Newcastle Soldier Saves Comrades from IED Strike
Always ready to act on a call out, teams from the Counter Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED) Task Force are prepped and ready to respond to any IED finds or explosions wherever UK troops are operating in Helmand.
Sapper Chris Baitey from Houghton-le-Spring in Newcastle is one of the brave men constantly waiting for the call out or ’10 liner’ as they’re known. At just 22, this is his second tour of Afghanistan.
The call comes. He and his team are straight out and onto the helipad. A helicopter swoops in, they board and within minutes they are en route to Nahr-e Saraj district. An Improvised Explosive Device (IED) has struck a British vehicle.
They’re told no-one’s been injured, but the team is stuck – it’s believed secondary devices litter the area. As the minutes go by, the stranded team are at risk of being targeted by insurgents.
To get the vehicle crew extracted Sapper Baitey and his team must conduct a painstaking search of the area and create a ‘safe lane’. Carrying up to 50kg of equipment, in the sweltering Afghan heat it’s no easy task.
Sapper Baitey and men and women like him serving with the Counter IED Task Force are the only ones trained to seek out and dispose of the deadly devices. Highly trained, specialist Royal Engineers and members of the Royal Corps of Logistics, they are at the top of their game – it takes them months to become qualified.
Using the latest bomb detecting equipment Sapper Bailey and his team cleared a path to allow a Bomb Disposal Operator to close in on the devices. The trapped crew were recovered once Sapper Baitey and his team had checked the area around the vehicle and methodically cleared the path of secondary devices.
Sapper Baitey joined the Army in 2006 hoping to travel the world – already he’s completed tours of Afghanistan, Canada, Belize and Jordan.
‘My career so far has been very interesting. I wanted to do something with my life and being employed as a searcher is at times tough, but extremely rewarding’.
When not on task Sapper Baitey and his team help train up the Afghan National Army, so that they too can search routes and compounds for IEDs.
‘They’re receptive and interested and keen to take all the lessons on board. Since I was last here in 2009 it’s changed a lot, for the better’.
A keen Newcastle fan, Sapper Baitey is looking forward to getting home to see the ‘Toon’ start their new season and catching up with his fiancée Laura Baines, 22, mum Carole, dad Robin and brother Mark Baitey.