To promote strategic cooperation in the field of counter improvised explosive devices (CIED), the inaugural International CIED Leaders’ Forum was hosted in Canberra by INTERPOL, the Australian Defence Force and the Australian Federal Police in early September.
The forum was attended by close to 300 senior government, law enforcement and military representatives from more than 70 countries and organisations, including the United Nations, NATO, African Union and International Bomb Data Centre.
The aim of the forum was to support the creation of a global alliance that unites and focuses efforts to combat the improvised explosive device threat.
Four key pillars of work underpin those efforts – component controls, capacity building, public awareness and information sharing.
The key areas for information exchange are technologies, precursor materials and the individuals and groups who construct and use the weapons.
The exchanges will carefully balance the need to share principle with the need to know.
Vice Chief of Defence, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, said the forum increased awareness of common goals and enhanced the ability of military and law enforcement agencies to disrupt and neutralise improvised explosive device networks.
“There is little doubt we need a collaborative global response to the threat, and this forum has provided a launching pad for future cooperation and information sharing,” Vice Admiral Griggs said.
“The solution does not rest solely with the military.
“From here the Australian Defence Force will continue to work with the Austrailian Federal Police and our international partners towards establishing a global alliance and broader consensus on how to address this threat.”
Vice Admiral Griggs said the Australian Defence Force had been touched in a tragic way by the scourge of improvised explosive devices over a number of years during its operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It was a real issue for us and a number of years ago we set up the CIED Task Force which still exists today and has been doing some world-leading work in association with the Australian Federal Police and INTERPOL,” he said.
“It was a natural alignment for the three groups to host the forum, which was crucial in the continuation of the fight against improvised explosive devices.
“Information sharing was a big theme and that’s because information sharing is important for us being able to adapt and react to the threat as it changes and evolves, which it does on a regular basis.
“I’m pleased we now have the global alliance and look forward to the work to be conducted over the next year or so.”
The global alliance to counter the devices will encourage participating countries to adopt a whole-of-government approach to focus law enforcement, military and diplomatic channels towards an international response aimed at reducing the threat to save lives.
INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said the world police body stood ready to play its part in moving the alliance forward.
“The discussions underlined the complexity of the issue, which cannot be addressed by any single agency or country alone,” Secretary General Stock said.
“Improvised explosive devices are a number one killer as they pose a danger not only to Defence Force members on the battlefield, but also civilians, as we have seen this year with more than 10,000 casualties around the globe.
“We all agree more needs to be done to address this threat and the forum has provided a valuable and constructive way forward, particularly through its support for the creation of the global alliance to counter improvised explosive devices.”
Secretary General Stock said the global alliance would focus on law enforcement, military and diplomatic channels to form an international response.
“INTERPOL will provide its full support to the alliance and our common goal to make the world a safer place,” he said.
“We have a mechanism already in place in Lyon and in Singapore to facilitate information sharing and the exchange of best practice for capacity building and training activities, which will be INTERPOL’s main role in this important international initiative.”
Assistant Commissioner Australian Federal Police Julian Slater said all members of the forum were aware of the international threat.
“We have been working for many years in collaboration with our partners to do what we can to mitigate that,” Assistant Commissioner Slater said.
“The forum is the first step in a new initiative that’s going to provide us with a platform to bring us together even more comprehensively than has been the case in the past.
“Information is the key in limiting the impact across the globe.
“This sharing can be done with appropriate protocols in place to balance the integrity of investigations with the need to inform our partners.
“A global knowledge bank of information can only assist all of us in dealing with these lethal explosives.”