Manual neutralisation refers to situations where a trained operator has to manually defuse an improvised explosive device. This occurs when it is not possible to tackle the device remotely. It is one of the most mentally and technically challenging jobs performed by anyone in the armed forces, requiring high-level skills and training. Due to the equipment and training involved it is also a high cost activity. In order to provide a more cost-effective solution, six nations under Austria’s lead, have developed a Pooling & Sharing initiative designed to tackle this urgent requirement. This involves the procurement of specially designed manual neutralisation kits, as well as the organisation of one MNT course and one exercise per year.
- To develop concrete solutions for better use of existing and future airlift assets made available by the pMS for military needs to meet operational requirements;
- Annual manual neutralisation techniques course
- Annual manual neutralisation techniques exercise
- Procurement of specially designed manual neutralisation kits
Manual neutralisation is needed when dealing with some of the most dangerous or complex IEDs, for example when the device is attached to a hostage or with chemical or even radiological material. It requires very high levels of expertise which necessitates intensive and regular training. This makes it a high cost activity. In October 2013, six EDA Member States signed a letter of intent expressing their interest in pooling resources and expertise for creating a shared C-IED Manual Neutralisation Techniques and exercises capacity.
Training and exercises
The MNT Course – which took place for the first time in May 2014 - involves experienced experts from each participating country. Due to the high level nature of the course, it focuses on developing and enhancing the skills needed to neutralise complex devices under dangerous situations. It is the first of four courses that will take place until 2018.
The MNT exercise – known as European Guardian - was first held in September 2014. The aim of the exercise is to give participants the chance to use and develop their manual neutralisation skills in a highly demanding, multinational environment. Over the two-week exercise, participants are given a series of different and increasingly complex scenarios and devices to deal with.
Acquisition of specialist kits
The training and exercises make use of kits developed by EDA to defuse improvised explosive devices. In total twelve kits have been given to the Austrian Armed Forces to be stored at the Handentschärferlehrgängen Army Logistics School. These kits are available on request for training or operational use by all of the participating Member States.