Detect and disarm: Helping troops dispose of improvised explosive devices

One of the most dangerous tools of modern-day combat is the improvised explosive device (IED). IEDs have proliferated because they are easily made or acquired and placed before killing and maiming indiscriminately. Worse still is how their destructive violence is compounded by the immeasurable psychological effects of fear and uncertainty. The effects of IEDs have undeniably slowed the global fight against terror and extremism and claimed countless American lives.

A group of Somali soldiers proudly display their graduation certificates after successfully completing rigorous explosive ordinance disposal training conducted by elite US soldiers.

This slow progress is evident in Somalia, where the al Qaeda-aligned terror group al Shabaab continues to wage war against the Federal Government. On November 9, 2018, al Shabaab detonated four devices outside a popular hotel in Mogadishu. The attack claimed the lives of 53 people and injured more than 100 others. The fourth device was detonated when first responders arrived and began attempts to rescue the injured.

A Somali soldier leads his unit on patrol clearing the way of what were previously unseen dangers.

Somali troops and their US Special Operations advisors cannot and will not let attacks like this go unanswered. Missions are being conducted and al Shabaab targets struck, but there is a need to help our Somali partners more safely detect and disarm IEDs. Providing quality metal detectors to the Somali military units along with expert training from USSOF will not only prevent loss of life and limb, but will also increase the confidence of our partner force to take the fight directly to al Shabaab. The ability to patrol faster and further could serve as the tipping point to put al Shabaab on their heels and push them out of their strongholds.

This building is but one of the many that have been destroyed in the fighting. It demonstrates the destructive capability of the explosive devices that kill so many in Somalia’s fight against terror.

With the help of our amazing donors, SoA was able to step up to fill this need for Somali units on the front lines. Through close work and partnership with US troops and Somali soldiers, SoA provided this lifesaving capability to three different units, all determined to defeat al Shabaab.

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