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This part of the manual provides tactical and technical information on mines, minefields, and mine-delivery systems; emplacement and employment methods and responsibilities; and reporting and recording procedures for US mine operations. Current US policy for restrictions on AP mines and other devices is also discussed.

Chapter 2

Mine-Warfare Principles

This chapter provides guidance to staff personnel who must plan the employment of minefields for tactical operations. It defines the four types of minefields--protective, tactical, nuisance, and phony. The remainder of the chapter provides guidance on the employment of tactical minefields-- specifically their functions, designs, and integration principles.


Mines are explosive devices that are emplaced to kill, destroy, or incapacitate enemy personnel and/or equipment. They can be employed in quantity within a specified area to form a minefield, or they can be used individually to reinforce nonexplosive obstacles. They can also be emplaced individually or in groups to demoralize an enemy force. A minefield is an area of ground that contains mines or an area of ground that is perceived to contain mines (a phony minefield). Minefields may contain any type, mix, or number of AT and/or AP mines. Minefields are used to--

  • Produce a vulnerability on enemy maneuver that can be exploited by friendly forces.
  • Cause the enemy to piecemeal his forces.
  • Interfere with enemy command and control (C 2 ).
  • Inflict damage to enemy personnel and equipment.
  • Exploit the capabilities of other weapon systems by delaying enemy forces in an engagement area (EA).
  • Protect friendly forces from enemy maneuver and infiltration.


There are four general types of minefields--protective, tactical, nuisance, and phony. Each type is determined by its distinct battlefield purpose. Therefore, minefields are employed differently, and they target the enemy in unique ways that support the overall concept of the operation.

  • Protective minefields are employed to protect soldiers, equipment, supplies, and facilities from enemy attacks or other threats.
  • Tactical minefields directly effect the enemy's maneuver in a way that gives the defending force a positional advantage.
  • Nuisance minefields impose caution on enemy forces and disrupt, delay, and sometimes weaken or destroy follow-on echelons.
  • Phony minefields deceive the enemy about the exact location of real minefields. They cause the attacker to question his decision to breach and may cause him to expend his reduction assets wastefully. Phony minefields may be employed in conjunction with other minefields, but should be used only after the enemy has become mine-sensitive.

It is important to distinguish the difference between the types of minefield and the means of emplacement. Volcano, Modular Pack Mine System (MOPMS), standard-pattern, and row mining are not types of minefields; they are just some of the means used to emplace tactical, nuisance, and protective minefields. They may also be the method of emplacement that is replicated by a phony minefield.


Protective minefields are employed to protect soldiers, equipment, supplies, and facilities from enemy attacks or other threats. Other threats range from enemy surveillance to theft of supplies and equipment. In tactical operations, protective minefields provide friendly forces with close-in protection and defeat the enemy's ability to maneuver or utilize the tenants of offense. They deny mechanized penetration and dismounted infiltration. In military operations other than war (MOOTW), protective minefields may focus on preventing unauthorized access to facilities and installations, rather than assisting in the destruction of an enemy force.

Protective minefields are usually employed and emplaced at the small-unit level (platoon or company/team). The authority to emplace protective minefields is normally delegated to the company/team commander. In some cases, such as a hasty defense, protective minefields are laid on short notice by units that use mines from their basic load or local stock. More commonly, protective minefields are used as part of a unit's deliberate defense. The mines are laid so that they are easy to detect and recover by the laying unit.

An important aspect of protective minefields is the requirement to recover them before leaving the area. This is often overlooked and is difficult to control because they are emplaced at the small-unit level. When a unit is being relieved in place by an adjacent unit, protective minefields are turned over to the relieving unit (minefield turnover is further defined later in this chapter). The decentralized emplacement of protective obstacles makes consolidating reports and records difficult and requires command involvement.

Much like final protective fires (FPF), protective minefields provide the defender with close-in protection during the enemy's final assault. Protective minefields serve two purposes. First, they impose a delay on an attacker that allows the defender time to break contact as the unit displaces to another battle position. Secondly, they break up the enemy's assault to complete its destruction. The composition of a protective minefield is driven by the vulnerability of the defender:

  • Dismounted infantry is the greatest close-combat threat to a defending tank company/team. Protective minefields encountered in this case consist predominantly of AP mines that limit enemy dismounts from closing with the armor defender.
  • A tank force is the greatest threat to an infantry defense. Protective minefields in this case consist predominantly of AT mines that reduce the enemy's ability to close quickly onto the infantry's position.

