A British soldier with the kind of chillingly dangerous job featured in the movie Hurt Locker has been killed disarming a roadside bomb to clear a route for a new Afghan offensive. Warrant Officer David Markland, 36, had survived 8 stints in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, the Times of London reports. The commanding officer of his counter-IED task force called him "a talismanic figure whose mere presence instilled confidence in everyone."
Markland, a married father of two, was a "bear of a man" whose team "would have followed him to the ends of the Earth, such is the respect and trust he inspired," said the officer. He and his crew were clearing the way for NATO's upcoming Operation Moshtarak, which will involve some 15,000 American, British, and Afghan troops. NATO commanders warn that many more casualties are likely once the offensive takes on one of the Taliban's last strongholds.