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Military

SECTION IV

NEW AND EXPERIMENTAL BREACHING EQUIPMENT


The port city of Brcko belonged to the Muslims before the war. During the war, the Serbs captured Brcko as it provided uninterrupted passage between the Serbian eastern and western sectors. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), consisting of 54 states in the region and chartered to resolve issues between the factions, planned a mid-February 1996 announcement as to who would retain control of Brcko.

As the Brcko arbitration decision approached, a TFE battalion task force overseeing Brcko determined it needed all east-west routes to react to any civil unrest created by the decision. One critical east-west route was known as Dr. Pepper Bypass.

Dr. Pepper Bypass was a one-lane route that stretched through the Brcko sector for approximately 5 kilometers. Near the start of the route was a very weak bridge that would not support Class 70 traffic. The bridge was also believed to be rigged with booby traps. From the bridge, Dr. Pepper Bypass winds up a hill and through a small town. Just a month earlier, an elderly lady was killed and another woman severely wounded in a minestrike near the small town. Because the Mine Action Center mine map did not indicate mines on the route, the factional unit in the area was unlikely to proof it. The task force would have to proof Dr. Pepper Bypass using its own assets. To make matters worse, the area surrounding the start of the route was very narrow and restricted the set up of support equipment needed for the mission.

TFE received developmental breaching and clearing equipment in Bosnia. This equipment provided the flexibility and capabilities needed to overcome many unusual and challenging engineer tasks. The Panther mine-proofing vehicle and the Mini-Flail breaching vehicle were especially critical in the proofing mission at Dr. Pepper Bypass.

Mission analysis identified several challenges. The bridge would have to be checked and cleared of any booby traps. The classification of the bridge had to be increased to Class 70. The route had to be proofed using the safest possible method. All of this had to be done in a very restricted area. In fact, for the Panther to be employed, additional working space had to be created so a CEV could download the mine rollers from a heavy expanded mobility tactical truck (HEMTT) in proximity to the Panther for installation.

THE DR. PEPPER PASS PROOFING MISSION TEAM
Engr Cmd Track w/mine-strike teamCombat Engineer Vehicle (CEV)
Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge (AVLB) Medic M113 configured for litters
Panther Engineer Squad for traffic control
HEMTT transport for Panther mine rollers Mini-Flail
Bradley Fighting Vehicles for Security

Dr. Pepper Bypass Mission Execution Techniques

1. For security, two M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles were positioned on the road that ran perpendicular to Dr. Pepper Bypass.

2. A squad was sent to the far end of the route to control civilian traffic.

3. The Mini-Flail was maneuvered forward to clear areas for the support equipment, including a HEMTT transporting the Panther mine rollers, and the medical high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle (HMMWV).

4. The Mini-Flail was then maneuvered forward to clear the near and far sides and surface of the bridge of booby traps.

5. The AVLB moved forward and emplaced its Class 70 bridge over the old bridge.

6. The CEV downloaded the mine rollers from the HEMTT cargo vehicle.

7. Because of the narrow road, the Panther was remotely backed toward the bridge and the CEV transported the rollers to the Panther for installation.

8. After installation of the mine rollers, the Panther was remotely maneuvered backwards over the bridge. Once over the bridge, it was turned around in the area cleared by the Mini-Flail and oriented in the direction of the route.


Proofing Dr. Pepper Pass

NOTE: The IBASIC consisted of:

  • Blast-Protective Over Boots
  • Kevlar Trousers
  • Supplemental Kevlar Vest (worn over the issued body armor)
  • Kevlar Helmet with Face Shield

9. The command and control team, consisting of the CEV with Panther remote control panel, command track with minestrike team, and medical track moved into position behind the Panther, maintaining a safe distance from the Panther.

10. The route was proofed without incident.

Panther

The Panther is a remotely controlled countermine system. In Bosnia, the Panther was quite frequently used to "proof" minefields the factions had previously cleared.

The Panther is a turret-less M60 chassis with Israeli mine rollers, an anti-magnetic actuating device system (magnetic dog bone) and a remote control unit (RCU) which is carried in a separate command and control vehicle. One capability provided by the Panther is its ability to conduct minefield proofing mission from a safe distance. A video camera may be mounted to the front of the Panther to provide real-time visual data on the area or route being cleared. The proofing width of the Panther is 16 feet.

The Panther works well with the CEV. Operating the two in tandem pays dividends. First, in the CEV, the operator of the remote control has adequate height and a good line of sight to monitor the Panther's progress during proofing operations. The CEV's blade also may be used to improve the effectiveness of the proof by skimming the ground as it follows the Panther. The CEV also provides an excellent recovery vehicle for the Panther should it get stuck. Finally, the CEV's boom can be used to download the mine roller system from the transport vehicle. This eliminates the need to have a crane on site to prepare the Panther for operation.

