Among its other services, Sterling Operations (Sterling) conducts demining, battle area clearance, munitions detection and disposal for the U.S. government and other clients. Part of its mission is training people most affected by mines and unexploded ordnance how to eliminate these dangers.
The classes are based upon the United Nations International Mine Action Standards (IMAS). Sterling demining class instructors have decades of experience; most have worked internationally in various mine-affected countries.
In a recent class, 42 Iraqi students completed Sterling's basic deminer course, conducted in Sarsank, Iraq, receiving their course-completion certificates. Sixty-three students started the course.
The graduates are now at work in Kurdistan, clearing minefields close to their villages.
“This is demanding work that takes attention to detail, an ability to overcome fear, and a desire to save lives. Not everyone can do it,” said Matt Kaye, Sterling Chief Executive Officer.
Among the many skills students in Sterling demining classes learn are:
- Introduction to mine warfare
- Identifying mined areas
- Mine detection techniques
- Introduction to anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines
- Introduction to unexploded ordnance (unexploded artillery shells, hand grenades, and other explosive weapons)
- Site layout and marking systems
- Safe and effective minefield clearance
- Manual mine clearance drills
“The final week ended with a theory exam which the students had two hours to complete. All questions were based on both practical as well as theory work given over to the three-week course,” said Andy Gleeson, who supervised the Sterling demining class.
Officials of the Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency observed the testing.
The result for students - beyond learning new skills - is protecting the people in their towns, villages and in the countryside, said Gleeson.
“Unexploded ordnance and landmines in all their forms are remnants of war that can kill and injure for decades after a conflict. We're proud to help eliminate the danger,” Gleeson said.