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Unit of Soldier Who Died Had Been Denied Better Equipment

Bomb disposal tech was killed earlier this month in Afghanistan
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 25, 2018 11:43 AM CDT
An Army carry team moves a transfer case containing the remains of Sgt. James A. Slape at Dover Air Force Base, Del., on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018.   (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)

(Newser) – Sgt. James Slape, 23, was killed by an IED in Afghanistan Oct. 4—and in a new report, the New York Times says his Army National Guard unit had requested better equipment and training, but had been denied both because funds were not available. In addition, a "series of oversights" led the unit to fall into a trap set by the Taliban near an area that the unit often used as a patrol route and observation post in the southern province of Helmand, a known Taliban stronghold. US ground units are typically trained not to use the same routes and observation points over and over, and it's not clear why this one did, but the Taliban noticed and buried explosives in the area.

An armored vehicle first struck a roadside bomb; no one was injured, but when Slape, a bomb disposal technician, went to the area with others to locate explosives and clear a path for the damaged truck to be towed away and its passengers to exit, he stepped on the bomb that killed him. Two officials tell the Times Slape's unit was not in possession of the most advanced mine detectors that can be used to find bomb components used by the Taliban, and bomb technicians say much of the equipment and training his unit had asked for would have been standard for bomb disposal units in an area like Helmand. But it's not clear whether the denial of such equipment contributed to Slape's death, and a National Guard spokesperson says the unit had received all required training and equipment. See more at the Times. (The top US commander in Afghanistan just survived an assassination attempt.)

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