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Armed Forces: Steven Roberts Inquiry

Volume 689: debated on Wednesday 21 February 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

With reference to the published findings of the board of inquiry into the death of Sergeant Steven Roberts in March 2003, whether the content of Royal Armoured Corps crew courses includes training on the risks of employing weapons systems below the computed minimum range; whether such training is now supplemented with written procedures or caveats on the use of all armoured fighting vehicle weapons systems at very close range engagements; and what proportion of relevant personnel have now undertaken such training. [HL1954]

The Royal Armoured Corps (RAC) delivers gun crew courses for Challenger 2 and the combat vehicle reconnaissance (tracked) SCIMITAR.

Following the board of inquiry into the death of Sergeant Roberts, changes have been made to all Challenger 2 crew courses to include training on the risks of employing weapons systems below the computed minimum range. All Challenger 2 crewmen are now conversant with the implications of firing weapons systems below the computed minimum range.

RAC crews expecting to deploy on operations are instructed by gunnery staff on these matters and individuals likely to conduct short-range shooting receive a formal machine gun shooting lecture as part of their pre-deployment training.

The other arms and services that use armoured fighting vehicles (AFV) are being directed to make the necessary changes to all courses (including pre-deployment training), wherever this is required, to ensure that personnel, at all appropriate levels, understand the implications of using AFV weapons systems at short range.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

With reference to the published findings of the board of inquiry into the death of Sergeant Steven Roberts in March 2003, what changes in procedures and practices have been made to improve the working of the supply chain and to ensure the correct and efficient use by all concerned of logistic information systems. [HL1955]

Significant improvements have been made since 2003 to the joint supply chain. The core tracking system, VITAL (visibility in transit asset logging), has been integrated with deployed inventory systems, and VITAL terminals have been located alongside the unit quartermasters in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Improvements to training, policy and process have made it easier for troops to operate the system. Further improvements to VITAL are planned to enable a simpler, more streamlined method of tracking consignments. These changes will also improve the quality and coverage of the data held by VITAL.

Additionally, the joint demand tracking system has been successfully rolled out to the three services, which allows any unit with access to the intranet to retrieve data relating to a demand and its location.

The management of the joint deployed inventory project is developing the current RAF inventory control system so that it can be deployed with all three services to deliver visibility of all stocks held within an operational theatre and provide common processes across defence.

Separately, it should be noted that following the board of inquiry report into Sergeant Roberts, those on operations are now issued with their own set of enhanced combat body armour before deploying.