Neither AP nor AT mines are used in isolation. The preponderance of mine composition is designed against the most severe close-combat threat and the likelihood of that threat.

A protective minefield may take many forms. It may be only a few mines in front of a platoon, or it may be a standard-pattern minefield around an airfield. Protective minefields are used in both close and rear operations, and they are classified as either hasty or deliberate:

  • Hasty protective minefields are temporary in nature and are used as part of a unit's defense perimeter. They are usually laid by units using mines from their basic load. If time permits, mines should be buried to increase their effectiveness; but they can be laid on top of the ground. AHDs and low-metallic mines are not used so that the minefield can be easily recovered. Mines are employed outside the hand-grenade range but within the range of small-caliber weapons. All mines are picked up by the emplacing unit upon leaving the area, unless enemy pressure prevents mine retrieval or the minefield is being transferred to a relieving commander. The brigade commander has the initial authority to employ hasty protective minefields. This authority may be delegated to a battalion or company commander on a mission basis. Procedures for emplacing a hasty protective row minefield are contained in Chapter 6.
  • Deliberate protective minefields are more permanent, require more detailed planning, and usually require more resources. They are commonly used to protect static assets (vital sites)--logistical sites, communication nodes, depots, airfields, missile sites, air-defense artillery (ADA) sites, and permanent-unit locations. A typical deliberate protective minefield is the standard-pattern minefield; however, a row minefield can also be used. Deliberate protective minefields are usually emplaced for extended periods of time and can be transferred to another unit. Techniques for emplacing deliberate protective minefields are discussed in Chapters 6 and 7.


Tactical minefields are employed to directly attack enemy maneuver and to give the defender a positional advantage over the attacker. Tactical minefields may be employed by themselves or in conjunction with other types of tactical obstacles. They attack the enemy's maneuver by disrupting its combat formations, interfering with its C 2 , reducing its ability to mass fires, causing him to prematurely commit limited breaching resources, and reducing his ability to reinforce. The defender masses fires and maneuver to exploit the positional advantage created in part by tactical obstacles.

Tactical minefields add an offensive dimension to the defense. They are a commander's tool for recapturing and maintaining the initiative that is normally afforded to an attacker. Combined with fires, tactical obstacles force the attacker to conform to the defender's plan.

Tactical minefields may be emplaced during offensive operations to protect exposed flanks, isolate the objective area, deny enemy counterattack routes, and disrupt enemy retrograde. This chapter further discusses the principles behind designing, integrating, siting, and emplacing tactical minefields.


Nuisance minefields are a form of tactical minefields. They are mainly used to impose caution on enemy forces and to disrupt, delay, and sometimes destroy follow-on echelons. Once nuisance minefields are emplaced, they do not require cover by observation or direct fire. Nuisance minefields are usually irregular in size and shape; they can be a single group of mines or a series of mined areas. They can be used to reinforce existing obstacles and can also be rapidly emplaced on main avenues of approach (AAs). Conventional mines and scatterable mines (SCATMINEs) may be used in nuisance minefields.


Phony minefields are areas of ground that are altered to give the same signature as a real minefield and thereby deceive the enemy. Phony minefields serve two primary functions. First, they confuse an attacker's breach cycle and cause him to question his breach decision. Secondly, they may cause an attacker to wastefully expend reduction assets to reduce mines that are not really there.

The success of phony minefields depends on the enemy's state of mind. The bluff succeeds best when the enemy is mine-conscious and has already suffered the consequences of a mine encounter. A fear of mines can quickly evolve into paranoia and break the momentum of the enemy's attack. Therefore, phony minefields are normally employed in conjunction with real minefields and are seldom employed alone. Once the enemy has become mine-conscious, phony minefields may produce considerable tactical effects with very little investment in time, labor, and material. Phony minefields may also be used to extend the front and depth of live minefields when mines or labor are in short supply or when time is restricted. They may be used to conceal minefield gaps through live minefields. There is no guarantee that phony minefields will achieve their purpose.

