Live fire ranges and soldiers’ safety

The Guardian is reporting that soldiers’ lives are being put at risk by cost cutting at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) after six Gurkhas were allowed to wander into the arc of fire at a training range last week.

Kate Hollern, a shadow defence minister, is seeking a urgent review of the decision to remove trained safety wardens from their posts at live ammunition ranges following the incident in Hythe, Kent.

She has written to Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, warning that there are now 80 live fire ranges where wardens have been removed from their posts.

So many of  the fatalities and injuries I have dealt with on live firing ranges over the years have been due to a total absence of a safety officer and could have been avoided.  When will the MoD learn its lesson?

Unless serious accountability is in place such as liability under the Corporate Manslaughter Act the MoD will continue to fail to learn from its mistakes.

The current parliamentary select defence committee inquiry, “Beyond Endurance” at which I gave evidence, must address the issue of a total failure by the MoD of accountability for lives when training.


Hilary Meredith