A widow revealed how her soldier husband was blown up in Afghanistan days after senior officers had apparently ‘laughed off’ his complaints that insurgents were being allowed to plant explosive devices unchallenged.
UK DAILY MAIL (H/T bains) -Sergeant Peter Rayner, 34, phoned his wife in a ‘highly stressed’ state
four days before his death and was upset that his fears were not taken seriously. She said he and his men had watched the enemy, using night-vision goggles, plant improvised explosive devices and were not allowed to attack them. He was allegedly told by one officer: ‘I am an Army Captain and you will do your job.’
Sergeant Rayner was serving with the 2nd Battalion Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment and was leading a ten-man patrol in Helmand when he was killed in an explosion last October. The father-of-one received ‘catastrophic’ head injuries.
Yesterday Sergeant Rayner’s widow Wendy told an inquest in Bradford that the Army had promised that her concerns would be dealt with, but she said: ‘I have been fobbed off.’ Mrs Rayner told Bradford Coroner’s Court her husband, who joined the Army at 17, had feared his own death.
She said: ‘He was concerned about the number of explosive devices being planted in the area they were patrolling and had told higher ranks because he feared one of them would be killed. ‘He said they could see people planting these devices but could do nothing about it.
‘He loved his job and I believe he deserved more respect,’ she said. ‘I know it was a routine patrol, but I believe that if he had been given a bit more respect and not just laughed off maybe they could have done something about it, we are losing too many men out there.’
Sergeant Rayner told his wife that officers told him that he and his men could not open fire on insurgents planting bombs or make contact with them. His complaints were rejected by a Sergeant Major and a Captain, the inquest heard.
The widow said: ‘I thought about it long and hard and I think he deserves his last words to be heard.’ Adding: ‘Now it’s my day, people will listen because I’m in court.’ Mrs Rayner rejected the offer by the coroner to adjourn the hearing so that officers involved could be called to give evidence. The coroner recorded a verdict that Sergeant Rayner was unlawfully killed.
Outside Bradford Coroner’s Court Mrs Rayner fired a further broadside at the Ministry of Defence, calling for (OBAMA’S) rules of engagement to be changed to protect soldiers. ‘They are not allowed to return fire unless they are fired upon. But all the lads have expressed concern because the patrol area was filled with IEDs.
The actual ROEs are said to be classified U.S. and NATO secrets, but based on individual soldier accounts, those restrictions include the following:
No night or surprise searches
Villagers are to be warned prior to searches
Afghan National Army, or ANA, or Afghan National Police, or ANP, must accompany U.S. units on searches
U.S. soldiers may not fire at insurgents unless they are preparing to fire first
U.S. forces cannot engage insurgents if civilians are present
Only women can search women
Troops can fire on insurgents if they catch them placing an IED but not if insurgents walk away from where the explosives are.
‘They can shoot at us and take us out but the lads can’t do that to them. These terrorists and Taliban can do what they want yet our soldiers try to do their job and get persecuted by the law. ‘If they are going to be soldiers let them be soldiers and do their jobs. The job is hard enough as it is.
‘There will be an internal investigation, but I think the (OBAMA) rules of engagement need to be looked into if someone is planting IEDs and threatening lives.’ She said two of Sergeant Rayner’s colleagues had also been killed before her husband’s death.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘The whole point of a counter insurgency operation is to protect the civilian population.’ He said soldiers had to go through a series of stages before opening fire and were sometimes asked to exercise ‘courageous restraint’ (BARACK OBAMA GIVES MEDALS FOR ‘COURAGEOUS RESTRAINT – See Video Below) even when shots had been fired.