Peshmerga Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) detect team members take a smoke break in-between morning lessons.

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Paper targets cover the window of a EOD training room.

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Erbil, Iraq — It’s currently estimated that 70-80 percent of Peshmerga killed in the war against Daesh are done so at the hands of an Improvised Explosive Device, or IED, left behind by the terrorist organization. Training the Peshmerga on how to identify and safely destroy these devices is crucial. A team of specialists from the British Army Royal Engineers was sent in to run training courses on the identification and safe detonation of IEDs in Iraqi Kurdistan. The three week course is broken up into two teams: detect (identify) and defeat (detonate). Trainees in both tracks are run through the rigorous program with the aim that by the end they will be able to lower the number of fellow soldiers killed in the field.


Trainees of the program have all volunteered for the job. Many lack warmer layers. Despite colder weather and a need for more equipment, all those participating in the three week course show enthusiasm for hands-on training.


It’s clear the threat of IEDs is not going away anytime soon. With an unforeseeable end to the fighting, and countless boobytraps lying in wait, those willing to go above and beyond maintaining the front lines listen closely as their trainers pass on all that they can during their short stay.

Peshmerga soldiers, selected to learn how to become part of a new EOD detect team, begin to line up prior to their morning lesson. The team was in their second week of the three-week training period where they learned how to seek out and identify different types of IEDs in the field.

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Trainees take a break from the morning lesson on the different ways to safely detonate IEDs.
Trainees take a break from the morning lesson on the different ways to safely detonate IEDs.
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Trainees listen to one of their instructors as they go over what will happen in the afternoon session of the day.
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Small amounts of the explosive PE-4 (known in the US as C-4) and detonation cords sit on a table ready to be used for an afternoon exercise.
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Two detect team members prepare a dummy RPG for detonation. 

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Members of the defeat team, trained to safely detonate IEDs in the field, standby as fellow team members rig a small amount of PE-4 during afternoon practical exercises.

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Detection team members listen to their instructor as he goes over the basics of how to use a metal detector.

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Detection team members practice searching for dummy IEDs.

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A member of the detection training course carefully removes debris several inches back from a dummy IED he located using a metal detector.

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The sun sets on the IED detection training ground.

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