Chapter 10

Minefield Reduction

Reduction is the physical creation of a lane through a minefield. It is a fundamental of breaching operations as discussed in Chapter 9 and in FM 90-13-1. A number of tasks (detecting, reporting, reducing, proofing, and marking) directly support or are included in minefield reduction.


Detection is the actual confirmation and location of mines. It may be accomplished through reconnaissance, or it may be unintentional (such as a vehicle running into a mine). Mine detection is used in conjunction with intelligence-gathering operations, minefield bypass reconnaissance, and breaching and clearing operations. There are four types of detection methods--visual, physical (probing), electronic, and mechanical.


Visual detection is part of all combat operations. Personnel visually inspect the terrain for the following minefield indicators:

  • Trip wires.
  • Signs of road repair (such as new fill or paving, road patches, ditching, culvert work).
  • Signs placed on trees, posts, or stakes. Threat forces mark their minefields to protect their own forces.
  • Dead animals.
  • Damaged vehicles.
  • Disturbances in previous tire tracks or tracks that stop unexplainably.
  • Wires leading away from the side of the road. They may be firing wires that are partially buried.
  • Odd features in the ground or patterns that are not present in nature. Plant growth may wilt or change color, rain may wash away some of the cover, the cover may sink or crack around the edges, or the material covering the mines may look like mounds of dirt.
  • Civilians. They may know where mines or booby traps are located in the residential area. Civilians staying away from certain places or out of certain buildings are good indications of the presence of mines or booby traps. Question civilians to determine the exact locations.
  • Pieces of wood or other debris on a road. They may be indicative of pressure or pressure-release FDs. These devices may be on the surface or partially buried.
  • Patterns of objects that could be used as a sighting line. The enemy can use mines that are fired by command, so road shoulders and areas close to the objects should be searched.


Physical detection (probing) is very time-consuming and is used primarily for clearing operations, self-extraction, and covert breaching operations. Detection of mines by visual or electronic methods should be confirmed by probing. Use the following procedures and techniques when probing for mines:

  • Roll up your sleeves and remove your jewelry to increase sensitivity. Wear a Kevlar helmet, with the chin strap buckled, and a protective fragmentation vest.
  • Stay close to the ground and move in a prone position to reduce the effects of an accidental blast. When moving into a prone position--

  • Squat down without touching your knees to the ground.
    Scan forward up to 2 meters and to the sides up to 3 meters for mine indicators.
    Probe the area around your feet and as far forward as possible.
    Kneel on the ground after the area is found to be clear, and continue probing forward until you are in a prone position.
  • Use sight and touch to detect trip wires, fuses, and pressure prongs.
  • Use a slender, nonmetallic object as a probe.
  • Probe every 5 centimeters across a 1-meter front.
  • Gently push the probe into the ground at an angle that is less than 45 degrees.
Use extreme caution when probing. If the probe is pushed
straight down, its tip may detonate a pressure fuse.
  • Apply just enough pressure on the probe to sink it slowly into the ground.
  • If the probe encounters resistance and does not go into the ground freely, carefully pick the soil away with the tip of the probe and remove the loose dirt by hand. Care must be taken to prevent functioning the mine.
  • When you touch a solid object, stop probing and use two fingers from each hand to carefully remove the surrounding soil and identify the object.
  • If the object is a mine, remove enough soil to show the mine type and mark its location. Do not attempt to remove or disarm the mine. Use explosives to destroy detected mines in place, or use a grappling hook and rope to cause mines to self-detonate. Do not use metal grappling hooks on magnetic-fused mines.

Probing is extremely stressful and tedious. The senior leader must set a limit to the time a prober can actually probe in the minefield. To determine a reasonable time, the leader must consider METT-T factors, weather conditions, the threat level, the unit's stress level, and the prober's fatigue level and state of mind. As a rule, 20 to 30 minutes is the maximum amount of time that an individual can probe effectively.


Electronic detection is effective for locating mines, but this method is time-consuming and exposes personnel to enemy fire. In addition, the suspected mines must be confirmed by probing.

