Tech Troops Are Undermanned and Under Pressure

28 October 2008 (Last Updated October 28th, 2008 18:30)

Young, inexperienced soldiers with little training are performing technical operations in war zones due to staff shortages in the UK's 42 Engineer Regiment. The unit is responsible for providing the latest geographical information to troops in Afganistan, Iraq, Kosovo and the Falklands

Young, inexperienced soldiers with little training are performing technical operations in war zones due to staff shortages in the UK's 42 Engineer Regiment.

The unit is responsible for providing the latest geographical information to troops in Afganistan, Iraq, Kosovo and the Falklands.

"We are asking young soldiers with little experience and little training to deliver high-end information," Lt Colonel Graham Livesey, Commanding Officer of 42 Engineer Regiment told delegates at the ESRI conference in London on 29 October.

Ideally, soldiers would spend one fifth of their time on active operations with the remainder used for recovery, regeneration and training.

"The truth is, we are undermanned so soldiers are deployed up to 35% of the time instead of 20%,” said Livesey. He added: "We are pressurising these soldiers to the limit."

While Livesey did say the troops perform very well providing the mission critical geographical information to other regiments, the lack of standardisation in the computer programs they use also makes their jobs harder.

"Young soldiers are faced with an array of equipment and software with which to try and be familiar," said Livesey.

The regiment is tasked with disseminating deployable data to make sure that the army's resources are used effectively in theatre. However, members of the 42 Engineer Regiment often serve without their own chain of command or support as they are attached to other units.

By Natalie Coomber.