The history of improvised explosive device (IED) use can be traced back to as early as the sixteenth century, when the ‘Fougasse’ improvised mortar system was used by Samuel Zimmermann to attack the city of Augsberg during a religious struggle.
In the early seventeenth century, Guy Fawkes assisted in an attempt to destroy the UK Houses of Parliament with barrels filled with gunpowder which is another early example of an IED.
However, it was not until the early twentieth century that IEDs became a weapon of choice for aggressors, terrorists and Non-State Armed Groups in conflicts.
What is an IED?
The definition of an IED is: “A device placed or fabricated in an improvised manner incorporating destructive, lethal, noxious, pyrotechnic, or incendiary chemicals and designed to destroy, incapacitate, harass, or distract. It may incorporate military stores, but is normally devised from nonmilitary components.” (United Nations Improvised Explosive Device Standards, Mat 2018).
IEDs are an increasingly common feature of conflicts around the world. They have become a weapon of choice for aggressors across the globe. IEDs range from crude, simple devices to sophisticated weapons that mimic military-grade weapons and ordnance. IEDs will remain a weapon of choice for aggressors and non-state actors due to their low cost, the ability to manufacture them locally and the significant effects they have in terms of human and material losses.
Consequently, IEDs pose a growing threat to humanitarian organisations operating in conflict environments.
What is improvised explosive device threat mitigation (IED-TM)?
IED Threat Mitigation (IED-TM) relates to strategies that are implemented to reduce the explosive threat of IEDs in an operating environment to As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP). IED -TM is a term that is preferred to the term Counter-IED (C-IED) given the military specificity of C-IED.
C-IED is generally accepted to be a whole of government approach which focuses on the three pillars of defeat the device, train the force and attack the network. Whereas IED-TM can be viewed as an holistic approach which focuses on the physical, procedural, or trainings responses which can collectively be applied to mitigate the threats posed by IEDs.
SafeLane assists clients in mitigating the threat of IEDs through activities designed to enhance the safety and security of personnel and the protection of civilians. The level of threat caused by the use of IEDs has steadily increased and conventional anti-mine and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) techniques have not been effective against it.
Specialised IED- TM capabilities are required to effectively reduce or minimize the level of threat presented. SafeLane’s IED-TM services are capable of being delivered in both permissive and semi permissive environments.
IED -TM Capabilities
IED Disposal (IEDD) in a mine action context is the location, identification, rendering safe and final disposal of IEDs. SafeLane can conduct IEDD activities within any context that we operate, and as such we are always mindful of the requirements associated with the specific task or operation being conducted. SafeLane ensure the safe conduct of IEDD by using appropriately trained and qualified operators that have a thorough understanding of the area that they are working in, and of the increasing complexity of the IED threat.
High Risk Search
High Risk Search is the capability to locate specific targets using intelligence assessments, systematic procedures, and appropriate detection techniques. SafeLane ensure that IED-TM High Risk Search operations are correctly planned, managed and that the application of systematic procedures and appropriate techniques are applied to locate specified targets in support of the operations.
Weapons Technical Intelligence
The gathering of Weapons Technical Intelligence (WTI) is key to the understanding of terrorist capabilities and thereafter the design and development of counter measures including TTPs. WTI consists of a wide range of items including documents, range tables, weapon systems, munitions, communication systems, biometrics (including fingerprints) and IED component parts. Labels, munition colour schemes, serial numbers and packaging material are all of interest as technical intelligence. During IED-TM operations, SafeLane wherever possible, assist end users in the collation of WTI to assist in the investigation of criminal and terrorist, incidents.
What are permissive, semi-permissive and non-permissive operating environments?
With regards to IED-TM, the terms permissive, semi-permissive and non-permissive are categorisations of the operating environment in which IED disposal (IEDD) operations are undertaken. The categorisation exists to allow for the appropriate planning and resource allocation of security assets as well as the appropriate Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP’s) be utilised to mitigate the assessed threat.
When assessing the operating environment in this manner, it is always considered in terms of the threat facing the IEDD personnel.
Permissive refers to an operational environment, typically in peacetime, where there is support from the local population, or an operational environment in which host country military and law enforcement agencies have control as well as the intent and capability to assist operations that a unit intends to conduct.
According to the UK MOD, a permissive environment is defined as: “an environment in which friendly forces anticipate no obstructions to, or interference with, operations.”
Semi-permissive refers to operations in a potentially hostile environment where the support from the local population cannot be depended upon.
Finally, Non-Permissive refers to a hostile environment where adversaries and / or unsupportive local population pose a continuous threat.
“A non-permissive environment is defined as: an environment in which friendly forces anticipate obstructions to, or interference with, operations. The local security situation will be volatile and unstable within lodgement areas. A joint force’s freedom of action could be degraded by popular resistance, widespread local disorder and/or the inability of the host nation to impose law and order.” (UK MOD).
Training and Mentoring
SafeLane can provide IED-TM training and mentoring services to assist clients and end users in attaining a self-sustained capability for IED-TM operations. SafeLane can effectively implement training and mentoring support packages for client’s and end users without prejudice to existing programmes.
SafeLane supply qualified EOD/IED, Search and Basic Field Exploitation mentors and trainers to support end user IEDD operations in the field and during training. SafeLane trainers and mentors will support end suer IEDD teams by providing continuation training in the field and mentoring during operational activities. These activities will maintain consistent oversight and guidance and ensure the teams remain effective and work according to international standards.
SafeLane understand that continuation training and mentoring is an ongoing and evolving task. SafeLane can travel to the end user country of origin where trainer of trainer (ToT) courses and support to end user self-delivered pre-deployment training is required. SafeLane Search mentors provide training and mentoring activities to support IEDD teams, which include Battlefield Area Clearance (BAC).
SafeLane’s training and mentoring objective is to provide clients and end users with IED-TM training and mentoring in accordance with Standing Operating Procedures (SOP) and international standards, enabling end users to effectively manage any explosive threats they face globally.