AN/PSS-12 Mine Detector

The AN/PSS-12 mine detector (Figure 10-1) can only detect metal, but most mines have metal components in their design. The detector can locate and identify plastic or wooden mines by a slight metallic signature. Employment and operation procedures for the AN/PSS-12 are discussed in Appendix F, and technical data is available in TM 5-6665-298-10. The detector is hand-held and identifies suspected mines by an audio signal in the headphones.

Figure 10-1. AN/PSS-12 mine detector

As in probing, consideration must be taken for the maximum amount time an individual can operate the detector. The leader considers METT-T factors, weather conditions, the threat level, the unit's stress level, and the individual's fatigue level and state of mind. As a rule, 20 to 30 minutes is the maximum amount of time an individual can use the detector effectively.

Airborne Standoff Minefield Detection System

The Airborne Standoff Minefield Detection System ( ASTAMIDS) (Figure 10-2) provides US forces with the capability to detect minefields rapidly. Environmental conditions must be favorable for aircraft and ASTAMIDS operations. ASTAMIDS can be mounted on a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or a fixed-wing aircraft. The system detects and classifies thermal and other anomalies as suspected minefields along routes or in areas of interest. ASTAMIDS can be used to protect advancing forces and can operate in concert with air and ground units in reconnaissance missions.

Figure 10-2. ASTAMIDS

System Components

ASTAMIDS hardware and software components consist of a sensor with associated electronics and the minefield-detection algorithm and processor (MIDAP). Surrogate equipment includes an air-data package (GPS, radar altimeter, inertial measurement unit [IMU]), a power supply, a work station(s), a digital data recorder, mounting racks, and a modified floor for the specific aircraft.

Operators view the data displayed on the monitors, communicate with the aircrew, and perform other functions (such as changing data tapes and producing reports). The aircrew must maintain an altitude of 300 feet and an airspeed of approximately 70 knots for the system to detect mines accurately within the sensor's ground swath (approximately 215 feet wide). The system has a 2-hour operational capability, based on standard flight time for the mission profile.

Employment Concept

ASTAMIDS is a fast method for detecting tactical minefields. When it is employed by aviation elements in support of maneuver units, close coordination between aviation and ground units assures that minefield detection is reported accurately and quickly. ASTAMIDS is not as precise as ground detection systems, but it is accurate enough to help mitigate the dangers inherent with minefields. It can be used in both friendly and enemy territories. The use of a Blackhawk ASTAMIDS in areas of threat observation and fire must be planned and coordinated very carefully, because a helicopter is extremely vulnerable while flying the mission profile required for detection (steady altitude, speed, and path).

Once airborne and at its start point, the ASTAMIDS system is placed in the correct detection mode, based on the intended mission (route or area reconnaissance). When the system indicates an initial detection, the operator communicates it to the pilot. The pilot then flies a verification pass over the indicated area. If the system again indicates a detection, the pilot resumes the mission (route reconnaissance) or continues the survey pattern to determine the minefield borders (area reconnaissance). If no detection is indicated on the verification pass, the operator instructs the pilot to resume the flight plan.

Interim Vehicle-Mounted Mine Detector

The interim vehicle-mounted mine detector ( IVMMD) is used in all levels of conflict and OOTW. The IVMMD is mounted on a blast- and fragmentation-survivable vehicle; it is designed to detect and mark buried and surface-laid, metallic AT mines. The primary mission of the IVMMD is to detect mines during route clearance. The system should not be used when operating in an environment where the enemy employs mines that are not pressure-fused.

System Components

A complete IVMMD (Figure 10-3) consists of one mine-detection vehicle (MDV), one towing/mine-detection vehicle (T/MDV), three mine detonation trailers, a spare-wheel module for the MDV, a spare-wheel module for the T/MDV, and a container of spare parts.

Figure 10-3. IVMMD components

The MDV's only mission is to detect mines. It can negotiate vertical slopes up to a 20 percent grade. The MDV employs a 4-cylinder engine and a manual transmission to propel the 4.8-ton vehicle with a 3-meter-wide detection array. The detection array consists of two separate induction coils (one for the left side and one for the right side) that detect magnetic fields below the vehicle. The detection array is suspended between the two axles of the vehicle. When the detector encounters a metallic object, the operator is notified by an audible signal in the earphone. A visual signal appears on the dashboard that denotes which side of the array detected the object. The operator then stops the vehicle, backs it up, and reencounters the metallic object. (The MDV has two detection modes--the locate mode is used to identify the metal object, and the pinpoint mode is used to find the center of the object.) When the operator encounters the strongest signal, he activates the marking system (a nozzle mounted on the rear frame and centered on each detection array) that deploys a water-based ink onto the roadway.

