How to detect a suicide bomber

Written By komlim puldel on Rabu, 08 Oktober 2014 | 20.01

The palm-sized land mind contains just 40 grams of explosives and is a warning for all who travel in Afghanistan or will soon make their way into Islamic State controlled areas in Iraq.

EVERY new service person rotating through Australia's forward operating base in the Middle East gets to see the boot demonstration. It's a sobering moment.

The range instructor points to an army boot, located on the sand some 50 metres away. There's a bang and the boot flies 50m skywards, and thumps shredded to the ground.

The palm-sized landmine that blew the boot contains just 40 grams of explosives.

It is a warning for all who travel in Afghanistan or will soon make their way into ISIS-controlled lands in Iraq, but the devices are so numerous and ingenious that awareness is not always enough.

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A demonstration ... what the ADF personnel will face when they enter Iraq. A person wearing a suicide vest, packed with explosive devices, is dressed as a local. The idea behind the demonstration is to the show the deploying ADF personnel of how hard it is to spot a potential threat. Picture: Gary Ramage Source: News Corp Australia

While Coalition forces hold the heavy air-to-ground missiles, the insurgents in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan rely on mid-sized weapons and an array of improvised explosive devices to break bodies and spirits.

Warrant Officer Class 1 Gary Fletcher, who runs the IED training lane in United Arab Emirates, says the devices used in Afghanistan are simple and crude, in contrast to what ground forces may experience in the current Iraq conflict.

"(In Afghanistan) they either work or they don't work. In the old Iraq war they had more sophisticated ways, and that is how we envisage Iraq would be now," he says.

The worst of all is the suicide bomber.

Training our troops ... Australian Army Warrant Officer Class One Gary Fletcher is a Trade Ammunition Technician. He runs the Improvised Explosive Device training for all ADF personnel going on operations in the Middle East. Pic ture: Gary Ramage Source: News Corp Australia

"You will not find a suicide bomber in a crowd easily," WO Fletcher says.

The language of "green on blue" — the attacks by Afghan National Army inside bases that has cost seven Australian lives in Afghanistan — has been changed to "insider threats".

That is because it is no longer just soldiers attacking soldiers, but the employees of foreigners — the drivers, office workers, cleaners.

People on new deployments are told to look for changes in the behaviour of their employees, even those who have been through an eight-stage vetting process.

They may become agitated, erratic, or lose eye contact. They get most upset if their bosses trash their religion.

The course padre encourages people landing in the Middle East to understand the sanctity of the Koran.

Threats ... ADF personnel, including Special Forces, will face the threat of IED's when they enter Iraq. An Army GP Boot is exploded to simulate the effect of what will happen if someone were to step on an IED device and trigger it. Picture: Gary Ramage Source: News Corp Australia

"Desecration of religious texts is never an accident," they are warned.

In 2012, 61 Coalition forces were killed by IEDs in Afghanistan. Since 2001, 15 Australian soldiers have been killed in action by landmines or IEDs.

Anything from a seemingly empty plastic bottle to an innocent-looking pressure cooker could be a bomb.

Four springs taken from bicycle seats can be the basis of a pressure-plate bomb. Once stepped on, metal contacts metal. The circuit is made and the device is triggered.

The after effect ... of an IED blast, as an Army GP Boot is exploded to simulate the effect of what will happen if someone were to step on an IED device and trigger it. The boot was thrown over 30 metres into the air. Picture: Gary Ramage Source: News Corp Australia

The range of IED triggers — cell phones, half-dead batteries, ball bearings that roll inside syringe barrels — is astonishing.

That is why the induction training concentrates heavily on teaching people to use tourniquets in the event of IED wounds.

A person who has lost an arm or a leg will bleed out in 30 seconds. Every service person carries a tourniquet as part of their kit and is taught to get it on a limb as fast as possible.

There are still 420 Australians working in Afghanistan, travelling in heavy traffic where a new scourge of magnetic mines — stuck on to the side of Coalition vehicles by passing motorbikes — represent a new threat.

Suicide bombers use motorbikes with false tanks loaded with explosives, driving to the job with just enough fuel in a water bottle running straight to the carburettor.


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