Monday, 24 May 2010

A Very British Hero

Staff Sargeant Oz Schmid was killed in Afghanistan last year. He was a member of the army's elite bomb disposal unit and died while attempting to defuse a bomb.

His wife Christina has been looking into her late husband's final days and the pressures faced by his unit. Panorama are to broadcast her account of 'A Very British Hero' tonight on BBC One, at 20.30pm.

The MoD has reported that the army's top bomb disposal officer has resigned. Col Bob Seddon, of the Royal Logistics Corps, quite over fears bomb disposal training could be compromised. Col Sneddon would not have made his decision lightly. He would have tried every avenue available to him to voice his concerns. Yet he must have felt they were disregarded. The army has begun to offer £50,000 payments to top bomb disposal soldiers willing to sign on for another tour of duty in Afghanistan as a bid to ease the pressure on the units already deployed. That shows how right Col Sneddon is in his fears.

The pressures on these people is enormous yet they receive little or no recognition. Mrs Schmid's recall of her husband saying he didn't wear all his protective clothing when working 'because it was unbearably hot given the high temperature' touched me deeply.

Anyone who is interested in the security of this country should watch this programme tonight. In fact it should be compulsory viewing. For those who defend the fact our troops are in Afghanistan, does it never occur to them why media interviewers are still asking politicans why we are there? The reason is because politicians don't want to tell us the truth. We're not there for the security of these islands, but we're there because the US wanted this war and, with the UK being their bestest allies, we toddled along too. We've had 286 funerals to prove it.

We shouldn't be bribing troops who haven't had enough time to recover from grueling tours. We should be withdrawing all troops, regrouping and retraining. Labour, with the help of politicians from other parties, put our troops into this war and have done nothing to ensure adequate staffing levels in this area. Col Sneddon's unit would have told those in authority years ago that they were understaffed. We've been in Afghanistan since 2001. It takes 6 years to train a bomb disposal expert. Terrorists have been using IEDs for years so politicians must have been aware they would play a major part in this war.

The blame lies firmly at the door of the last government. The new government would do well to take note that withdrawing our troops as quickly as possible is the only acceptable outcome for the UK. Spending billions building schools and propping up a corrupt government, which will immediately revert to its own habits once we do withdraw, is no longer an option.

Do watch the programme if you can or record it for later.


Andrew_S said...

Have you seen "The Hurt Locker"? While it's necessary to remember that it's a film, not a documentary, if it's even 10% based on facts then the men who do the bomb disposal are true heroes. When I watched it, it moved me more than any other film I've seen. I just can't imagine how men like Staff Sergeant Oz Schmid do their job.

You are right, these are very special people and deserve every ounce of support we can give them.

Joe Public said...

".....Spending billions building schools and propping up a corrupt government, ...."

Sounds like a resumé of Labour's time in power.

subrosa said...

As yet I haven't been able to consider watching the Hurt Locker Andrew but I will get around to it.

I've just finished watching the Panorama programme. I feel quite disgusted with politicians.

subrosa said...

Aye Joe, right enough. :) That's labour's legacy in a few words.

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