Optima Defence and Security's counter improvised explosive device (C-IED) training programme to the UK military personnel has been awarded the 'Best Counter IED/Successful Deployment Initiative' at the 2013 Counter Terror Expo Excellence Awards in London, UK.
Designed to address the UK Ministry of Defence's (MoD) security training requirements in Afghanistan, Optima designed and delivered training for a new handheld detector (HHD) capabilities to 700 frontline British soldiers during a ten week relief-in-place period.
Optima senior C-IED and search instructor Jim Scott said the introduction of each new capability adds a significant training burden to the MoD, which is constantly under pressure to develop new C-IED capabilities to address the ever changing battlefield threats.
"Defence is under considerable strain to deliver operational effectiveness with shrinking resources, and with military manpower in high demand, using a credible contractor was really the best option," Scott said.
"That's where we came in. We developed the course and provided a ten-man team, deployed for nine weeks with the sole purpose of delivering the training, producing all course materials and documentation."
The company took around seven weeks to design the course, organise the logistics and provide trained operators at the earliest opportunity.
Around 697 personnel were trained by the company, with 690 deemed sufficiently skilled at the end of the programme.
Optima managing director Keith Hammond said the company has successfully demonstrated the advantages of contractor-delivered C-IED training through this training programme.
"Enhancing capacity and delivering training against short timescales are notable advantages, providing the MoD with flexibility and managing risk," Hammond added.
"It is a relatively new concept, but once established I have no doubt that outsourcing training will become a very attractive option to government defence bodies."
Image: A UK soldier learning counter improvised explosive device drills on arrival in Afghanistan. Photo: courtesy of Sgt Ian Forsyth RLC/Crown Copyright.