MCBs and MCRs are fielded as armor battalion sets that contain 12 MCBs and 4 MCRs. Blades clear lanes through minefields, while rollers are used to detect minefields and proof lanes created by other means. Rollers are not a good primary system for lane reduction because multiple mine detonations destroy the roller system and the vehicle pushing it. (The roller is designed to resist two conventional-mine or three scatterable-mine strikes, depending on the mine type.)
The CEV, the ACE, and dozer blades were not designed for breaching minefields and should be employed only as a last resort, because using them is extremely hazardous to the crew and equipment. However, CEVs or ACEs can effectively clear a lane through AP scatterable minefields because they sustain little or no damage and offer protection to the crew. When using a dozer to clear a path through minefields, the operator is exposed to mine effects. Before clearing begins, the operator's cabin should be sandbagged or up-armored and the lane should be cleared of trip wires. When using an engineer blade to clear a path through a scatterable minefield, use the skim technique (Figure 10-12). Start skimming 100 meters from the suspected minefield leading edge.
Figure 10-12. Skim technique
The MCB (Figure 10-13) is used to remove land mines from the minefield. It consists of a blade arrangement with scarifying teeth to extract mines, a moldboard to cast mines aside, and leveling skids to control the depth of the blade.
Figure 10-13. MCB
The MCB lifts and pushes mines, which are surface-laid or buried up to 31 centimeters deep, to the side of the track-width lanes. The blade has three depth settings--21, 25, and 31 centimeters. The blade creates a 1.5-meter cleared path in front of each track. Figure 10-14 shows inside clearance distances between tracks of common track vehicles in relationship to the uncleared area left by the MCB.
Figure 10-14. Mine-blade width compared to track-vehicle widths
Mines armed with AHDs, magnetic fuses, or seismic fuses may be activated when they are lifted by the blade; and they may disable the blade. Mines lifted by the blade are left in the spoil on each side of the furrowed path and remain a hazard until they are removed. Double-impulse mines that are lifted into the spoil on the side have a probability of functioning into the hull of the plowing vehicle. The skid shoe for each blade exerts adequate pressure to activate most single-impulse mines, which effectively clears a section of the centerline by explosive detonation. This action may disable the blade. Multiple-impulse pressure fuses encountered by the skid shoe are not defeated. A dog-bone assembly between the blades defeats tilt-rod mines. The improved dog-bone assembly (IDA) projects a magnetic signature and defeats tilt-rod and magnetic mines.
The MCB weighs approximately 3,150 kilograms and can be mounted on an M1 tank without special preparation or modification. Mounting requires lift capability and takes up to an hour, so it must be mounted well in advance of the mission. It is not easy to mount or transfer the MCB to another tank under battlefield conditions.
Once mounted, an electric motor raises and lowers the blade. When it is in the raised position, it minimally effects the M1's maneuverability and speed. This will not greatly impact the employment of the weapon system except when the blade is in operation. The MCB is also equipped with an emergency, quick-disconnect feature.
The M1 should perform plowing operations from 8 to 10 kph, depending on soil conditions. It cannot maneuver but must continue in a straight path through the minefield to avoid damaging the blade. The main gun must be traversed to the side during plowing because mine detonation under the blade may cause the gun to be thrown violently into the air, damaging the tube. The area selected for the lane must be relatively flat and free of rocks or other obstacles.
The operator begins plowing approximately 100 meters from the estimated minefield leading edge. He creates a lane extending another 100 meters beyond the estimated minefield far edge to ensure that the lane extends through the entire minefield. Multiple vehicles crossing the breach will deepen the cut made by the MCB, and pressure-fused mines left in the uncleared strip will be dangerous. The uncleared strip should be cleared as soon as possible.
The MCR (Figure 10-15) consists of a roller assembly, a mounting kit, and a hand winch kit. The roller assembly weighs approximately 9,072 kilograms and consists of two push beams mounted to the front of the tank. The rollers are designed to defeat most single-pulse, pressure-activated AT and AP mines. The roller creates a 1.1-meter-wide cleared path in front of each track.
Figure 10-15. MCR
Figure 10-16 shows inside clearance distances between tracks of common track vehicles in relationship to the uncleared area left by the MCR. A dog-bone-and-chain assembly between the rollers defeats tilt-rod mines. The IDA can be fitted to the roller. The roller is designed to withstand multiple mine explosions before damage; however, this depends on the size of the mines. Large blasts may destroy the roller or the vehicle or injure the crew.
