Marine killed by friendly fire a victim of inadequate training

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The Independent Online

A royal marine shot dead by another British soldier in Afghanistan was the victim of inadequate training procedures which led to the "friendly fire" incident, an inquest has found.

L/Cpl Mathew Ford, 30, was killed in an advance on a Taliban fort in Helmand on 15 January last year. An inexperienced machine gunner sprayed several rounds into his own comrades, hitting five, during a daring mission in 45C heat.

The Royal Navy Board of Inquiry examining the incident concluded that a series of major failings in leadership and the provision of equipment contributed to L/Cpl Ford's death.

Media coverage had focused on the bravery of Marines who strapped themselves to the outside of two helicopters, hoping to find L/Cpl Ford alive. They recovered his body.

The men of 3 Commando Brigade, the report said, had to adapt to a "fast-moving" campaign and lessons had to be learnt "sometimes the hard way". Originally due to be deployed in Iraq, the Brigade's reassignment to Helmand in April 2006 did "little to aid training".

The death occurred during Operation Glacier 2.

Nearly 200 Royal Marine Commandos approached a Taliban hideout, Jugroom Fort, where 60 enemy fighters were based, on foot. At dawn, four marines ran into the Fort. One of the gunners thought he saw a muzzle flash at him, swung 180 degrees, and unleashed a hail of bullets.

L/Cpl Ford, a member of Z Company, 45 Commando Royal Marines based in Arbroath, Scotland, was shot in the head and chest. The cause of death will be confirmed by a coroner.

Bob Ainsworth, the Armed Forces minister, acknowledged "issues" about preparation, but spoke of "incredible acts of heroism, courage under fire, and sacrifice".

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