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Last Updated: Monday, 5 November 2007, 17:28 GMT
Court told of jamming kit delay
Gordon Gentle
Gordon Gentle died before countermeasures were installed
An inquest into the death of a soldier killed by a blast in Iraq has heard about problems in allocating anti-booby trap equipment.

Warrant Officer Mark Hanlon said a bomb jamming device was not delivered to troops because "communications in theatre were poor at best".

Fusilier Gordon Gentle, 19, was killed by a roadside bomb in Basra.

The equipment was issued to the 1st Battalion of Royal Highland Fusiliers hours after the blast on 28 June, 2004.

WO Hanlon, of the Royal Logistics Corps, said store staff communicated solely by mobile phone.

The Oxford hearing has been told how electronic counter measures (ECMs), designed to disable improvised explosives, were in theatre at the time of the attack but had not been distributed and fitted to vehicles.

WO Hanlon said that on hearing of Fusilier Gentle's death on a television news bulletin, he had thought: "I hope those guys had the relevant ECM equipment."

'Added pressure'

He went to the Supply Squadron store room at Shaibah logistics base, on the edge of Basra, where the Royal Highland Fusiliers (RHF) were also based, to speak "primarily about any outstanding ECM equipment".

The officer said he was told that 20 minutes before his arrival, the RHF had collected their ECM kits.

WO Hanlon told the inquest: "The reason there were some ECMs outstanding was that communications in theatre were poor at best."

He said stores staff's sole means of communication, for alerting units that kit had not been collected or for units to contact them, were two mobile phones.

They had no internet or land lines, he said.

Soldier - generic
Regiments were allocated with bomb jamming devices

The warrant officer said action should have been taken and this included telling superiors that ECM kits were sitting in the stores.

They could also have tried to contact units directly or told members of LSD 4 (logistical support detachment) to put the word out on their behalf.

Another plan would have been to put a note on general RHF supplies that the ECMs were ready to collect.

Earlier, Captain Daryl Pentland, of the Logistical Support Regiment, said: "No-one told me at any stage that there was outstanding ECM equipment. I would have responded directly if I had known."

He added that the supply chain had been under added pressure at the time because of a surge in violence in May of 2004, especially around Al Amarrah.

Rose Gentle, from Pollok, Glasgow claims her son would be alive if the ECM had been fitted to his vehicle.



SEE ALSO
Army Major accused of kit delays
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Iraq bomb jamming device delayed
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Fusilier's final patrol described
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Army 'blood-stained tags' denial
23 Mar 07 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
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12 Dec 06 |  England
Armour review after soldier death
14 Mar 06 |  Scotland

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