The threat from IEDs is not new, but the international trend the last couple of years has made the threat more severe and evident. IEDs constitute a big threat to the civil society mainly by acts of terrorism. IEDs have been used for several terror attacks over the past few years. The size of an IED may vary from small handheld charges to ton-loads of energetic materials in a truck. For small charges the explosive usually is enclosed in some kind of metallic container in order to enhance the lethal effects e.g. fragment generation. For big charges the blast effect is the primary effect and fragments a secondary effect.
An emplaced IED, once identified, will provoke a response from either the police or military in a European context. However the aim of the task is always the same: “To save life, prevent injury, protect property, return the scene to normality and gather forensic evidence.”
The ENCOUNTER techniques would be applied when a suspected IED or suspicious object has been found in an urban space.
An IED attack is the use of a “homemade” bomb/destructive device to distract, injure, incapacitate, kill or destroy. In urban/civil environment IEDs can come in many forms, ranging from a small pipe bomb to a complicated device capable of causing massive damage and loss of lives. IEDs can be carried or delivered in a vehicle; carried, placed or thrown by a person; delivered in a package or concealed on a roadside. IEDs may be surrounded by or packed with an additional materials or “enhancements” such as nails and bolts, glass or metal fragments designed to increase the amount of shrapnel propelled by explosion. Many commonly available materials, such as fertilizer, gunpowder and hydrogen peroxide can be used as explosive materials in IEDs.
The fundamental purpose of the ENCOUNTER project is to increase the safety for Explosive Ordnance Disposal, EOD, personnel and the public through new techniques and methods for dealing with an IED. The main idea is to increase the distance between people and the bomb and thus decrease the risk of damage to both people and surroundings (buildings and infrastructure) - increasing the safety.
In the project an IED was defined as: “An Improvised Explosive Device (IED) is an assembly containing explosive which has been unlawfully assembled with intent to cause harm to people or damage to property.”
The overall aim of the ENCOUNTER project was to improve practices for Improvised Explosive Device (IED) neutralisation before being triggered, and mitigating the consequences if they are triggered, thereby reducing danger to EOD personnel and the public, reducing or preventing damage to buildings and infrastructure, and improved forensic evidence gathering.
Four main objectives of ENCOUNTER:
In summary, the ENCOUNTER project has identified, explored and validated existing and innovative techniques for mitigation and neutralisation of already discovered Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) in urban/ civil environment. The results is summarised in a recommendation matrix to assist the clearing forces.
The ENCOUNTER project started in September 2012 and ended November 2015.
The project team consisted of experts from United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Israel and Sweden with 7 partners in total. The work, both during planning and plans, has been discussed with the end user group which consisted of police organisations from, United Kingdom (Northern Ireland), Germany, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Slovenia and Slovakia. Three end user workshops have been carried out. The first one was held in Madrid hosted by the Spanish Police in February 2013, the mid-term workshop was held in Stockholm October 2014 and the final symposium was held in Brussels October 2015.
FOI, Swedish Defence Research Agency
Dr. Pernilla Magnusson