A SOLDIER from Scotland's super-regiment has been shot dead during a night-time live firing exercise at a military training area branded a "death trap" just four months ago.

The serviceman from the Royal Regiment of Scotland who has not been identified was shot in the head and died during the exercise at the Otterburn camp in Northumberland - the UK's largest firing range.

The death has come four months after the Unite union warned Otterburn and other military training grounds had become “death traps”, because supervising wardens had been withdrawn as part of a cost-cutting exercise.

Four other soldiers have died in training exercises on the Brecon Beacons in the last three years - the latest less than a month ago.

Shadow defence secretary, Clive Lewis has raised concern about deaths in training and called for a thorough probe into what happened.

The Herald:

"Every military death is a tragedy, and my heart goes out to the family and friends of the soldier who lost his life during a training exercise this week," he said.

"I am also deeply troubled by the fact that this is the second time in less than six weeks that a soldier has died during training. The MoD has a duty of care to our servicemen and women, which is why it is absolutely essential that a thorough investigation is now conducted into how this tragic incident came about.”

Officers were called to the Otterburn army training estate at 11.15pm on Monday and the soldier was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

A cordon remained in place on Tuesday and police said they would work with the Ministry of Defence to establish the circumstances of the death. The soldier’s name has not been released, but military officials have informed his next of kin.

Police and the Defence Safety Authority have launched an investigation into the death. There were no details on whether any other personnel were involved.

The tragedy has come four months after the Royal Regiment of Scotland marked the 10th anniversary of its creation with a parade in Edinburgh.

The armed forces minister, Mike Penning, said: “It is with great sadness that I can confirm that a soldier from the Royal Regiment of Scotland has died while taking part in a night live firing exercise at Otterburn training area in Northumberland.

The Herald:

“My thoughts are with the soldier’s family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time. The safety of our personnel is our absolute priority and while deaths in training don’t happen often, any death is a tragedy."

In April, Unite warned that the Otterburn Army Training Estate, which covers about 93 square miles of the Southern Cheviot hills, had become unsafe as range wardens had been withdrawn.

Previously, range wardens were employed to supervise people using firing ranges and ensure that the area around them was clear.

But two years ago, Wiltshire-based private company Landmarc, won the £322 million contract to manage the UK’s armed forces training estate.

And Unite said the proposal to move the range wardens from the ranges formed a cornerstone of Landmarc’s pitch.

The MoD said at the time that jobs were being filled by members of the units using the ranges with a qualified and experienced Range Conducting Officer acting in an overseeing role.

The union argued that without specialised wardens, ranges are left without adequate protection against people accidentally walking into the line of fire.

The Herald:

Unite regional officer Bob Middleton called on the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) to review the decision to remove range wardens, which affect more than 80 sites across the UK.

In the 16 years to February 2016, 135 UK armed forces personnel died while on training or exercise. Eleven of those deaths occurred during live fire exercises.

A spokesperson for Landmarc, which manages the base, said they were not going to comment on the soldier’s death.

News of the death sent shockwaves among military personnel.

One soldier said on social media that he felt safety was "horrendous" the last time he was at Otterburn for training, claiming one person got shot on the range and "luckily" got away with a leg wound.

"Soldiers shouldn't be losing there lives on their home soil FACT! The MOD have a lot to answer for!!!! Thoughts go out to family. Sleep tight soldier," he said.

Trevor Royle, the celebrated military author and broadcaster said safety is usually of "paramount importance" at Otterburn. He said: "The questions that have to be asked are about where this person was killed, why was he killed and if live rounds were issued, were there enough safety measures in place. "Live rounds and soldiers and modern weaponry are a dangerous combination. But I have to say they are normally very very sharp on this sort of thing."

The Herald:

The death comes little more than a month after another Scots soldier died while on a training exercise in Brecon, Wales, on the hottest day of the year.

Joshua Hoole, from Ecclefechan near Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway, died on July 19 while on a pre-course training for the Platoon Sergeants' Battle Course, taken by infantry soldiers who want to progress to the rank of sergeant.

The 26-year-old, who was based at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick, North Yorkshire and was a member of The Rifles regiment, collapsed after taking part in a fitness test near the Dering Lines infantry training centre at about 6.30am, when temperatures later peaked at just above 30C (86F).

Cpl Hoole's death came just three months after the Defence Select Committee published a report calling for the MoD to become liable for prosecution for the deaths of armed forces personnel.

Three other soldiers died while taking part in an SAS training exercise in the Brecon Beacons on one of the hottest days of 2013.

Those deaths - of Lance Corporal Craig Roberts, Corporal Edward Maher and Corporal James Dunsby - led to the Health and Safety Executive to issue a so-called Crown Censure on the MoD, saying but for Crown immunity it would have faced prosecution for the failings that were identified.

The Royal Regiment of Scotland was formed in 2006 through the amalgamation of Scotland's historic infantry regiments to form a single fighting force.

A DIO spokesman said in April: “The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and Landmarc work together to provide a safe place for the military to train. When a range is in use it is handed over to the unit training, overseen by a qualified and experienced range conducting officer who is a member of the unit and responsible for the safe conduct of that exercise.”