Security & Counter Terror Expo2014-03-10 08:50:30

Interview with Bob Shaw, Head of the Demonstration Area in the C-IED Zone.

Robert Shaw is currently director of Optimal Risk EOD Services, running capabilities and training in various fields of EOD, Security and Intelligence. With 27 years in the defence and security industry and humanitarian organisations, his military career, as an ATO, included experience in Northern Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan, Norway, South Africa, Cyprus, Jordan, Belize, North West Europe and the Falkland Islands, working in support of Airborne forces, Special Forces and Defence Intelligence. His subsequent roles included the UN and NATO where he managed a multicultural training department for ISAF in Afghanistan which had the responsibility for analysing insurgent weapons, tactics, techniques, technology and procedures, training all levels of command and advising on future operational strategy and equipment procurement.

In 2006 he was the UNDP lead technical advisor to a disarmament and reintegration project in Afghanistan coordinating the efforts of the UN, CSTC-A and US State Department with regard to Small Arms abatement and reclamation and Explosive Ordnance Disposal including Counter IED. Subsequent work for the UN included Counter proliferation work in Libya.
Robert holds an MSc in Global security from the UK Defence Academy and in his spare time is a Battlefield Tour Guide. He writes on security issues for several European publications.

Q: Now that you're no longer an operative, what is your involvement with C-IED?
A: I am the director of Optimal Risk. We offer trusted confidential support from the boardroom through to field operations. Our approach is to support an organisation in becoming resilient and prepared to respond effectively to any strategic or operational risk.

Ranging from threats to assets and personnel, to complex threats like espionage or sabotage, our security services and training can protect, defend, and prepare an organization for the plethora of high-risk and high-impact scenarios that could compromise your operations or reputation.

We trial C-IED kit for companies, we consult and we train. For example we recently trained the Nigerian Police in IEDD.

Q: Why is C-IED so important?
A: Apart from direct fire such as small arms fire, mortars and artillery, the IED is going to be a major threat to troops and their vehicles.
The use of IED's on the battlefield and in the homeland is not going away; it's going to be used worldwide for the foreseeable future. It's a weapon of choice across the spectrum of conflict.

Q: Why is the Counter Terror Expo important 2014?
A: The Counter Terror Expo is crucial for organisations and companies to keep up with new trends and technologies. The C-IED situation is constantly evolving along with new technology both in terms of type of explosive devices and in terms of the methods to detect, and dispose of them.

Q: What is your involvement with Counter Terror Expo 2014?
A: I am the head of the demonstration are in the C-IED Zone. I will be compering both the days. I'll be explaining, as the action happens, what is going on, what can be learnt, what to look for.

Q: What will see at the demonstration showcase?
A: EOD is a very broad field. The zone is covering six scenarios which are the current threats within the different fields of EOD.

Q: What are the six most typical scenarios featured in the demonstration showcase?

Scenario 1
Humanitarian demining and clearance of explosive remains of war (ERW). The mines and other unexploded ordnance, if not removed, can be used by extremists as main charges for IED's. IED's made from mines and manufactured ordnance are particularly destructive as they contain high grade military explosives and munitions are designed to fragment and penetrated armoured vehicles. So, it's important to clear mines and ERW, from a C-IED point of view, as well as an humanitarian one.

Scenario 2
Conventional ordnance threat still exists in any post conflict country and the threat can last for decades, for example a Royal Engineers EOD Team dealing with an aircraft bomb left from WW2.

Scenario 3.
High Risk Search. A Royal Engineer search team in conjunction with an IEDD operator (known as a high threat IEDD Team) isolate an area so you know the IED at the contact point is all you're dealing with. Every time a military unit or team moves, they are searching the ground because of the threat of IED's. Before they put their foot out of the back door of a vehicle they search, unless they are under fire and that threat becomes greater.

Scenario 4
This will involve a Heavy IEDD Team dealing with a Vehicle Born IED (VBIED). In layman's terms, a car bomb, where the car is the device. VBIEDs are normally used for smashing infrastructure or for driving into crowded market places. The type of firing switch used will vary depending on the extremists. It might be that there is time before the bomb goes off, or it might be intended to be a suicide mission, where the driver detonates the bomb as he arrives at his target.

Scenario 5
Post Room Scenario. This will show the equipment used for dealing with a postal device. This involves a manual approach rather than the use of an ROV once you've ascertained the suspicious package is a postal device and not an IED with a time switch. We'll show the personal protection equipment the operator will wear and the small disrupters he'll use. The scenario involves selective disruption to minimise damage and maximise forensic exploitation.

Scenario 6
Bomb Making Factories (BMF). This scenario involves going into an environment where terrorists are making bombs in their home and they could be still present. Here the job of the Assault IEDD team is to dispose of any hazards whilst potentially being under fire. A team of Special Forces will be dealing with terrorist on-site, and the IEDD team have to work on the bomb, literally under fire.

Q: Is the demonstration about training?
A: No, it's just a demonstration, no learning involved. But people should come and look at typical scenarios across the world covering the full spectrum of EOD including C-IED. We'll show the latest equipment within those fields.

Q: Who should come to the demonstrations?
• Manufacturers
• Government agencies
• Commercial companies
• Procurement

Q: What do you think of the concerns that, by showing off our new kit, we might be giving information to future terrorists?
A: The internet has been a game changer. A lot of knowledge is already out there. So I don't think it is an issue at all. The key thing is that we keep abreast of the new technology and the many ways that IEDs can be used across different terrains and environments.

Q: What do you are the key issues in C-IED at the moment?
A: There are several key issues. One, as I explained is that we need to keep learning about the evolving technology. It's very easy to deal with current issues and not plan for the long term. Operational forces are so busy dealing with current operations, planning for the future, looking at all the new technology can be a priority that falls too low down on the list. That is why the Counter Terror Expo is so key.

The other issue is that by the end of the year we will be post-Afghanistan. The danger is that once ISAF has left they will cease to keep up the high level of trained soldiers and operators with C-IED experience and expertise. With financial constraints and the perception that the threat has moved to the mainland, will countries keep their military weapons intelligence and exploitation capabilities or will they cut them. These forces are at their peak, but what will happen next? The threat will evolve; some IEDs used in the soft soil of other countries are less likely to be used in UK. The devices will evolve because UK is not Afghanistan and IED's are unique to the country they are being deployed in. But the generic threat will stay the same.

Q: So the threat hasn't moved mainland?
A: There are threats at both home and abroad. Our adversary's training camps have been displaced to new locations from Afghanistan to places such as Africa and people trained in bomb-making and having combat experience in places such as Syria will be returning to their host nation, which could be anywhere in mainland Europe that has communities of migrants.

You can see (and hear) Bob Shaw at the C-IED zone both days of the Counter terror expo.

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