A special forces soldier told an inquest that he believed a vehicle he was in was “not adequate for the job” after it struck a roadside bomb, causing the first female casualty in Afghanistan.
L/Cpl Richard Larkin, from Cookley in Kidderminster, also died in the blast along with Corporal Sarah Bryant, 26, of the Intelligence Corps, and Territorial Army special forces soldiers Corporal Sean Robert Reeve, 28, of the Royal Signals, and Private Paul Stout, 31, east of Lashkar Gah on June 17, 2008.
The back wheel of their Snatch Land Rover hit a pressure-plated IED (improvised explosive device) hidden in a ditch.
They were in the Land Rover with a fifth soldier, the sole survivor, known as Soldier E, who was sat in the passenger seat.
Soldier E told the inquest at Wiltshire Coroner’s Court, sitting at Trowbridge Town Hall, that he did not believe the Snatch Land Rover was adequate for the job.
Soldier E said his first reaction during pre-deployment training when told he would be travelling in Snatch Land Rovers was “I’ve never actually operated the vehicle at all”.
“There was a lot of worry that these weren’t the right vehicle in our opinion for the job in hand,” he said.
Soldier E said he voiced his concerns up the usual chain of command, and he said those in his command voiced concerns to him.
He went on: “Having used the Snatch in our pre-deployment training, our concerns were heightened, especially when off-road.
“The mobility and flexibility of the vehicle came into question.
“The people on top cover, when off-road, were thrown around quite severely. When the lads were actually on top cover they were quite badly bruised and cut when the vehicle was used off-road.”
He added: “It could go off-road, but as a platform to maintain operations, I believe it was not adequate for the job.”
Post-mortem examinations showed that L/Cpl Larkin died of injuries to the chest and abdomen following an explosion.
Cpl Bryant, from Chicksands, Bedfordshire, Cpl Reeve, from Patcham, Brighton, and Pte Stout, from Woolton in Liverpool, died of blast wounds caused by an explosion.
Their patrol was instructed to provide vehicle checkpoints to help the Afghan police disrupt enemy lines of communication and recapture prisoners that had escaped from a prison in Kandahar.
The Snatch Land Rovers were then ordered to join the Scots Guards and deal with an enemy casualty.