Army implements new training practices

Changes to army training have been put in place following a report into the way soldiers deal with Iraqi prisoners, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has insisted.

A report by Army personnel director Brigadier Robert Aitken looked into cases of abuse and unlawful killing of civilians in Iraq in 2003 and the early part of 2004.

The report focused solely on instances where members of the British Army were alleged or proven to have mistreated civilians. Aitken found no evidence of systematic abuse by soldiers, but identified areas for development to ensure no repeat of the events.

“People weren’t trained to deal with incidents of ordinary criminality such as looting and that’s the bit that needed to be put right,” Aitken said.

The report made three recommendations for the Army:

* Learn and implement lessons from the disciplinary process in the same way that it does for wider operational issues

* Find better ways to entrench its core values and standards of behaviour and discipline into the everyday lives of personnel

* Ensure that administrative action is used correctly.

Changes already made include a training video to display some of the lessons learned.

Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt, said: “The British Army has performed to the highest standards under extraordinarily testing conditions in Iraq. But I take no pride in the conduct of a very small number of our people who deliberately abused Iraqi civilians during 2003 and the early part of 2004.

“This report is rightly critical of our performance in a number of areas and it catalogues the significant number of steps we have already taken towards ensuring that such behaviour is not repeated.”

Seperately, new and existing troops will be offered the chance to give a DNA sample before being deployed on operations.

The scheme is voluntary, but the MoD will “strongly encourage” troops to take part. DNA samples would help speed up the process of identifying bodies.

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