BBC man recalls 'jittery' US forces

JOURNALISTS covering the war in Iraq were often more at risk from "jittery" American forces than from Saddam Hussein's troops, veteran BBC television correspondent John Simpson said during a visit to Suffolk.

JOURNALISTS covering the war in Iraq were often more at risk from "jittery" American forces than from Saddam Hussein's troops, veteran BBC television correspondent John Simpson said during a visit to Suffolk.

Mr Simpson, who lived at Dunwich as a child and once owned a house in Eye, was injured by the blast from a U.S. missile and said he still had shrapnel in a thigh and a loss of hearing in his left ear.

"We were standing next to a vehicle painted with a very large Stars and Stripes at the time and the plane was only 500 yards away when it launched the missile," he said.

Mr Simpson, the BBC's world affairs editor, said he was not in the least surprised by the tragic incidents in which American firepower had killed British and other coalition troops and Iraqi civilians.


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"The difficulty comes with the use of high explosives by troops who are often not very well trained and very jittery and quite inclined to blast off at the first thing they see.

"I really do think that the Americans have to take a leaf out of the book of the British forces and train members of their forces to react properly in difficult situations without panicking.

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"They have got themselves into trouble in other countries as well as Iraq and they must know it is something that has to be addressed," he said.

ITN war correspondent Terry Lloyd, 51, died after he was caught between crossfire of opposing forces in Iraq on March 22 while reporting independently from the desert.

Mr Lloyd spent some of his early reporting career in East Anglia, he was posted to Ipswich from the Midlands in the 1970s.

Mr Simpson was at Framlingham College on Saturday night - three weeks after returning from Iraq - to talk to more than 100 members of Rotary branches throughout the county at a dinner organised by the organisation's High Suffolk branch.

A BBC correspondent for more than 30 years, Mr Simpson has travelled the world to report on the most significant events, covering the fall of the Berlin Wall and the release in South Africa of Nelson Mandela, a man who impressed him greatly.

On many occasion he has faced danger and had narrow escapes from death.

"Someone has to be there to see things happen. Instead of being in Iraq I could have based myself in Washington or Kuwait but I would have only been fed information and might not have known the truth," Mr Simpson said.

He was very glad to be back in the Suffolk countryside, a county he visited frequently, and would be returning to Eye in August to attend the wedding of his daughter.

Alan Cutting, High Suffolk Rotary's president, said he had invited Mr Simpson to speak at the event after seeing an article about him in the EADT's Suffolk Magazine, about his local roots,

Mr Simpson waived a fee for speaking at Framlingham on the condition that a donation was made to charity.

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