Incident at Castle Martin 14-06-2017

To draw a parallel to antiquity, you might stand a better, short term and personal, chance if you break a shield wall to strike at an enemy, but you'd be trained not to because it would put your mates at unacceptable risk.
And yet Roman sources are full of stories of people doing exactly that, and being praised for it (Centurions Vorenus and Pullo as an example). When you look at the citations for gallantry awards to junior commanders most of them are for things that would have earned them a fail if they tried them on a command appointment at Brecon.
 
Regardless of Caecilius cowboy attitude, the regulations are there to be adhered to, big timing it gets people killed.
 
Given that you haven't faced incoming fire from opposing armour
On that score I’d bet we’re even-stevens. Unless you’re kidding on that your local local Afghan warlord stumped up enough dosh to import a fleet of modern MBTs into the sandpit you were playing in when you did your HERRICK, undetected by the press corps of the western world, and you just happened to have a spare Chally 2 in your black bag kit :-D

That's the second time you've accused people of flapping because they've decided to return fire faster.
No.

It was not.

But it was the second time (this makes it three times) that I have pointed out that you stupidly keep picking up on a “No Shit There We Was Thought We Was All Gonna Die” war-story/NAAFI bar-room dit/internet rumour that has all the authority of a Commando Comic cartoon strip, and argued that it trumps all your training and sets a precedent for breaching important operational on the basis of “It’s OK - I heard a rumour some bloke did it in a war, once upon a time".


Next time you go anywhere near anything that uses live ammo, please dress as befits your attitude to professional discipline:



At the very least it will alert those around you to the fact that you are a devoted acolyte of this gentleman:


====
Stonkernote: I wasn’t going to post this, given the unequivocal pasting you were getting on here earlier in the thread, but I’ve changed my mind for two reasons: firstly you keep on stubbornly repeating the same line, despite every other Arrser with crew-served weapons experience, not to mention a properly qualified and experienced ATO telling you quite plainly that you are (as ever) flat wrong, and secondly, because I’ve been asked by one of those very Arrsers to do so :-D

Now – off to do the gardening :)
 
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Caecilius

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On that score I’d bet we’re even-stevens.
We are indeed. However, you aren't even close to even with my blokes who have done it so you'll forgive me for thinking you're a c*nt for accusing vastly more experienced soldiers of flapping in a situation that you've never faced.

But it was the second time (this makes it three times) that I have pointed out that you stupidly keep picking up on a “No Shit There We Was Thought We Was All Gonna Die” war-story/NAAFI bar-room dit/internet rumour
Or it's what I have been told as a no-nonsense tale by multiple soldiers I've worked with who have done it for real when facing opposing armour. Try not to be so pathetic as to enviously dismiss the experience of others as false tales just because you were never in a real contact. It is evidently the case that this stuff isn't made up because the RTR RIGs were doing the incorrect drill at Castlemartin.

ATO telling you quite plainly that you are (as ever) flat wrong,
As per the Pam I am, but that's not the point under discussion is it? The question is whether there is ever an operational justification to breach safety rules. It isn't really an answer to just bleat 'they're the rules' at me with a few insults thrown in while pretending that it's all just NAAFI bar lies because that allows you to ignore the substance of the argument.

Let me ask you a question: ignoring the specific situation for a moment, would you ever break safety rules if doing so would definitely result in you having a higher chance of survival? I suspect you won't have the intellectual honesty to answer this question but it's worth a shot.
 
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Let me ask you a question: ignoring the specific situation for a moment, would you ever break safety rules if doing so would definitely result in you having a higher chance of survival?
If I might stick my oar in, how do you judge that breaking the safety rules increases your odds of survival?
 
In a previous life in a quaint Scottish town, I worked on an experimental version of the gun prior to it's issue as the L30 CHARM system.

The vertical breech mechanism consists of a beautiful and marvellously engineered split sliding-block breech mechanism.

For them that's unfamiliar, the upper sliding block holds the obturation assembly, comprising a bolt vent axial (BVA) and an obturator ring. Those of you familiar with the neoprene obturator pad on an M109 will be able to visualise the similarity.

The BVA is basically a mushroom shape; the stem of the mushroom goes through the front face of the vertically sliding breech block and a counterbore machined into the end of the stem of the BVA provides a chamber where the live vent tube is loaded.

So in effect, the obturator ring is fitted under the mushroom head of the BVA and provides a rearward seal during combustion of the propellant in the main charge. Back in the day, each MBT had two serial numbered sets of obturators on board.

