Mine Risk Education (MRE) is among the longest running and most widely known activities of EUFOR. With the help of MRE, several hundreds of thousands of people all over Bosnia and Herzegovina have already been educated about how to reduce the risk of landmines and Unexploded Ordnance (UXO), greatly contributing to a safer and more secure environment in BiH.

A pilot program of EUFOR – Mine Risk Education together with EOD Team

MREs are organized by EUFOR Liaison Monitoring Teams (LOT) for police and fire fighter stations, civil protection units, schools and even nurseries so the widest possible audience is reached. These trainings are always tailored to the audience; for example while civil protection units themselves also conduct mine awareness events, making the EUFOR MRE more of a coordination event for them rather than a training, children needs to be taught about the danger of mines in a way more suitable for their age group.

A pilot program of EUFOR – Mine Risk Education together with EOD Team

On 06 March, LOT Novo Sarajevo organized another MRE in the Police Academy of the BiH Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs. These trainings are usually held by LOT Novo Sarajevo interpreters Izet Eljšani and Adnan Arnautlija, as they are certified instructors of this topic. During the MRE, types, characteristics and effects of mines were explained, different mine field warning signs were shown and the participants, 30 cadets of the Police Academy also had the possibility to closely examine some de-activated mines and UXOs.

But this time, the MRE came with a twist as after the presentation in the classroom, a dynamic demonstration was held outdoor by the EUFOR Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team and their sniffer dogs. More than 350 spectators – judicial, federal and cantonal police cadets with their squad leaders and academy instructors – were watching Titan, the Belgian malinois dog demonstrating his high level of obedience, a skill which can save his and his handler’s life in case things turn serious. Next, the EOD Team’s other Belgian malinois member, Khaly was tasked to detect if there was any explosives hidden in a car. When Khaly indicated a suspicious item, Titan was sent to sniff and confirm the finding. After the confirmation, the EOD team leader sent a robot to remove the item from the car. This robot enables its operator to handle explosives remotely, even on difficult terrains or inside buildings, with the robotic arms which are capable of subtle movements, similar to human hands. Then a member of the EOD Team – wearing his full protective gear, an EOD suit weighting more than 50 kilograms – carefully approached and removed the suspicious item. In a real situation, the supposed mine or UXO would have been exploded on site or in an UXO disposal area, whichever the EOD team leader deems safer. For this demonstration, the next program point provided opportunity for the cadets to directly ask the EOD members, try on the EOD suit or pet Titan and Khaly. Needless to say, this part of the day proved to be the most interesting for most of the participants.

A pilot program of EUFOR – Mine Risk Education together with EOD Team

While some cadets were interested in the length of EOD dog training, Cadet Zaim Hamzić went straight for the EOD suit which he found a little uncomfortable and less flexible than he expected, while he was not bothered by its weight at all. It turned out that Cadet Hamzić was slightly too tall for that very suit, however, a little discomfort and inflexibility caused by the protective gears are always there for the EOD members, as safety must come first.

As Sead Šarić, commander of one of the cadet squads said, MRE is very useful and effectively contributes to the training of the cadets who will be serving as police officers in different departments in BiH, especially that some of them will even become EOD members themselves. Major Lubos Januška, leader of LOT Novo Sarajevo explained that all 19 LOTs of EUFOR are conducting numerous MREs, while his team is in a special position of working in the capital, where there are a lot of schools, police departments and fire fighter stations. As he mentioned, LOT Novo Sarajevo conducted approx. 190 MREs in 2023, and he predicts the same number for this year, having an average of 4-5 MREs per week.

Speaking of LOTs’ and EOD’s first ever joint MRE, all participants of the training welcomed the initiative while Major Januška and 1st Lieutenant Tamás Köbli, leader of EOD Team both emphasized that the theoretical MRE and the practical EOD demonstration compliment each other and together they provide a deeper understanding and awareness about mines and UXOs.

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