NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Countering Improvised Explosive Devices (C-IEDs)

An improvised explosive device (IED) is a type of unconventional explosive weapon that can take any form and be activated in a variety of ways. They target soldiers and civilians alike. In today’s conflicts, IEDs play an increasingly important role and will continue to be part of the operating environment for future NATO military operations.

IEDs are one of the main causes of casualities among troops and exact a heavy toll on local populations. With the aim of reducing the risks posed by IEDs, the Alliance helps members and partners in developing their own C-IED capabilities, with a particular emphasis on education and training, doctrine development and improving counter-measure technologies.

NATO introduced a Counter Improvised Explosive Devices (C-IED) Action Plan with two main focus areas: defeating the device itself and disrupting the network. With defeating the device, various branches within NATO look at how to detect and neutralize IEDs, prepare and train soldiers for an IED environment, develop technology to prevent IED attacks and protect soldiers and civilians.

C-IED is not just about stopping or neutralising an IED once it is already in place, but also about identifying and disrupting the networks that create and initiate IEDs. The Alliance focuses on reducing the frequency and severity of IED attacks, while also targeting the networks that facilitate them. Understanding the various threat networks at the tactical to strategic levels is vital to success in current and future operations where battle lines are no longer linear.

C-IED efforts encompass work, research, testing and training conducted at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Supreme Allied Command Transformation (SACT) in the United States, International Security Assistance Force Headquarters in Afghanistan (ISAF) and various Centres of Excellence (CoEs) and NATO Agencies. These different commands, agencies and divisions focus on training, developing technology designed to defeat IEDs, sharing information and bringing together non-NATO actors to disrupt the network before IEDs kill or injure troops, Afghan security forces and civilians.

  • Counter Improvised Explosive Devices (C-IED) Action Plan

    The C-IED Action Plan guides the Alliance’s efforts to reduce the effects of IEDs and acts as an umbrella for the coordination of the various actors involved in C-IED. It covers all areas of countering improvised explosive devices, from the strategic to the tactical. It focuses on several areas of concern to the Alliance, including improving coordination and cooperation with the European Union and between Alliance members, developing and investing in equipment designed to reduce the risk of and damage caused by IEDs, and ensuring that troops in the field receive training for an IED environment.

    The C-IED Action Plan is built around several different areas, including information-sharing, closer cooperation with other international organizations and law enforcement agencies, specialized training for troops deployed to areas where IEDs are widely used and improving equipment used to detect IEDs and protect troops.

    Supreme Allied Command Transformation (SACT) in Norfolk, Virginia in the United Sates has the overall responsibility for implementing the different aspects of the Action Plan and leverages the NATO C-IED Task Force to coordinate and synchronize efforts across NATO HQ, Strategic Commands and other NATO bodies.

  • Equipment and technology

    IEDs can be hidden anywhere: in animals, planted in roads or strapped to a person. They can be detonated via cell phones or trip wires, among other methods. They can be deployed everywhere: in a combat environment or in the middle of a busy city. The adaptability of IEDs to almost any situation makes them difficult to detect and stop, which is why NATO members and partners are using several methods to increase counter IED capabilities. For example, the Emerging Security Challenges (ESC) Division has several science initiatives that focus on developing sensors to detect explosive before they can claim lives.

    In coordination with the Defence Investment Division (DI), the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A) helps to coordinate and execute the joint acquisition of C-IED equipment through a common funded system or nationally provided funds. NC3A conducts research and development on countering IEDs and works on developing in-house technologies and techniques, as part of the Defence Against Terrorism Programme of Work (DAT PoW), which is under the responsibility of ESC. NC3A also analyzes emerging technology in the area of countering IEDs and tests them, in an unbiased way, in an operational environment to ensure they fit with the Alliance’s needs.

    In addition to the DAT PoW, a counter-measure programme designed to identify and deliver short-term capability solutions specifically includes a C-IED initiative. Spain is taking the lead on testing various stand-off detection technologies, while Slovakia is focusing on activities, technologies and procedures for IED “Render-Safe” operations in line with an Explosive Ordnance Disposal initiative.

    In line with the NATO Secretary General’s goal of promoting multinational cooperation in defence spending, the Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD) has identified 19 initiatives for multinational armaments cooperation in the fight against IEDs. These initiatives, such as joint acquisition of equipment, joint testing of new technology, technological research cooperation and development of common equipment standards, have been regrouped into a C-IED Materiel Roadmap.

    The CNAD also developed a Voluntary National Contribution Fund (VNCF) to support multinational projects in the C-IED Action Plan, such as pre-deployment training of Weapon Intelligence Teams. NATO members also have access to a Clearing House database, established to facilitate information-sharing on current and future C-IED equipment programmes and to help identify possible areas of cooperation.

  • Information-sharing and intelligence

    NATO’s initial C-IED efforts focused on detecting and neutralizing IEDs. Now, however, C-IED work is not just about detection and neutralization, but instead must also focus on addressing the networks behind the IEDs. In line with this, NATO utilizes both military and civilian means in the fight against IEDs.

