The Ministry of Defence is running out of excuses for soldier deaths during training exercises

Soldiers should not die on exercise. There are detailed guidelines which stress the fact that nearly all heat and cold injuries can be prevented

Share
Related Topics

The deaths of two members of the Territorial Army and injuries to four more in the Brecon Beacons this weekend highlight a critical need to address failings within the military to protect its troops.

The injuries happened while all the soldiers were on an SAS selection exercise in the area, which is regularly used by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for training purposes. The MoD has yet to confirm details and to say exactly what the cause of the deaths was, but what we know so far appears to indicate that heat injuries were involved.

Although investigations will still be at an early stage, it is vital that the right questions are asked now. The MoD finds itself facing questions about whether it was properly protecting its own soldiers, and it owes all those involved, and their families, a full explanation.

Soldiers should not die on exercise. There are detailed guidelines which stress the fact that, if the risk factors are assessed properly and appropriately managed, nearly all heat and cold injuries can be prevented. They include training soldiers to recognise signs that they may be suffering from heat exhaustion, recommendations for layers of clothing to respond to changing weather conditions, and drinking sufficient water before, during and after the exercise to avoid dehydration in the course of and following intense activity.

Though this advice may seem painfully obvious, following it can and does save lives. Deciding when there is danger can be complicated, and leadership from experienced officers and NCOs is needed to support junior soldiers to make sure they are adequately informed and equipped. This is a management issue and the MoD must ensure that these guidelines translate fully from paper to the training ground; well-intentioned guidelines issued from above are not enough.

As a military claims lawyer, I work with soldiers and veterans who have suffered heat (and, indeed, cold) -related injuries that were due to negligence. It is not a new phenomenon. Military personnel, and those who work with them following cases of negligence, have been aware for a long time that this is an issue that needs to be addressed urgently to stop these types of avoidable injuries occurring.

The MoD’s enquiry must find out where responsibility lies, and how deaths can occur when apparently adequate procedures exist. We have seen time and time again alarming cases which point to unacceptable shortcomings in army practices and failure by the MoD to respond to the duty of care it owes its soldiers. The MoD must act quickly to ascertain whether this is yet another in a string of cases of avoidable negligence.

Philippa Tuckman is a military injury claims specialist and partner at Bolt Burdon Kemp.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

I’m not sure I fancy any meal that’s been cooked up by a computer

John Walsh
Labour leader Ed Miliband delivers a speech on his party's plans for the NHS, in Sale, on Tuesday  

Why is Miliband fixating on the NHS when he’d be better off focussing on the wealth gap?

Andreas Whittam Smith
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness