Threat Mine/Countermine Operations
This appendix is intended to complement the information presented in other manuals on threat obstacle tactics. It applies to most threat armies and their surrogates. Commanders should use this information to give added realism to unclassified training, although obstacle employment norms can change with METT-T factors for a given AO. Therefore, preoperational training on templating, intelligence, reconnaissance, and reduction procedures must be based on the best information available before deployment.
Appendix G contains a compilation of countermine data.
To lay mines and place obstacles rapidly during offensive operations, threat armies form a special team from regimental and divisional assets. This team is called a mobile obstacle detachment (MOD). The MOD places AT mines on the most likely avenues for armored attacks or counterattacks. MODs are positioned on the flanks of a march formation for rapid deployment and are normally close to AT reserves. During the march, MODs reconnoiter avenues into the flanks and identify the most likely avenues for tank movement. At secured objectives, MODs reinforce existing obstacles and place new obstacles to assist in the defeat of counterattacks.
The combined arms commander orders the organization of MODs and determines their composition based on the combat situation and available troops. Engineer elements in a division MOD come from the divisional engineer battalion and normally consist of three armored tracked mine layers known as GMZs (Figure C-1). This platoon-sized element has two or three trucks that carry mines for immediate resupply. For the regimental MOD, the regimental engineer company normally provides a platoon-sized unit equipped with two or three GMZs. The platoon travels in BTR-50/60s and has 600 AT mines.
Figure C-1. GMZ armored tracked mine layer
The GMZ dispenses mines at a predetermined spacing of 5.5 meters. Mine-laying helicopters also support the MOD. The HIP and HIND-D helicopters carry two or three dispenser pods of AP or AT mines. Artillery-fired SCATMINEs can also support the MOD. Three GMZs can lay a 1,200-meter, three-row minefield, containing 624 mines, in 26 minutes. Doctrinally, this minefield would be broken into several minefields, each 200 to 300 meters long.
Threat armies use obstacles extensively throughout the depth of their defense, and their tactics are chosen well. Shallow obstacles are reduced quickly and easily. For example, a shallow, one-row minefield is essentially reduced by blowing one or two mines in the row. A threat rapidly emplaced minefield consists of three or four 200- to 300-meter rows, spaced 20 to 40 meters apart, with mines spaced 4 to 6 meters apart. As a rule, the minefield covers the depth of a football field.
Figure C-2. Threat-style rapidly emplaced minefield
Figure C-3. Threat-style antitrack minefield
Figure C-4. Threat-style antihull minefield
Figure C-5. Threat-style AP minefield
Threat armies also emplace mixed minefields. They are not the same as US mixed minefields. Threat armies normally emplace three rows of AT mines, then several rows of AP mines. AT and AP mines are not mixed in the same row.
- When emplacing armed mines, the drill uses a crew of five sappers. The first crew member (the senior man and operator) is in the mine-layer's seat and monitors the operation of the mine layer and the motion of the mines in the guide chute. He also sets the mine spacing and controls the actions of the GMZ. The second and third members take mines out of containers and place them in the intake chute at intervals between the guide tray's drive chain. The GMZ driver steers the vehicle along the indicated route at the established speed.
- When emplacing unarmed mines, two or three additional sappers are assigned to arm the mines. After emplacing the mines, one sapper trails the mine layer, marks emplaced mines with pennants, and partially camouflages the mines. The remaining sapper(s) then arm the mines.
Special precautions are taken when emplacing AP minefields. Threat doctrine only allows PMN mines to be surface-laid from mine layers. POMZ-2M mines are emplaced with the truck-and-tray technique. Extra effort is required to assemble, emplace, and deploy the trip wire and to camouflage the POMZ-2M mine.
Using three GMZs, a threat MOD can emplace 1,200 meters of a three-row AT, surface-laid minefield, containing 624 AT mines, in 26 minutes. This does not include the 12- to 15-minute reload and travel times. Travel and reload times increase during limited visibility.
Threat forces can also have ground-emplaced SCATMINE capability. One such system is the UMZ SCATMINE system (Figure C-6). There are three UMZ truck-mounted SCATMINE systems in each combat regiment. The UMZ consists of six firing modules mounted on the back of a Zil-131 truck. Each module has 30 firing tubes, for a total of 180 firing tubes per system. Depending on the type of minefield desired, the UMZ can lay 180 to 11,520 mines without reloading. The UMZ can launch an AT or AP minefield 30 to 60 meters from the vehicle while the truck is driving 10 to 40 kph. It takes two men 1 to 2 hours to reload the UMZ. One UMZ can lay a three-row minefield, 150 to 1,500 meters long, depending on the type of mine that is used
Figure C-6. UMZ SCATMINE system
UMZ vehicles are usually deployed together as a mobile obstacle/mine-laying detachment. The UMZ is used to lay minefields that protect subunit positions and flanks and the boundaries between subunits. UMZ-laid minefields also cover firing lines and gaps in combat formations. The UMZ can quickly close gaps in existing minefields and increase the density of mines on armor avenues of approach.
For hand-emplaced SCATMINEs, there is a man-portable SCATMINE dispenser. The PKM weighs 2.63 kilograms (without the mine canister) and consists of a single launch tube with a base mount, a blasting machine, and a reel of electric ignition wire. The operator loads a propelling charge and a mine canister into the launch tube and mounts the tube on the edge of a trench or firing parapet. He then aims the tube, connects the ignition wire to the tube, and moves to a safe distance. At an initiating point, the operator connects the ignition wire to the blasting machine and initiates the system. The PKM propels the canister 30 to 100 meters, depending on the type of mine. It lays an AP minefield that is 10 by 20 meters (POM-1S mine canister), 10 by 40 meters (POM-2S mine canister), or 20 by 10 meters (PFM-1S mine canister). It takes a trained operator 5 minutes to set up the PKM and create a minefield. The PKM can also be used to launch the PTM-1S and PTM-3 AT mine canisters.
Threat forces use the PKM to lay minefields that protect subunit positions and flanks and the boundaries between subunits. PKM-laid minefields also cover firing lines and gaps in combat formations. The PKM can quickly close breaches in existing minefields and increase the density of mines on armor avenues of approach.
The type and complexity of an obstacle depends on the installing unit. Maneuver and artillery soldiers usually install simple single-system minefields that are protective in nature. Engineer soldiers install complex obstacles that can include AHDs. Engineer obstacle placement is usually equipment-intensive. Threat engineer effort generally concentrates on tactical obstacles unless maneuver soldiers are unable to employ the necessary protective obstacles. Threat units continue to improve the obstacles, supporting their positions by marking the friendly side of the obstacles, burying mines, and adding AHDs.
Chemical land mines are AP mines with command- or target-detonated fuses, and they are filled with a persistent chemical (nerve or blister) agent. US policy prohibits their use by US personnel. However, this does not preclude their use by other countries, and US forces may encounter them during operations. When used, they are normally used in defense and retrograde operations. They are mixed with HE mines to form a HE chemical minefield. Chemical mines are normally encountered in tactical or nuisance minefields, and some countries use them in protective minefields. When an integrated HE chemical minefield is laid, it serves the following purposes:
- Chemical mines discourage the use of explosive, rapid mine-clearing devices because they create a chemical hazard in the area.
- HE mines reduce the speed of enemy forces crossing the minefield. Speed is further reduced by forcing the enemy to use protective clothing and masks.
Chemical mines will usually be added to existing HE minefields by laying additional strips of chemical mines in a random pattern or by adding HE chemical strips or rows to the front or rear of existing fields (Figure C-7).