    Information-sharing between international and national law enforcement agencies, as well as border and customs agencies, is instrumental in mapping insurgent networks. This helps to disrupt the operational IED chain. As such, NATO would like to promote cooperation with these various agencies and organizations.

    NATO also trains its troops on how to interact with civilians during deployment. The information provided by civilians who know the area can be instrumental in preventing IED attacks.

  • Education and training

    NATO forces undergo pre-deployment training to prepare them for operations in an IED environment. They also receive further instruction in-theatre to update their training and deal with regional challenges. NATO, with SACT in the lead, also focuses on decreasing the gaps between countries in training, standardization and doctrine development regarding C-IED.

    One of the most important aspects of C-IED training is being able to stop networks before emplacement of IEDs, recognize IEDs and safely disable them before they injure or kill troops and civilians. In line with this, SACT offers several C-IED training programmes executed by the C-IED Integrated Product Team, including a Staff Officer Awareness Course, an Attack the Network Tactical Awareness Course, a Weapons Intelligence Team Course and a C-IED Train the Trainer Course, in addition to utilizing the C-IED VNCF.

    Several Centres of Excellence (COEs) also offer specialized courses and training useful for an IED environment. The principle aim of the Counter Improvised Explosive Devices (C-IED) COE in Madrid, Spain, for example, is to enhance the capabilities of participants to counter, reduce and eliminate threats from IEDs by offering multinational courses for C-IED experts. The C-IED COE, in concert with the private sector, also focuses on defeating the network.

    The Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) COE in Trenčín, Slovakia focuses on “defeating the device.” EOD COE improves the capabilities of EOD specialists called upon to neutralize IEDs by providing training and expertise in the field of explosive ordinance detection, neutralization and disposal. In addition to training, the EOD COE also focuses on standardization and doctrine development and developing capabilities for EOD and IED technology improvements.

    Due to their related fields of specializations, the EOD COE and the C-IED COE will cooperate with each other. Additionally, the COEs have close links with others that specialize in areas that add to the field of countering IEDs, including the Military Engineering (MILENG) COE in Inglostadt, Germany, the Defence Against Terrorism (DAT) COE in Ankara, Turkey, the Military Medical (MILMED) COE in Budapest, Hungary, and the Human Intelligence (HUMINT) COE in Oradea, Romania.

Last updated: 04-Oct-2012 15:25

High resolution photos

NATO and the fight against terrorism - Counter IEDs 04. Oct. 2005 IEDs, or Improvised Explosive Devices, are one of the main causes of casualties among troops and exact a heavy toll on local populations. 
NATO and the fight against terrorism - Counter IEDs An Improvised Explosive Device is an unconventional explosive weapon that can take any form. Designed to cause death or injury, IEDs are hidden and set off using a variety of trigger mechanisms. 
NATO and the fight against terrorism - Counter IEDs 25. Apr. 2005 Cheap and effective, Improvised Explosives Devices are the weapons currently favoured by insurgents and rebels and are widely used against coalition troops and civilians in Afghanistan. 
NATO and the fight against terrorism - Counter IEDs IEDs are easily hidden, for example in animals, planted in roads or strapped to a person. They can be detonated via cell phones or trip wires, among other methods. They can be deployed everywhere in a combat environment or in the middle of a busy city. 
NATO and the fight against terrorism - Counter IEDs According to a UN report, 2,777 civilians were killed in 2010 in Afghanistan, an increase of 15 per cent compared to 2009. Of that number, suicide attacks and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were to blame for 1,141 deaths, or just over 40 per cent. 
NATO and the fight against terrorism - Counter IEDs 04. Nov. 2006 Currently, the most effective tool against remotely-activated IEDs is radio frequency jammers, according to Franco Fiore, Counter IED Principal Scientist at NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A). 
NATO and the fight against terrorism - Counter IEDs NATO C3 Agency has recently deployed jammers against remotely controlled IEDs, installing them on ISAF vehicles and at Entry Control Points. 
NATO and the fight against terrorism - Counter IEDs 17. Nov. 2010 Counter_IEDs (C-IEDs) is one of 11 items endorsed by Heads of State and Government as part of the 2010 Lisbon Summit Package of "most pressing capability needs". 
NATO and the fight against terrorism - Counter IEDs 08. Jan. 2010 NATO, under the guidance of Allied Command Transformation (ACT) and in line with the NATO C-IED Action Plan, provides C-IED training to troops as they prepare to deploy, while ISAF provides further training in Afghanistan. 
NATO and the fight against terrorism - Counter IEDs Chemical or biological material may also be added to IEDs to make a dirty bomb. This threatens life beyond the initial explosion. 
NATO and the fight against terrorism - Counter IEDs 27. Oct. 2008 The NATO C3 Agency is installing C-IED sensors to prevent Vehicle Borne IEDs and Suicide Bombers from entering ISAF bases. Currently, over 20 of these sensors are in use at ISAF HQ, Kabul International Airport (KBL) and Kandahar Airfield (KAF), scanning vehicles, people and hand luggage. 
NATO and the fight against terrorism - Counter IEDs NATO's Emerging Security Challenges Division, Counter terrorism Section, with the support of the NATO C3 Agency, is looking at new technologies to detect roadside bombs in order to protect soldiers travelling in convoys.