The Weaker Sex

louise greenhalgh

Hardly. The Daily Record reports on Captain Judith Gallagher, one of only four female “ammunition technical officers” (cf. bomb disposal) in the Army, who has just completed a 15 week tour in Helmand, Afghanistan.

In total, she neutralized 50 bombs, including 14 on her first day, starting with:

Judith, who weighs 7.5st and wears a size 2 Army boot, said: “They had discovered a suspected IED on a track near a compound and cordoned it off.”

Leaving her back-up team – a soldier to protect her from enemy fire and two assistants – Judith took what bomb disposal experts call “the longest walk” across 80m of open ground to the device.

The soldier said: “I lay on my belly and felt forward with my fingertips, gradually exposing the ground around the device.

“Some ammunition technical officers wear gloves to do this but I don’t. I can feel more accurately what I ‘m dealing with if my fingertips are exposed.

“It wasn’t much good for the manicure – the ground is hard during the summer. But that wasn’t the greatest worry onmy mind.

“The first device was a yellow plastic oil drum filled with homemade explosives. It was wired up to a crude pressure plate detonator.

“The Taliban make pressure plates out of anything – bits of wood separated by a spring, old hacksaw blades, anything they can lay their hands on.

“Because the parts are homemade, each device needs to be dealt with as a unique bit of kit.

“I have a bag of tools with me and, in this case, I was able to set up my kit to disable the device.”

Judith discovered three other devices surrounding the first she worked on.

One was wired up to four 82mm mortar rounds buried in the ground.

The metal shells of the mortars would have disintegrated into lethal white-hot shrapnel if the device had been triggered.

During another incident, a firefight raged as she dealt with a device near the town of Musa Qala.

Judith said: “There were rounds coming in and I could see them hitting the ground close to me.

“I took cover as best I could and carried on with what I was doing.”

She added: “After dealing with a device, you can have some scary thoughts in a quiet moment about close calls.

“You put those to the back of your mind and get on with the job.”

On her first day, Judith disabled every device in her path. She worked through the night until 6am, when she was immediately called to another set of IEDs.

Soldiers watched in awe as she successfully dealt with the bombs.

She said: “A couple of lads said, ‘Oh I wouldn’t like your job, ma’am’.

NOTE – the photograph shows TA Captain Louise Greenhalgh who was the first female bomb disposal officer to serve in Helmand.


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One Response to “The Weaker Sex”

  1. More of the Weaker Sex « A Rabbit's Eye View of the Hyperborean North Says:

    […] See also the weaker sex in the British Army. I have to confess that I did not realize there was really a significant number of women in the USMC (although, of course, I knew there were women in front line operations).  Like a snake eating its own tail, I have now been set right by Kellie Strøm.  He links to an article by Tom Ricks which, in addition to revealing that some 6% of the 175,000 strong Leathernecks Yanks are of the distaff side, discusses the use of Female Engagement Teams as part of counter insurgency operations in Afghanistan: First, Afghans don’t seem to mind the female teams. Paradoxically, “Female Marines are extended the respect shown to men, but granted the access reserved for women,” the report finds. “In other words, the culture is more flexible than we’ve conditioned ourselves to think.” […]

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