MAKURDI, Nigeria -- Sweat slowly rolls down a Nigerian soldier’s forehead as he lies face down on the ground at the entrance of a stone house. He brushes through the dirt in front of him and carefully hooks a thin yellow rope to an improvised explosive device. He retreats with his team to a safer location and pulls the line to remotely disrupt the IED.
Disarming an IED buried by insurgents is one of many scenarios used during the IED Defeat training held May 5-30, 2019, at the Nigerian Army School of Military Engineering, in Makurdi, Nigeria.
“The knowledge that we have gained from the U.S. team will help us a lot,” said Nigerian Sgt. Mumani Gani, assigned to the 43rd Engineering Company. “I pray that the cooperation between the U.S. and the Nigerian army continues so that we can continue to gain this knowledge. We have a difficult challenge in the Northeast with buried IEDs. Now I know how to dispose of an IED, how to move it, the area to take it to dispose it, hook and line techniques and ground sign awareness.”
IEDs are often used in the ongoing conflict within Nigeria and are a favorite among terrorist organizations. The Nigerian army regularly deploys to the Northeast to fight against these groups.
“This training begins in the classroom and covers 27 different subjects, followed by practical exercises,” said U.S. Army Staff. Sgt. Brian Miller, assigned to the 774th Ordnance Company (EOD) at Fort Riley, Kansas. “These exercises include hook and line procedures (remote actions on devices), ordnance identification, training with the detectors, ground sign awareness and many more. The field exercises consisted of creating real-world IED instances and responding to unexploded ordnance.”
IED Defeat training is a U.S. Army Africa-led program that primarily focuses on defusing improvised explosives and understanding ordnance. British and German forces work with U.S. Soldiers to accomplish the same goal.
“The intent of the training is that the soldiers are able to go back to the front, protect their fellow soldiers and protect the population,” said Robert Kaiser, the U.S. Army Africa counter-IED branch chief. “What we are trying to achieve, not only in Nigeria, but also in several of the other African nations is self-sufficiency. What we want to achieve is African solutions to African problems and give them the ability to take care of the training themselves. I think we are taking great steps forward in Nigeria.”
U.S. soldiers will return to Nigeria to train a new group of soldiers later this year.
“Training Nigerian soldiers on counter improvised explosive tactics built lasting partnerships and taught us the value of working with our foreign partner nations,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Jimmy Podolak, the 774th Ordnance Company (EOD) platoon leader, stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas.