Personnel from the Kenyan Defence Forces and Sappers from 17 Field Squadron Royal Engineers getting briefed on their task 03102022 MOD Crown Copyright.jpg
Personnel from the Kenyan Defence Forces and Sappers from 17 Field Squadron Royal Engineers getting briefed on their task (Picture: MOD Crown Copyright).
Africa

Exercise Range Sweep: Keeping communities and soldiers safe in Kenya

Personnel from the Kenyan Defence Forces and Sappers from 17 Field Squadron Royal Engineers getting briefed on their task 03102022 MOD Crown Copyright.jpg
Personnel from the Kenyan Defence Forces and Sappers from 17 Field Squadron Royal Engineers getting briefed on their task (Picture: MOD Crown Copyright).

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) has given an insight into how its Kenyan-based staff are keeping both the public and military safe.

DIO staff in Kenya are responsible for the physical safety of the training areas, with the team working on a variety of tasks together with the British Army, the Kenyan Defence Forces (KDF) and several local groups to make this happen. 

Exercise Range Sweep is a vital operation that is carried out annually to clear unexploded ordnance (UXO) from training areas used by British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK).

Sappers from 17 Field Squadron Royal Engineers, part of 35 Engineer Regiment, were deployed from Wimbish in Cambridgeshire to conduct the sweep this year.

They found and dealt with more than 50 items of UXO.

According to the DIO, this is encouraging news "because we have seen a steady decrease in the number of finds year on year, and what are being cleared now are often legacy munitions, going back decades or more", they said.

One of the most important tasks carried out during Exercise Range Sweep is outreach to the local communities.

The team visits schools and villages to spread the word about the dangers of UXO, reiterating the importance of what to look out for and how to stay safe in the training areas.  

Soldiers from 4 RIFLES fire a 105mm artillery gun during an exercise in Kenya DATE UNKNOWN MOD Crown Copyright.jpg
Soldiers from 4 RIFLES fire a 105mm artillery gun during an exercise in Kenya (Picture: MOD).

Range staff record any blind or unexploded rounds during live-firing and normal practice, aiming to clear them as soon as the firing stops.

On the rare occasions they cannot be found, the search expertise of the Sappers is required and, together with their partners from the KDF, their priority is maintaining a safe system of training, not just for the soldiers and other users, but also for the people and animals that live there.  

Exercise Range Sweep is one of the ways that this is sustained, alongside the continued support from the Army and the KDF.