SECURITY TAPES CAUSE MAJOR EMBARRASSMENT
A security breach, described as "incompetence bordering on treachery", has threatened to make public some of the British Army's most sensitive techniques for dealing with the IRA in Northern Ireland.
The classified material was found on four Sony KCA-60BRS Umatic video cassette tapes which were bought at a car-boot sale in Coventry as part of a job-lot of second-hand electronic equipment by Bob Tomalski from "What Video" magazine.
The tapes contain two hours of military footage of Army
exercises, including surveillance and electronic counter- measures. They were "shot" in the main Northern Ireland training range on the British mainland with a mock-up urban area, including a public house, a cafe and anonymous council houses, all used as "reinforcement training" for soldiers before deployment to the province.
Among the subjects covered are the Army's "rules of engagement" and how to tackle "joyriders", both highly sensitive and controversial issues in Northern Ireland. One exercise is a simulated four-tube Mark 10 mortar attack, mounted by the "IRA" through the roof of a white transit van on an Army barracks next to the mock-up streets. The soldiers are shown how to deal with secondary devices and carry out follow-up operations. In another sequence, an Army instructor's commentary gives explicit details on how to deal with a sniper in a built-up area.
Included with the tapes and the Umatic recorder
were a series of documents dealing with all training scenarios, written in military jargon and headed "Exercise Secret - Incident Planning Sheet". The tapes were passed to the BBC by Mr. Tomalski. According to Colonel Mike Dewar, who served in Northern Ireland, the footage gave "a clear insight" into Army tactics and could have put soldiers' lives at risk if the tapes had been obtained by the IRA. The cassettes were given to the Ministry of Defence on 8 May after a sanitized screening on BBC news bulletins.