An improvised explosive device (IED) is a type of unconventional explosive weapon that can take any form and be activated in a variety of ways. They target soldiers and civilians alike. In today’s conflicts, IEDs play an increasingly important role and will continue to be part of the operating environment for future NATO military operations.
IEDs are one of the main causes of casualties among troops and exact a heavy toll on local populations. With the aim of reducing the risks posed by IEDs, the Alliance helps members and partners in developing their own C-IED capabilities, with a particular emphasis on education and training, doctrine development and improving counter-measure technologies.
C-IED is not just about stopping or neutralising an IED once it is already in place, but also about identifying and disrupting the networks that create and initiate IEDs. The Alliance focuses on reducing the frequency and severity of IED attacks, while also targeting the networks that facilitate them. Understanding the various threat networks at the tactical to strategic levels is vital to success in current and future operations where battle lines are no longer linear.
C-IED efforts encompass work, research, testing and training conducted at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Supreme Allied Command Transformation (SACT) in the United States and various Centres of Excellence (CoEs) and NATO Agencies. These different commands, agencies and divisions focus on training, developing technology designed to defeat IEDs, sharing information and bringing together non-NATO actors to disrupt the network before IEDs kill or injure troops and civilians.
Latest C-IED Related Activities
Celebrating Sweden's Flag Raising Ceremony at the C-IED Centre of Excellence
The C-IED Centre of Excellence (COE) commemorates the integration of the Swedish Armed Forces as full members of the COE by officially hoisting its national flag
Two years after the signing of the Accession Note, Sweden's integration process at the Counter Improvised Explosive Devices Centre of Excellence (C-IED COE) has been completed. On December 2016, the last of the C-IED COE partner nation representative’s at the NATO Allied Command for Transformation signed the Technical Arrangement in Norfolk, Virginia.
One of the peculiarities of the Sweden’s integration is undoubtedly that unlike the other nine partner nations, it is not a NATO nation. This further enhances the character of this Centre of Excellence and its "holistic approach": multinational, joint, interagency and academia. However, it is not the only differentiating factor, while the other contributing bodies are all nations, in the Swedish case the relationship is between the C-IED COE Partner Nations and the Swedish Armed Forces.
The contribution of a new partner to the joint project is always a great news. In the case of Sweden’s single post in the multinational staff, it is of vital importance as the Swedish Officer is responsible for orchestrating the C-IED COE’s contributions to NATO’s multinational exercise program. The COE staff working within Education and Training programs provides sophisticated expertise to the the NATO, EDA and some national exercise programs.
The formal signing and flag raising ceremony was a dignified recognition of the significant effort over the past two years to reach this point. Development and implementation of the formal processes to allow a non-NATO military to join the COE is representative of the spirit of international cooperation that has characterized the C-IED COE’s program of work since its inception. The Swedish contribution to the COE has already begun and has already had an immeasurable impact on NATO’s exercises Trident Jewel, Jaguar and Juncture series, the Icelandic exercise Northern Challenge and the European Defense Agency (EDA) exercise Bison Counter.
The C-IED COE Director and staff hosted three distinguished guests during the ceremony: GA Fernando Garcia (Spanish Chief of Defense), Ambassador Lars-Hjalmar Wide (SWE Ambassador to Spain), and Major General Mats Helgesson (SWE armed forces C-IED Coordinator). Additionally DCM Kris Urs (Acting Ambassador), the US and French Defense Attaches also participated in the event.
C-IED activities require multidisciplinary knowledge. Among NATO's Subject Matter Experts there are engineers, blasting experts, electro-mechanicals experts and many more. This area shows examples of how NATO's C-IED expertise can be used in different domains.
In the past decade, NATO and its partner nations have been developing specific policies and guidelines for the protection of civilians in the planning and conduct of NATO-led operations and missions. At the Warsaw Summit in July 2016, NATO leaders endorsed the NATO Policy for the Protection of Civilians.
In addition, many Governmental Organizations and Non-Governmantal Organizations found this problem so important that they built it into their program of work, carried out their research etc. to contribute to enhance efforts in response to this challenge. One of these organizations was the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD). Motivated by its strategic goal to improve human security and equipped with subject expertise in explosive hazards, in January 2015 the Centre established the research project to characterise explosive weapons. The aim of this research into explosive weapons characteristics and their immediate, destructive effects on humans and structures is to contribute to the ongoing discussions on explosive weapons in populated areas, intended to reduce harm to civilians.
The research project was guided and advised by a group of 18 international experts – among them was Zsuzsanna Balogh PhD., from Allied Command Transformation Capability Development Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices Team – dealing with weapons-related research and practitioners who address the implications of explosive weapons in the humanitarian, policy, advocacy and legal fields.
The result of their 2–year long research is a Final Study with five Annexed Explosive Weapons Studies, a Terminology paper and a Simulator software tool.