Action;
When the breech is closed, the upper block travels upwards and forwards due to the forward-sloping sliding grooves in the breech ring. During it's last movement, the upper breech block secures the BVA and obturator ring into a tapered seating at the end of the chamber. The upper block is locked for firing after the lower breech block travels upwards, wedging itself between the inner rear face of the breech ring and the rear face of the upper block. The sound is a delightfully unforgettable thunk-kerchunk.

The ammunition system is made up of three parts; projectile, main charge and combustion is initiated by means of an electrically fired vent tube. The vent tubes are magazine-fed and automatically fed into the rear of the BVA. On firing, the vent tube is expelled into the firing hole bored concentrically down the centre of the BVA, igniting the primer pad on the rear end of the main charge.

As combustion of the main charge occurs, force is applied to the front face of the BVA. The BVA is forced rearwards and squeezes the obturator to an extent that it makes a perfect seal between the firing chamber and atmosphere, encouraging all pressure behind the projectile, which now commences it's forward travel down the barrel.

I hope my dusty recollection will be of use to those that have an interest in things mechanical. More so, I sincerely hope that someone more enlightened than I will reveal the solution to the original dilemma of being able to make ready the experimental gun without an obturator ring in place and how it was overcome. Particularly in a training environment where, in maybe a competetive moment, a young thruster hurriedly assumes that soomcoont has fitted the obturator.

Anyways, the countryside and fishing in the quaint Scottish town were amazing. Being an excellent shot, I put my name down to take part in the annual unit shooting competition. Against the advice of my comrades and in true spirit of admiration for the Emperor himself, I happened to beat the donkey-walloping if-you-ain't-cav-you-ain't Colonel. Shortly after, I was made up on posting back to the fatherland, bockholz and zenf. Happy with that.
So the gun absolutely cannot be fired if the BVA is not fitted. Why then would the coroner claim the BVA was absent? Does the coroner mean the obturator ring was absent and just got the terminology wrong?
 

Caecilius

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If I might stick my oar in, how do you judge that breaking the safety rules increases your odds of survival?
For the hypothetical it doesn't matter. Assuming you knew for sure, would you break the safety rule if it would definitely increase survival chances?

If the answer is yes, as it must be for any rational person, then the next question is to what extent should you do that when you merely believe, rather than know, that breaking the safety rule would give you a much greater chance of survival. That's a fairly nuanced question and 'the Pam says no' is too simplistic a response. I think people know that and are being a little dishonest though...
 
No it isn't. It's about people diberately stepping away from drills to produce a faster rate of fire. Surely you can see the difference between that and not bothering?
To misquote; "There's something wrong with our bloody tanks today..."
 
For the hypothetical it doesn't matter. Assuming you knew for sure, would you break the safety rule if it would definitely increase survival chances?

If the answer is yes, as it must be for any rational person, then the next question is to what extent should you do that when you merely believe, rather than know, that breaking the safety rule would give you a much greater chance of survival. That's a fairly nuanced question and 'the Pam says no' is too simplistic a response. I think people know that and are being a little dishonest though...
My issue, as much as anything else, is that you will not and possibly can you not justify your belief. On top of that you don't seem to think that it should be reviewed.

I would suggest that if cutting safety rules did provide a tangible benefit, then training should include identifying when it occurs and some extra ways of making it safer for training or operational use. At the very least, it should be investigated to see if the benefits ever outweigh the risks - turn the nebulous belief into a fact, rather than take the view that "the guys at the coal face always know better and should never be questioned, ever."

There are a lot of things firmly believed by the guys on the front line to be true, but scientific investigation proves to be false.
 

Caecilius

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would suggest that if cutting safety rules did provide a tangible benefit, then training should include identifying when it occurs and some extra ways of making it safer for training or operational use. At the very least, it should be investigated to see if the benefits ever outweigh the risks - turn the nebulous belief into a fact, rather than take the view that "the guys at the coal face always know better and should never be questioned, ever."
That's fair I think, but at the end of the day it will always come down to a judgement call on the ground unless you prove there is absolutely no scenario in which it is safer to breach a particular safety rule. Other than putting your finger on the trigger when you don't intend to fire a weapon, few safety rules spring to mind where there are simply no conceivable situations in which it might be better broken.

I think there's more science to be done here for sure, but also I think it's too simplistic to say that these rules should never be broken under any circumstances and a bit rich to do so when it isn't your life on the line.

