Bomb expert hailed a hero

A TEAM led by a brave Sheffield soldier has been praised by the top brass for its work tackling deadly roadside bombs in Afghanistan.

Karl Ley commands a task force called in to different areas of Helmand Province to clear improvised explosive devices.

The 29-year-old Staff Sergeant in the Royal Logistics Corps knows it is a risky job which has claimed the lives.

Karl is currently on a six-month tour in Helmand Province, having deployed in September, and is due to return home soon.

He said: "We move around and respond to a call if a device is found or a deliberate search operation takes place."

Karl's counter-IED task force was involved in operation Moshtarak - the offensive to retake Taliban strongholds in Nad-e-Ali.

Their high risk job involved making sure routes into the area were clear of bombs before infantry soldiers could pass through.

Karl said: "We have to work carefully and methodically. It does take a long time but I would prefer to be thorough than rush the job and have me or one of the guys killed or maimed.

"We've had a really busy tour and have destroyed over 150 IEDs. On one particular day we found and destroyed 14.

"If you don't work in this field you tend you think it's very dangerous but when you get out here an IED is just an IED and we just get on with it. Training for this has all been progressive and we do lots of courses prior to deploying so we are very well equipped for what may come up."

Karl, who has served in the Falklands, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Belize, said the team's equipment had improved greatly and now included special suits with built-in fans to keep soldiers cool and "fantastic" mine detectors and robots.

Former Ecclesfield Comprehensive School pupil Karl's work also involves training Afghan National Army soldiers to perform the role.

The team has suffered losses in bomb blasts during the tour, described as "hard" by Karl.

Brigadier James Cowan, Commander of Task Force Helmand, said: "Selflessly committed to their dangerous work and utterly professional, there isn't a soldier who doesn't hold the counter-IED task force in the utmost respect for what they do and the way they do it.

"I am deeply proud to have them serving as part of my brigade, saving military and civilian lives daily. They are some of the true heroes of this campaign."

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