KABUL, Afghanistan (Sept. 1, 2015) — Jan Ali volunteered to attend explosive ordnance disposal and improvised explosive device defeat training for one reason: to better protect and serve the citizens of Afghanistan.
In 2014, the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces found and cleared 8,091 IEDs, which continue to serve as a weapon of choice for insurgents in Afghanistan. Coupled with a landscape littered with landmine remnants from the Soviet occupation, the ability to disarm both IEDs and unexploded ordnance is important.
Ali was serving as a policeman in Bamyan Province when he made the decision to enroll in the EOD and IEDD school at the Afghan National Police Central Training Center-Kabul.
“I have always had a dream of wearing the uniform of Afghanistan, serving my people and defending my country,” said Ali. “In high school I focused on finding a path to serve and support Afghanistan and that is how I joined the Afghan National Police.”
Ali said he enjoyed the challenging and rewarding work as a policeman, but found himself encountering a force he was unprepared to fight: improvised explosive devices. Ali decided he needed to be trained how to fight back against this deadly weapon. Six years after joining the police force, he headed to Kabul for IEDD training.
Mohammed Ferid is the lead EOD and IEDD instructor at the school. He was inspired by his father, who also taught counter-IED, as well as a desire to equip his fellow policemen and women with the ability to combat IEDs.
“In Afghanistan, so many of our causalities are from IEDs. That is how we lose the most police personnel, too,” explained Ferid. “EOD and IEDD classes are important because they give knowledge to our forces on better techniques against IEDs. This means a decrease in our losses.”
“Our job is to help citizens. By having IED training, we can protect civilians and keep them safe,” continued Ferid. “The main fight here is IED. The more students we graduate, the more people we can keep safe.”
Ali acknowledges it is difficult, dangerous work.
“The first mistake is the last mistake,” said Ali. “That’s why there can be no mistakes. That’s why studying here is so important.”
Ali says his classes, which incorporates hands on and classroom training, have been beneficial in preparing him to serve as an EOD technician. By the time he graduates from the EOD and IEDD courses, he will have spent more than six months in school.
The Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan Counter-IED Directorate advises and assists the instructors with the training curriculum.
“Both the Afghan National Army and Police EOD schools have made remarkable strides over the last several years in developing and institutionalizing these extremely important training programs,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Taylor Valentine, a Ministry of Interior C-IED advisor from Columbus, Mississippi. “Every day the two schools grow closer and closer to becoming self-sustaining and less reliant on Coalition support, which is essential for providing a safe and secure future in Afghanistan.”
“The mentors and instructors are helpful. They have a lot of experience and prepare us for working with IEDs,” said Ali. “I know it is dangerous work, but I have a strong desire to serve my country. So I take that, and courage, here to school, and then I will take it back with me to Bamyan to fight IEDs.”