Kelvedon Man's A Bomb Disposal Soldier

Improvised Explosive Devices or IEDs are a growing threat to British soldiers in Afghanistan.

It's the job of Captain Rob Windard, who's just 26 years old, to check the ground methodically using specialist equipment and isolate the devices hidden in the ground.  IEDs are designed to maim if not kill so Capt Windard's job is both a vital and a dangerous one.

Arguably the work of the Army's Counter Improvised Explosive Device Task Force is the most demanding and dangerous in Helmand - finding IEDS before they explode and making them safe.

The former Honywood School pupil was brought up in Kelvedon where parents John and Pam still live. After school he attended the Defence Sixth Form College, Welbeck College, near Loughborough. He has a younger brother Andrew, aged 22.

“The Counter IED task force is important. We allow the guys on the ground to get on with the job, and Afghan civilians to go about their daily lives,” said Capt Windard.

Many of the victims of the IEDs are Afghan farmers or children, who pick up items like detonators thinking that they are toys, only to have hands and feet blown off.

Although some IEDs do detonate, more than 80 per cent are found and made safe by C-IED Task Force. In addition, heavily armoured new vehicles such as the Mastiff mean that soldiers are increasingly likely to survive bomb blasts uninjured should they occur.

 “If you look at the stats we are getting on top of it. The ratio of finds to contacts [explosions] is very high; so the vast majority of devices are found,” said Capt Windard.

Capt Windard is always on the go. He rarely spends time back at Camp Bastion, the main UK base, due to his services being so in demand.