Page last updated at 02:52 GMT, Monday, 24 May 2010 03:52 UK

Why did bomb disposal expert Col Bob Seddon resign?

By Caroline Wyatt
Defence correspondent, BBC News

Bomb disposal experts at work
It can take between six and eight years to train a bomb disposal expert

As the Army's senior bomb disposal officer, Colonel Bob Seddon is well-respected and well-liked by the men and women working for him.

His resignation may be motivated in part by fears that pressures within the Army to act faster and do more to fight the threat from roadside bombs in Helmand could lead to soldiers being sent to the front-line to deal with the devices with far less training and poorer equipment than they currently have - which in turn could endanger more lives.

There has been intense pressure on the Army to produce more counter-IED operatives to tackle the threat faster in Afghanistan

The perils already being faced daily in Afghanistan by bomb disposal specialists are well-known.

The Army's elite bomb disposal experts, 11 EOD Regiment, lost two of their most experienced men during their last tour of Helmand - Captain Dan Read and Staff Sergeant Olaf "Oz" Schmid.

It can take from six to eight years to train such specialists and the regiment itself is currently under-staffed.

New tactics

There has been intense pressure on the Army to produce more counter-IED operatives to tackle the threat faster in Afghanistan - in 2009 75% of UK casualties in Afghanistan were a result of improvised explosive devices.

But experts say that in bomb disposal, cutting corners on training or equipment could prove lethal.

The Counter-IED Task Force for Helmand was formed specifically to fight the threat from the Taliban's improvised explosives devices.

It was made up of Royal Logistic Corps explosive ordnance disposal teams and Royal Engineers search teams, developing new tactics and equipment to find and defuse or destroy the bombs before they explode.

The Joint Force Counter-IED Task Force currently serving in Afghanistan has members of the RAF's 5131 (Bomb Disposal) Squadron taking part in the fight against IEDs alongside search teams from 33 Engineer Regiment (EOD).

It is the first time a bomb disposal unit from the RAF has deployed to Helmand province.

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