On 6th February, the launching day of the study, a group of panellists came to the Maison de la Paix in Geneva to debate key findings arising from the research and take questions from the floor. Watch the event in its entirety here: http://youtu.be/AhignV2sJOY.
The study (and much more) is available clicking here.
The 12th C-IED conference took place at the NATO Maritime Interdiction Operational Training Center (NMIOTC) in Souda Bay, Crete, Greece from 13 to 15 June 2017.
The Calling letter, the latest Addendum and the Agenda can be downloaded here.
Agenda and presentations from the 12th C-IED Conference are available here.
Agenda and presentations from the 11th C-IED Conference are available here.
The pages are password-protected, please get in touch with one of the event Points Of Contact (POCs) below to obtain access.
C-IED Action Plan
The C-IED Action Plan guides the Alliance's efforts to reduce the effects of IEDs and acts as an umbrella for the coordination of the various actors involved in C-IED. It covers all areas of countering improvised explosive devices, from the strategic to the tactical. It focuses on several areas of concern to the Alliance, including improving coordination and cooperation with the European Union and between Alliance members, developing and investing in equipment designed to reduce the risk of and damage caused by IEDs, and ensuring that troops in the field receive training for an IED environment.
The C-IED Action Plan is built around several different areas, including information-sharing, closer cooperation with other international organizations and law enforcement agencies, specialized training for troops deployed to areas where IEDs are widely used and improving equipment used to detect IEDs and protect troops.
The newly revised version 2 of the NATO C-IED Action Plan - formally approved by NAC in April 2016 - provides NATO HQ and the NATO Command Structure with sufficient guidance to issue implied operational and tactical tasks in accordance with the Strategic responsibilities; furthermore, continues to focus on the high priorities and short- and mid-term requirements necessary for the continuing effectiveness and success of the three pillars of C-IED (Defeat the Device, Attack the Networks, Prepare the Force).
Supreme Allied Command Transformation (SACT) in Norfolk, Virginia in the United Sates has the overall responsibility for implementing the different aspects of the Action Plan and leverages the NATO C-IED Task Force to coordinate and synchronize efforts across NATO HQ, Strategic Commands and other NATO bodies.
C-IED Capability Monitor
As NATO’s C-IED Capability Monitor (CM), CDRE Groenningsaeter leads the C-IED Task Force that is to ensure cohesive and coordinated NATO and national efforts for all C-IED matters in the Alliance. He is responsible for coordinating all matters regarding C-IED capability development, implementation and acquisition related to the CIED Action Plan.
Additionally, CDRE Groenningsaeter is FOGO champion for the C-IED, EOD, and MILENG CoEs. In this position he provides strategic direction and guidance with respect to the CoE activities ensuring these activities are coordinated with NATO priorities.
For more information about the C-IED Task Force, see the Terms Of Reference (TOR) here.
For the March 16th, 2017 Task Force meeting minutes and briefings, click here.
For the December 14th, 2016 Task Force meeting minutes and briefings, click here.
For the September 27th, 2016 Task Force meeting minutes and briefings, click here.
C-IED Related Publications
The Counter-IED Report is a specialist subscription-based publication, which serves as an information source to communicate the latest developments in the fight against the IED threat. The aim of the Counter-IED Report is to identify technological advances as well as strategies and tactics for reducing successful IED manufacture and placement.
Members of the C-IED Community of Interest regularly contribute to the Counter-IED Report with articles, in-depth analysis and technical reports. The latest contibution, from Lieutenant Colonel Balogh, on "Female Roles Related to IED" can be read here.
C-IED Equipment and Technology
IEDs can be hidden anywhere: in animals, planted in roads or strapped to a person. They can be detonated via cell phones or trip wires, among other methods. They can be deployed everywhere: in a combat environment or in the middle of a busy city. The adaptability of IEDs to almost any situation makes them difficult to detect and stop, which is why NATO members and partners are using several methods to increase counter IED capabilities. For example, the Emerging Security Challenges (ESC) Division has several science initiatives that focus on developing sensors to detect explosive before they can claim lives.
In coordination with the Defence Investment Division (DI), the NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCIA, former N3CA) helps to coordinate and execute the joint acquisition of C-IED equipment through a common funded system or nationally provided funds. NCIA conducts research and development on countering IEDs and works on developing in-house technologies and techniques, as part of the Defence Against Terrorism Programme of Work (DAT PoW), which is under the responsibility of ESC. NCIA also analyzes emerging technology in the area of countering IEDs and tests them, in an unbiased way, in an operational environment to ensure they fit with the Alliance’s needs.
In addition to the DAT PoW, a counter-measure programme designed to identify and deliver short-term capability solutions specifically includes a C-IED initiative. Spain is taking the lead on testing various stand-off detection technologies, while Slovakia is focusing on activities, technologies and procedures for IED "Render-Safe" operations in line with an Explosive Ordnance Disposal initiative.
The Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD) reiterated its commitment to C-IED capability development in the post-ISAF context in its 2015 CNAD C-IED Roadmap.
The Roadmap further notes that:
- CNAD and its substructure are fulfilling their obligations under the NATO-wide C-IED Action Plan;
- the NATO C-IED Task Force is a vital network for cross-NATO coordination;
- DI’s specific focus on C-IED has been crucial to coordination among CNAD stakeholders, especially across the three Main Armaments Groups (MAGs);
- while close coordination on C-IED capability development must continue, C-IED can be considered to be mainstreamed in the CNAD.
CNAD’s C-IED activities are organized in three pillars:
- A wide range of materiel capability development activities engaged in my the CNAD substructure;
- The C-IED Clearing House, a compendium of ~180 National C-IED related materiel and technology projects;
- The Voluntary National Contribution Fund, or VNCF, a mechanism for resourcing C-IED capability development across the Alliance.
More information on CNAD’s C-IED activities can be found on the Defence Investment Web Portal at https://diweb.hq.nato.int (registration required).
C-IED Information Sharing and Intel
NATO's initial C-IED efforts focused on detecting and neutralizing IEDs. Now, however, C-IED work is not just about detection and neutralization, but instead must also focus on addressing the networks behind the IEDs. In line with this, NATO utilizes both military and civilian means in the fight against IEDs.
Information-sharing between international and national law enforcement agencies, as well as border and customs agencies, is instrumental in mapping insurgent networks. This helps to disrupt the operational IED chain. As such, NATO would like to promote cooperation with these various agencies and organizations.
NATO also trains its troops on how to interact with civilians during deployment. The information provided by civilians who know the area can be instrumental in preventing IED attacks.
C-IED Education and Training
One of the most important aspects of C-IED training is being able to stop networks before emplacement of IEDs, recognize IEDs and safely disable them before they injure or kill troops and civilians.
Several Centres of Excellence (COEs) also offer specialized courses and training useful for an IED environment. The principle aim of the Counter Improvised Explosive Devices (C-IED) COE in Madrid, Spain, for example, is to enhance the capabilities of participants to counter, reduce and eliminate threats from IEDs by offering multinational courses for C-IED experts. The C-IED COE, in concert with the private sector, also focuses on defeating the network. To get more information about the CoE Courses please click here.
The Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) COE in Trenčín, Slovakia focuses on "defeating the device." EOD COE improves the capabilities of EOD specialists called upon to neutralize IEDs by providing training and expertise in the field of explosive ordinance detection, neutralization and disposal. In addition to training, the EOD COE also focuses on standardization and doctrine development and developing capabilities for EOD and IED technology improvements.
Due to their related fields of specializations, the EOD COE and the C-IED COE will cooperate with each other. Additionally, the COEs have close links with others that specialize in areas that add to the field of countering IEDs, including the Military Engineering (MILENG) COE in Ingolstadt, Germany, the Defence Against Terrorism (DAT) COE in Ankara, Turkey, the Military Medical (MILMED) COE in Budapest, Hungary, and the Human Intelligence (HUMINT) COE in Oradea, Romania. The NATO Maritime Interdiction Operational Training Centre (NMIOTC) in Chania, Greece and the Operations in Confined and Shallow Waters (CSW) COE in Kiel, Germany provide focused attention on C-IED in a maritime environment.
Partially in response to the decisions made at the Warsaw Summit, the CIED COE and NATO Training community through the NATO CIED Annual Discipline Conference (ADC) received a SHAPE J3 / ACT validation of the operational requirement for a “Common CIED Training Model” to guide training for partner nations. With this validation, the COE and CIED CoI intents to conduct a Training Needs Analysis (TNA) to create a broad over-arching CIED Partner Training model with supporting language to guide NATO planning and organization actions.
Upon AFRICOM request, C-IED COE organized a writing session between 21 – 24 March 2017, in Hoyo de Manzanares, in order to develop a C-IED training framework for African partner countries. SME’s from C-IED COE, AFRICOM, UNMAS, KEN, INTERNATIONAL PEACE SUPPORT TRAINING CENTER, TF ATLAS, CJTF-OIR, ASIA PACIFIC FUSION COMMAND PACOM, USAREUR, JIDO, AUS, FRA, UK and US DoD, worked together and succedeed in producing the requested C-IED training frameworks for African partner countries. The first products include three domains Search, IEDD and WTI (exploitation).
NATO also features an online e-Learning course available on the Joint Advanced Distributed Learning website jadl.act.nato.int: this course provides an introduction to improvised explosive devices (IED), including their role in warfare. It also provides an introduction to the types of IEDs, the enemy's tactics for each, and counter techniques.
C-IED and EOD Resources
The success of countering IED activities requires wide info sharing and coordination among the acting organizations. These links drive you to our main counterparts and media partners for further information.
C-IED related websites links
EOD related websites links