IED investigation is an extreme niche aspect of military, paramilitary and law enforcement detective work. Finding and defusing improvised explosive devices is a vital and dangerous job that must be handled by experts in explosive ordinance.
Average professional investigators will never handle any assignment that involves explosives; improvised or otherwise. However, certain types of investigative and security professionals will deal with occasional instances of explosives interaction and a small number of experts deal with explosives on a daily basis.
Since IEDs have become such an important topic in today’s news, we feel it is time to cover the subject as it applies to the people who work to discover and remove these threats, despite the truly terrible degree of danger involved. This essay is dedicated to those who literally risk their lives to safeguard others through their expertise and bravery.
IED Investigation Explained
Improvised explosive devices have been used throughout history for many purposes, but are now mostly associated with terrorism. IEDs can be used to target military, paramilitary or civilian targets in the form of people, property or vehicles.
Being that these devices are indeed improvised, the materials needed to make them are generally available and impossible to regulate. This makes stopping the production, distribution and application of IEDs a logistical nightmare on a global scale. Instead of curbing efforts to stop groups from manufacturing improvised explosive devices, the focus has shifted to detecting and disarming devices before they can cause casualties. This is why IED-related cases have become such as important sector of the investigation sector.
IED specialists come from many backgrounds, but are almost universally employed by law enforcement, military organizations or paramilitary contracting firms. These specialized investigators understand how these bombs are made, how they are disguised and how they are utilized to cause as much damage as possible to their intended targets.
Since the tactics used to make and use IEDs are constantly changing, investigative efforts must also continually evolve to stay current of the latest trends in this dangerous profession. Remember, one false move in an IED matter can mean death for the investigator, as well as the possibility of death for numerous other innocent people.
Improvised explosives cases take many forms and typically entail ongoing prevention and detection efforts on a day-to-day basis, rather than isolated incidents of a singular threat or attack. The following case profiles account for the majority of IED-related detective work in the world today:
Military units employ specialized soldiers who work to find and remove IEDs from official and unofficial armed conflict locations. These explosives experts must safeguard large numbers of their fellow soldiers, making them vital assets in the war against the guerrilla tactics that are commonly employed in many parts of the world.
Paramilitary IED specialists basically do the same job as their military counterparts, but are employed in the private sector for far greater pay. Virtually all of these IED experts who are currently employed as paramilitary contractors started in traditional military roles and earned their training in the army, navy, air force, marines or other armed forces service.
Law enforcement special forces teams, such as SWAT, also employ explosives ordinance operatives who investigate and prevent IED use within the civilian community, typically against innocent targets.
A few explosives experts do not come from military or law enforcement backgrounds, but instead have worked their entire careers in the private sector. These experts are often brought in as consultants and investigators after an attack has occurred and typically focus more on the reconstruction of the event than any prevention or intervention efforts.
Most IED experts are so specialized in their focus that they handle matters involving IEDs made by particular organizations, particular types of IEDs or particular applications of IEDs. Extreme niche specialization is the general rule, especially in private sector consultant work.
IED Investigation Commendations
Regardless of one’s ideology regarding the use of improvised explosives devices, several facts stand out as being universal. The men and women who investigate the utilization of these explosives are incredibly brave, knowledgeable and talented. These truths are indisputable.
IEDs are an ever-growing threat to the population of the world. They are certainly on the rise as a preferred modality of attack from all manner of terrorist organizations. One can not discount the ingenuity of the makers of these devices, nor their focused intent on using these bombs to further their personal and organization agendas. Therefore, the investigators who specialize in IED interventions must be that much more determined to stop bomb makers from achieving their objectives.
For investigative professionals with the specialized skill sets to understand the manufacture, camouflage and detonation of improvised explosives, there are plenty of employment opportunities globally. The work will likely be incredibly dangerous, stressful and important, but is also sure to be lucrative, at least in the private sector.
However, it should go without saying that one should not even consider pursuing this specialized career path without the very best training. Remember, there is no room for error when it comes to IEDs. One mistake can literally mean the difference between life and death.