Corporal M P Caines - GM

person

On 7th July 2006 Cpl Caines had returned from a combined stop and search operation in the remote desert region of Maysaan to a forward operating base shared with a unit from the Iraqi Army. His platoon and its company headquarters were the only multinational forces in the area for some 80 kilometres and were totally outnumbered by their Iraqi colleagues. The Iraqi Army unit had not had food or water for 36 hours and were, not unreasonably, becoming anxious that they should receive a re-supply. While Cpl Caines' platoon had been deployed with his Iraqi colleagues on the stop and search operation, Iraqi officers had, unbeknown to the remainder of the personnel, left the forward operating base supposedly to try to arrange a re-supply. On return from the operation, the young Iraqi soldiers became frustrated by the apparent frailty of the Iraqi system versus the comparative order and ease with which multinational forces had managed to sustain themselves and the apparent duplicity of their officers who had not returned.

Tensions were raised as hours went by without sight or sound of their officers. A group of between 10-15 armed Iraqi soldiers then approached multinational forces. Clearly animated, they remonstrated with Cpl Caines' platoon commander, who was then ordered to back off when a number of Iraqi soldiers cocked their weapons. The immediate incident having been defused successfully, a ringleader appeared who was determined to engineer some kind of incident. He returned and opened fire into the ground with single shots and then with bursts of fire over the heads of the British soldiers. A deliberately decision was made not to escalate the situation. The 'contact' lasted for about 20 minutes with multiple automatic single shots being directed in the vicinity of the British soldiers. The situation reached a culminating point when, out of sight of the British company headquarters, the Iraqi Army ringleader having acquired a sniper rifle was now firing around British soldiers and deliberately aiming to miss.

Cpl Caines, who was about 400m from company headquarters, immediately saw that this was now more serious and that a decision to shoot the ringleader may be required. Two rounds were fired at his platoon leaguer. At this point, Cpl Caines gave direction to his soldiers having understood the breadth and enormity of the consequences of killing the ringleader and acted to bring the situation under control. He also recognised that British forces were outgunned by the Iraqi Army unit, and that opening fire would probably force the Iraqi Army into a fight they did not want. Cpl Caines stood up from behind cover, 50 metres from the gunman, and keeping his weapon lowered, glared at the gunman challenging him to fire again. There was a brief stand off and then complete capitulation by the Iraqi assailant, who knowing he was beaten, threw down his weapon and returned indignantly to his side of the forward operating base.

For this outstanding act of bravery Cpl Caines was awarded the George Medal