The T/MDV has a 6-cylinder engine and the same detection and marking system as the MDV. The T/MDV tows three detonation trailers. The recommended maximum operating speed while towing the trailers is 20 kph. The T/MDV (with trailers) can negotiate vertical slopes up to a 20 percent grade; however, going down such slopes is difficult. The T/MDV must be in first gear, and the trailer brakes must be deployed to decrease the speed of the vehicle when going down a slope.

The mine detonation trailers are very heavy, and they are specifically designed to apply heavy ground pressure that initiates pressure-activated mines. Each trailer has two axles of different lengths so that the three trailers provide a full 3-meter-wide proofing capability behind the T/MDV. If a mine detonates underneath the trailers, the wheel bolts are designed to sheer so that repair is limited to replacing a single wheel.

The detection array is suspended between the two axles of the MDV. Although the vehicle is designed to produce very little ground pressure, it will detonate most pressure-fused mines, depending on the sensitivity of their fuses.

  • The MDV produces 27.9 pounds per square inch (psi) of ground pressure when the tires are inflated to 14.5 psi and 21.8 psi of ground pressure when the tires are inflated to 8.7 psi.
  • The T/MDV produces 49.8 psi of ground pressure when the tires are inflated to 29 psi and 23.4 psi of ground pressure when the tires are inflated to 8.7 psi.

Employment Concept

The IVMMD is used to support route-clearance operations. Clearance operations ensure that LOC are safe for the passage of personnel and equipment. The IVMMD should not be used during hours of limited visiblity, because it hampers the operator's ability to see surface-laid mines and visual signatures that indicate mining activities.


The track-width mine roller is a mechanical minefield-detection system. It is most effectively deployed to lead columns on route movement, but it can be used to precede tactical formations. In column movement, unit vehicles travel a narrow path, and one or two mine rollers can effectively detect mines in the path. Mine rollers can also be used to detect minefields in front of deployed tactical formations; however, more than one roller is required for a good probability of detection.


Intelligence concerning enemy minefields is reported by the fastest means available. Spot reports (SPOTREPs) are the tactical commander's most common source of minefield intelligence. They originate from patrols that have been sent on specific minefield reconnaissance missions or from units that have discovered minefield information in the course of their normal operations. The information is transmitted to higher headquarters.


Minefield reduction and clearing equipment is broken down into explosive, mechanical, electronic, and manual. Combat engineers and the operators of breach assets practice and become proficient in these reduction means. They integrate them into the breach drills of the units they support. The team applies different TTP to breach drills and prepares and rehearses them as part of the TF plan.


M58A4 Mine-Clearing Line Charge

The MICLIC (Figure 10-4) is a rocket-propelled, explosive line charge. It is used to reduce minefields that contain single-impulse, pressure-activated AT mines and mechanically activated AP mines. It clears a 14- by 100-meter path. The MICLIC has a 62-meter standoff distance from the launcher to the detonation point. The MICLIC's effectiveness is limited against prong AP mines, magnetically activated mines (including some SCATMINEs), top-attack mines, side-attack mines, and mines containing multiple-impulse or delay-time fuses. It also has little effect on other obstacles, such as log and concrete barriers, antivehicular ditches, and walls. The shock effect and the psychological impact of the detonation make the MICLIC a useful weapon in a close fight or in MOBA.

Figure 10-4. MICLIC

The MICLIC is mounted on a rubber-tired trailer, or two MICLICs can be mounted on an armored vehicle-launched bridge (AVLB), with the bridge downloaded, using a fabricated I-beam frame (procedures for mounting the MICLIC on the AVLB are outlined in TM 9-1375-215-14&P). This is called an armored vehicle-launched MICLIC ( AVLM) (Figure 10-5), and it is the preferred system because no trailer is involved to hinder the mobility of the vehicle.