There are two mission-essential tasks inherent in the employment of a phony minefield:

  • The phony minefield must completely replicate a live minefield in every detail, using a specific method of emplacement as a model. This becomes the deception story, and every aspect of the phony minefield must support the deception story. For example, if the deception story is a buried row minefield, the depth, front, and marking must be similar to that of a live buried row minefield. The ground should be disturbed, and tracks should be made on the ground in the same pattern as other minefields to give the ground the same signature. Occasional empty mine crates, discarded fuses, or other mine-laying supplies add to the deception.
  • The deception story must never be compromised. Once emplaced, the phony minefield must be regarded by friendly forces as live until the tactical situation no longer warrants maintaining the deception. This can be extremely painful for the friendly unit. There is great temptation to drive through, rather than around, a known phony minefield--particularly if it is intended to be a gap between live minefields. However, one vehicle driving through a phony minefield and observed by enemy reconnaissance compromises the minefield's effectiveness.

Live mines are never laid in a phony minefield. A minefield designated as phony implies that the area contains no live mines. Emplacing even a single live mine within a phony minefield makes it a live minefield. Empty tins and such may be laid in a phony minefield but is seldom worthwhile. Minefield marking and covering fire should be the same as for a live minefield. Employment authority and reporting requirements are the same as for the minefield being simulated.


As discussed, minefields can be tactical or protective obstacles (Figure 2-1). Tactical and protective obstacles have different purposes with regard to the enemy's maneuver. This difference causes them to have a particular relative place on the battlefield. Tactical obstacles attack enemy maneuver and are placed on the battlefield where the enemy maneuvers from march, prebattle, and attack formations. Protective obstacles are used to protect the force from the enemy's final assault onto the force's position. Protective obstacles are close to defensive positions and are tied in with the FPF of the defending unit. Additional information on obstacles can be found in FM 90-7.

Figure 2-1. Tactical versus protective obstacles


Tactical minefields are designed, sited, emplaced, and integrated with fires to produce four specific tactical- obstacle effects--disrupt, turn, fix, and block (Figure 2-2). Each obstacle effect has a specific impact on an enemy's ability to maneuver, mass, and reinforce. Obstacle effects also increase the enemy's vulnerability to friendly fires. They support the friendly scheme of maneuver by manipulating the enemy in a way that is critical to the commander's intent. Minefield design is the means by which an emplacing unit varies minefield width, minefield depth, mine density, mine composition, the use of AHDs, and the irregular outer edge (IOE) to best achieve one of the four tactical-obstacle effects. Modifying these variables is at the heart of tactical minefield employment principles.

Figure 2-2. Tactical-obstacle effects


First, it is important to understand how the variables relate to minefield effects. Figure 2-3 clearly defines some of the terms used to discuss minefield variables.

Figure 2-3. Minefield variables


Minefield front is the dimension of a minefield that defines how much of the attacking enemy formation is affected by the minefield. The front of a minefield is based on the desired obstacle effect (disrupt, turn, fix, or block) and the attack front of a company-size enemy force. The front of an attacking enemy depends largely on the type of enemy force (armored, motorized, or dismounted infantry) and norms by which the enemy army fights. For armored warfare, the minefield front is based on effecting a doctrinal company attack front of 500 meters (13 to 18 combat vehicles). For dismounted warfare, the minefield front is based on effecting a company attack front of 150 meters. The front may vary and require a study of enemy force and terrain. Groups of individual minefields are employed to achieve a larger front for battalion and larger enemy formations. For example, a battalion consisting of 52 to 72 combat vehicles has a front of 1,500 meters and requires more minefields.


Minefield depth is based on the amount of reduction assets that will be required by an enemy to reduce a lane. The standard should start with 100 meters and increase in depth if denying the enemy the use of a mobility corridor (MC) is the intent (turn or block).


Minefield density depicts the number of mines in a minefield. It is expressed in linear or area density:

  • Linear density is the average number of mines within a 1-meter-wide path through the minefield's depth, anywhere along the front. In Figure 2-3, the minefield contains 100 mines, with a minefield front of 200 meters. The linear density is 0.5 mine per meter of front (100 mines/200 meters of front).
  • Area density is the average number of mines within a square meter, anywhere in the minefield. In Figure 2-3, the minefield contains 100 mines within a 20,000-square-meter area. The area density is 0.005 mine per square meter (100 mines/[200 meters x 100 meters]). Area density is normally used to express the density of scatterable minefields.

