Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Requiem for an ATO

This young man is a British Army ATO (Ammunition Technical Officer), Captain Daniel Read of the Royal Logistic Corps, who served in Afghanistan as a High Threat Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Disposal Operator. The military acronym for this sort of work is CIED (Counter-Improvised Explosive Device). CIED specialists are the soldiers who locate and dispose of the increasingly complex bombs and mines (IEDs) which are the Taliban's preferred weapon against NATO forces in Afghanistan. It's important and dangerous work, as shown in last year's film, The Hurt Locker.

Capt. Read was killed last week in Afghanistan doing what he loved to do. He was 31 years old, and married. One of his commanding officers said of him, "He had dealt with many numbers of IEDs, rendering them safe in a calm and professional manner. Dan never showed any fear, just a clear focus on his job and a dedication to duty that few outside the ATO profession can equal." You can read the whole MOD press release on Capt. Read here.

By chance, last week I attended the medical repatriation of a Canadian CIED operator at Halifax Intl. Airport last week. A corporal from 14 Wing, one of the many Air Force and Navy members serving alongside the Army, was caught in a secondary blast following the blast that killed Canadian soldier Lt. Nuttal just before Christmas. When our corporal made his way through the terminal on crutches, it was to spontaneous applause from passengers, many of whom had teary eyes. Our corporal was lucky to come through with concussion and soft tissue damage, but he will have work to do to get better.

So if you see a Canadian or NATO soldier wearing a CIED patch on their fatigues, wish them well and tell them you appreciate their work. They are some of the real heroes of this war.

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Mad Padre

Mad Padre
Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's notional musings, attempted witticisms, and prayerful posturings.


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