Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) continue to cause significant casualties in operations as well as in civil surroundings. Therefore, countering them remains a priority for all participating Member States. There are situations where the use of normal explosives ordnance disposal procedures is inappropriate due to the operational situation, and Manual Neutralisation Techniques – a last resort of Commanders - might be required to counter the threat. On 8 September, Austria and the European Defence Agency organised the second Distinguished Visitors day during the margins of Exercise “European Guardian 2015” at the Austrian Logistics School facilities of Vienna, Austria.
Forty participants from Austria, Colombia, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Republic of Serbia, Sweden, and UK, attended the Distinguished Visitors’ Day of the European Guardian 2015 Manual Neutralisation Techniques Courses & Exercises programme. Representatives from EUROPOL and the C-IED Centre of Excellence also took part in the event.
The day was presided over by the Austrian Armed Forces Capabilities Director Brigadier General Peter Resch and the EDA Capability, Armament & Technology Director, Peter Round. Both recognised the relevance of the programme and insisted on the need to continue to develop it in the future.
A live demonstration, executed by an MNT specialists team, was staged in the margins of the meeting. The demonstration consisted of the disposal of an IED which held a chemical payload and several complex initiation systems. Attendees not only had the opportunity to witness all MNT teams immersed in their tasks but also to discuss their activity and the latest innovations in MNT kits.
Attendees discussed their expectations of the programme during their visit to the specific “urban” simulated training area. It was generally agreed that one of the most relevant take away points was that MNT operators are highly trained and few in number, and that given the high degree of specialisation needed, frequent refresher training of MNT operators was considered crucial. To that end, the Manual Neutralisation Techniques Courses & Exercises programme is extremely valuable. The next milestone within the programme will be the first one week MNT refresher course to be held in November 2015 at the Austrian Logistics School.