Mine Composition

This variable includes the effective use of different types of mines. By using full-width mines, the probability of kill increases for the minefield. AT mines with AHDs (Korea Only: as well as AP mines) are used where the enemy is expected to use dismounted reduction techniques.

Antitank Mines

If the enemy is an armored force, tactical obstacles are predominantly AT mines. Track-width mines (M15s with the M603 fuse) have a lower probability of kill (M-Kill or K-Kill) than full-width mines (M21s and M15s with the M624 fuse). The ratio of full-width versus track-width mines in a minefield depends on the kill required. In general, a track-width minefield does not adequately affect the enemy's maneuver.

Antipersonnel Mines

AP mines target dismounted soldiers. Their composition in tactical minefields depends on the threat and the enemy's reduction assets. Based on current technology, most breaching operations are accomplished by mechanical or explosive means. (Korea Only: If the minefield group's intent is to exhaust the enemy's breaching assets, AP mines should be integrated to attack its dismounted reduction ability.)

Probabilities of Encounter and Kill

The probabilities of encounter and kill measure a minefield's lethality.

Probability of Encounter

The probability of encounter is measured by the chance (in percent) that a vehicle, blindly moving through a minefield, will detonate a mine. The probability of encounter is based on mine density, the type of mine, and the type of enemy vehicle. In short, the more dense a minefield, the higher the probability is of encountering a mine. Probability of encounter also depends on the fuse capability of the mines. Tilt-rod and magnetic-influence mines will detonate if they are encountered anywhere along the width of the enemy vehicle. Pressure-fused mines detonate if a vehicle's track or wheel actually runs over them. The probability of encounter is also affected by the type of enemy vehicle. The smaller the width or track signature of the vehicle, the less likely it will encounter and detonate a mine.

Figure 2-4 illustrates the relationship between mine density and the probability of encounter for light versus heavy tracked vehicles and for track-width versus full-width mines. Figure 2-4 also provides general guidance for varying the mine density to yield the necessary probability of encounter when developing disrupt, fix, turn, and block minefields. Varying mine density is further discussed later in this chapter.

Figure 2-4. Vehicle mine encounter probability versus minefield density

Probability of Kill

The probability of kill is measured by the chance (in percent) that a vehicle will no longer be mission-capable (M-Kill or K-Kill) because of mine effects. It is a function of the combined probability that a vehicle will encounter a mine and the probability that the mine effect will produce an M-Kill or a K-Kill.

Antihandling Devices

Emplacing AHDs on mines is time-intensive. AHDs are added to a minefield to discourage manual removal and reuse of mines by the enemy and to demoralize the enemy who is attempting to reduce the minefield. AHDs do not prevent an enemy from reducing the minefield; they only discourage manual reduction methods.

Irregular Outer Edge

An IOE is a strip/row or multiple strips/rows of mines that normally extend toward the enemy from the first (enemy side) row of mines. An IOE is employed to break up the otherwise regular pattern of a minefield. It is used to confuse the enemy about the exact limits of the minefield, particularly its leading edge. An IOE adds an unknown quality to a minefield that makes the enemy's decision of whether to breach or bypass more difficult. The effect an IOE has on enemy actions may increase the overall lethality of a minefield.


Modifying minefield variables to achieve the desired obstacle effect is a challenge for the engineer, both technically (resourcing and designing) and tactically (supporting the maneuver scheme). Experience will provide the best basis for designing minefields. Figure 2-5, 2-6, 2-7, and 2-8 provide guidelines for varying minefield depth, front, density, and composition to best achieve disrupt, fix, turn, and block effects.

These are guidelines, not fixed rules. Minefield designs must be based on a threat analysis. The designs are simply considerations or parameters to use when designing tactical minefields, regardless of the emplacement method. They apply to conventional mine-laying techniques as well as the employment of SCATMINE dispensers. These parameters give the engineer the flexibility to design and emplace tactical minefields based on mission, enemy, terrain, troops, and time available (METT-T) (particularly resources and terrain) and still achieve the required effect. These norms are also the basis for developing minefield packages and emplacement procedures outlined throughout this manual. Chapter 3 discusses the characteristics and emplacement procedures for each of the SCATMINE systems, Chapter 6 outlines procedures for row mining using conventional mines, and Chapter 7 is dedicated to the standard-pattern minefield. Each chapter describes standard disrupt, fix, turn, and block minefield packages particular to that method of emplacement or dispensing system.