On top of that you don't seem to think that it should be reviewed.
I think these things should always be reviewed. The British army AAR process is pretty poor, especially at a junior level. I think there's definitely utility to discussing something like this in a blame free environment after the fact. If Cpl X says 'I upped my rate of fire by keeping the bags outside of the bins' then it's right that other people in that contact should question whether it was really justified given the threat they were facing. That's rather different to those comfortably in the rear screaming 'OMG you were flapping/a cowboy because you didn't follow the rulez'. Aside from anything else, that opinion is likely to be ignored as irrelevant by those who have been in that situation and is therefore useless as part of the review process.
 
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That's fair I think, but at the end of the day it will always come down to a judgement call on the ground unless you prove there is absolutely no scenario in which it is safer to breach a particular safety rule.
A judgement call by whom? Who is it that has all the evidence to make an accurate judgement call?


I think there's definitely utility to discussing something like this in a blame free environment after the fact. If Cpl X says 'I upped my rate of fire by keeping the bags outside of the bins' then it's right that other people in that contact should question whether it was really justified given the threat they were facing.
So what would happen if Cpl X said that and Cpls Y and Z said that it wasn't justified. How about Sgt Q or perhaps Lt R?

On the specific case in question, I keep thinking back to practice and drills. A physical drill achieves speed and accuracy by repetition. To the degree that changing it will lose both speed and accuracy. So I have a suspicion that to achieve an increased rate of fire in combat, the vehicle crews have been practicing unsafe drills out of combat.
 
That's fair I think, but at the end of the day it will always come down to a judgement call on the ground unless you prove there is absolutely no scenario in which it is safer to breach a particular safety rule. Other than putting your finger on the trigger when you don't intend to fire a weapon, few safety rules spring to mind where there are simply no conceivable situations in which it might be better broken.

I think there's more science to be done here for sure, but also I think it's too simplistic to say that these rules should never be broken under any circumstances and a bit rich to do so when it isn't your life on the line.



I think these things should always be reviewed. The British army AAR process is pretty poor, especially at a junior level. I think there's definitely utility to discussing something like this in a blame free environment after the fact. If Cpl X says 'I upped my rate of fire by keeping the bags outside of the bins' then it's right that other people in that contact should question whether it was really justified given the threat they were facing. That's rather different to those comfortably in the rear screaming 'OMG you were flapping/a cowboy because you didn't follow the rulez'. Aside from anything else, that opinion is likely to be ignored as irrelevant by those who have been in that situation and is therefore useless as part of the review process.
The problem is that the PAMs don't appear by accident. There's lots of though that goes into them, and much of the back story is put together by EOE* and ATOs, not to mention gunnery specialists etc. By the time it gets to the end users we often don't know exactly 'why' we do something- we just do it. Perhaps some of the precautions are over the top - in my line of work I think we might have gone a bit OTT on 'RF Hazards' for demolitions in some circumstances, but I know what I don't know, so I stick to the rules. The problem is when guys start 'pushing the boundaries' without knowing why those boundaries were set in the first place.

IIRC (and it's been a long time since I set in an AVRE) the ammunition for the 165mm was designated as 'Cat B' which if memory serves meant that it could only be fired live from inside the turret during wartime. IF there was more scope to have something like this for drills that said "you can do this on ops but in peacetime you can only do that with blank (or some other additional safety precautions) then everyone would know the score. It does not give carte blanche to go off reservation, and certainly not on a range.

But, as @incendiarycutlery says, the reason for training with one drill is to get it right through practice, so the scope for having two drills would only ever be very limited, I expect.

*Explosive ordnance engineers, or 'rocket scientists' to the rest of us...
 

Caecilius

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A judgement call by whom? Who is it that has all the evidence to make an accurate judgement call?
Nobody has all the evidence so the judgement will be inherently flawed, but the guy on the ground has the best view of the situation so it should be his decision. In the case of a CR2, that's the vehicle commander.

So what would happen if Cpl X said that and Cpls Y and Z said that it wasn't justified. How about Sgt Q or perhaps Lt R?
Thays exactly how I'd envisage the AAR workong. If that happens then Cpl X has better information available to him next time he thinks about doing it. He knows either that he saw something in his vehicle that nobody else saw, which he would have to justify to them, or he knows that he is prone to perceive a threat as greater than others do and he can try to account for that the next time (in the unlikely event he's involved in multiple tank battles).

So I have a suspicion that to achieve an increased rate of fire in combat, the vehicle crews have been practicing unsafe drills out of combat.
I think it's always going to be faster to pick a bag up off the floor than it is to grab it out of a bin. However, the Castlemartin incident makes it look like your suspicion is almost certainly correct; I'd be surprised if this was the only time that shortcut was used on a range. They just got away with it the other times.
 
For the hypothetical it doesn't matter. Assuming you knew for sure, would you break the safety rule if it would definitely increase survival chances?

