How does mine action benefit communities?
Ashley Le Boydre, a SafeLane EOD Mentor from Australia, describes the far reaching, positive ripples of mine action operations. #MineActionApril
As we continue our mine action focus for April, we were delighted when SafeLane’s newest EOD Mentor, Ashley Le Boydre, agreed to give us some of his valuable time to explain how the clearance of explosive remnants of war has far-reaching, positive effects.
We cross examined him on all aspects of his life too! Meet Ashley:
“I was born in Perth in Western Australia and moved to Geraldton at the age of 6. I enjoyed the standard pastimes of a kid in Australia in the 70s and 80s – playing sports, fishing, diving, hunting, camping and generally being outside in the sticks.
I found the latter years of high school boring, so I joined the Australian Army at the age of 17. This was always my dream anyway, from when I was a very small child – my family has a long tradition of military service.
I spent many years enjoying my career, but always looked for a challenge to keep me on my toes. I was posted around Australia and spent over 10 years instructing in various facets of military training, eventually transferring to become an Ammunition and EOD Technician.
I found these years to be both the most testing and the most rewarding of any of my roles in the Army. Especially when working with Special Forces, where the word “No” is not an option. I enjoyed the high tempo work and the professionalism of the teams. I left the Army after 28 years, eventually moving onto a contract in Mali in 2017.
Now when I’m home, I enjoy spending time with my family and our animals, riding my Indian Scout, flying drones, camping, building furniture, renovating the house or whatever my wife orders me to do!”
What does an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) mentor do?
“My role on SafeLane’s Mali mine action project is to work as a mentor and provide training, technical and safety advice and recommendations to the teams and client in our area of operations. Through this work I support the safety of our teams by improving their training with up-to-date information, techniques, procedures and eventually equipment.
Through our efforts as mentors, the teams on the ground are able to remove explosive threats, enabling the local population to reclaim their livelihoods and provide a safe environment for their families to grow and prosper.
Ever since I was very young, I have always had an interest in military, equipment and especially ordnance. After serving my first operational deployment in Somalia in 1992 and seeing the destruction caused by explosive remnants of war (ERW) and the injuries caused to the local population, I knew I wanted to help, which is why I moved into mine action.”
How do mine action programmes benefit communities?
“I have had many highlights throughout my career, but the one that comes to mind in relation to mine action and the benefits it produces is seeing a group of Nepalese soldiers working together as a team, using the skills and techniques taught to them by myself and my colleagues.
They were confidently and safely using their equipment and procedures to render safe and remove a threat from the area of operations. They were not seeking praise, but just getting the job done and giving me a smile as they walked by. The acknowledgment that they have achieved confidence in their abilities and procedures tells me as a mentor that our work is making a true difference. You can’t want for more than that.
The benefits our project team provides are multiple, not only to the local community, but communities around the world. The direct benefit to the local community is the removal of the threat, the reduction of freedom of movement issues and operations, and clearing usable land for farming and creating a safe living environment.
With our teachings, the teams we mentor are then able to return home with skills they can use in other areas to provide those communities with safe living and farming areas too. Many, on completion of their military careers, then also choose to enter the mine action world to continue with the removal of explosive threats.
As an individual I may be a drop in the ocean in the demining/IEDD/ERW world, but you can create ripples that can be far reaching.
Even though I enjoy my work mentoring, I am always keen to get back on the tools and do the job myself. I believe this keeps you grounded and confirms that what you are teaching is working and that you still have the skills to get the job done. I am also interested in the advancement of technologies to aid in our work. I am especially excited about the possibility to introduce drones into the EOD/IEDD/ERW and demining world that I currently work in.
There are many concepts already in use out there. I see this as another valuable tool to keep people safe.”
Thank you Ashley for your time.
As the team works hard to mobilise in Mali, Ashley’s dedication to contributing to the positive changes enabled by mitigating explosive threats will no doubt have a significant impact on those he mentors. We want to thank him for his dedication to this mission and for sharing his skills.