Figure 10-5. AVLM

Towing vehicles for the trailer-mounted MICLIC are a combat engineer vehicle (CEV), an M113 APC, M2 and M3 Bradleys, an M9 armored combat earthmover (ACE), a 5-ton wheeled vehicle, and a 2 1/2-ton wheeled vehicle. The trailer limits the MICLIC's mobility in rough terrain and degrades the maneuverability of the towing vehicle, thereby increasing vulnerability. Since the MICLIC is critical to the breach, it is kept under the protection of the force and is moved to the breach site along easily trafficable, covered, and concealed routes. This effectively prevents the towing vehicle from performing any other task (firing or maneuvering) or serving as an engineer squad vehicle unless MICLIC employment is the squad's only mission. This is an important consideration when selecting the towing vehicle because this vehicle must be solely dedicated to the mission.

The MICLIC can be fired from within an armored vehicle without exposing soldiers to fires; however, the prefiring preparations must be done in advance at a covered and concealed location near the breach site. The initiating cable is brought into the vehicle through the hatch, which must be left ajar, or through the portal of the periscope, which has been removed. Therefore, the crew is not afforded nuclear, biological, chemical (NBC) protection. When the MICLIC is fired from a wheeled vehicle, however, the crew must move to a covered position outside the backblast area. The special-purpose cable on the firing control switch is long enough to allow adequate standoff.

The vehicle operator must be proficient in all aspects of preparing and deploying the MICLIC, including the critical aspect of selecting the optimum breach site. Although the operator will be directed to the breach site by the engineer platoon leader or the breach force commander, ensuring that he can independently accomplish the task will simplify the operation and greatly enhance its likelihood of success. The towing vehicle and the operator must be selected well in advance and be dedicated solely to the task. The operator must be included in all rehearsals and planning sessions and, if possible, during leaders' reconnaissances.

Each MICLIC trailer transports and fires one charge, and then it must be reloaded. The AVLM can fire both MICLICs before reloading. The loaded charge container weighs 1,283 kilograms, so a lifting device such as a 5-ton wrecker or a HEMTT is needed. Reloading, which can be done by an experienced crew in about 20 minutes, entails loading a rocket on the rail and lifting a new charge container onto the launcher. The reloading operation must be done in a covered and concealed location.

The exact limits and depth of an enemy minefield are seldom known before the breach. This is particularly true when the situation is unclear, and the minefield is encountered simultaneously with enemy contact. The first and only indication that a unit is in a minefield may be when a vehicle encounters a mine. The leading edge of the minefield still may be an uncertainty, because the vehicle could have hit a mine in an interior row. The number of MICLICs needed to clear a single lane through a minefield depends on the minefield depth:

  • Clearing a lane through a minefield less than 100 meters deep requires one MICLIC (Figure 10-6). The leading edge of the minefield is identified and, if possible, confirmed by reconnaissance. The MICLIC is deployed from a minimum standoff distance of 62 meters from the leading edge of the minefield.

Figure 10-6. MICLIC employment in a minefield less than 100 meters deep

  • Clearing a lane through a minefield more than 100 meters deep or of uncertain depth requires two or more MICLICs (Figure 10-7). If the leading edge cannot be identified, the MICLIC is deployed 100 meters from the possible edge or stricken vehicle. When the first MICLIC is detonated, a second MICLIC moves 25 meters into the first MICLIC's path and fires its charge. This extends the lane an additional 87 meters. Additional MICLICs are used for minefields of extreme depth, and each one moves down the lane 25 meters into the path created by the previous charge.

Figure 10-7. MICLIC employment in a minefield of uncertain depth or greater than 100 meters

The neutralization of mines by blast depends on the peak pressure and the impulse. For the MICLIC, the impulse is at a maximum of 3 meters from the line charge (on both sides) and decreases the closer it gets toward the line charge, to a minimum of 1 meter from the line charge. This decrease on impulse causes a skip zone (Figure 10-8). This does not mean that neutralization is equal to zero percent; it means that it is not equal to 100 percent. Mines that are buried deeper than 10 centimeters and located 1 to 2 meters from the line charge have a high probability of not being neutralized.

