Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Army's bomb disposal chief resigns

Top bomb disposal officer says more operatives are needed on the ground
Top bomb disposal officer says more operatives are needed on the ground

The Army's top bomb disposal officer has resigned after expressing concerns about the pressures on his team operating in Afghanistan, it has been disclosed.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed that Colonel Bob Seddon quit as principal ammunition technical officer of the Royal Logistics Corps.

An Army spokesman said in a brief statement that he would be leaving the service in January.

"He remains a serving officer and will not be commenting. The Army remains committed to the counter IED (improvised explosive device) effort which is the number one priority in Afghanistan," the spokesman said.

In a BBC Panorama documentary to be broadcast on Monday night, Col Seddon suggested that he needed more operatives on the ground and raised fears over the psychological impact of the job. In his interview for the programme, Col Seddon said the Army was looking to bring more people into IED disposal teams but added that the measures would take "some time".

He said: "I am very concerned as their head of trade at the pressures that they are facing in Afghanistan. We are seeking now to bring people back into high threat IED operations that have been out for some time.

"We are looking at more senior officers becoming involved in this. We've broadened our training and selection but it will take some time before these measures can come into play. And what it does mean is, it means the existing cohort are going to be under pressure."

Col Seddon added that he thought the British Army "could do with more high threat teams and IED operators in Afghanistan". He also expressed his fears over the effect of the high-pressured job on the mental health of his team members.

Col Seddon said: "I'm very concerned that in the longer term some of my people who have done phenomenally difficult and dangerous work in Afghanistan may pay a deeper psychological price for the work that they've conducted."

As a result, the Army was looking to launch a detailed study into the psychological impact of bomb disposal on its operatives, he said.

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