Figure 10-16. Mine-roller width compared to track-vehicle widths
The roller can be mounted on an M1 or M60 tank that is modified with a permanently attached mine-roller mounting kit. Mounting the roller to a tank is a cumbersome, time-consuming operation because it is very difficult under battlefield conditions and requires lift capability. The roller tank is limited to a speed of 5 to 15 kph. When employed in a suspected minefield, the MCR must travel in a relatively straight path, because tight turns may cause the roller to deviate from the path of the track and leave the tank vulnerable to mines. Ground fluctuations, bumps, and berms may cause the roller to lift from the ground and miss mines.
The MCR is not designed to negotiate gaps on its own; however, it can be used on AVLB caution crossings. In this situation, the curbing from the bridge is removed. To prevent damage to the bridge's hydraulic line, the tank driver uses a strap to lift the dog bone and chain when crossing the bridge. The main gun must be traversed to the side when a mine encounter is possible or imminent, because a mine blast can throw the roller or parts of the roller violently into the air and damage the tube. The main gun should only be fired from a temporary halt.
When the situation and the mission permit, MCRs may be employed as lead vehicles to detect minefields. This is most viable when the supported element is traveling in a column. The roller may also be used to lead a supported element traveling in a tactical formation other than a column, but it is less effective than other methods because--
- Vehicles not directly behind the roller may encounter mines passed by the roller.
- The roller may travel well into or completely through a widely spaced minefield without encountering a mine, thus giving the formation a false sense of security.
- A mine encountered by the roller may not be on the leading edge of the minefield.
- The roller vehicle is extremely vulnerable because it can only use its weapon system from a temporary halt.
Rollers are best used to proof lanes in obstacles that are breached by other means, such as a MICLIC or an MCB. A roller pulling a trailer-mounted MICLIC can proof a lane created by a MICLIC that was launched by another vehicle. The roller then fires the second MICLIC and proofs its own lane.
If rollers participate in a deliberate breach operation or if the force incorporates rollers into a hasty breach plan, rollers must be mounted before rehearsals. Unmounted rollers that not being used for the mission are carried in the TF formation on M916 tractor trailers. Rollers require lift capability (such as an M88), a secure location, and 30 to 60 minutes to mount on a tank that is fitted with a mounting kit.
The M60 Panther (Figure 10-17) is one of several developmental countermine systems used by US forces during operations Joint Endeavor and Joint Task Force Eagle. The Panther is a remotely controlled vehicle with mine rollers, and it is used to proof lanes and assembly areas. The system consists of a turretless M60 tank, Israeli mine rollers, an antimagnetic actuating device, and an RCU that is mounted in a separate vehicle. Additionally, a remote video camera allows the operator to see the road ahead.
Figure 10-17. Panther
During route clearance or proofing operations, the Panther is the lead vehicle on the route. It is followed closely by an armored control vehicle, usually an M113. The control vehicle contains the Panther operator, the RCU, and the monitor. The monitor displays the route being proofed or cleared through a camera mounted on the Panther. The Panther is controlled from the commander copula or troop hatch of the control vehicle. The control vehicle should be approximately 200 to 300 meters behind the Panther, and its hatches should be secured open. Crew members in the control vehicle should be wearing Improved Body Armor System, Individual Countermine (IBASIC) protective garments.
Mine rollers can be raised for limited travel while mounted on the Panther. If the distance is excessive, the rollers must be transported on a cargo carrier. Rollers must be adjusted before every mission to ensure that they have contact with the ground and that their weight is uniformly distributed. To ensure proper coverage and overlap of rollers, at least three passes should be conducted. Passes should have a minimum of 30 centimeters overlap. Inside roller distances are the same as the MCR.
The MiniFlail (Figure 10-18) is a remotely operated, line-of-sight, AP-mine and UXO neutralization system that was developed for use by US light forces. It can clear at a rate of 1,200 square meters per hour. The MiniFlail detonates or disables AP mines from a safe operating distance. The MiniFlail neutralizes by striking objects with a rotating chain assembly, called a flail, and clears a foot path approximately 1.1 meters wide. The system neutralizes AP mines and UXO by detonation, mechanical destruction, or displacement from the cleared lane. The MiniFlail is approximately 1.3 meters wide, 1.3 meters high, 3 meters long, and weighs 1,100 kilograms. The system is operated by a hand-held controller that has a maximum range of 300 meters. It is fully armored with a material similar to Kevlar, and the tires are filled with foam. The flail is a self-articulating, hydraulically powered shaft with 84 chains; each chain is 0.5 meter long.
Figure 10-18. Miniflail
The Grizzly (Figure 10-19) provides a hasty capability for breaching complex obstacles of mines, wire, posts, rubble, and tank ditches to create a lane for other vehicles to follow. The Grizzly's primary features are a full-width, 4.2- meter MCB and a power arm. The power arm has a reach of 9 meters and a bucket capacity of 1.2 cubic meters. Its primary missions are to reduce berms and fill AT ditches.
