Britain's elite SAS slammed over training deaths

14th July 2015, Comments 0 comments

The British army apologised Tuesday for the deaths of three reservists who collapsed while trying out for the elite SAS unit during a heatwave, after a coroner found the force guilty of neglect.

Edward Maher, 31, and Craig Roberts, 24, were pronounced dead on the Brecon Beacons mountain range in July 2013 after suffering heatstroke during a 16-mile (26-kilometre) march.

James Dunsby, 31, a veteran of the conflict in Afghanistan, was taken to hospital with a body temperature of 41 degrees Celsius (105.8F) and died from multiple organ failure a fortnight later.

Following inquests into the deaths -- judicial investigations that seek to establish facts -- coroner Louise Hunt found the soldiers would have survived if the proper regulations on heat illness had been followed.

She accused special forces commanders of serious mistakes and a "chaotic response" to the men's collapse, and also said the the lack of build-up marches for reservists contributed to the deaths.

Hunt also criticised the GPS tracker system in place, which meant commanders did not notice that the men had stopped marching and led to fatal delays in treating them.

The SAS has a famously gruelling training regime and its operations are normally shrouded in secrecy and rarely come under scrutiny in this way.

Brigadier John Donnelly, the army's personnel director, apologised for the deaths of "three fine soldiers".

He said soldiers did have to take some risk.

"However we must ensure those risks are carefully managed. In this case we did not do this and accept responsibility," he said.

Dunsby's widow Bryher said the army's failings were "shocking and unacceptable".

"James would have been so hugely disappointed by the behaviour of an organisation for which he had fought and to which he ultimately lost his life," she said.


© 2015 AFP

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