Two members of the Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Task Force (C-IED TF) have spent two full days making safe an IED factory found by British soldiers in the Nahr-e Saraj area of Helmand province.
The compound, uncovered by members of 1st Battalion The Rifles (1 RIFLES), contained enough components and equipment to make over 80 devices.
The soldiers were part of a four-man team called to search the compound, make safe any devices, and help the soldiers of 1 RIFLES collect any evidence the bomb makers may have left.
British Army bomb disposal specialists Captain Nick Welby-Everard Torbet (right) and Corporal Ed Williams (left) at the IED factory, found by British soldiers in Nahr-e Saraj Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2011
Capt Welby-Everard Torbet, aged 28 from Guildford, is the team commander, and works hand-in-hand with his Number 2, Cpl Williams. Since arriving in Helmand, almost three months ago, the two men have deployed to various parts of the UK’s area of operations to support ground companies requiring assistance from the bomb disposal experts.
Often the pair can be out on patrol for up to 36 hours, carrying out their high pressure jobs in temperatures above 50 degrees Celsius.
Capt Welby-Everard Torbet decides on the best course of action, depending on the situation, and 23-year-old Cpl Williams, from Chelmsford, is responsible for operating the specialist equipment used to disarm the devices, such as Dragon Runner bomb disposal robot.
A Dragon Runner bomb disposal robot (stock image) Picture: Andy Cargill, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010
Capt Welby-Everard Torbet said their most recent operation was one of the biggest they have been involved in:
“Some of the devices were very carefully hidden,” he said. “Finding them was long and exhausting work because we have to be so meticulous and thorough. Despite being tired and sweating from the heat, there is no margin for error â€“ we can’t rush or skip through or it could be fatal. So, as well as being physically tired, a big, long job like this can be mentally draining too.”
After two long days of work clearing the compound, the pair focused their attention on setting up controlled explosions to safely dispose of the material they had found.
Captain Nick Welby-Everard Torbet (left) and Corporal Ed Williams (right) take a break during the two-day clearance of a Taliban IED factory in temperatures of 50 degrees Celsius. Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2011
As well as dealing with numerous IEDs, Capt Welby-Everard Torbet and his team are also training the Afghan National Army in bomb disposal techniques to help them develop their own specialist capability.
Capt Welby-Everard Torbet said:
“The Afghans are very professional soldiers and during the time that we have been in Helmand, their skills have improved significantly….locals here are also more confident in their own security forces and their ability to provide security.”
Cpl Williams said:
“It’s important that the Afghan NationalÂ Security Forces learn the skills needed to deal with IEDs because it’s likely the devices will continue to pose a threat.
A lot of the soldiers are really eager to do well and the most difficult thing is teaching them patience â€“ it really is a virtue in this job and they need to realise why it’s a case of more haste, less speed.”