NATO train up Afghan soldiers on bomb defusing before their withdrawal
Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 01:45
Oct. 24 - Faced with a short supply of Afghan soldiers who are able to defuse bombs, NATO forces aim to train them up, ahead of their withdrawal. Sarah Toms reports.
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The lonely walk on Afganistan's frontline, with the constant threat of stepping on a homemade bomb.
Here at this school near the provincial capital of northern Balkh, NATO troops train Afghan soldiers to defuse bombs or an improvised explosive device.
As most of the Western alliance's personnel is scheduled to withdraw by the end of the year. It is crucial for Afghan security forces who will be left to fight the Taliban alone.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) DEPUTY COMMANDER AT COUNTER IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVES DEVICES SCHOOL LIEUTENANT COLONEL, JONAS KARLSSON SAYING:
"Since Afghanistan has been to war for couple of decades, there is plenty of unexploded ammunition, mines in this area and of course since the last years we have also seen this new threat of IEDs that are a very high threat here in Afghanistan so we are now focusing on giving students basic knowledge about how to take care of EODs (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) and of course even the IEDs (Improvise Explosive Devices)."
It's dangerous work, IEDs are the single biggest killer in the Afghan conflict.
(SOUNDBITE) (Dari) AFGHAN ARMY SOLDIER AND STUDENT OF COUNTER IED SCHOOL, ATTA UL HAQ SAYING:
"This is my ambition that one day there won't be any more threats of IED and conflicts in Afghanistan so our people could live in a peaceful environment."
But only a few Afghans make the grade.
In five years, only 600 trainees here attained a basic qualification to dispose of explosive ordnance, even fewer passed the more advanced qualification for defusing IEDs.
And many contractors believe much of the expertise will be lost when western troops leave, as Afghans trained to defuse bombs return to different units or simply desert.
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