Mini-Flail

The Mini-Flail is a four-wheel anti-personnel mine-breaching vehicle that clears a foot path through mined areas. A remote control unit allows soldiers to operate the Mini Flail from as far away as 300 meters. The front of the vehicle is equipped with a rotating cylinder-shaped flail drum with several steel chains attached. When activated and lowered, the drum rotates and allows the chains to strike and detonate mines on the ground. At 2,340 pounds, the Mini-flail detonates anti-tank mines it runs over with one of its wheels. Surprisingly small, the Mini-Flail is 43 inches in height, 50 inches in width and just 120 inches in length. When in breaching mode (flail on and rotating) the Mini-Flail travels at two miles per hour. With the flail off, the vehicle can travel up to five and one-half miles per hour. One advantage of the diminutive size of the Mini-Flail is its high versatility. It can be easily transportable by light trailers.

The French Claw Mine Remover

An engineer company commander, who had attended the French Army Engineer Advanced course, used a French mine removal tool to develop a model for U.S. Engineers during Operation JOINT ENDEAVOR.

The French Claw tool (diagram below) can be fabricated in the welding shop of a units motor pool. Aluminum is preferred because its lighter, but steel is stronger, lasts longer and is more capable of pulling buried mines out of the ground. It is recommended that each mechanized engineer APC and each ACE Blade Team carry at least one French Claw. One aluminum version should be available per platoon.

The French Claw is used to pull mines away from a road while maintaining a safe distance from the mine and under the protection of an armored vehicle. This is especially critical if the use of anti-handling devices is suspected.

Anti-Tank Mine Removal Drill (Using the French Claw)

An AT Mine Removal Drill was developed using the French Claw. This drill was initiated when surface-laid mines were discovered on a road and quick removal of the mine was paramount. The drill was normally performed by combat engineers but could easily be executed by any group of soldiers with proper training.

One benefit of the drill is that it allows mines to be safely moved off of the road surface with out having to blow the mine in place, the usual technique. Blowing the mines in place can cause significant road damage. The drill is conducted using the fabricated French Claw, a metal claw with attached lanyard that grabs the mine so it can be pulled away from the road surface. Anti-personnel mines are normally too small for the French Claw to grab.

The AT Mine Removal Drill

1. Squad in armored vehicle discovers mine(s) on road and reports.

2. Soldier No. 1 dismounts and uses a grapnel hook to check for trip wires in the area between the vehicle and the mine(s).

3. Soldier No. 2 dismounts with mine detector and sweeps an area one meter off the road just forward of the vehicle. The soldier drives a Hand-Emplaced Minefield Marking Set (HEMMS) pole or stake into the ground at that spot.

4. A Mine Sweep Team dismounts with mine detectors and sweeps to mine, then places the "French Claw" over the mine. The Mine Sweep Team then attaches the end of French Claw marline to the front tow shackle of the vehicle. The marline is then placed on the outward side of the HEMMS pole/stake.

5. All troops mount APC and "Button Up."

6. APC backs up slowly, French Claw arms scissors around the mine and pulls it off the road at the angle corresponding to the off-road HEMMS pole location.

7. This procedure is repeated until all mines are off the road.

8. The mine(s) is marked for later destruction or blown in place by trail vehicle, without damage to road surface.

LESSON LEARNED: The AT Mine Removal Drill is a quick method of removing surfaced-laid anti tank mines from surface of a road. It is particularly effective against mines with anti-handling devices. Once the mine is moved from the road, it can be destroyed away from the road surface, preventing craters.

M2 Mine Roller and Plow System

The Mine Roller and Plow Systems for Light Armored Vehicles were introduced into the Bosnian theater in December 1996, long after most route-clearing missions were completed. However, it was the first mine roller and plow system introduced for the M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The system increases flexibility in planning and executing missions in a mine-rich environment and also provides better survivability for the infantry squad vehicle.

M2 Mine Roller

M2 Mine Plow

M2 Light Mine Rollers detonate simple pressure mines and tilt rod mines. The system is sacrificial upon detonation of an anti-tank mine. The rollers may also be raised for movement/travel, as required; however, maneuverability and speed are significantly reduced.

M2 Surface "V" Mine Plow removes surface-laid mines and clears a 3-meter vehicle path. The plow may be raised for on-road and cross-country movement. Again, maneuverability and speed are significantly reduced.

Both the mine roller and plow are attached to the M2 Bradley using the same mount. Both require materials handling equipment (MHE) with at least 2,400 pounds of lift capacity to install. Neither require additional haul assets unless removed from the vehicle.


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