, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 19 – The Commander of the British Army in Kenya is under investigation after a civilian was shot during a training exercise in Kenya a month ago.
Colonel Neil Hutton, a veteran of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been suspended from duty following the incident.
The commander, who is in charge of the British Army Training Unit Kenya, fired at least one warning shot to scare off locals after a spate of thefts from UK troops.
The Royal Military Police is investigating the shooting, which took place on March 17.
The Ministry of Defence said: \’We can confirm that a serving officer is being investigated following a shooting incident in Kenya which may have injured a local civilian. It is inappropriate to comment further while the investigation is ongoing.\’
Military sources said the suspended officer was Col Hutton, who is responsible for putting some 3,500 British troops a year through an arduous training programme high on the plains of Kenya.
The civilian\’s injuries were not thought to be life-threatening.
Red Caps are investigating whether the suspected bandit was struck by a bullet from Col Hutton, who fired to frighten off thieves at the army base, or someone else.
The training unit\’s role is to prepare service personnel in an environment similar to the badlands of Afghanistan. Three infantry battalions a year spend six weeks taking part in its so-called Exercise Grand Prix to hone their skills before their deployment to fight the Taliban.
This allows troops to carry out live firing as well as experiencing a variety of climates, ranging from hot and dusty plains to rainforests.
Col Hutton\’s unit is engaged in a year-long training cycle divided between Archer\’s Post, where soldiers are drilled in live firing, and Lolldaiga, near Nanyuki, which is the setting for an arduous six-day field exercise.
In an interview last year, Col Hutton – who has served in the Parachute Regiment – described the importance of the exercises for young soldiers preparing to go into battle.
He said: "The training here is in a challenging climate, it is very arduous. The guys develop physically and mentally in hot, dry, dusty conditions that are like those found in Afghanistan.
"If you are a young soldier coming out of London, Glasgow or wherever this is a fantastic experience and it really develops their confidence."
Col Hutton also said it was vital soldiers learned to fight in a populated area.
He said: "We have locals being themselves – we bring in village chiefs to be village chiefs.
"Wherever we [the Army] go there will be indigenous people we have to interact with. Here we have Kenyan villagers creating a very realistic battle space. It adds a truly authentic flavour."
He also complained his team had a shortage of resources.
\’I\’ve not got all the people I need in terms of numbers but it is coming together. Like everyone, we could do with more resources,\’ he said.
Col Hutton was awarded a CBE for his work in Afghanistan in the March 2009 operational honours list.
Only last month, he was praised for helping to organise a shipment of books and classroom materials for Kenyan schools from the UK.
In 2008, he served in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan as deputy commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade\’s deployment.
And three years earlier he was in charge of the training programme at the newly-established Iraqi military academy in Al Rustamiyah, about six miles south of Baghdad.
Based on the prestigious military academy at Sandhurst, it was created to train Iraqis to be officers.
This article was published by Daily Mail (Mail Online edition)