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Detonating the danger
Weapons Intelligence Team members are working hard to ensure it’s safe to live and work in Uruzgan province
WO2 Andrew Hetherington
THE soldiers and airman on the
Weapons Intelligence Team (WIT)
have built strong relationships with
their Afghan counterparts as they
work together to improve safety on
the ground in Afghanistan.
WO2 Chris Deval and Sgt Ben
Gilbey have been mentoring Afghan
National Police Sgt Mohammed
Dawood through gathering information
about and destroying improvised explo-
Sgt Dawood has been working
in one of the most hazardous jobs in
Uruzgan for six years, and in the past
year he’s disabled and collected more
than 60 IEDs.
“I do this job so the insurgents won’t
kill any more of our soldiers or local
people,” Sgt Dawood says.
“It can be a danger to my life, but I
won’t let the insurgents interfere with
“The Australians have taught me
many things and I am very happy and
excited to be working with them.”
After examining components report-
ed by locals, Sgt Gilbey and WO2
Deval package them up and travel back
to Multinational Base Tarin Kot for fur-
“The first thing I do when returning
from a mission is take the devices to the
isolation bay and ensure they are safe to
be examined further,” WO2 Deval says.
“I then take the device into our tri-
age lab, where I log and record all of
the components, describing in detail
what was recovered.”
This description includes how the
device was put together and how it
The amount of detail WIT mem-
bers go into to describe the device is
mind boggling, but essential. What they
are creating is a log of evidence, which
may lead to the apprehension of an IED
maker or an IED planter and their sub-
sequent conviction in an Afghan court.
It also helps improve body armour and
other protective equipment.
Sgt Gilbey photographs each item to
provide an overview.
“The job is logged into a database
and I can then recommend the device be
sent to one of our civilian experts in the
unit who will test it for biometrics and
have its electronic components exam-
ined,” Sgt Gilbey says.
The database allows the WIT mem-
bers to trace who has the device at every
stage of its examination.
Any other WIT and intelligence
agency can access the information to
cross check an item with others found
before or after the item was entered.
WIT OIC Capt Matt Fahey says his
unit is unique compared to other WITs
operating in Afghanistan.
“We have six Australian person-
nel in the unit, five Army and one Air
Force, with civilian technical specialists
performing a level-one tactical techni-
cal exploitation of all captured enemy
materiel and incidents,” he says.
“We also conduct the second
level of IED exploitation within our
Afghan Captured Materiel Exploitation
“There are seven other ACME labs
in the country and they receive mate-
riel for analysis from the other WITs
and explosive ordnance detection teams
operating throughout the country.”
Capt Fahey says after WO2 Deval
and Sgt Gilbey have completed the level
one tactical retrieval of the items and
begun the level-two analysis in their
lab, the other WIT team members are
given custody of the components to
continue the process of investigation.
“The next step is the forensic lab
where our civilian specialists identify,
develop and capture any forensic or bio-
metric data,” he says.
“If the item has electronics within
it, our engineer will determine exactly
what the item is and how it would
The reports are then passed on to the
final section of the second level of the
WIT IED exploitation – the operations
and intelligence section.
“Within the section we have two
geospatial technicians, an intelligence
corporal and myself,” Capt Fahey says.
“We use the data to produce prod-
ucts and intelligence to feed into detect-
ing and defeating IEDs and targeting
Sgt Vassilios Frederikos is a geospa-
tial engineer and is the first to receive
the data as it comes into the operations
and intelligence section.
He makes a map of where events
Cpl Peter Stagg, a geospatial
analyst, then produces map-based
products to simplify the data for the
general military public.
“For example, if a unit is planning
a mission in an area and they want to
know what threats are out there, the
information I can provide could dic-
tate how they might detect or defeat the
threats,” he says.
The final report produced by WIT
on an incident or to fill a request for
information is put together by intel-
ligence analyst Cpl Richard Johnston.
“I combine all the information to get
an understanding of what is going on
with the IED threat and predict what it
might be like in the future,” he says.
Combined Team Uruzgan and units
submitting information requests are
given the products to use for future mis-
sion planning and to predict trends on
how the IED threat is evolving.
Nobody knows the
inside scoop like
the soldier on
If you have an
to tell, get in touch
with Army and get
it in print.
We can support you
writing and chain
by email to
Evidence: WO2 Chris Deval speaks with
Afghan explosive ordnance detection Sgt
Mohammed Dawood. Inset, WIT operations
and intelligence section members (from
left) Cpl Richard Johnston, Sgt Vassilios
Frederikos, Cpl Peter Stagg and OIC Capt
Matt Fahey plot IED events.
Photos by WO2 Andrew Hetherington
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