Figure 10-19. Grizzly
The Grizzly lifts and pushes mines, which are surface-laid or buried up to 31 centimeters deep, to the side of full-width lanes. The blade has multiple depth settings, depending on the mission, and it creates a 4.2-meter-wide cleared path. When plowing, the Grizzly is restricted to less than 10 kph, depending on soil conditions. The operator begins plowing approximately 100 meters from the estimated minefield leading edge. He creates a lane extending another 100 meters beyond the estimated minefield far edge to ensure that the lane extends through the entire minefield.
The Grizzly has integrated digital features to enhance battlefield awareness. Some of the digital features are thermal and video cameras, ground-speed sensors, terrain-mapping sensors, and an integrated commander's control station.
Combat Engineer Vehicle with Full-Width Mine Rake
Figure 10-20. CEV with mine rake
The rake weighs 2,025 kilograms and is lifted off its transport vehicle with a HEMTT, a wrecker, an M88, or a CEV boom. The CEV crew uses basic-issue items to install the rake, and installation takes approximately 30 minutes. The rake has a skid shoe to maintain a raking depth of 31 centimeters. The CEV with mine rake provides a vehicle-width clearance (4.5 meters) at 5 to 10 kph. The rake has a quick-disconnect feature. It lifts surface-laid and buried mines (up to 31 centimeters deep) and pushes them off to both sides.
The CEV with mine rake is used to clear lanes during minefield breaching. While it can be employed as the first breaching asset into a minefield, a MICLIC should be used first to eliminate as many mines as possible. The rake is then used to proof the lane. The system can pull a MICLIC and fire it before proofing. Raking begins 100 meters before the minefield and continues 100 meters beyond the suspected limit. The CEV maintains a straight course through the minefield. If the skid shoe is damaged, the operator reduces speed and manually controls the blade depth. This is very difficult and risky.
The rake uses a tine that is mounted on a diagonal beam. The rake assembly is designed to sift through the soil, lift out mines, and windrow buried and surface-laid mines to the right of the vehicle. The system clears a 30-centimeter-deep path through a minefield. The rake has a skid shoe that acts as a depth control guide for the operator.
The armor protects the crew against mine blast, small-arms fire, and artillery fire. Protection is also provided for the engine, the fuel tank, and exposed hydraulic cylinders and lines. Ballistic glass blocks are provided at each vision port to permit unrestricted view and operation of the vehicle and the equipment.
The MCAP is mounted on a D7 dozer to perform minefield breaching and lane widening. Proofing the lane must be conducted after the dozer has cleared the lane. Some AP mines may still be left in the lane.
The Field-Expedient Countermine System (FECS) is a series of copper coils that fit over the front of tracked and wheeled vehicles. Power is supplied by the vehicle's battery. The coil emits a large magnetic signature that detonates magnetically fused mines located 2 to 5 meters in front of the vehicle. The FECS is designed to defeat magnetically influenced mines only and must be used with other countermine systems.
When stealth is required or advanced mechanical equipment is unavailable, manual breaching procedures can be used. Engineers use hand-emplaced explosives, grapnel hooks attached to ropes, probes, mine detectors, and hand-emplaced marking equipment to manually breach obstacles. This is the only method that works in all situations and under all conditions because certain types of terrain, weather, and sophisticated fuses can severely degrade the effectiveness of rollers, plows, and line charges.
The enemy possesses a significant mechanical, mine-burying capability. It has the capacity and the propensity for the labor-intensive effort required to bury mines by hand; however, the enemy often lays mines on the surface. Buried mines are usually found in a highly prepared defense that requires a deliberate breach operation. Training and execution of surface and buried minefield breaches should always assume the presence of AHDs and trip wires until proven otherwise.
From covered positions, the engineers first use grapnel hooks to check for trip wires in the lane. The limited range of the tossed hook requires the procedure to be repeated through the estimated width of the obstacle. A demolition team then moves through the lane. The team places a line main down the center of the lane, ties the line from the explosives into the line main, and places blocks of explosives next to surface-laid mines. After the mines are detonated, the team makes a visual check to ensure that all of the mines were cleared before directing a proofing roller and other traffic through the lane.
Manual procedures must be well-practiced. Members of the demolition team are assigned special tasks, such as grappler, detonating-cord man, and demolitions man. All of the members should be cross-trained on all the procedures. Demolitions are prepared for use before arriving at the breach site. An engineer platoon uses squads in series through the minefield to clear a lane for a company team. The platoon must rehearse reduction procedures until execution is flawless, quick, and technically safe. During the breach, the engineer platoon will be exposed in the lane for 5 minutes or more depending on the mission, the minefield depth, and the platoon's level of training.