Each tactical-obstacle effect has a specific resourcing factor. In short, this numeric value helps determine the amount of linear obstacle effort that is needed to achieve the desired effect. The resource factor is multiplied by the width of the AA or MC to get the total amount of linear obstacle effort required. The linear obstacle effort is then divided by the minefield front norm for the specific effect (rounded up) to yield the number of individual minefields required in the obstacle group.


A disrupt effect (Figure 2-5) focuses fire planning and obstacle effort to cause the enemy to break up its formation and tempo, interrupt its timetable, commit reduction assets prematurely, and piecemeal the attack. It also deceives the enemy about the location of friendly defensive positions, separates combat echelons, or separates combat forces from their logistical support. A disrupt effect should not be time-, manpower-, or resource-intensive. It should not be visible at long range but easily detected as the enemy nears it. Commanders normally use the disrupt effect forward of EAs.

Figure 2-5. Disrupt-effect group

Normally, only half of the enemy's AA is attacked with minefields or other tactical obstacles to achieve a disrupt effect. For a minefield to disrupt an enemy company, half of the formation must react to the minefield. The typical width of a disrupt-effect minefield is 250 meters with a standard minefield depth of 100 meters. When designing a disrupt effect to attack an enemy battalion, three disrupt-effect minefields are arrayed in a group to achieve a width that is about half the size of the battalion's attack front (750 meters of minefield). Multiply the resource factor of 0.5 by the width of the AA to provide the amount of linear obstacle effort required for the disrupt effect. When the AA is narrow, an alternative disrupt group is three point obstacles along the AA.

Disrupt-effect minefields should be designed with approximately 50 percent probability of mine encounter to achieve the desired disrupt effect (see Figure 2-4). They should contain predominantly track-width AT mines and include full-width AT mines at the leading edge of the minefield to increase the probability of mine encounter. This should cause the enemy to commit its reduction assets.

AHDs can be added to disrupt-effect minefields to frustrate the enemy's breaching and clearing operations. However, adding AHDs may be too resource-intensive for the return in effect. An IOE is not required.


A fix effect (Figure 2-6) focuses fire planning and obstacle effort to slow an attacker within a specific area, normally an EA. The fix effect is primarily used to give the defender time to acquire, target, and destroy the attacking enemy throughout the depth of an EA or AA. A fix effect may be used to generate the time necessary for the force to break contact and disengage as the enemy maneuvers into the area (typically used for delays). Fix-effect minefields in the obstacle group must be employed in depth, causing the enemy formation to react and breach repeatedly. Fix-obstacle groups must span the entire width of the AA. Commanders normally use the fix effect inside the EA.

Figure 2-6. Fix-effect group

Individual fix-effect minefields must not appear too difficult to reduce. The enemy should be enticed into the area. The concept is to employ multiple minefields that individually attack a portion of a deploying company formation. Therefore, the fix-effect minefield front is 250 meters. It takes on the characteristics of a disrupt-effect minefield with a similar density, composition, and probability of encounter (Figure 2-4), with two exceptions. First, AHDs are not used because the application of massed direct and indirect fires complicate the enemy's breaching effort. Secondly, an IOE is added to further delay the enemy and confuse the attacker on the exact orientation of individual minefields. This also serves to increase the effective lethality of the minefield. The majority of mines are track-width AT, but full-width AT mines are used in the IOE and the leading edge of the minefield because they are the most lethal.

While individual minefields are designed to attack only portions of an enemy company formation, the fix-obstacle group is resourced, arranged, and sited to attack the entire front of an enemy battalion. Figure 2-6 depicts a fix group effect on an attacking enemy battalion. In this case, six fix-effect minefields are arrayed in an area the full width of the battalion AA (1,500 meters) by 1,500 meters deep. Accordingly, the resource factor for a fix-effect minefield group is one; the amount of linear minefield that should be resourced equals the width of the AA.


