Suicide Soldier: "I Can't Go to Iraq. I Can't Kill Those Children"
From the Independent:
While his peers from St Augustine's Catholic school were this month contemplating university careers or first jobs, Jason Chelsea was preoccupied with a different future: his first tour of duty in Iraq.
The 19-year-old infantryman, from Wigan, Greater Manchester, was tormented by concern about what awaited him when the King's Lancaster Regiment reached Iraq, where 115 British soldiers have been killed since 2003.
He had even told his parents that he had been warned by his commanders that he could be ordered to fire on child suicide bombers.
It was a fear that he never confronted. Within 48 hours of confessing his concerns to his family, Pte Chelsea was dead after taking an overdose of painkillers and slashing his wrists.
On his death bed, he told his mother, Kerry: "I can't go out there and shoot at young children. I just can't go to Iraq. I don't care what side they are on. I can't do it."
Tony Chelsea, 58, a factory production supervisor, said: "My son was made very, very lonely by what was happening to him. He was very sad inside and he bottled up what was causing it. It was only after the overdose that he told us about his fears over what might happen in Iraq.
"In training, they were made to wrestle with dummies. Jason said they were also told they might have to fight kids and that they might have to shoot them because they were carrying suicide bombs. He said the policy [where there was a suspected suicide bomber] was to shoot first and ask questions later."
His mother added: "Jason said that during the training for Iraq he had been told that children as young as two carry bombs and the time may come when he would have to shoot one to save himself and his friends. I think they need to think again about the training they give to young soldiers before Iraq."
It is understood guidelines on training for British troops heading for Iraq offer no warning on child suicide bombers. But defence sources confirmed that the details of the advice given to soldiers are decided by each regiment. There have been no known cases of suicide attacks in Iraq committed by young children.