Differences between the civilian and military methods and training.

Demining and BAC

When we talk about demining and battlefield area clearance there are two main practitioners, the military and the civilians. The civilians are either locals that live in a post- conflict area or NGOs, journalists, tourists or others working or travelling through such an area. In most cases, the local populace know where the hazardous areas are and avoid them. Whether military or civilian personnel, there are some similarities as well as differences in techniques and equipment used in demining. For example, both military and civilians require training in emergency minefield extraction if they are going to live or operate in mined areas. The training itself involves a ‘mine and ERW awareness’ phase in which the participant is taught why conflict areas become mined, the different types of mines to be found in those areas and the indicators and signs of mined areas. The next stage taught is how to search for mines and make your way out of a minefield if you happen to have entered one on foot or by vehicle. Both military personnel and civilians can then be issued either a personal or vehicle mine extraction kit which includes a mine probe and markers for marking out your safe lane as you search and avoid the mines until you reach safety. The main point of the training, however is to ensure that you can plan your trip or mission with mined areas in mind and alongside the knowledge of indicators, avoid getting into a situation where you either have to extract yourself or have trained personnel come and extract you.

If not conducting emergency minefield extraction, then all practitioners are seeking to systematically remove the mines or explosive remains of war to clear an area of ground. In a military context this means ground that cannot be avoided and needs to be crossed at speed to ensure a continued tempo of operations. The minefield is another form of obstacle in the way of advancing friendly forces and must be breached if it cannot be avoided or bypassed. The military will seek to use mechanical means of clearance such as mine ploughs, rollers, flails and explosive means such as Python, which is a hose of explosives that is projected across the minefield and then detonated. The explosion destroys or moves mines from a ‘lane’ which can then be followed up by armoured vehicles with the mine ploughs, flails and rollers. None of the methods are guaranteed to clear all mines, but used in conjunction with each other they provide a simple and fast method of reducing the risk to an acceptable level where attacking forces can drive through the obstacle in the ‘lane’ to get to and engage the enemy forces. Of course, this situation will still likely incur casualties as minefields and other obstacles such as anti-tank ditches should be covered by enemy observation and fire to hinder forces trying to breach the obstacle. Since tempo of operations is paramount and engineers are likely to be under fire whilst dealing with the mines and ERW, the most expedient and protected methods are the most viable. This means that mechanical methods of clearing the majority of hazards will be used first and any ordnance left after this will be disposed of with explosives in the form of a CMD task, which is described in more detail later. The explosives used to destroy the enemy ordnance would ideally be placed in close contact remotely by an ROV or in extremis, charges can be placed by hand. The training required for this type of demining is covered later under CMD.

Another military use of mines is to prevent an enemy from repairing or bringing back into operation a facility or asset that has been damaged in a previous attack. This can be any scale, from laying a few ‘nuisance’ mines around a piece of damaged equipment such as a previously cut communication cable or pipeline, to targeting the repair technicians (in this case the mines are used in the manner of a booby trap) all the way up to the dissemination of sub munitions from aircraft onto an area of an enemy minefield such as runways and paved operating areas that are crucial to modern fast jets. Just as in the case of the nuisance mines, the dropping of sub munitions creates a minefield that targets and hinders the repair teams trying to repair the damage of the first attack. The type of training required to deal with enemy pieces of ordnance (which includes mines and sub munitions) is led by technical intelligence. During peacetime, military intelligence agencies seek to appropriate enemy ordnance and exploit it. This enables its means of operation to be ascertained and therefore a render safe procedure and associated equipment to be developed and then taught to EOD teams. The EOD teams would then be trained in when and how the enemy would deploy their ordnance, how the items operate, the hazards to the EOD operator, the equipment to be used during the Render Safe Procedure (RSP) and the RSP itself. Throughout all of this are the safety aspects of the task management which reduce the risk to the EOD operator, his team and third party personnel whilst dealing with the ordnance in the quickest possible time to allow operations to continue.

When we look at the civilian context of demining there are some similarities, but the main difference in technique and training is time. Civilians are not trying to clear an area of ground of mines and ERW in the same timeframe as the military within the tempo of a military operation; neither should they be dealing with enemy ordnance under fire. Humanitarian demining and battlefield area clearance is usually done post conflict and seeks to clear ground to enable the local population to resume their normal pre-conflict activities such as agriculture, industry and education. Although humanitarian deminers will seek to maximise the use of mechanical means in the same way as the military, such as the use of rollers and flails, they cannot accept the same amount of risk and will therefore also seek to clear areas by hand. This process is a lot more time consuming (in some cases decades rather than hours) but is much more thorough than purely mechanical means. Alongside the physical destruction of the mines and ERW is a program to teach the affected local population with a program of Mine Risk Education. The training involved in humanitarian demining and the standards adopted are laid out by the United Nations Mine Action Service, but some aspects of the training are CMD based and the others are about the mines and ordnance to be found in the area of operations to be demined and cleared, how the mines operate, how to mark areas and lanes to be cleared, the use of search equipment such as metal detectors and probes and how to disarm and defuse the mines. The mines that are recovered are stored until there are enough for a logistic disposal, which is a form of CMD.

