Honoured soldiers praise "life saving and war winning" kit

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Honoured soldiers praise "life saving and war winning" kit

Post by Guest on Wed 12 Mar 2008, 7:04 pm

Soldiers recently honoured for their acts of courage in Afghanistan demonstrated the personal kit they are issued with on operations at an event showcasing new defence technologies yesterday, Tuesday 11 March 2008.

Some of the gadgets on display at the Future Soldier event, held at London's National Army Museum to coincide with National Science and Engineering Week (7-16 March), included holographic quantum technology and acoustic sniper sensors.

The event demonstrated how UK defence firms and the Ministry of Defence are drawing on science and engineering to develop cutting edge equipment for the Armed Forces.

It was opened by Baroness Ann Taylor, Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, who said:

"All around us we can see how advances in science, engineering and technology affect our everyday lives. Defence is no exception. Members of the Armed Forces are increasingly interacting with ever more sophisticated technology as part of their job.

"Such has been the pace of change when it comes to defence equipment that there is already a huge difference between the sort of personal equipment a British infantryman used in Kosovo just back in 1999 and what they are using now in Afghanistan less than 10 years later."

That's a view echoed by Corporal Michael Lockett and his colleague Lance Corporal David Chandler, both from 2 Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters). They both received Honours last week for their roles during an ambush by the Taliban in Afghanistan in September 2007.

Corporal Lockett who led a volunteer extraction party to rescue four casualties from his platoon, received a Military Cross for his "courage, leadership and steadiness of the highest order whilst under fire and in mortal danger".

"The General Purpose machine Guns are absolutely F****** war winners, they're absolutely amazing, a fantastic bit of kit."
Corporal Michael Lockett
Cpl Lockett, who has been has been in the Army for 11 years, is pleased with the latest equipment:

"It's massively improved. They've obviously thought about it and realised that the body armour we used to use wasn't going to save lives, but the Taliban's weapon, the AK47, won't go through Osprey."

Corporal Lockett and Lance Corporal Chandler both commented that the Osprey Body armour could be more flexible to move around in. But they both agreed that it saves lives:

"I had a guy shot here," said Corporal Lockett, pointing to an area on his chest, "and he was fine and could carry on fighting."

"Osprey's a life saver," added Lance Corporal Chandler, "and the helmets are very good. A mate got shot in the helmet and it took it."

Lcpl Chandler received a Joint Commanders Commendation for his role in the ambush incident:

"It was very scary," he said. "The Taliban are very accurate and very strong. It's underestimated too that they've got a lot of good kit."

The incident involved Cpl Lockett leading a five man rescue party who for three hours moved into the enemy "killing" zone on three occasions, coming within 15 metres of the enemy to rescue their stricken colleagues:

"There were so many emotions," he said. "It was horrible. But you have to show the lads you are in control, they're looking to you for inspiration. It gets to the point that you've got guys out there and you're not leaving them. I promised them I'd bring them all back and I think anyone would have done the same. We're such a close knit group as well, more like friends.

Cpl Lockett exuded enthusiasm for some of the pieces of equipment that the soldiers have in Afghanistan, notably the firepower:

"The General Purpose machine Guns are absolutely war winners, they're absolutely amazing, a fantastic bit of kit," he said.

"And the 81mm mortar is so accurate, so precise. It's life saving. You can call 'em in and a minute later you've got rounds on the ground."

He also enthused about the Javelin man-portable, anti-tank weapon:

"It can pick out a rabbit at two kilometres away. That's how accurate they are. We would use them to lock onto Taliban positions two kilometres away, they're fantastic."

Baroness Taylor also said at the event:

"Supporting the front line is my priority. So, from the Mastiff vehicle to new sniper rifles, we are ensuring our Forces have the best possible kit. I have spoken to soldiers in Afghanistan who say what they have now is the best kit they have ever had. And so it should be. In the last three years alone we have delivered a grand total of more than 10 billion worth of equipment to the Armed Forces.

"There's always going to be better kit, but every kit we have meets the requirements. The kit the guys have got now will do the job it is required to do. I wouldn't have said that 22 years ago."

WO1 Kieren Macmahon

"Much of this as a result of responding to Urgent Operational Requirements. These UORs funded by the Treasury - and often involving numerous scientists and engineers to crack the problem - have resulted in brilliant assets for British troops in theatre.

"One example of the improvements in kit is personal body armour. The Osprey and Kestrel armour show that we are listening to soldiers, responding to the increasing threat and with the help of scientists and engineers delivering the right equipment, the best equipment possible, to the front line."

Warrant Officer Class One (WO1) Kieren Macmahon from the Infantry Trials and Development Unit who test out UORs before they go into service, was also at the Future Soldier event exhibiting some of the latest equipment.

The unit test the equipment that has been produced by industry as a result of a UOR and make recommendations back:

"We always recommend the gold-plated solution," said WO1 Macmahon, "as we represent the user. It usually comes down to budgets, but nine times out of ten we are happy with the end result.

"The UOR's have picked up and the amount we trial has changed dramatically."

WO1 Macmahon has been in the Army 22 years:

"Things have changed dramatically and we're heading in the right direction in the ways we procure.

"There's always going to be better kit, but every kit we have meets the requirements. The kit the guys have got now will do the job it is required to do. I wouldn't have said that 22 years ago."

Asked what the future soldier will be, WO1 Macmahon said:

"I don't know. What is the future battlefield? Our requirement will always depend on where we're fighting wars. From a trials point of view, the priorities are in the right place and at the moment we have enough to sustain our fightability on the battlefield."

The Ministry of Defence has a 9,000 strong workforce of engineers and scientists forming the Defence Engineering and Science Group (DESG). These specialists are involved at every stage from the research and development of new technologies through to their procurement and readiness for the front line.

Every year the UK defence sector recruits many hundreds of science and engineering graduates. The MOD recruits more than 200 scientists and engineers every year. The Defence Engineering and Science Group includes the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), which employs some 3,500 people and is one of the organisations that provides the UK Armed Forces and Government with scientific and technological advice.

Provided By: MOD - http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/DefenceNews/EquipmentAndLogistics/HonouredSoldiersPraiselifeSavingAndWarWinningKit.htm


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