July 13, 2012 —
Sergeant Dave Wallace from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Troop shows students from the Afghan National Army some of the finer points of an M81 Firing Initiator during the Explosives Hazard Reduction Course at Multi National Base Tarin Kot. (Australian Cpl. Hamish Patterson)
TARIN KOT, Afghanistan (July 13, 2012) — Local police in Uruzgan Province are being bolstered with the skills to dispose of life threatening explosive devices as they attend the Explosive Hazard Reduction Course (EHRC) for the first time in two years.
The EHRC, underway since June 2010, is a highly successful education program designed to give indigenous forces the capability to clear Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) independently.
The 21-day course is run year round by Australian and Singaporean Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) experts, and qualified Afghan instructors. The program now consistently caters for the Afghan National Police (ANP), whose freedom of movement is often hindered by IEDs and UXO near their checkpoints.
Course manager Australian Chief Petty Officer Shaun Elliott, said the EHRC helps curtail this problem.
“The ANP spend a lot of time at checkpoints and it’s very common that they find or have IEDs and suspicious items handed in to them. We are giving them the capability to deal with such hazards on site, rather than wait for Coalition forces or Afghan National Army (ANA) EOD to arrive and deal with the threat,” CPO Elliott said.
The 18 July, 2012, graduation marks the date for a group of nine ANP and 18 ANA students, who will eventually go on to mentor their own colleagues.
“Train the trainer is our end game, if we can get them to a point where they are successfully training their own personnel, we believe that they can operate independently around the province,” CPO Elliott said.
Local policeman Rafullah said the course is integral to enhancing the security situation and the transition process.
“I am very thankful of the instructors on this course; it is very important for the ANP and very important for our country. Our country needs this continual training before our allies leave and I am so proud of the ANP learning how to counter explosives and save innocent lives,” said Rafullah.
“Before when we came across an IED we had lots of problems with it and had to call in for help, but now the ANP and ANA have the ability to do it. It is a very good feeling to make dangerous areas safe for local forces and my people,” Rafullah said.
ANA instructor Sergeant Abdul Rahmin, a former student of the EHRC, said the ANP are integrating well and learning the fundamentals very quickly.
“The work they are doing here is very good, they know how to find an IED on patrol, blast it and make the area safe. We are very proud of the ANP on this course, our country needs the ANP and ANA to be trained in this skill and practice it for many years in the future,” Sergeant Rahmin said.
The EHRC is run at the purpose built Counter IED compound to emulate a practical and realistic training environment.
“We educate them on all types of explosive hazards, respective threat levels, ways to counter different charges and ideal courses of action for each scenario. We do this in an environment similar to that outside the wire,” CPO Elliott said.
The EHRC instructors are attached to Combined Team Uruzgan (CTU), the headquarters responsible for commanding ISAF operations in Uruzgan. Australia will assume the lead of CTU later this year.