By Jeff Mwangi
The British Army Training Unit in Kenya (BATUK) has been conducting a range sweep exercise at their training ground in Archers Post in Samburu County. The sweep was a collaborative exercise between the British Army and the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF). They managed to get 50 explosives that had not detonated after being fired during training.
The Exercise Range Sweep is an annual event that has taken place over the years to ensure that the training areas used by BATUK are safe for local residents, wildlife, and the army’s training safety.
According to BATUK community engagement officer Major Tayor, they have been at the forefront in improving the livelihoods of the local communities through various interventions like health, provision of water, and supporting educational facilities in their areas of operation through a consultative process with the community leaders.
“BATUK spends Ksh.47 million every year on community projects in our areas of operation in Laikipia and Isiolo. We don’t just choose the projects; it is a consultative process with local representatives.” Major Taylor said.
The exercise involved an outreach and education program with local residents and schools that aimed at sensitizing the civilian population to recognize potentially dangerous objects and be aware of the dangers posed by interfering with them.
Specialist members of the Royal Engineers, deployed from the UK, conducted a physical search of areas which BATUK has trained over the years using state-of-the-art equipment and techniques; and then safely disposed of the unexploded ordnance they found.
BATUK keeps detailed records of the areas over which they train and all explosive munitions fired are recorded. Munitions that fail to explode are traced and disposed of immediately, but in the event that disposal is not possible, they are swept up during the Exercise Range Sweep.
BATUK range staff ensures that all impact areas are clear of people and wildlife before firing starts. BATUK engages the members of local communities to disseminate information about training activities that affect their lives directly.
This year’s Exercise Range Sweep was done by 17 Field Squadron, a specialist search and explosive ordnance disposal unit of the Royal Engineers based at Wimbish, Essex.
Previously; there have been cases of locals losing their lives, and limbs and sustaining other bodily injuries by some explosives that failed to explode after being fired.