Soldier died in Afghanistan due to failures with night visio

#1
Soldier died in Afghanistan due to failures with night vision goggles

A soldier died because of a "serious failure" to properly train and equip soldiers who used night vision goggles while driving, a coroner has ruled.

By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent
Last Updated: 7:31PM GMT 12 Jan 2009

Lance Corporal Jake Alderton (seated middle), 22, drowned because the driver of his vehicle was driving with ineffective" night vision equipment. It was the first time that he had used them at night.
Lance Corporal Jake Alderton, 22, drowned because the driver of his vehicle was driving practically blind because of "ineffective" night vision equipment. It was the first time that he had used them at night.
The Pinzgauer truck drove off a bridge and rolled upside down into a river with the sapper trapped underneath in the town of Sangin, Helmand province.
In the last year troops deploying to Afghanistan have consistently complained of not having enough equipment to train with before they deploy on operations. In many instances soldiers only use weapons, vehicles or other kit for the first time when they arrive on the front line.
More on the link
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/new...ue-to-failures-with-night-vision-goggles.html
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
#2
the link is worth reading... I am surprised this is allowed and hopefully units will address this in their pre-deployment training in future.
 
#4
Mr Happy said:
the link is worth reading... I am surprised this is allowed and hopefully units will address this in their pre-deployment training in future.
:cry: sadly it takes a brave young mans life before this problem is highlighted


RIP
 
#5
This on the day that the following report appeared:-

Minister hears praise for equipment from front line troops
An Equipment and Logistics news article
13 Jan 09


Quentin Davies, Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, has visited British Forces in Afghanistan and heard first-hand views from those on the front line on the quality and availability of equipment on operations.

"There has been a marked improvement with night-vision, everyone now has some form of capability. It has been the big development of the last few years and is a real progression."
 
#6
RIP LCpl Alderton-one can only echo the above comment that it is a monumental shame that a soldier's life has been sacrificed this way.One's thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.
 
#7
I can see this being a serious issue. My first experience with NODs was with the archaeic AN/PVS-5 goggles that required tons of fiddling to be adjusted for the user. Luckily I had many months of field time to get used to working with them before having to use them when it counted and by then had gotten fairly adept operating with them on. Newer designs are much easier to use but still require getting used to the loss of perspective, tunnel vision, and being light blinded. To give a guy a pair for the first time and expect him to drive over rough terrain is just absurd. What's bothering me also is that it's far too easy to point to the lack if equipment in garrison as being the cause when we all know it's the team and squad leader's responsability to make sure his men know how to use thier gear. What's more... it should have been apparent to the commander that his men weren't capable of conducting a night operation if they were driving into walls and other obstacles.

Anyway...

Rest in peace Corporal Alderton.
 
#8
... and a coroner sitting in UK is qualified to pass this judgement eh?

Look, it was an RTA, and yes NV was a contributary factor, however...

As Khyros points out, it is really down to a judgement call of whoever was commanding the convoy, however if they had waited for day break, perhaps it would have been an RPG attack. We need to be very careful of "armchairary" here...

OK, in a perfect world, nobody would ever do anything unless they were fully trained and assessed, and that operating conditions were perfect, but we are not in a perfect world, least of all in Helmand...

Without IN ANY WAY denigrating the memory of Jake Alderton, (or defending a government for writing cheques on the back of their miltary which they will not honour) can we try to resist the temptation to raise an equipment oriented blamefest every time this sort of thing happens..

I understand the sentiment, which is to force the powers that be to properly resource the armed forces...

Can I suggest that we will not solve this as a resut of coroners reports and the resulting press attention. What actually will happen is that some civil servent in the MoD will be tasked to make the problem go away, this he, or more probably she will do by issuing an edict requiring all drivers to attend a three week course in NV driving and be tested every month. It then transpires that there are no qualified NV driving instructors. A consultant is hired to scope the problem and a contract is laid to generate the training specifcation, and to "Train the Trainers". Two years later, courses are started which run in Benbecula on every third month for 10 drivers. All the places for four years are block booked by RAF clerks... need I go on?

...meanwhile back in the real world, life (and death regrettably) goes on. Military operations are, by definition, the ultimate representation of competition. Competition is about taking risks and History tells us that in this field fortune follows the bold. We must be very careful not to hog tie our warriors...

To solve this problem will take a more fundamental change in the cultural and political handling of the military in this country. I contend that the problem lies with changes that have occurred in the MoD over the past twenty years where executive power has been allowed to pass from the military to the civil service. This is fundamentally wrong IMHO. The military chain of command is constantly being second guessed by a risk averse civil service chain. Unintended consequences are regrettably inevitable...

So, can I firstly honour the passing of Cpl Alderton, who fell in battle just as surely as if in hand to hand combat, but plead for a more informed criticism of the roots of the problem...
 
#9
and if the lad driving hadn't of had any nvg and had of had an accident driving at night which resulted in a casualty the coronor would have blamed the lack of night vision you just cant win some times

what qualifications do you need to be a coronor and should the military appoint a serving officer to do the inquest so they have a bit of back ground knowledge into how the military works in reality or should each theater have its own coronor?
 
#10
Having had a quick read the chunky line is:-

"My conclusion is that Lance Corporal Alderton's death was caused in part by a serious failure to ensure the driver had sufficient training for driving at night with night vision goggles, and a failure to provide effective night vision equipment."

Notice those words "in part"

That's the chunk. If proper training had been conducted, with the correct equipment then that part of the summing up would not have been made. The Coroner does not, from this report, appear to have made any comment on the decisions made that resulted in the acident, notably the incidents of hiting walls....

