'Iraq weapons training deficient' - Judge Advocate

#1
This from the BBC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3979645.stm

Iraq weapons training 'deficient'

A judge has criticised the Army for deploying a territorial soldier to Iraq with "deficient" weapons training.

Assistant judge advocate Paul Camp made the comment at the court martial of L/Cpl Ian Blaymire for the manslaughter of a fellow soldier in Iraq.

L/Cpl Blaymire was acquitted, but found guilty of breaching military discipline by failing to follow the correct safety procedures for weapon handling.

The Ministry of Defence said there was an "appropriate level of training".

'Let down'

As he discharged L/Cpl Blaymire from the Territorial Army and fined him £2,750, Mr Camp said: "The system in Iraq was very slack in weapon handling terms.

"You have been let down by the Army."

L/Cpl Blaymire, 28, had been accused of shooting his friend Sgt John Nightingale at Shaibah military camp, south Iraq, on 23 September last year.

His court martial was held at Catterick Garrison near Richmond, North Yorkshire.

Mr Camp said: "Your training was deficient, you shouldn't have been deployed without further training."

The judge also said his commanding officer had to "bear considerable morale responsibility for what happened".

Sgt Nightingale, 32, from Guiseley, West Yorkshire, died after being hit in the chest at point-blank range by a bullet from an A2 rifle.

Colleague's rifle

He was a Territorial Army soldier with 217 Transport Squadron, part of 150 Regiment (Volunteers) of the Royal Logistic Corps, based at Churchill Barracks in Leeds.

L/Cpl Blaymire, a plumbing and heating engineer from Leeds, was a TA driver deployed as part of 150 (Yorkshire) Transport Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps (Volunteers).


If there have been individual failings we will of course investigate and take appropriate action
Ministry of Defence spokesman

He had taken a colleague's rifle to a troop office at the military camp and met his friend Sgt Nightingale, the court was told.

While in the office, Sgt Nightingale, who had passed his weapons test, pulled the cocking handle on the rifle and as L/Cpl Blaymire stepped back with the rifle it fired a bullet into his chest.

The court was told L/Cpl Blaymire, who had not passed his weapons test, did not realise there was a live round in the chamber and had not checked.

However, the five-member panel decided, after a 44-day hearing, that the shooting was a tragic accident and cleared him of manslaughter.

Appropriate training

The court was told that at least 2,000 reservist soldiers should not have been deployed to the Gulf after failing weapon-handling tests.

After the sentencing on Wednesday, the Ministry of Defence said it would "consider very seriously the comments of the judge advocate".

"Our policy is to ensure that all our soldiers have the appropriate level of training required to fulfil their roles and operations," a spokesman said.

"Over 9,000 TA soldiers have successfully completed this training before deploying to Iraq.

"If there have been individual failings we will of course investigate and take appropriate action."

During the court martial, documents revealed that top secret plans for attacking Iraq were drawn up five months before the war started.

Another reason for TCH to resign now.
 
#2
If this TA soldier was found to be lacking in his weapons training, how can they fine him and discharge him, when the fault lies with the hierarchy that sent him to Iraq in the first place?

Also as he hadn't passed his weapons test, what the hell was he doing fecking about with a rifle?

This does highlight the slack attitude of the powers that be at present to us on the ground. As long as we are there in numbers, they couldn't care less :evil:

The sooner that spineless git resigns, the better for us all in the Military
 
#3
Back in the 70s/80 the regular army took out more of it's own in neg dishcharges/explosions then the opposition took out.
only a couple of years where exceptions.
john
 
#4
The Times report of the trial outcome:

TA soldier cleared of gun death in Basra
By Andrew Norfolk
A SOLDIER was cleared of manslaughter yesterday after the Army was accused by a court martial judge of covering up the pitiful failings of weapons training for troops sent to Iraq.

Ian Blaymire, 23, a lance corporal in the Territorial Army, walked free yesterday after it was accepted he accidentally killed fellow reservist Sergeant Ian Nightingale when his SA80 assault rifle went off while the two men were serving in Basra.

The soldier, a plumber, had not checked whether the rifle was loaded and Sergeant Nightingale, 32, was hit in the chest at point-blank range.

He was charged with manslaughter, but his court martial, which had been due to last only ten days, eventually stretched to seven weeks as a series of potentially fatal blunders were exposed in the pre-deployment weapons training given to TA troops.

A succession of senior officers were forced to appear before the court as it emerged that an estimated 2,300 British reservists in Iraq — including Lance Corporal Blaymire — had failed a basic weapon- handling test. Under Army regulations, none should have been deployed to the Gulf. A senior weapons instructor told the hearing that many had been graded as a high safety risk.

