The UK’s elite special forces – the SAS – has been accused of being “out of control” and indifferent to death and injury in the wake of the death of three SAS reservists during an exercise in very hot weather in Wales, in 2013.
The three men — Lance Corporal Edward Maher, Corporal James Dunsby and Lance Corporal Craig Roberts — all died while on an endurance training exercise in exceptionally hot weather in the Brecon Beacons in North Wales.
A group of British lawmakers on the parliamentary defense subcommittee is now investigating training in the armed forces, after the coroner in the case ruled that a “catalogue of very serious mistakes” resulted in the men’s deaths.
The family of Edward Maher have submitted evidence to the committee in a letter saying:
“Together with a culture that is indifferent to injury and death, this has resulted in an organization in which there is no imperative to behave responsibly and legally nor to learn from its mistakes.
“We believe that the human condition is such that if behavior has no boundaries it will become chaotic, and that an organization that is not subject to control is, by definition, out of control.
“Embracing risk lies at the very heart of the SAS. ‘Who Dares Wins’ [the motto of the SAS] extends even into training situations where recruits are asked to stretch themselves to the limit and where death has occurred as a result,” they wrote.
Lack of Accountability
In other evidence to the committee, Hilary Meredith, a solicitor and Chair of the Royal British Legion Solicitors Group and who represents members of the Armed Forces and their families, accused the UK Ministry of Defense of being unaccountable for deaths and injuries in training.
“Historically the MOD has enjoyed no accountability or ownership for accidents resulting in injury or death on manoeuvres or whilst practising for war. A lack of intervention in the Armed forces, (for example from the Health and Safety Executive) and Crown Censorship has resulted in a blasé culture towards accidents and attrition rates.
“There remains a lack of a proactive, blame free approach to the reporting of not only post incident details but near misses that allows for rapid feedback of safety-related information to all concerned parties,” Meredith told the lawmakers.