By Tom Westcott.
London, 1 October:
A British team has completed repair work on specialist equipment to detect and dispose of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), the British Embassy in Tripoli has said.
“The team has been assisting the Libyan Government and the Ministry of Interior repair its specialist equipment so that it is better able to deal with a range of potentially lethal incidents including IEDs,” the embassy said in a statement.
The embassy said it was a successful visit, mounted in cooperating with the United Nations Special Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) that: “helped to restore the Libyan operational capability and identify future equipment needs.”
This is only part of what the British have been doing to help deal with explosive. From last October until this March, a team of British IED experts based in Misrata assisted the Libyan Ministry of Defence with its clearance and disarmament efforts.
“Since then,” explained the embassy, “we have provided an advisor to the Libyan Government to support them as they create sustainable plans for clearance, disarmament and conventional weapons destruction in the future.”
According to the embassy, this latest visit: “is part of the United Kingdom’s enduring efforts to support the Libyan Government, at it seeks to ensure the safety of all its people.”
In conjunction with UNSMIL and the European Union, the UK will help establish a Libyan Explosive Ordinance Training School in 2013 to train local experts in this field.
No specific details have been given of the equipment which the UK team had been repairing.
The British have learned the hard way in both Afghanistan and Iraq to deal with IEDs. New technologies are currently being developed in the UK.
These include, an apparently revolutionary hand-held device, the Integrated Multiplex Assay and Sampling System (IMASS), that can detect a range of explosive substances.
Although created by a UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) scientist, IMASS will be made available to other defence organisations.
Moreover, British boffins not simply relying on their in-house talent to produce new ways of foiling terrorists. They have invited outside technologists to come up fresh innovations to detect IEDs.
These will be tested,” said the MOD,” against threats including concealed IEDs, either worn by a person or hidden in a vehicle, buried by or in the road, or hidden in a wall, box, bag or other container.” However, this is a battle in which scientists sometimes struggle to stay one step ahead of the bomb-makers.