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2006 – A YEAR OF RECOGNITION?

2006 – A YEAR OF RECOGNITION?
The Men Have Their Groundsheets…
By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE

18 Dec 06. The BBC Report regarding the inquest into Sgt Steve Roberts’s death in Iraq cemented the Government’s treatment of the British Armed Forces this year and before – disdain. The various complaints and/or comments made by top commanders such as General Sir Mike Jackson and Sir Richard Dannett have not been helped by the belligerent and obviously anti-war policy of the BBC, particularly John Humphrys. Mr Humphrys’s anti-war and anti-Army stance has been the major complaint to BATTLESPACE in this entire debate. Then Government’s anti-Army stance was expected. Quite simply they view soldiers as expendable unlike their U.S. counterparts. In the U.S. the Veterans Agency Head is part of the war cabinet with billions of dollars or budget whilst in the U.K. the system relies on the patronage of charities such as BLESMA and SSAFA to keep these men from penury. Chancellor Gordon Brown relied on advice from consultants to lessen the budget rather than ensure that our soldiers received the protection and equipment they deserved. Earlier this year we ran a piece that suggested that the warrior vehicles supplies ran for 30 meters until the sand clogged their engines whilst troops had little or no body armour. The Labour Government attitude to our soldiers is reminiscent of that in the Napoleonic war – ‘The men have their ground sheets, pass the port,’ perhaps that is hwo they think they should behave?

This resulted in the death of Sgt. Steve Roberts. Roberts was the first British soldier killed in action in Iraq

A soldier who was shot and killed in Iraq died because of “unforgivable and inexcusable” delays in providing body armour to troops, a coroner has ruled.

Sgt Steven Roberts, 33, from Shipley, West Yorkshire, was shot dead in a “friendly fire” incident as he manned a checkpoint in March 2003.

He had been ordered to give up his enhanced combat body armour three days before his death, due to shortages. The MOD said the coroner’s view will be examined as a “matter of urgency”.

Oxfordshire assistant deputy coroner Andrew Walker recorded a narrative verdict at Sgt Roberts’ Oxford inquest. Sgt Roberts, originally from Wadebridge, Cornwall, was the first British soldier killed in action in Iraq.

The inquest heard delays supplying the £167 piece of kit meant more than 2,000 soldiers went into combat without the new armour. Mr Walker said: “To send soldiers into a combat zone without the appropriate basic equipment is, in my view, unforgivable and inexcusable and represents a breach of trust the soldiers have in those in government.

“I have heard justification and excuse and I put these to one side as I remind myself that Sgt Roberts lost his life because he did not have that basic piece of equipment.

Samantha Roberts has campaigned for the truth about the death.

“Sgt Roberts’s death was as a result of delay and serious failures in the acquisition and support chain that resulted in a significant shortage within his fighting unit of enhanced combat body armour, none being available for him to wear.”

Sgt Roberts died after he was attacked by a stone-wielding Iraqi man while manning a checkpoint outside the southern city of Az Zubayr. An Army Board of Inquiry into his death found that the pistol he tried to shoot the Iraqi with failed and he was shot by a comrade in a tank who was trying to protect him but did not know his high-powered machine gun was inaccurate at short range.

If he had been wearing the body armour that was meant to be issued to troops before battle commenced, he would have survived, pathologists found.

Speaking after the hearing, Sgt Roberts’ widow Samantha said the verdict and changes in military procedures would be her husband’s “legacy”.

She said: “We

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