Their young faces do not give away a single hint of nervousness or fear; something near impossible when handling explosives meant to maim and kill.
For Afghan National Army Sergeants’ Nuzhat Khan and Salim from the 4th Brigade Mine Defusing Team of the 201st Selab Corps, this is just another day at work.
Every day that ANA mine defusing and clearance teams are out on the roads and in the fields means many more innocent lives are spared death or injury. “The enemies of peace often rely on these methods to hamper security as they are not brave enough to face the Afghan National Security Forces face to face,” explains Colonel Shirin Aqa, communications and public affairs officer with the 4th Brigade.
The past several years have allowed teams like the 4th Brigade to become highly skilled in their dangerous work. “Their training from the international and ANSF forces is very good and they are highly professional; every day they save lives,” Colonel Aqa emphasised proudly.
Sergeants Khan and Salim are skilled not only in the traditional methods of mine detection and removal but also in the use of robots to handle explosives remotely. “It is a tough job, I will not deny that,” exclaimed Sergeant Khan. “But our colleagues are all very well trained and we are motivated every day to save the lives of our brothers and sisters.”
Good relationships with the local populace are both vital to their success and a result of their efforts. “Our work bridges the gap between the people and the security forces; they know we are here for them. Every month the number of mines and IED’s that local people report is higher and higher; by reporting them they can help save the lives of their countrymen,” said Sergeant Khan.
Both he and Sergeant Salim also spoke about the purity of their work in saving lives. “There is no better deed on earth towards Almighty Allah than protecting innocent human beings from harm. I will do my best to serve my people and try to save as many lives every day,” said Sergeant Salim.
Today’s patrol is through Dehtar village in Kama district of Nangarhar. Locals there realise the importance of the work being done by the mine defusing teams. A resident, Noor Ahmad, sums up the communal feeling towards the ANA team, “This team risks their own lives for us, how could we not support them in return? It is for all of us to do our religious and patriotic duty to improve peace and security in our country.”