Teen to face Taliban after just 6 weeks pre-war training

NINETEEN-year-old Antony Galloway is today preparing for life on the front line in Afghanistan - after only SIX weeks of specialist training.

Annie Davidson

NINETEEN-year-old Antony Galloway is today preparing for life on the front line in Afghanistan - after only SIX weeks of specialist training.

His worried mother believes the former Holywells High School pupil and his fellow comrades will not be ready for battle zone combat - and claims she will consider it murder by the government if her son is killed in action.

So concerned is she that Lara Galloway has written to shadow defence secretary Liam Fox voicing her fears and has received a reply saying he will raise the issue with Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Antony underwent basic training for six months in Catterick, North Yorkshire, before his passing out in May. He joined 1st Battalion, Royal Anglian Regiment, based in Pirbright in Surrey.

But he has learned that he could be posted to war-torn Afghanistan in October after only six weeks of vital pre-deployment training.

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Mrs Galloway, of Shackleton Road, Ipswich, said: “I am very, very worried.

“Obviously as his mum I am going to worry but I do feel he is not going to have had the training he should have had.

“It is wrong - you should have training to go to war.

“I realise he also needs the experience of going out there but you also need to correct training for mines and things or otherwise that obviously could cause a lot of trouble.”

Mrs Galloway, who has another son, Brett, 18, added: “I do not agree with this war like so many other members of the public and I accept the fact that my son wanted to join the army

“Nevertheless, surely they should be well equipped and trained for the task ahead of them.”

Her fears were backed up by Allan McClure, the uncle of Aaron McClure, a Royal Anglian soldier who was killed by American friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2007.

Mr McClure, of Roundwood Road, Ipswich, said: “I have heard about this and I think it is abysmal.

“Aaron had six months of training and he also went out to Kenya to acclimatise.

“The temperature in Afghanistan is 35 or 40 degrees and you would find it hard in a pair of swimming trunks let alone putting on full armour.”

A spokesman for the army said yesterday: “After completing his lengthy training as a Combat Infantryman and then his specialist pre-deployment training, any soldier joining his battalion is fully prepared for the rigours of operations in Afghanistan.

“However, recognising that he is new to his profession, any new infantryman would be taken under the wing of his section commander and fellow soldiers as he finds his feet.”

THE war in Afghanistan has long been mired in controversy.

Fears have been raised about equipment shortages for soldiers and earlier this year, Lord Malloch-Brown became the first senior government minister to admit more helicopters were needed in Afghanistan.

His comments backed up complaints which had already been voiced before by senior army figures.

And at the inquest of a Royal Anglian, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2007, the coroner criticised the Ministry of Defence for forcing troops to “make do” on the front line after the court heard that sand-bagged fortifications at a the dead soldier's base were poor.

Capt David Hicks, who was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry, wrote to his girlfriend just days before he died saying soldiers were “sitting ducks” at the makeshift camp.

Lack of training was said to have contributed to the deaths of two other soldiers in the war-torn country because they were not properly trained in using night vision goggles.

Colour Sergeant Phillip Newman, of 4th Battalion The Mercian Regiment, and Private Brian Tunnicliffe , from Ilkeston, of 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, died after their vehicle came off the road in Helmand province in 2007.

Recommendations were made to the government after their inquests to ensure troops were better equipped and trained to drive in pitch black conditions.