HALO has always destroyed weapons and ammunition as part of its general war clearance activities, but we only established a specialist weapons and ammunition disposal (WAD) division after recovering enormous quantities of ammunition in Afghanistan after 2001. Today our WAD unit leads the field with a comprehensive understanding of the specific challenges involved in the recovery and disposal of weapons and ammunition.
In the aftermath of conflict, the collection of unwanted small arms and light weapons is usually undertaken as part of a Demobilisation, Disarmament and Reintegration (DDR) process, often with HALO acting as a disposal service. This entails registering and certifying the weapons with police and military officials before destroying the weapons with hydraulic shears for large quantities or power saws for smaller amounts.
HALO has pioneered a unique portable weapon-cutting shear, which is small enough to be towed by a vehicle, yet has the capacity to chop more than 500 weapons a day. Its portability and small size allows weapon destruction to be performed in public settings. This is key for securing public trust and establishing transparency in communities transiting from conflict.
In addition, we have devised a range of tools and techniques to de-activate and immobilise heavy weapons by removing key components from the weapons system and engines.
So far HALO has de-activated thousands of heavy weapons, helping to facilitate and safeguard peace processes for some of the most war-weary people in the world.
All ammunition has a limited shelf life which causes it to degrade – or even spontaneously explode – over time. The HALO Trust works with military and government officials to identify stocks of unsafe and unstable ammunition so they can be destroyed safely and prevent large scale human fatalities and injuries.
Our ammunition disposal operations first began in Afghanistan, where we were tasked with destroying huge quantities of degrading ammunition surrendered by former commanders who had joined the new Afghan government. Over the course of four years, HALO’s WAD teams destroyed millions of items of ordnance and developed techniques and equipment for the handling and movement of bulk ammunition.
HALO has also assisted the Angolan and Cambodian armies with ammunition disposal following serious ammunition explosions in both states.