Brit bomb disposal chief quits amid Afghan worries: army

24th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

The British army's top bomb disposal officer has quit after expressing concern about the pressures on his team in Afghanistan, defence officials said.

Colonel Bob Seddon has handed in his resignation as principal ammunition technical officer of the Royal Logistics Corps and will leave the service in January, the Ministry of Defence said late Sunday.

It came after the officer said he was worried about the number of personnel available in Afghanistan to tackle the threat from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and the state of his men's mental health.

Taliban insurgents plant the bombs to target foreign troops fighting them, and the devices are one of the greatest dangers faced by soldiers in the country.

"I am very concerned as their head of trade at the pressures that they are facing in Afghanistan," Seddon told a BBC documentary being broadcast on Monday.

He said training and selection had been broadened to get more people on the ground who could ease the workload of his team, but he added the army "could do with more high threat teams and IED operators in Afghanistan".

"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," said Seddon.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox said that countering the IED threat to British forces in Afghanistan was a priority for the new coalition government.

"I will make sure that everything possible is done to ensure that our forces have all they need to deal with this indiscriminate threat. They deserve nothing less," he said.

The resignation came as British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, accompanied by Fox and International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell were finishing their first visit to Afghanistan.

Britain has 10,000 troops in Afghanistan, the second biggest commitment behind the US in a force of 130,000 under NATO command. Since 2001, 286 British servicemen have been killed in the country.

© 2010 AFP

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