Britain's top bomb disposal officer resigned last night after airing concerns over the pressures his team faces in Afghanistan.

Colonel Bob Seddon stood down as principal ammunition technical officer of the Royal Logistics Corps after telling the BBC's Panorama programme he needed more people on the ground and raising fears over the job's psychological impact.

In the programme, to be broadcast tonight, he said the army was looking to bring more people into disposal teams to tackle improvised explosive devices, but the measures would take "some time".

He added: "It means the existing cohort are going to be under pressure. I'm very concerned that in the longer term some of my people who have done phenomenally difficult and dangerous work in Afghanistan may pay a deeper psychological price for the work that they've conducted."

In his interview for the programme, Seddon said the army was looking to launch a detailed study into the psychological impact of bomb disposal on its operatives.

An army spokesman said in a brief statement that Seddon would be leaving the service in January. "He remains a serving officer and will not be commenting. The army remains committed to the counter-IED effort, which is the number one priority in Afghanistan."

The documentary was made by the widow of a bomb disposal expert killed in Afghanistan, who used the programme to question whether the army had failed in its duty of care towards her husband.

Staff Sergeant Olaf "Oz" Schmid died in October last year while attempting to diffuse an improvised explosive device (IED) near Sangin, in central Helmand province a week before he was to fly back to Britain.

Christina Schmid said her husband was "flaking" with exhaustion on the day he died because of "absolutely relentless" demands made on him and his team, due to staff shortages.

Schmid read out letters she had received from her husband before his death, which reveal the stressful conditions in which he was working.

"I've already been living rough for five weeks in compounds we clear under the Afghan canopy," one reads. Another states: "Staying alive is like a lottery, and patrolling the Afghan badlands is playing Russian roulette with your feet."

Schmid was one of four bomb disposal experts to be killed in Afghanistan in little more than a year. On the day that he died his team was trapped in an alleyway after finding a wire attached to a bomb. He followed the wire to the explosives and died while trying to deactivate the device.

His widow told the programme: "He was flaking at that point, saying 'I do need a break from this. I need to step back because I need to recharge'. I don't feel that he necessarily had that time."

The defence secretary, Liam Fox, said in a statement that countering the IED threat to British forces in Afghanistan was a "top priority" for the new coalition government.

"There are very real challenges. The threat does not stand still and nor does our response," he said. "I will make sure that everything possible is done to ensure that our forces have all they need to deal with this indiscriminate threat. They deserve nothing less.

"As I have seen during my visits they are doing fantastic work in Afghanistan in support of the UK's national security."

Seddon's resignation came as Fox used his first visit to Afghanistan yesterday to promise better recompense for British soldiers serving in combat areasthere. Fox appeared alongside William Hague, the foreign secretary, and Andrew Mitchell, the international development secretary, on the weekend visit – the first by members of the new government.

In a speech to 80 military personnel at Camp Bastion, Fox said the Treasury would have to "cough up" more money as a thank you to troops and would fulfil the Tory pledge to double the operational allowance in Afghanistan, currently around £2,600 for a six-month tour. "We believe it is just not enough to come and say thank you, or to tell you how proud we are about what you are doing," he said. "We also have to recognise that in the hardest way possible – which is to get the Treasury to cough up."

But while the three Conservative ministers sought to put on a united front during their visit, there was confusion over apparent differences regarding the focus of operations in the country. While Mitchell had insisted it was "absolutely crucial" to create a stable society in Afghanistan where education was a priority, Fox said in an interview on Friday that the priority was to withdraw troops as soon as possible. He said troops were not there "for the sake of the education policy in a broken 13th-century country. We are there so the people of Britain and our global interests are not threatened."
 
#9
Staff Sergeant Olaf "Oz" Schmid died in October last year while attempting to diffuse an improvised explosive device (IED) near Sangin, in central Helmand province a week before he was to fly back to Britain.

That's a bit beyond the pale, releasing details of our anti-bomb aerosols. Bloody journos.
 

diplomat

MIA
Book Reviewer
#10
General Melchett said:
Ain't it just fab how the media sex up a story. I think the quitting is actually a plan called early retirement.
In this particular case I am not too sure. Bob would have known the impact of his comments when doing the Panorma interview, and the timing seems a bit too coincidental for an early retirement.
 
#11
In this particular case I am not too sure. Bob would have known the impact of his comments when doing the Panorma interview, and the timing seems a bit too coincidental for an early retirement.
Maybe he has just resigned so he can get the £50000 bonus for re-joining :?
 
#12
PE4rocks said:
Staff Sergeant Olaf "Oz" Schmid died in October last year while attempting to diffuse an improvised explosive device (IED) near Sangin, in central Helmand province a week before he was to fly back to Britain.

That's a bit beyond the pale, releasing details of our anti-bomb aerosols. Bloody journos.
Whoever sub-edited that sentence wants diffusing themselves! "Short and snappy, not long and crappy" - as my old editor used to tell us. As he beat us about the head and shoulders with our copy.
 
#14
loopy21 said:
In this particular case I am not too sure. Bob would have known the impact of his comments when doing the Panorma interview, and the timing seems a bit too coincidental for an early retirement.
Maybe he has just resigned so he can get the £50000 bonus for re-joining :?
Feck me £50K re-joining bonus - is there an age limit?
 
#16
General Melchett said:
Ain't it just fab how the media sex up a story. I think the quitting is actually a plan called early retirement.
Interesting reflecting of the media's grasp for public attention agree'd

However,

Hopefully a newly refreshed Coaltion will take serious interest in these concerns & possibly mirrors the Panorama episode tonight in ref to EOD's work?

Bamber: Arrsers can direct their questions via the website's usual facilities by the newly appt'd DefSec although as already stated this issue 'does' need to be addressed!
 
#17
His resignation (made some weeks ago I beileve) suddenly makes the National News on the same day the he appears on Panorama. Coincidence or a ploy to increse ratings?
 

BuggerAll

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#19
I thought last nights program highlighted the dangers of over emphasise on immediate Operational imperatives against keeping the bigger picture in mind.

For whatever reason somebody in 2001 took the decision that we didn't need to spend money on training IED operators presumably because there was no immediate perceived threat.

Now leaving aside the issue that I would expect the average 13 year old Army cadet to be able to perceive how IEDs might be a threat in the future the problem is that there is a big nasty world out there, we don't know what is coming around the corner. There is no use us having an Armed Forces configured to take on the Terry in AFG and nothing else if the the Argentinians kick off or if the Pirate threat gets worse or any number of other unforeseen problems occur.
 
#20
BuggerAll said:
I thought last nights program highlighted the dangers of over emphasise on immediate Operational imperatives against keeping the bigger picture in mind.

For whatever reason somebody in 2001 took the decision that we didn't need to spend money on training IED operators presumably because there was no immediate perceived threat.

Now leaving aside the issue that I would expect the average 13 year old Army cadet to be able to perceive how IEDs might be a threat in the future the problem is that there is a big nasty world out there, we don't know what is coming around the corner. There is no use us having an Armed Forces configured to take on the Terry in AFG and nothing else if the the Argentinians kick off or if the Pirate threat gets worse or any number of other unforeseen problems occur.
Indeed. But didnt the Brigadier who was interviewed say that it would be a good idea to target high risk operator training only on the immediate threat in Afghan, thus saving time and money and producing more operators by not training for worldwide operation?
 

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