Ammunition Management and Counter Proliferation

There are different fields of ammunition management, encompassing storage of ammunition, surveillance, inspection and repair and finally for those items that become beyond repair or obsolescent; disposal. There tends to be two types of training to cover all these fields. The first is about ammunition storage and trains personnel in how to store and segregate ammunition in the field or purpose-built storage facilities. It also includes transporting ammunition by vehicles and ammunition accounting procedures. The course will cover basic security procedures, fire prevention procedures and storage licensing. The second type of training is more about the ammunition technical side and covers everything on the ammunition storage side but also storage facility design, the inspection of ammunition and guided weapons, minor repair tasks and associated safety procedures and disposal, which is CMD.

Conventional Munitions Disposal (CMD)

Conventional Munitions Disposal or CMD is the core of EOD. Whether military or civilian, whether destroying mines recovered through humanitarian demining, single or multi-item ‘blind’ ordnance or large scale disposal of obsolescent items, all require knowledge of safety procedures, the equipment required for disposal, how ammunition works; the effects of explosives, how to make up basic charges, where to place charges, accounting for serviceable ammunition and explosives and damage mitigation techniques and equipment. Not all ammunition is disposed of by using a counter charge of serviceable high explosives. There are also techniques for burning the explosive content of the munitions whether as an individual item that cannot be moved or on a logistical scale with a furnace to dispose of obsolescent items. In some cases, items such as sub munitions are disposed of by kinetic attack to disrupt them. This can be done by firing at them with calibres ranging from 5.56mm to 12.7mm ammunition.

Conventional ammunition also includes those munitions that have a chemical and biological filling as opposed to high explosive. The training required to dispose of these types of ammunition tends to be an additional period to CMD for EOD operators and is called Biological and Chemical Munitions Disposal (BCMD). The training has some similarities to CMD in that the EOD operator must know all about the ammunition to be disposed of and how it works, whether enemy ammunition or allied. The operator must also know the effects of the filling and the safety equipment and procedures he must use during the RSP, including the breathing apparatus and chemical resistant suits. The ammunition needs to be contained and is then normally sent back to a specialist facility for disposal where the ammunition is cut open and the filling burned. Mitigation techniques and downwind hazards areas are also subjects taught during BCMD training, as are decontamination techniques.

C-IED, IEDD, Search and Weapons Intelligence

As previously discussed, the training for C-IED is given to all military and police forces in areas where IEDs are likely to be used. It is given to protect the security forces by covering the following topics; counter insurgency mission planning, urban and rural patrolling, vulnerable point (VP) search, patrol search, 5 and 20 m checks, isolation drills, suicide devices, insurgent tactics and weaponry (including conventional weapons and IEDs), vehicle check points (VCPs), medical and EOD reporting, the use of Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) and incident management. As most of the countries in which asymmetrical conflict occurs in are also mined, the mine awareness training carried out by military and civilian deminers has been incorporated into C-IED training.

The training of an IEDD operator is generally aimed at two levels. The first is where the operator is dealing with a situation and device where he is not the target. The operator has been called in to deal with a device that has been created and planted by subject A to kill or injure subject B. Neither the IEDD operator nor the police/military response forces are a target. It should be noted that this doesn’t mean that the device used is simple. The level of sophistication is according to the capability of the person who creates the device. The second level of more advanced training is that where the IEDD Operator is in a high threat environment. This would be where subject A (such as a terrorist) is either trying to kill or injure the security forces and/or the operator himself. Although both levels of training have many similarities such as the types of device likely to be encountered and the equipment used in the RSP, the questioning technique used by the operator is much more advanced and is designed to find out whether there are multiple devices and the first device is simply a ‘come on’ to lure in security forces that can then be struck by a secondary or tertiary device.

In assault IEDD, where the operator has to be seamlessly integrated into a Special Forces (SF) or police tactical unit assault teams, the training must encompass not only specialist IEDD skills such as hand entry techniques and dealing with suicide devices, but also all of the assault team insertion skills, whether they be for a land or sea assault. Weapon handling and shooting standards of the operator must be as high as those of the assaulting police or SF forces.

Weapons Intelligence training encompasses a lot of topics that would be covered under C-IED, IEDD, Police and Intelligence training and consists of the intelligence cycle and where WIS/WIT fits into the current operations of find, fix, strike and exploit. Cultural considerations, especially during interviewing and questioning are also important, as are the makeup of the IEDs being used in the operating environment and the tactics, techniques and procedures used in insurgency and terrorism. This should include explosive effects. The specific threats of Bomb Making Factories, VBIEDs and suicide attacks, photography, forensics, WIS task conduct and planning and how EOD forces work, how to write reports and brief commanders on results are all part of the course and if the course is a military one rather than commercial, then it will generally include the military pre-deployment skills required to operate in a hostile environment.

Posted: 5 April 2013 by Optimal Risk Administrator | with 0 comments