If the answer is yes, as it must be for any rational person, then the next question is to what extent should you do that when you merely believe, rather than know, that breaking the safety rule would give you a much greater chance of survival. That's a fairly nuanced question and 'the Pam says no' is too simplistic a response. I think people know that and are being a little dishonest though...
It’s not an answerable question. You have to make decisions based on the situation you are in.

Therefore it’s a mute point and not relevant to this thread as this concerns safety in training.

And before you start trying to rubbish me, just remember I had to make a very difficult decision, however, I was not acting contrary to regulation.

It may be best to stick to training aspects and attitudes rather than crayoning over the thread. If you want to discuss hypothetical situations, start another thread.
 
A judgement call by whom? Who is it that has all the evidence to make an accurate judgement call?



So what would happen if Cpl X said that and Cpls Y and Z said that it wasn't justified. How about Sgt Q or perhaps Lt R?

On the specific case in question, I keep thinking back to practice and drills. A physical drill achieves speed and accuracy by repetition. To the degree that changing it will lose both speed and accuracy. So I have a suspicion that to achieve an increased rate of fire in combat, the vehicle crews have been practicing unsafe drills out of combat.
Jumping in with my 10p worth based on 15 years experience as a gunnery instructor albeit in CH and the CR1. I honestly cannot see any benefit at all in not stowing bag charges correctly in terms of speed/upping your rate of fire, as you have stated the loader has been through the drills hundreds of times and they really are imprinted into your brain and muscle memory forever, I kid you not.

Deviating from the sequence would almost certainly slow the whole drill down, put yourself in the crew commanders seat, he to has spent hours going through the drills with the turret crew, the whole scenario is stressful enough as it is, he needs eyes in the back of his head to ensure that not only has he got it right but also the gunner and loader, and as well as that he has the driver to supervise on the move, to top it all there is always someone asking for a sitrep'

To then start adjusting drills is a recipe for disaster, I go along with Dingerr here, the time to question drills is in training or simulator scenarios, indeed we often experimented in the CIM with having charges in the open , no real benefit at all, it simply introduced hesitation in the loaders reaction times.

Crew commanders will as stated almost always be on their own once they go red, and the decisions they make are life and death ones, personally I was lucky 3rd shock army never put me to the test, but one thing I do know is I would have stuck to the drills that formed my crews into what they were. RIP.
 

Caecilius

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It’s not an answerable question. You have to make decisions based on the situation you are in.
Exactly my point. These things are always a judgement on the ground and there are always situations that are at least conceivable where you would be better off disobey a safety rule. It may be, as @revmodes contends, that the practice effect of having done the correct drill before outweighs any possible benefit, but that's also a personal decision.

Therefore it’s a mute point and not relevant to this thread as this concerns safety in training.
I think this has gone deep enough down that hole to make it worth continuing on here. While we all know that this stuff should definitely never happen in training, what we're talking about is at least tangentially relevant to the incident because its where they got the bad drill from.
 
I think this has gone deep enough down that hole to make it worth continuing on here.
You agree that it’s not answerable, but you still want to pursue an answer.

Beggars belief.
 
Exactly my point. These things are always a judgement on the ground and there are always situations that are at least conceivable where you would be better off disobey a safety rule. It may be, as @revmodes contends, that the practice effect of having done the correct drill before outweighs any possible benefit, but that's also a personal decision.



I think this has gone deep enough down that hole to make it worth continuing on here. While we all know that this stuff should definitely never happen in training, what we're talking about is at least tangentially relevant to the incident because its where they got the bad drill from.
Unless you have a batch of poorly trained/supervised instructors who have then passed the bad drills ethos to crew commanders, which I doubt, it should never happen in training!
I am not convinced that the CastleMartin incident was due to the bag charges being "out" unless some one on the enquiry has stated as fact that they were I would err on the side of two experienced gunnery instructors having carried that part of the loading drill correctly, I am no expert on CR2 I have friends who are and there seems to be some confusion over the actual technical findings from the enquiry. Primary seal failure seems very likely I have experienced that personally on a few occasions and it certainly wakes you up.

The drills are being described as "safety" drills by some posters a misnomer I feel , they are designed to achieve a smooth rate of fire by repetition, safety is important of course, as taught on my first ever gunnery course, SAS ,speed....accuracy(in the drill) ....safety, perhaps that helps with perspective.

edited to clarify, my first ever gunnery course was not on the longbow.
 
I am not convinced that the CastleMartin incident was due to the bag charges being "out"
They were out and exposed in the turret. It was established in the investigation and by the coroner.
 

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