Notice also that a Senior Army Driving Instructor, by which I suspect they mean a Master Driver, had his say. The question that has to be asked. Did the Unit have the equipment to train on before going out? If Yes, then who's fault is that training did not take place? If no, then who's fault is that?

The Coroner does not appear to have commented on any part of the Miltary operation the convoy was engaged, but stuck purely to the salient point. Which is pretty much what caused the acident?
 
#11
It's a sad tale but I think the media is missing the point. Night vision devices save lives and can make difficult situations much easier. The problem was not with the device but with the internal lighting of the vehicle. It's great giving people gucci bits of kit but you have to ensure that it integrates with everything else.

Ask any pilot about using NVDs, the cockpit of the aircraft has to be completely changed to ensure NV compatible lighting or they are useless. I would guess that it's even more dangerous to attempt to use NVD in a ground based vehicle without the correct lighting, more things to bump in to.
 
#12
This incident was mentioned on my GSDI course i attended in DST last Dec. Things are afoot ref Night Vision training with vehicles.
As someone quite correct stated, any light within the cab will "flare-out" the googles as well as anything outside the veh.
 
#13
Kitmarlowe said:
Notice also that a Senior Army Driving Instructor, by which I suspect they mean a Master Driver, had his say. The question that has to be asked. Did the Unit have the equipment to train on before going out? If Yes, then who's fault is that training did not take place? If no, then who's fault is that?
Guards mentality, something has gone wrong and rather than trying to ensure it never happens again everyone is running around finding somebody to blame.
 
#14
CH512O said:
This incident was mentioned on my GSDI course i attended in DST last Dec. Things are afoot ref Night Vision training with vehicles.
As someone quite correct stated, any light within the cab will "flare-out" the googles as well as anything outside the veh.
As I suspected, the problem is being addressed then. Do your military vehicles have a "black out" drive mode like US one's do? Basically amounts to two IR head lamps and two tiny IR marking lights on the rear... no interior lights. Aside from visibility, the loss of perspective and degraded ability to gauge distances makes driving with NODs a lot harder than one would expect. Thinking back to all the night movements I have done both mounted and dismounted it's a miracle more soldiers weren't injured. Witnessed everything from tunnel vision causing the poor fellow in front to not notice the big hole he's stepping in (an unfilled old fighting position as it turned out... hit his chin on the opposite edge and knocked himself cold as well as losing a couple teeth) to misjudging the gap between a pair of trees and getting one's HMMWV stuck (was actually funny once we got his vehicle recovered and were discussing it over a beer.) Luckily no fatalities occured from the mishaps I have seen but plenty of deaths have happened from similar situations.
 
#15
vampireuk said:
Kitmarlowe said:
Notice also that a Senior Army Driving Instructor, by which I suspect they mean a Master Driver, had his say. The question that has to be asked. Did the Unit have the equipment to train on before going out? If Yes, then who's fault is that training did not take place? If no, then who's fault is that?
Guards mentality, something has gone wrong and rather than trying to ensure it never happens again everyone is running around finding somebody to blame.
My bold. Care to elucidate what you meant by this?
 
R

really?_fascinating

Guest
#16
the link is worth reading... I am surprised this is allowed and hopefully units will address this in their pre-deployment training in future.

Mr Happy's quote.

I am not normally moved to bite on here, but this comment is, I am afraid, hugely ill- informed and high handed.

As a former commnader of a sub unit who knew his blokes would have to drive on NVG on ops, I tried and tried to get some for training. Eventually, I did get some. One set. And was told that I was, under no circumstances, to let blokes drive using them as DST had not written any procedures for using NVG to drive B vehs. I then idly enquired how I was supposed to train my blokes for ops.

Do it in theatre was, of course, the reply.

So imagine my delight when upon arrival in said theatre the helpful chap who had told me I was under no circumstances to allow my blokes to drive using NVG then told me I was, under no circumstances, allowed to let my blokes drive until they had been trained! Oh, and off course, all training to be conducted by properly qualified driving instructors with experience of using NVG! After combing the Sqn and selecting the best ten from the hundreds available (not really, utterly unrealistic constraint, duly ingnored) we set to.

Cue a succession of nights of sect comds going round and round the flat featurless vehicle park teaching the boys and girls how to do it. This training (written by my ops offr) and conducted by Sect Comds had to be formally recorded. And was little better than useless, teaching blokes only that it was hard, not getting them used to driving in convoy, cross country in clouds of dust.

So, to address Mr Happy (and any one else who might think units sit idle before a tour), the fault lies not with units (who do not have the kit in any event) but rather with people who are empowered to take good, risk aware decisions choosing instead to avoid any risk in UK, stacking up huge risk on arrival in theatre.

The answer here is, I reckon, to let units have the kit before they deploy, write a proper training programme and accept that there will be some accidents in training.

For those of you who want to know what it is like, steal any civilian pattern LGV with no night vision mods whatsoever. Put black tape over all lights in the cab then get ready to drive. Get some old sunglasses and tape a loo roll tube over your left eye, covering the other lens in black tape and then driving to the shops. Full marks for not bumping into anything when reversing into your parking space, bonus points for knowing what speed you are doing and being able to spot bumps/ speed humps/ people directly in front of your wagon from your perch ten feet in the air.

Good that after failing to provide in the first place the great and the good of the Army duly went to court to apportion blame and claim credit for improved procedures. Well done all.

Usefully though, according to CH5120, things are afoot with NVG training for vehs - great, cos the boys have only been at it for five years now, no need to hurry a programme through!

Irritation eased. I thank you.
 
#17
Hi really?_fascinating
Well said we could do with more like you on these threads who have practical up front experience of what the real ops world is like. Keep it up.
 

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