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Soldiers charged with manslaughter for training exercise death in 2010

Cpl. Joshua Caleb Baker was killed during a training exercise at a range northeast of Kandahar city. Four other soldiers were injured in the accident.

Handout/The Canadian Press/Handout/The Canadian Press

Two experienced Canadian soldiers were charged with manslaughter Wednesday in connection with the death of a colleague in a training exercise in Afghanistan.

Corporal Joshua Caleb Baker, 24, was killed and four others were injured in an explosion, said to have involved a claymore mine, at a weapons range north of Kandahar City around dinner time Feb. 12, 2010.

The officer in charge, Major Darryl Watts, and the man in charge of safety at the range, Warrant Officer Paul Ravensdale, are accused of not following proper safety procedures that day.

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A spokeswoman for the Department of National Defence said the Canadian Forces would not be releasing any further details on the allegations before their court proceedings.

Major Watts, a reservist, is a firefighter in Calgary and commanded a platoon in the King's Own Cavalry regiment.

A member of the Canadian Forces for approximately 15 years, he was on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Just weeks before Cpl. Baker's death, an improvised explosive device killed four soldiers in his unit, as well as Calgary Herald reporter Michelle Lang, who was accompanying them on a patrol.

"That first 24, 48 hours everyone closes ranks, a platoon becomes very close, very tight," Major Watts recalled a year later during an interview with the Canadian Press. "It's not until you get back and you go to the memorial service after you've been home a month that you actually start to think about it some more."

An article in a military publication indicated he took part in celebrations to mark his regiment's 100th anniversary at the Calgary Stampede in July 2010.

Earlier this month, he joined General Walter Natynczyk, the country's top soldier, and Defence Minister Peter MacKay to present an award to Calgary's Fire Department honouring its support to reservists.

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Warrant Officer Ravensdale, meanwhile, has nearly a quarter-century of service.

A member of the regular army, he was serving with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry at the time of the incident and was subsequently posted to the Joint Personnel Support Unit in Winnipeg.

Along with the manslaughter charge, both men face a single count of negligent performance of a military duty and four counts of unlawfully causing bodily harm.

Neither of them will be kept in custody pending their courts-martial, but it is unclear whether they will continue to perform regular duties.

"The charges are laid and there's a promise to appear," said Captain Karina Holder.

Cpl. Baker, a member of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, was serving with Kandahar's Provincial Reconstruction Team on his first tour of duty. He joined the military at age 18.

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He had ambitions of becoming an Edmonton police officer upon his return to Canada.

"He was most excited for the house he just purchased and continuing to foster a budding relationship with his girlfriend," his family said in a statement at the time.

He was the 140th Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan.

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About the Author
Washington correspondent

Adrian Morrow covers U.S. politics from Washington, D.C. Previously he was The Globe's Ontario politics reporter. He's covered news, crime and sports for The Globe since 2010. He won the National Newspaper Award for politics reporting in 2016. More

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