Manual neutralisation refers to situations where a trained operator has to manually defuse an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). This occurs when it is not possible to tackle the device by the standard disposal procedures, particularly when the risks posed by these procedures are not acceptable. 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, seven nations under Austria’s lead, have developed a collaborative initiative designed to tackle this critical requirement. This involves the establishment of a multinational training center, with a multinational permanent staff exclusively dedicated to Manual Neutralization Techniques (MNT) capabilities, responsible for providing training and exercises, knowledge and material development. It includes also the procurement of specially designed manual neutralisation kits.
- Provide training courses and yearly validation exercises
- Develop best practices, technical manuals and doctrine
- Develop, test and assess new equipment
- Support research and technology activities.
- Procure specially designed manual neutralisation kits
Manual Neutralisation Techniques (MNT) are needed when dealing with some of the most dangerous or complex IEDs. Often it is the case of hostage situations, IEDs placed in critical infrastructure or situations combining IED with Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBNR) materials. It requires very high levels of expertise which demands intensive and regular training. This makes it a high-cost activity.
The development of MNT Capabilities have been initiated by EDA in 2011, addressing a shortfall identified by the Project Team C-IED. 03 MNT courses were conducted with the support of EDA Operational Budget to develop the basic knowledge and skills among 10 EDA pMS (AT, BE, DE, FI, IE, IT, NL, RO, SE, UK). Following the success of this initiative, in 2014, 5 pMS (AT, DE, IE, IT, SE), under Austria’s lead, brought together resources to further develop their MNT capabilities, implementing the collaborative project Manual Neutralisation Techniques Courses & Exercises (MNT C&E), which provided a consolidated batch of MNT courses and validation exercises.
The success achieved built up to the follow-on current project, implemented in 2017, which saw the efforts scale up to a multinational Training Center, with a multinational permanent staff, capable of delivering the training and validation exercises as well as develop doctrine, test and assess new equipment, support R&T activities and champion the EU capability development in his field.
Training and exercises
The MNT Courses –- involves experienced experts from each participating country. The nature of these training activites is focused on developing and enhancing the skills needed to neutralise complex devices under dangerous situations. Currently a wide offer of courses is available, preparing the attendants to the basic MNT skills as well as for specific complex situations, such as those involving, CBRN material, Vehicle Borne IED (VBIED), hostages, among others. Up to 7 courses are run yearly.
The MNT Exercise – the yearly EUROPEAN GUARDIAN series - was first held in June 2012. 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 MNT kits developed originally by EDA to defuse improvised explosive devices, and further refined by ECMAN, which has currently developed some prototypes of additional specific purpose MNT equipment, in coordination with commercial companies. The ECMAN MNT kit is currently the state of the art in manual neutralisation equipment.
Knowledge, research and development activities
The continuous improvement nature of the ECMAN permanent staff is displayed by the very relevant knowledge, research and product development activities, as well as cooperation with other entities such as Centres of Excellence, universities and academia. Since 2018, several studies have been conducted and delivered, ranging from off-the shelf equipment assessment, product development and customization (tents and detectors), radiological exposure of operators and its health impacts, as well as a strong body of knowledge based on best practices, guidance and handbooks development.