Figure 10-8. Skip zone

Explosive Standoff Minefield Breacher

The explosive standoff minefield breacher (ESMB) (Figure 10-9) is being developed and is not yet available. It utilizes a rocket-deployed Explosive Neutralization System (ENS). The ENS is a net structure that contains explosive, shaped-charge, antimine munitions. When detonated, the antimine munitions produce a penetrating jet that neutralizes the mine's main explosive charge independent of the mine fusing. The system creates a 5- by 82-meter cleared lane through the obstacle. It is employed using the same TTP as the MICLIC.

Figure 10-9. ESMB

The ESMB is towed behind a combat vehicle to the breach site for employment. The ESMB's trailer is equipped with a heat shield to prevent damage to the ESMB from the vehicle's exhaust. The system's major components are a reload box, a trailer, a fire control system (FCS), and an ENS.

The reload contains an ENS, a rocket system to launch the ENS into the minefield, and a Kevlar container to house the reload devices. The rocket motor weighs approximately 270 kilograms and is similar to the one on the MICLIC, but it provides more thrust and is self-contained in the reload container

The munitions are placed at a spacing of 17 by 17 centimeters. This ensures that the direct charge-to-mine contact is made or that sympathetic detonation occurs from the detonation of another mine. The ENS weighs 2,346 kilograms and creates a 5- by 82-meter cleared lane through the obstacle. Because the ENS destroys a mine, it leaves UXO in the lane. The UXO is not a threat to vehicles, but it is to dismounted personnel, so it is mandatory to proof the lane.

The ESMB trailer has rubber tires with tracks for enhanced mobility and trailer stability in rough terrain. The maximum speed of the employment vehicle should not exceed 25 to 45 kph in moderate terrain. The towing yolk is designed with a quick jettison system to drop the trailer in case of an emergency.

The ESMB is initiated remotely with the FCS that is connected to the ESMB by remote cable. The firer performs function checks, raises and launches the rocket, and detonates the ENS with the FCS. If the rocket has been fired and the ENS is not employed to a safe standoff distance, the FCS will not detonate the ENS.

Antipersonnel Obstacle Breaching System

The Antipersonnel Obstacle Breaching System ( APOBS) (Figure 10-10) is a man-portable device that is capable of quickly creating a footpath through AP mines and wire entanglements. The APOBS is normally employed by combat engineers, infantry soldiers, or dismounted armored cavalry personnel. The APOBS provides a lightweight, self-contained, two-man, portable line charge that is rocket-propelled over AP obstacles from a standoff position away from the edge of the obstacle.

Figure 10-10. APOBS

For dismounted operations, the APOBS is carried in 25-kilogram backpacks by no more than two soldiers for a maximum of 2 kilometers. One backpack assembly consists of the rocket-motor launch mechanism, containing a 25-meter line-charge segment and 60 attached grenades. The other backpack assembly contains a 20-meter line-charge segment and 48 attached grenades. The total weight of the APOBS is approximately 54 kilograms. It is capable of breaching a footpath that is approximately 0.6 by 45 meters and is fired from a 25-meter standoff.

M1A1/M1A2 Bangalore Torpedo

The bangalore torpedo (Figure 10-11) is a manually emplaced, explosive-filled pipe that was designed as a wire breaching device, but it is also effective against simple pressure-activated AP mines. It is issued as a demolition kit and consists of ten 1.5-meter tubes. Each tube contains 4 kilograms of high explosives and weighs 6 kilograms. The kit clears a 1- by 15-meter lane.

Figure 10-11. Bangalore torpedo

The bangalore torpedo is used by dismounted infantry and engineer troops. An individual soldier or a pair of soldiers connects the number of sections needed and pushes the torpedo through the AP minefield before priming it. A detailed reconnaissance is conducted before employing the bangalore torpedo to ensure that trip wires have not been used.

The bangalore torpedo generates one short impulse and is not effective against pronged, double-impulse, or pressure-resistant AP and AT mines.


Do not modify the bangalore torpedo. Cutting the bangalore in half or performing any other modification could cause the device to explode.

Continue Chapter 10

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