CORPORAL Wayne Dolecki has seen first-hand more times than he would care to remember, the huge destructive power of the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDS).
The Bradford father-of-two is a dog handler in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps attached to a Brimstone IED clearance team.
Cpl Dolecki, 32, and his tight- knit team of sappers, engineers and soldiers are called in to defuse the unpredictable home-made bombs that litter the roads and fields of Helmand province.
The dangers of the job are stark, tragically thrust into the spotlight by the death of bomb disposal expert Staff Sergeant Olaf Sean George Schmid, of the Royal Logistic Corps, who was killed instantly following an IED explosion in the Sangin region in 2009.
“I have lost count, but we have found a lot of IEDS,” said Cpl Dolecki, who has two girls, Talia, 10, and Meredith, six, with his wife Melanie.
“We have done some jobs where it has taken a couple of hours because of the way they are buried in the ground.
“The majority of the IEDs I have come across have been new.
“Many are very basic, but there have been some that were so modern and wrapped it was as if they had come out of a factory making IEDs.
“It is indescribably nerve-wracking for everybody. It is not like somebody shooting at you, it is unpredictable.”
This is Cpl Dolecki’s fourth tour in Afghanistan, and third as a dog handler in Brimstone clearance teams.
“I don’t know if the older I get, the softer I am getting, but it is more of an emotional rollercoaster this year,” he said.
“There have been a few close calls.
“In December we were out clearing a route, I was the second man and luckily the lad in front spotted it, but we were only a few metres away.
“The worst bit is finding one when there are very young children or families around.
“It has been a horrible war and it is definitely going to leave a few scars.
“I generally don’t tell my wife about what goes on because I know she will just fret. And I definitely don’t let my mum know.”