Figure C-7. Chemical-mine employment
No particular branch is responsible for clearing chemical mines. Planning chemical countermine operations is a brigade-level responsibility. When reducing chemical mines, consider prevailing and expected wind conditions. Commanders must ensure that friendly troops are protected when chemical agents are released. The release of chemical agents occurs as a result of enemy fire or friendly breaching attempts. Contact-actuated chemical mines are not likely to create a major downwind hazard because only single mines or small groups may be set off at one time.
In offensive operations, threat engineers clear lanes through obstacles when they cannot be bypassed. Although clearing obstacles applies to the march and the defense, the most critical performance of this task occurs during the attack. Engineers can be required to clear mines delivered by air, artillery, and rockets well ahead of NATO's forward edge. They must breach obstacles contained within NATO strongpoints. Threat forces must also clear their own minefields when making the transition from defense to offense. In the offense, threat forces breach or bypass remotely delivered minefields in their form-up areas or routes of movement to the attack line. They also breach obstacles along the forward edge of the battle area and deep within NATO defenses.
Although clearing passages through obstacles is a primary task for threat engineers, any maneuver element may encounter mines. Engineers may not be able to respond to every encounter, so maneuver troops are also required to breach through remotely emplaced obstacles.
A movement support detachment (MSD) supports the movement of maneuver forces. It is task-organized from divisional or regimental engineer assets and can be platoon- to company-size. The MSD is equipped with route- and mine-clearing vehicles and devices. Depending on the mission (which comes directly from the combined arms commander or the chief of engineer services), an MSD is capable of filling craters, clearing minefields, preparing bypasses around major obstructions, and identifying NBC-contaminated areas.
The divisional engineer battalion can form two or three MSDs. During marches, MSDs travel in advance of the main body and clear obstructions reported by division reconnaissance elements. When they are deployed on main routes, they are under the protection of an advance guard or forward security element. When deployed on other routes, the leading regiments provide MSDs from organic engineer assets. An MSD at this level might consist of an engineer platoon, with one or two dozers and up to three tanks fitted with dozer blades. MSDs can be protected by a platoon of infantry or tanks and are usually accompanied by chemical-reconnaissance personnel. They can detect, mark, and breach hasty minefields that are not properly covered by fire. If MSDs encounter properly defended minefields, their clearing capabilities are limited.
Each battalion forms an obstacle-clearing group to create gaps in explosive and nonexplosive obstacles. Normally a part of a battalion-level MSD, the group follows first-echelon companies in APCs and creates gaps for those forces. These units may possess BAT-M vehicles with BTU bulldozer blades (Figure C-8) or KMT-series mine plows (Figure C-9).
Figure C-8. BAT-M with BTU bulldozer blade
Figure C-9. KMT-4 plow
An obstacle-clearing detachment is created when more resources are needed to clear obstacles and debris. This usually occurs in urban environments and under conditions of massive destruction. An obstacle-clearing detachment is similar to an MSD, but its sole mission is to clear debris. Like an MSD, its composition depends on the mission scope, the mission objective, and the tempo of the offensive.
The divisional engineer battalion of the motorized rifle or tank division has a sapper company to clear obstacles. The company commander receives a mission to clear minefields. He then determines the exact location of the obstacle, ascertains the assets to devote to the task, and plans the methodology for success. Teams may be created to manually breach lanes using probes, IMP portable mine detectors (Figure C-10), and shovels. Larger tasks may necessitate the use of vehicle-mounted DIM mine detectors (Figure C-11), armored vehicle mine plows and/or rollers (Figure C-12), and explosive line charges. When necessary or more practical, mines are explosively destroyed in place.
Figure C-10. IMP portable mine detector
Figure C-11. DIM mine detector
Figure C-12. KMT-5 plow-roller combination
The engineer company of the motorized rifle or tank regiment has breaching equipment such as KMT-series mine plows and rollers and BTU bulldozer blades located in its technical platoon. Because of limited assets in the technical platoon, coupled with the responsibility of forming its own MSD, the regiment can receive a sapper section from the divisional sapper company. An additional IMR armored engineer tractor (Figure C-13), BTR-50/60, and M1979 armored mine clearer (Figure C-14) and manual breaching equipment come with the sapper section.
