An army reservist and social worker from Bexhill was part of a team providing a bomb disposal training programme for the Nepalese Army.
Lance corporal Justin Baker serves with 579 Field Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Royal Engineers and spent three weeks teaching the Nepalese explosive ordnance disposal team in the capital Kathmandu.
The 28-year-old was part of the team of eight, including a tree surgeon, a dispatch manager, a builder, a heavy goods vehicle driver and even a wild boar farmer.
“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work alongside another nation’s armed forces and to soak up a bit of a remarkable culture which I wasn’t going to pass up,” Justin said.
“It’s been great to work up a rapport with the Nepalese soldiers, a real two-way passage of knowledge and experiences.
“One of the soldiers I was training had served on a deployment to the Congo which I found fascinating.”
Justin studied at St Richard’s Catholic College before earning a degree in social care from Sussex University.
Now he works for East Sussex County Council as a social worker.
Justin’s role in the reserves is an EOD Scribe – meaning he writes down everything the squadron does.
The British Army were invited by the Nepalese to give a refresher course on bomb disposal ahead of their deployment to Mali with the United Nations.
“The African State of Mali has been torn apart by years of internal fighting with insurgencies and factions fighting for overall control,” Major ‘Ginge’ Brown said.
“United Nations troops from several countries including Nepal are deploying under Operation MINUSMA to help stabilise the situation.
“After years of conflict much of the country will be littered with the debris of war; a percentage of which will undoubtedly be unexploded bombs, rockets and ammunition known as explosive remnants of war which will need to be found and destroyed, it’s what we term as conventional munitions disposal.
“To compound the situation they can expect to find improvised explosive devices (IEDs) sown by the warring groups that will also need to be dealt with.”
After the first week of formal classroom tuition, the team devised scenarios and planted dummy bombs and rockets to test and evaluate how the Nepalese troops dealt with each situation.
In one practical test, a 107mm rocket had landed close to an aircraft and not gone off, in another a farmer had handed in a suspected improvised explosive device to a camp, and finally a rocket propelled grenade had lodged unexploded in the roof of a building.
The British Army are regarded as world leaders in bomb disposal after experience in Northern Ireland and Afghanistan.
Sgt Nick Connell said: “This was a real opportunity to share skills and help the Nepalese Army.
“There is a close-knit camerarderie among the EOD fraternity no matter what nationality.”
Nepalese Army EOD Holding Unit commanding officer lt. col. Anup Adhikari said they have been associated with the British Army since 2002 and the Mali mission is the first for his unit.
“There has been a long association with the British Army’s bomb disposal organisation,” he said.
“My unit was first established in 2002 and was assisted a lot from the beginning with technical support by the British Army.
“They also provided some equipment so we could run operations and we have sent soldiers to train in the United Kingdom.
“We have a close affinity with your bomb disposal regiment.
“The Nepalese Army has had 64 years experience of operating with the United Nations, but this is the first time my Nepalese Army EOD Holding Unit will have deployed on such a mission.”
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