Manually reducing a buried minefield is extremely difficult to perform as part of a breaching operation. It is usually part of a clearance operation. If the mine burrows are not easily seen, mine detectors and probes must be used to locate the mines. The mines are then destroyed by hand-emplaced charges. As an alternative, the mines can be removed by using a grappling hook and, if necessary, a tripod (Figure 10-21). Using a tripod provides a vertical lift on the mine, making it easier to pull the mine out of the hole.
Figure 10-21. Tripod
The platoon leader organizes soldiers into teams with distinct, rehearsed missions including grappling, detecting, marking, probing, and emplacing demolitions and detonating cord. The platoon is exposed in the obstacle for long periods of time.
The grappling hook (grapnel) is a multipurpose tool that is used for manual obstacle reduction. Soldiers use it to detonate mines from a standoff position by activating trip wires and AHDs. After the grapnel is used to clear the trip wires in a lane, dismounted engineers can move through the minefield, visually locate surface-laid mines, and prepare the mines for demolition. In buried minefields, soldiers grapple, then enter the minefield with mine detectors and probes.
A 60+-meter light rope is attached to the grapnel for hand-throwing. The throwing range is usually no more than 25 meters. The excess rope is used for the standoff distance when the thrower begins grappling. The thrower tosses the grapnel and seeks cover before the grapnel and rope touch the ground in case their impact detonates a mine. He then moves backward, reaches the end of the excess rope, takes cover, and begins grappling. Once the grapnel is recovered, the thrower moves forward to the original position, tosses the grapnel, and repeats the procedure at least twice. He then moves to the end of the grappled area and repeats this sequence through the depth of the minefield.
A 150-meter light rope is attached to a lightweight grapnel that is designed to be fired from an M16A1 or M16A2 rifle using an M855 cartridge. The grapnel is pushed onto the rifle muzzle, with the opening of the retrieval-rope bag oriented toward the minefield. The firer is located 25 meters from the leading edge of the minefield, and he aims the rifle muzzle at a 30- to 40-degree angle for maximum range. Once fired, the grapnel will travel 75 to 100 meters from the firer's position. After the weapon-launched grapnel hook ( WLGH) has been fired, the firer secures the rope, moves 60 meters from the minefield, moves into a prone position, and begins to grapnel. The WLGH can be used only once, but it can be reused up to 20 times for training (blanks are used to fire the grapnel for training).
Multiple grapplers can clear a lane of trip wires quickly and thoroughly, but they must time their efforts and follow procedures simultaneously, if possible. A hit on a trip wire or a pressure fuse can destroy the hook and the cord, so engineers should carry extras.
Proofing is done by passing a mine roller or another mine-resistant vehicle through the minefield as the lead vehicle to verify that a lane is free of mines. An MCB, a Panther, a MiniFlail, or an MCR can be used to proof lanes. If the risk of live mines remaining in the lane does not exceed the risk of loss to enemy fires while waiting, proofing may not be practical. Some mines are resistant to some breaching techniques (for example, magnetically fused mines may be resistant to the MICLIC blast), so proofing should be done when the time available, the threat, and the mission allow.
|This section implements STANAGs 2036 and 2889|
This section provides commanders with a standard system for marking breach lanes and bypasses. It centers around a systematic, phased upgrade of lane marking. Each upgrade conforms to the tactical requirements for that phase of the attack, from initial reduction of the obstacle to the passage of larger follow-on forces, as well as the return traffic necessary to sustain the force. Additional guidelines are discussed in FM 90-13-1.
Marking breach lanes and bypasses is critical to obstacle reduction. Effective lane marking allows the commander to project forces through the obstacle quickly, with combat power and C 2 . It gives the assaulting force confidence in the safety of the lane and helps prevent unnecessary minefield casualties.
- Lane-marking pattern (location of markers indicating the entrance, the lane, and the exit).
- Marking device (type of hardware emplaced to mark the entrance, the lane, and the exit).
The lane-marking system outlined in this section centers around standardized marking patterns rather than the marking device. Standardizing the marking pattern is critical to offensive operations. A common lane pattern--
- Enables cross attachments and adjacent units to recognize breach lanes easily with minimal knowledge of a particular unit's tactical SOP.
- Gives all forces a standardized set of visual cues that are needed to pass through a lane safely while maintaining their momentum.
- Facilitates quick conversion to the lane-marking requirements of STANAGs 2889 and 2036 (discussed later in this chapter).
The standard lane-marking hardware is decided by unit commanders. This gives units greater flexibility and allows them to adopt marking devices that are tailor-made for their type of unit and operational focus (such as an armored or light force, a mounted or dismounted attack, limited visibility, thermal capability). However, regardless of the type of device used, it must support the standard lane-marking pattern outlined in the following paragraphs. Therefore, commanders should consider these guidelines and examples before developing or adopting their own marking system.
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