Troops get body language training to spot threats after killing of Sunderland soldier

Sapper Richard Walker
Sapper Richard Walker
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BODY language experts are to train British troops how to spot signs of rogue Afghan police attacks like the one that killed a Sunderland soldier.

The soldiers are learning how certain gestures, including eye signals and changes to body posture, can signify a “green-on-blue” attack is imminent.

Sapper Richard Walker, 23, of Blackfell, Washington, was killed by a rogue member of the Afghan National Army on January 7 this year.

The soldier, of 28 Engineer Regiment, attached to 21 Engineer Regiment, died at Patrol Base Hazrat, in Helmand’s Nahr-e Saraj district.

The gunman fired at Afghan troops and Sapper Walker and his comradesbefore being killed.

The young soldier’s death prompted concerns about the number of green-on-blue attacks – so called due to the colours representing the Afghan forces and Nato-led forces – that have led to fatalities.

These type of attacks have soared, accounting for 14 of the 44 British soldiers killed last year.

This compares to just one in 46 fatalities in 2011.

Troops are now being told that three or more suspicious body language “signs” may indicate that a rogue troop is set to open fire.

British soldiers working in close contact with the Afghan security forces are getting three days of human behaviour and recognition and analysis training.

Troops are being advised to look out for Afghans who separate themselves from colleagues.

Even small movements like the way an individual swings his arm or points his feet towards a door or exit may be an indicator of a problem.

Afghans who separate themselves from colleagues and appear to be looking in another direction from those they are with can also be among up to 40 signs that they could attack.

Practical exercises include a vehicle checkpoint where soldiers have to identify suspicious tics, blushes and gestures of a pair of guards.

Members of the British 1st Mechanised Brigade arriving in southern Afghanistan for the Army’s next six-month tour are set to receive the training over the coming weeks.

Sapper Walker, who was the latest victim of such attacks, was just weeks away from being reunited with his baby daughter, Lilly-Faith, when he was killed during his first tour of duty in Afghanistan.