Figure C-13. IMR armored engineer tractor
Figure C-14. M1979 armored mine clearer
Maneuver units usually breach remotely emplaced obstacles by using attached, built-in breaching equipment (BTUs and KMTs). In order to carry out this task successfully, all subunit commanders must organize constant reconnaissance, notify subordinates about mined areas in a timely manner, train personnel on the means and methods for handling remotely emplaced mines, and clear terrain in a timely manner. They must also train their own teams for independent actions when removing combat equipment from mined areas. Plows in the threat army are considered maneuver-force assets, and one plow is assigned to each tank platoon. The BMP has recently been equipped with track-width mine plows, but the allocation has not been determined.
The BAT-M dozer (Figure C-8) is a modified artillery tractor with a hydraulically operated bulldozer blade and crane. It is sometimes called a roader by Russians. The BAT-M dozer clears obstacles, fills craters, prepares bridge approaches, and performs other heavy pioneer tasks. It can also be configured for snowplowing.
KMT-Series Plows and Rollers
The KMT-4 mine-clearing plow (Figure C-9) was developed in the 1960s to fit on a T-545/55 tank. It actually consists of two plows (one mounted in front of each track), and each plow has five attached teeth. When the plow is lowered, the teeth dig into the ground and remove mines from the path of the tank. A plow is lighter than a roller and permits tanks to retain their cross-country mobility. The estimated clearing speed is 10 kph, and the depth of clearance is 10 centimeters.
The KMT-5 mine-clearing plow-roller combination (Figure C-12) consists of two plows and two rollers attached to the front of a tank hull. The plows or the rollers can be used, depending on terrain features, the type of soil, and the mine fuse. Plows and rollers cannot be used simultaneously. The rollers function against pressure-fused mines. The system can survive 5 to 6 kilograms of explosives, five or six times. The KMT-5 also includes a luminous lane-marking device for night operations.
IMP Portable Mine Detector
The IMP portable mine detector (Figure C-10) weighs 7 kilograms and can detect mines buried to a depth of 45 centimeters. It has a tubular search head (one transmitting and two receiving coils encased in plastic) and a four-section handle. Power is furnished by four flashlight batteries that permit 20 hours of continuous operation. Two tuning controls are mounted on the handle. The coils in the search head compromise an induction bridge and are initially balanced for zero coupling. When the head passes over a metallic object, the induction bridge becomes unbalanced and produces an audible signal in the headset.
DIM Vehicle-Mounted Mine Detector
The DIM vehicle-mounted mine detector (Figure C-11) is primarily used to clear roads during convoys and road marches. It sweeps at a speed of 10 kph with a 2.2-meter width. It can detect metallic mines at a depth of 25 centimeters. The brakes on the DIM automatically engage when a mine is detected. Cross-country use of the DIM is limited.
IMR Armored Engineer Tractor
The IMR armored engineer tractor (Figure C-13) is mounted on a modified T-54/55 chassis. The turret is removed and a hydraulic crane, which can be fitted with either a grab or an excavator bucket, is emplaced. An adjustable, hydraulically operated blade is mounted on the front. The crane operator is provided with an armored cupola. The IMR can operate in an NBC environment.
M1979 Armored Mine Clearer
The M1979 armored mine clearer (Figure C-14) is mounted on the chassis of an amphibious 122-millimeter, 2S1 self-propelled howitzer. It has a turret-like superstructure that contains three rockets on launch ramps. These, along with the upper part of the superstructure, are hydraulically elevated for firing. The rocket range is estimated at 200 to 400 meters. Each rocket is connected to 170 meters of mine-clearing hose via a towing line. The hose is folded and stowed in the uncovered base of the turret and connected to the vehicle with a cable. The cable allows the vehicle crew to reposition the hose after launching.
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