Army bungles blamed for soldier’s death
A SERIES of “mistaken beliefs and cumulative failures” led a US Apache helicopter to launch a deadly attack on a British base in Afghanistan, a coroner has ruled.
Lance Corporal Christopher Roney, from Sunderland, died from head injuries suffered in the onslaught at Patrol Base Almas in Sangin, Helmand, on 21 December, 2009.
Sunderland coroner Derek Winter yesterday listed a series of errors made leading up to the tragedy. He will write to Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and said “lessons must be learned”.
The soldier from 3rd Battalion, The Rifles was fatally injured while manning a position during a fight with the Taleban after the enemy detonated a huge bomb.
His platoon was holding off the Taleban attack when, without their knowledge, two US gunships were called in to help.
One gunship fired 200 rounds into the base – despite the flagpole, machine gun, barbed wire and men in uniform. Aircrews were told it was an enemy position.
When British Army soldiers saw pictures beamed from a camera on an unmanned drone, they misidentified the base as an enemy stronghold and guided the Apaches to the location, which was not on official maps.
Soldiers at Almas were firing mortar illumination to light up the battlezone, but this was detected on mortar-locating radar and mistaken as insurgents firing at the allies.
Troops at another base watched the scenes unfolding on a camera system, but they failed to recognise Almas because its appearance had changed following the Taleban bomb.
The “total disorientation” led commanders to authorise the Apache crews to attack with 30mm chain-gun fire.
Mr Winter appreciated the conditions were “extremely challenging”, but said the exemplary action under pressure by L/Cpl Roney and his comrades had not been matched by soldiers elsewhere.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West