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Empowering Afghan Citizens to Counter IED Threats

By Navy Lt. j.g. Charity Edgar, Afghanistan Resolute Support DoD News Features, Defense Media Activity

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KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 4, 2015 — In the first six months of 2015, 22 percent of Afghan civilian casualties were caused by improvised explosive devices, according to a report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.

The Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan Counter-IED Directorate here is working to change that.

The team of coalition service members, Defense Department civilians and contractors at Resolute Support Headquarters here, trains, advises and assists Afghan national defense and security forces on how to identify and disarm IEDs and unexploded ordnance and collect evidence following detonation.

Helping Afghan Children

The counter-IED staff also brings awareness directly to civilians. This year has been the most deadly to date for IED civilian casualties, and children continue to make up an alarming number of the deaths. This prompted the Counter-IED Directorate to team up with the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Center of Afghanistan, Afghan Security Institutions’ counter-IED officers and the Ministry of Education to spread IED awareness techniques to as many Afghan children as possible.

This summer, 123 child protection officers and teachers from all 34 provinces converged in Kabul for a four-day seminar, where they learned about the newest IED technology, what to look for and how to use the 119 emergency services call center for reporting.

Each graduate of the program received handouts, posters and discs that will help them train 5,074 teachers throughout Afghanistan, who will in turn teach their students IED and unexploded ordnance safety.

Fraiba is a woman who operates a counter-IED school program in Herat province. She attended the training so that she could educate her students, as well as teachers, on how to avoid IEDs and mines.

“It’s important for me as a female officer because in many provinces, there are female schools and men cannot teach them, so we need to be trained, as well,” said Fraiba, who was one of six women to graduate from the seminar.

Ahmadudin, a safety officer from Kunar province, traveled six hours for the training.

“In order to provide awareness to students and teachers in my province, I need to learn about the new explosive devices to reduce the threats,” Ahmadudin said. “This is a process of continuous learning; new students don’t know to tread softly and alert others and the danger is constant, so the training must be, too.”

Awareness Campaign

The counter-IED program will be placing billboards and producing radio and television commercials throughout Afghanistan to continue to reach civilians and educate them on IED awareness. They have designed handouts that provide security guidance in languages Dari, Pashto and English.

“The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces counter-IED teams are doing great work, but there’s still an overwhelming danger facing army, police, government officials and civilian personnel,” said Royal Australian Air Force Flight Lt. Pete Radcliffe, who advises the Ministries of Defense and Interior. “We want to arm Afghan citizens with both the ability and knowledge to better protect themselves against these devices.”

“It can be really dangerous in Afghanistan, especially for children,” said Fraiba. “But now with this training, I can help protect them.