A turn effect (Figure 2-7) manipulates the enemy's maneuver in a desired direction. One technique or a combination of techniques aids in achieving the turn effect. First, in order to entice the enemy to maneuver in the desired direction rather than reduce the obstacle, the obstacle must have a subtle orientation relative to the enemy's approach. Secondly, the obstacle and fires must allow bypass in the direction desired by the friendly scheme of maneuver. Obstacles in the start of the turn are visible and look more complex than those in the direction of the turn. Finally, the obstacle is tied into severely restricted terrain (restricted terrain as a minimum) at the initial point of the turn. The point where the severely restricted terrain feature and the minefield meet is known as the anchor point. Commanders normally use the turn effect on the flanks of an EA.

Figure 2-7. Turn-effect group

The standard turn-effect minefield has a width of 500 meters and a depth of 300 meters. One turn-effect minefield affects the entire width of an enemy company's front. It must be deep enough to cause multiple applications of line-charge reduction assets. In short, the minefield must discourage any attempts to breach and must entice the enemy to bypass rather than reduce. Figure 2-7 depicts a turn effect on an attacking battalion, with turn-effect minefields arrayed in a group across a 1,500-meter AA. The angle of the minefields should be subtle, encouraging the enemy to bypass individual minefields. Each minefield overlaps another one to tie the minefields together and prevent gaps. This is considered in the resource factor (1.2) for a turn-obstacle group. This factor, multiplied by the width of the AA, equals the amount of linear obstacle effort required for this turn effect.

As shown in Figure 2-4 turn-effect minefields must be extremely lethal and achieve approximately 80 percent probability of encounter. In other words, an enemy vehicle attempting to reduce or pass through the minefield will likely encounter a mine. This forces the small-unit commander to make an immediate decision--breach or bypass. A lethal minefield that is covered by intense fires and has an easily detectable bypass reduces breach decisions to instinct and causes the enemy to choose the bypass (turn). To produce this lethality, the majority of mines should be full-width AT. Full-width mines in the first rows the enemy encounters and in the depth of the minefield either exhaust the enemy's breaching assets or convince him to bypass early. AHDs are not required because the enemy force will seldom commit to dismounted breach when faced with intense direct and indirect fires. An IOE should not be used because the enemy must be able to determine the orientation of the minefield and the bypass.


A block effect (Figure 2-8) integrates fire planning and obstacle effort to stop an attacker along a specific AA or prevent him from passing through an EA. Block obstacles are complex and are integrated with intense fires; they do not stop an attacker by themselves. Individual block obstacles are employed successively in a relatively shallow area. When the enemy reduces one block obstacle, it is critical that he encounters another, thus denying him to project combat power and maintain momentum. Block obstacles must defeat the enemy's breaching effort (mounted and dismounted) as well as his maneuver. A block effect must span the entire width of an AA and prevent a bypass.

Figure 2-8. Block-effect group

The typical block-effect minefield is 500 meters wide and 300+ meters deep (includes an IOE). Figure 2-8 depicts a block effect on an attacking battalion. Note how individual minefields are arrayed to affect the entire width of the AA but in a relatively shallow depth. Eight block-effect minefields are required in this example to achieve the necessary depth and width. The block group is the most resource-intensive. A resource factor of 2.4 is multiplied by the width of the AA to determine the linear obstacle effort required.

The lethality of a block-effect minefield (80 percent or higher) is similar to that of a turn-effect minefield (see Figure 2-4). The lethality of the group is considerably higher, since there are enough minefields in the group to cover more than twice the width of the AA. This lethality is produced by a density slightly greater than one mine per meter of front and the use of predominantly full-width AT mines.

A block-effect minefield must be capable of defeating mechanical and dismounted breach efforts. Therefore, AHDs (Korea Only: and AP mines) are used to target dismounted breaching. An IOE confuses the attacker about the exact minefield limits and complicates his employment of mechanical reduction assets. The depth of the block-effect minefield requires employing multiple line charges.

The above minefields are not standard solutions to every situation. The terrain could dictate a decrease or an increase in the effort required. Incorporating other reinforcing obstacles (AT ditches, road craters, wire, SCATMINEs) aid in attacking the different reduction assets.

Continue Chapter 2

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias