Peshmerga forces train to counter IED threat

August 19, 2019

Zeravani soldiers conducted Counter-Improvised Explosive Device training exercises at Bnaslawa Training Center near Erbil, Iraq, July 25, 2019. An Italian Army C-IED Mobile Training Team trained the soldiers to detect and defeat explosive hazards commonly found on the battlefield.

Zeravani are a specialized branch of Peshmerga forces operated by the Kurdistan Regional Government. The Kirkuk-based team members are among thousands of local soldiers and police to undergo Coalition-led training at one of the Kurdistan Training Coordination Center’s four training centers across the Kurdistan region.

The aim of the course is to train “detect and defeat” instructors. Detect operators learn to search routes, areas and buildings for possible explosives, unexploded ordnance and enemy caches, and mark any finding for the follow-on defeat team. Defeat operators are trained to intervene on the detect team’s findings in order to carry out the proper procedures that renders the area safe.

The training at Bnaslawa verifies that the trainees can properly perform the detect and defeat procedures. Additionally, they learn how to plan and deliver C-IED training to other Zeravani teams.

In an urban training village constructed by the German Army in 2016, the Zeravani C-IED team executed the tasks in a variety of settings. Once one team member detected a possible explosive, the “defeat” team member was called upon to disable the device.

“That was a textbook defeat,” Anthony Erwin, a civilian counter-IED trainer, noted following the first exercise, adding that the defeat operator was one of the most skilled Zeravani soldiers he had seen.

The Italian trainers’ team leader also called the exercise a success. Following three weeks of training, the lead instructor assessed that 80 percent of the students had successfully achieved all training objectives as detect or defeat operators, and half qualified to become instructors.

The team leader noted that Counter-IED training is of vital importance for the Kurdistan Security Forces.

“The IED threat for them is the biggest threat,” he said. “It’s more dangerous than troops in contact, considering that Daesh now has turned into an insurgency. Second, the training of instructors is crucial for the building up of a self-sustaining KSF.”

Following a final week of practical exercises, the Zeravani team will return to its unit.