Paul Camp, the assistant judge advocate, yesterday accused the Army of lying in an attempt to prevent the exposure of the “very poor training and very poor leadership” to which so many reservists were subjected.

Simon Reevell, defending Lance Corporal Blaymire, also forced the disclosure that the “pitiful” inadequacy of the weapons training was partly prompted by high-level political sensitivities. It was revealed that American military planners had told their British counterparts in October 2002 that the war in Iraq was scheduled to start in March 2003. The Army immediately sought permission to start training in December, but the request was blocked by the Government.

Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher Warren told the court that a committee — the Defence Crisis Management Organisation — with a membership that included the Prime Minister, had ruled that mobilisation could not be seen to begin “before the political process had been allowed to run its course”.

Thirteen days before the killing of Sergeant Nightingale, orders were issued that TA personnel at the base should be given regular remedial training in how to handle a weapon.

Lieutenant-Colonel John Bevan, the officer commanding 27 Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps, to which Lance Corporal Blaymire and Sergeant Nightingale — both transport supply drivers — were attached, received the orders but failed to act upon them before the fatal shooting.

The judge said: “Blaymire was undoubtedly very badly let down by the Army and blame for this incident does not rest on his shoulders alone. ”

A Board of Inquiry has also been ordered to investigate how the training lapses were allowed to happen.

Lance Corporal Blaymire was cleared of manslaughter, but found guilty of negligence for a breach of military discipline in failing to follow the correct safety procedures for weapon-handling. He was fined £2,750 and dismissed from the TA.

After the verdict, he said that his thoughts were with the family of Sergeant Nightingale.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,7374-1343341,00.html

A BoI to establish how lapses in training were allowed to happen is one thing, but what will be done about those responsible for the subsequent lies and cover-ups? If the blame does not lie with L/Cpl Blaymire alone, will the Army (or his CO) pay his fine?
 
#5
Isn't the lesson that (apart from a few specialists) you can't take a TA soldier who has trained on a handful of MTDs and expect him or her to go straight to a war zone without some beat-up training first?

It may be a bit inconvenient to the politicians but shouldn't the military top brass have simply said that the TA cannot be deployed without (say) at least three weeks predeployment training?
 
#6
Agreed!

WTF was this clown doing with a stripe, anyway???
 
#7
crossed_axes said:
Isn't the lesson that (apart from a few specialists) you can't take a TA soldier who has trained on a handful of MTDs and expect him or her to go straight to a war zone without some beat-up training first?

It may be a bit inconvenient to the politicians but shouldn't the military top brass have simply said that the TA cannot be deployed without (say) at least three weeks predeployment training?
Totally agree. I am guessing from your words that you perhaps do not realise that ITD training/testing followed by OPTAG training has for years been a normal part of the mobilisation process. The question which has been raised over the TELIC mobilisations is whether the button was pressed too late, for political reasons, to allow for everyone to get the training they deserved: the point you made. Regular Army units usually have time for pre-deployment training.
 
#8
I think that the TA soldier in question was extremely lucky to get away with the fine. No-one should point a weapon at anybody unless they intend to pull the trigger. The individual in question admitted to "larking around", this is just unacceptable and utterly unproffessional. The fact that he had not passed his WHT is wrong but had he passed his APWT, a pre-requisit to deployment. If he was unsure about handling a weapon he should have asked for more training ( and the system should have highlighted his problems and given him more training).

I can't agree more about the TA should have descent beat up training. Most, from experience of TELIC and my present unit, needs at least 5 weeks to be up to standard.

Rant over.
 
#9
dui-lai said:
If this TA soldier was found to be lacking in his weapons training, how can they fine him and discharge him, when the fault lies with the hierarchy that sent him to Iraq in the first place?
Because he should have reported his lack of competence and refused to handle weapons until it was corrected. In theory. According to the book. Which everyone follows to the letter. :roll:

Of course, he then would have been charged with refusing an order, but better that than killing yer mate. 8O

As for enquiries, what about one into how the government could block training for operations which they KNEW were going to happen, simply to give the impression that no decision had been made?
 
#10
My god, no matter even if this guy was fresh out of training, he should have known to do NSPs when recieving the rifle from a friend. I have had 1 lesson on the rifle so far the first thing taught, NSPs & it was drilled into us, the importance. I can remember the NSPs after that first 1 hour long lesson! What was he doing with his finger on the trigger in the first place? And if he was firing off the action after the weapon ahd been cocked, why was it in an unsafe direction? See my point, 1 lesson, this guy's a lance jack, he's had at least about 3 years around weapons! No excuse I'm afraid here, he was just salck in safe weapon handling. I honest to god swear I've only ever handled weapon onve to.
 

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