Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) continue to be the weapon of choice for adversary networks and this phenomenon is likely to continue for decades either with the IED as the only threat or combined with others within a hybrid complex scenario. IEDs are fabricated in an improvised manner and designed to destroy property or incapacitate people and vehicles. The design of IEDs and the trigger systems used range from the ‘simple’ to the technologically developed. The production costs in general are low, and the components used include military ammunition like mines or artillery shells as well as freely available chemical components that can be combined to make explosives. Although already used for many decades in civil wars and conflicts worldwide, the casualties caused by IEDs have a cumulative campaign effect and their use is key for terrorists, resistance movements and rogue elements in their fight against technologically superior conventional forces.
The European Defence Agency (EDA) has been working on Counter-IED since 2007, helping to support coalition forces in Afghanistan through a C-IED laboratory and through support for to building up capabilities in Europe. Following, international doctrine Countering IEDs consists of 6 key operational areas: Detect, Mitigate, Neutralise, Exploit, Predict, Prevent.
- IED Exploitation
- Route Clearance
- Tactics Techniques and Procedures (TTPs)
- Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (IEDD)
- Counter Radio-controlled IED Electronic Warfare (CREW).
Each capability was then addressed across all of the Defence Lines of Development (DLODs) using the Multi-nationally accepted DOTMLPFI to see how the EDA participating Member States (pMS) could have their capabilities enhanced. Whilst at this moment none wanted to go forward with CREW, due to security concerns, all other capabilities were addressed, predominantly through catalytic training. The intention was not simply to train a number of individuals, but to train key personnel who are then best equipped to develop capabilities nationally.
Military Search (MS) is defined as the planning, management and application of systematic procedures and appropriate techniques to confirm the presence or absence of specified targets in support of the full spectrum of operations. In this particular area, after an extensive five-year programme and several successful activities/courses and Workshops held in Italy and Austria – which covered the full spectrum of Military Search including CBRN Improvised Devices Search, it is intended now to launch a dedicated project.
In the area of detection, the IED Detection Programme (IEDDET) was launched at the end of 2016. The IEDDET programme aims to develop and demonstrate ultisensory detection systems for countering Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) with the aim to support the development of improved Route Clearance Capabilities for the contributing nations (Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands, Norway and Poland) beyond 2020.
The three projects address different phases of route clearance operations: early warning, stand-off detection and confirmation & identification. A key goal is to improve overall performance by exchanging information between the three phases:
Mounted Early Warning of Indirect Indicators of IEDs (VMEWI3). The objective of this project is to focus on the detection of indirect indicators by using forward looking camera systems. The project is led by Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) in cooperation with industry, SME, academia and research institutions: Armament and Defence Technology Agency (ARWT) from Austria, Royal Military Academy (RMA) from Belgium, Nederlandse Instrumenten Compagnie (Nedinsco), ViNotion B.V., Technische Universiteit Eindhoven (TU/e), Quest Photonic Devices BV (Quest) from the Netherlands and PCO S.A. and Military University of Technology (WAT) from Poland. The project will last 36 months and develop, test and demonstrate unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) based early warning and forward looking ultisensory optical systems for the detection of IED indicators.
UGV stand-off multi-sensor platform for IED component detection (MUSICODE). This project will develop new unmanned ground vehicle stand-off capabilities for detection of IED components by using remotely operated multisensory platforms. The project is coordinated by the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI) in cooperation with ARWT from Austria, RMA from Belgium, TNO from the Netherlands, Industrial Research Institute for Automation and Measurements (PIAP), Military Institute for Engineering Technology (WITI), Consortia Electronica (Cons-el), Advanced Protection Systems (APS) and WAT from Poland and Augmenti AS from Norway. The project will last 36 months and develop, test and demonstrate a UGV based ultisensory detection system for IED components. The system will employ a combination of downward looking and forward looking sensors, and exploit information from the early warning system to further improve efficiency.
Confirmation, Identification and Airborne Early Warning of IEDs (CONFIDENT). The objectives of this project are two-fold: (i) to focus on the confirmation and the identification of relevant components of IEDs including electronic parts, explosives and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) payloads prior to the release of the agents and (ii) to provide complementary early warning capabilities. The project is led by ARWT in cooperation with CBRN Defence Command/CBRN Defence School (ABCAbwS), Logistic School (HlogS) and Schiebel Aircraft GmbH from Austria, RMA from Belgium, WAT from Poland and FFI from Norway. The demonstrators will be based on remotely operated platforms (robot and CAMCOPTER® S-100 Unmanned Air System (UAS)). The UAS will be used for airborne early warning. The project will last 36 months and deal with the integration of various sensors or tools on either UGV or UAS platforms.
