Members of the counter-improvised explosive device task force located at Forward Operating Base Kharn Nikah completed a successful controlled detonation of an IED turned in by local villagers, March 2.
Villagers in the area bring IEDs to the forward operating bases and outposts often, hoping to help rid the area of the dangerous devices.
“The locals around here are quite helpful,” said Lt. Andy Brett, a member of the CIED team, Task Force Helmand. “They want to get rid of the IEDs as much as we do to increase their freedom of movement.”
Villagers are also encouraged by coalition forces located in the area to provide information and bring in IEDs.
“The locals use it as a way of making sure that they’re safe and to help us out,” said Brett. “They also see it as a trust issue between the [infantry unit] here and themselves. We help them out with the local projects, giving them money to put in bridges to cross their tree lines easier and help them with farming and stuff like that.”
The area surrounding FOB Kharn Nikah is littered with IEDs, much like other areas of Helmand province. The desire of the Afghans who live near the base to help get rid of them increases the success and survivability of both Afghans and coalition forces.
Having the ability to move freely about the area helps coalition forces provide more security while also making life that much easier for farmers. Large amounts of recent rainfall have caused the ground in the area to turn into mud. The clear paths on the high ground are important for both groups.
The existing relationship with the villagers near the base has made destroying the many IEDs a much safer task than it normally would be.
“When an IED is handed in, it’s much simpler than when it’s in the ground,” said Brett. “Obviously, you can see it a lot easier and you know the make up of the IED, so it’s the simplest job we do out here.”
Beyond the immediate reward of destroying IEDs is another important mission for the members of the counter IED task force.
“Forensic evidence is vital. Whenever we get pressure plates or batteries, we send them back to [Camp] Bastion,” explained Brett. “If you can recover anything like the explosives content, it helps to build up a better picture of exactly what is being used in the area.”
Article by Lance Cpl. Jeremy Fasci, Regional Command Southwest