THERE HAS BEEN a total of 25 call outs already this year for the Army Bomb Disposal Squads in Ireland which included 16 improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Officers are on Explosive Ordnance Disposal duty around five or seven days a month on rotation and are all trained weapons and ammunition technitians. Speaking to TheJournal.ie, one officer laid out a regular day on duty and what happens when a call comes through about a suspicious device.
When a request comes in, the senior duty officer briefs the on duty Ordnance Officer on information given by gardai. The officer briefs the rest of the team and makes contact with gardaí at the scene to get more details, a description of the device and agree on a cordon as well as evacuation and safety procedures based on the threat assessments.
I know this means residents being disturbed and evacuated often at night and in poor weather conditions, it’s always something that weighs on the mind, we always try to minimise the duration and scope of impacts on residents and the general population.
Within ten minutes the team meet with their armed military security team and garda escort and are mobile. En route they discuss the threat assessment.
There is a wealth of knowledge and experience in the Ordnance Corps stretching back to the troubles and including our operational deployments from Lebanon and Kosovo to Afghanistan and Chad so everyone’s opinion and recommendations are sought and valued.
Arriving at the scene
First, a command post is set up and the cordon and evacuation are refined as necessary. The team meets with gardaí and witnesses to assess how to deal with the threat posed by the device and decide which approach to take.
We always endeavour to render a device safe as quickly as possible but without putting the operator or the public at risk.
The preferred option is to approach the device remotely using a robot but sometimes a manual approach is necessary where one of the team would have to dress in a specialised EOD suit. It does provide a degree of protection but can limit movement due to its weight (35 kgs).
Neutralising the device
A range of technical and non-technical render safe procedures (RSPs) are used to neutralise a device but for reasons of operational security specific details cannot be revealed.
There is an ongoing battle between those that manufacture and plant improvised explosive devices and those of us that render them safe, that’s why we are so careful about divulging our identities or how we operate.
Once the device is rendered safe, cordons are lifted and residents can return to their homes. The team then works closely with gardaí to technically and foresically exploit the remains of the IED or hoax device, either on the scene or after they return to the barracks.
Even after we have left the scene, there can still be a few hours work ahead of us. When we are finally finished, all the evidence is handed over to the gardai and then it’s back to the duty room in barracks to write up my own report, update the database on the details of the call out and then sit back and wait for the next call.
(All images provided by the Defence Forces Press Office)