Andy Smith
Mine action specialist

Searching for IEDs in Humanitarian Mine Action


The presence of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) have been part of the problem that deminers have faced in every country where I have worked. The difference in recent conflicts is a huge increase in the use of IEDS designed to target the person sent to find and destroy them. To discriminate between these and IEDs that are improvised copies of conventional munitions, I refer to those designed to target deminers as Malign Fuzed IEDs (MF-IEDs). Currently, the problem of IEDs is not mentioned in the International Mine Action Standards (IMAS), so there is no guidance on which a country can base a National Standard for the search and clearance of all IEDs, including MF-IEDs.

When I was asked to help advise over this and made informal approaches to the industry leaders, I was told that those engaged in Humanitarian Mine Action should not be asked to deal with any kind of IED, so no guidance was necessary. Regardless of what they think should be the case, we have always dealt with ordinary IEDs and national demining organisations today are facing MF-IED challenges, so I found this answer inadequate.

I did some research and published HMA SOPs for IED work on this website in 2016 and they have been widely downloaded, but I have never been entirely happy with them. The problem was that the term 'IED' was being used to cover everything from an improvised mortar bomb to an improvised device with five fuze systems each of which was designed to kill the deminer sent to find and destroy it.

The solution was to discrimate between types of IED and limit the demining procedures that should be used with the different types. This is fully detailed in Chapter 7 of the Global SOPs for HMA, IED Search & Clearance. The approach is abbreviated to HIED work - 'Humanitarian IED' work. If you have downloaded earlier versions of this SOP, please take note of the major revisions that have been made in the latest version.

Click here to read the current Global SOP covering IED search in HMA. Click here for it as a *.doc file. Corrections or additions are welcomed.

In 2018 , by request, I provided a national standard for HIED work in Lebanon. Click here to access it.

Click here to see some powerpoint presentations about IEDs.