Friendly fire death?

John A Silkstone

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A probe into the death of a British soldier from suspected 'friendly fire' is under way as troops fought to gain control of Taliban strongholds in Afghanistan.

Kingsman Sean Dawson, 19, and from 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, was killed while taking part in an ambush of suspected militants in the Musa Qala area of Helmand province on Sunday evening.

In a statement the Ministry of Defence said: "Early indications suggest that his death was possibly caused as a result of 'friendly fire'."

The MoD said no further comment would be made before an inquest.

The teenager, from Stalybridge, Manchester, was described as "an English fighter extraordinaire" and his family has been made aware of the investigation.

He was the second dead British soldier named yesterday.

Sapper Guy Mellors, 20, a bomb disposal expert from 36 Engineer Regiment, died on Mondau near Sangin while dealing with a roadside bomb.

Both deaths were unrelated to Operation Moshtarak, the MoD said, the huge effort to drive the Taliban from key strongholds in areas around Marjah and Nad-e-Ali.

Kingsman Dawson's father, also called Sean, said his death would leave a hole in the lives of everyone who knew him.

He said his son "loved everything about the Army - it was his life".

Mr Dawson added: "Before he went to Afghanistan he took part in the battalion boxing championships in Cyprus and won the light welterweight title as well as the prize for the most courageous fighter - that was Sean.

"He believed in everything he was doing in Afghanistan and even though he was apprehensive, he couldn't wait to get out there.

"His immediate family and girlfriend Sadie loved him dearly and he will always be in our hearts."

Lt Col Robbie Boyd, commanding officer of 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, said the soldier was "every way a fighter, an English fighter extraordinaire; a true lion of England".

Sapper Mellors, from Coventry, was described as an "outstanding searcher" by his commanding officer.

Lt Col Gareth Bex, Commanding Officer, Counter IED Task Force, said: "Although it is a tragedy to lose such a fine soldier, it is a comfort knowing that through his efforts many lives were saved, and that his efforts are recognised in Helmand and back home in the UK."

A total of 261 British service personnel have now died since the start of operations in Afghanistan in 2001.

Major General Nick Carter, the British commander of Nato forces in southern Afghanistan, said yesterday that British troops engaged in Operation Moshtarak have secured about three-quarters of the former Taliban stronghold in Nad-e-Ali.

Moshtarak, which involves about 15,000 UK, US and Afghan forces, has resulted in the deaths of at least 15 civilians - 12 of whom were killed by a Nato rocket strike.

Maj Gen Carter said coalition forces were being "very careful" with aerial-delivered munitions.
 
As long as there is warfare, "Friendly Fire" incidents will continue to occur, whether through human error or technical glitches. Killing large groups of hostiles who are in very close proximity to friendlies is not an exact science, and unfortunately, mistakes will be made. That doesn't make it OK, but trying to pin the blame on someone or something, thereby focusing on the mistakes rather than the successes, plays more to aiding the enemy than helping our own troops. The more the public outcry to put a stop to all friendly fire incidents, the better the chances of our political leaders making decisions that cause the removal of our troops from the theater of combat, thus assuring a victory for our enemies. Every soldier, from the moment he or she raises their hand and takes that sworn oath, realizes that they may have to go into combat, and that they may be killed in the performance of their duties. Whether that death comes at the hands of the enemy, or from a friendly fire incident is irrelevent; the fact remains that people die in war. Period.
 

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