Fatal Humvee crash driver had ignored manual

SOLDIER: Private Kirifi Mila, who died in Afghanistan.
SOLDIER: Private Kirifi Mila, who died in Afghanistan.

An army private's death, and injuries to two other soldiers in a Humvee crash in Afghanistan, might not have happened if they had followed the operating manual, a military court of inquiry has found. It said the vehicle's commander, who was not the driver, had no Humvee skills.

The inquiry into the 2011 Bamiyan province death of turret gunner Kirifi Mila, 27, was told the last order he heard was "hold on".

The Sunday Star-Times obtained the report under the Official Information Act but parts of it were withheld for national security and privacy reasons.

New Zealand troops borrow United States M1151 Humvees, more advanced and heavier than the standard vehicle, and those using it were “predominantly unaware” of the operating manual, the inquiry heard.

Four people were returning from patrol when the driver, who had a limited view, crashed while going around a corner.

They did not know the proper way to get out, were not wearing seatbelts and the "gunner harnesses was virtually unknown to . . . personnel".

The manual says the commander's role is to supervise and train the driver. “In this instance, the commander was not qualified to drive the Humvee . . . let alone supervise the driver,” the inquiry found.

All the injured suffered blunt force trauma, and Mila died as a result of injuries to the thorax and abdomen. “Evidence suggests he was attempting to climb out of the turret”, which contravenes the operating manual.

The inquiry found that had they enacted the correct rollover procedure drills, Mila would probably not have died.

Sunday Star Times