A subsequent joint test and evaluation phase will be conducted in selected areas in Austria to ensure identical testing conditions for all three project. The final joint demonstration of the programme is scheduled to take place in second half of 2019.
In the field of exploitation, the Joint Deployable Exploitation and Analysis Laboratory (JDEAL) is the most relevant project leading the area. JDEAL has inherited all relevant Lessons Learned from the worldwide recognised MNTEL project (2010/14) that deployed the first multinational technical exploitation level 2 facility in Afghanistan until mid-2014. Since November 2014 and under Dutch lead, the JDEAL is established in Soesterberg (NL).
JDEAL runs a training facility, and its multinational permanent staff comes from Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. Up to date JDEAL has conducted 14 basic courses in which 200 students have been trained on working at a technical exploitation multinational capability. Such a huge effort is possible due to the contribution of its 13 contributing members with non-permanent staff supporting the permanent structure.
JDEAL has actively participated to multinational exercises such as “Interdict 16” and most significantly the C-IED exercise “Bison Counter” 16 hosted by Sweden in summer 2016. The first JDEAL deployable capability deployed in its fully operational mode and 45 experts conformed the manning required to operate the lab. Such activities served to test and validate the working processes and integration of a technical exploitation level 2 embedded within the structure of a C-IED Task Force created ad hoc for exercising purposes.
Following its collective level of ambition, two JDEAL level 2 technical exploitation capabilities have been procured and are ready to deploy. JDEAL is now enlarging its scope and several interactions with key stakeholders towards improving integration of technical exploitation levels are in place at the moment.
The EDA, under Austrian lead, run the Manual Neutralisation Techniques Courses and Exercises project. Based on the execution of one course and a validation exercise per year, more than sixty MNT operators in a four years period and thus, a unique capability was achieved with 5 contributing Member States. The EDA MNT C&E project was turned into the European Centre for Manual Neutralisation Techniques (ECMAN) project under Austrian lead.
At present, with the adherence of the Czech Republic and Finland, this project will count on multinational permanent and non-permanent Staff members deployed in Vienna (Austria) and will continue to conduct specific MNT related courses and exercises. The project envisages to enlarge the initial MNT scope to conduct research & technology activities.
ECMAN will pay special attention to the CBRN Improvised Devices arena. To do so, an ambitious catalogue of training and education undertakings is under development.
Education Training and Exercises related activities are being conducted as directed by the EDA Project Team C-IED. The exercise “Bison Counter 2016” hosted by Sweden represented a significant development in the C-IED domain. For the first time, a full C-IED dedicated exercise was counting on a level 2 exploitation capability (JDEAL) committed to the exercise. This event represented a unique opportunity to –as commanded by a C-IED task force created ad hoc – execute numerous activities comprising the full spectrum of C-IED; Military Search, EOD, IEDD, Military Working Dogs, Weapons Intelligence Teams, Route Clearance etc.
As endorsed by the Project Team C-IED, it is intended to run the exercise Bison Counter on a bi-yearly basis. The next exercise Bison Counter will be hosted by Italy in 2020.
EDA has vast experience in organising pilot training activities. Among others, in cooperation with its pMS, specific activities ranging from homemade explosives, Military Working Dogs and post-blast investigation have been executed too.
C-IED related studies and applicable tools are part of the EDA C-IED portfolio. An upgrade of the Counter Improvised Explosive Devices Interagency Unclassified Situational Awareness Prediction Tool (C-IUSAT) is expected by late 2018 as well as an IT tool able to replicate fictitious adversary networks for training purposes too.
Cooperating with C-IED Research & Technology relevant organisations remains to be a must. To this end, launching a new project integrating C-IED military and industry representatives is under study at the moment. The intent is to create a “Smart C-IED field laboratory” to promote exchange of expertise between the technical C-IED experts and the C-IED relevant industry.
The PT C-IED is now led by Sweden and continues to cooperate with all relevant C-IED bodies such as the C-IED COE.