PAINTING THE MINE PICTURE
The agency responsible for collecting mine data and "painting the mine picture" in Bosnia was the TFE Mine Action Center (MAC). The organized collection of mine data allowed units to safely plan convoys, patrols, mine-clearing operations, and to protect civilian activities. To do this, the MAC conducted regular meetings with factional engineer leaders to discuss minefield locations and to collect factional mine records used during the war. The MAC also collected minefield information from the Minefield Spot Reports submitted by TFE units in the field. In the procedures established, MAC:
1. Assigned all minefields a minefield number.
2. Used MAC translators to translate minefield reports into English.
3. Analyzed mine reports to determine minefield locations, composition, and size.
4. Inputted minefield data into the MAC computerized minefield data base (Digital Map Reporting System (DMRS) Database).
5. Updated and printed mine maps using 1:50,000 Taci Mine Maps.
6. Determined which faction would be responsible for lifting/clearing a minefield.
7. Disseminated mine data to TFE units for mine lifting and planning.
The Mine Action Center Organizational Structure
Factional Mine Records
Factional engineers used a one-page record to record minefields during the war. The Factional Mine Report was similar to the U.S. DA Form 1355-1, Hasty Minefield Recording Form. The record indicated the minefield location and the number and types of mines laid. The form normally contained a drawing indicating the number of mine rows in the minefield and how the minefield was emplaced in relation to nearby buildings, roads or trench lines.
Factional mine records were translated into English, and minefield drawings were interpreted as close as possible. The mine register below shows that this minefield was extracted and moved to another location. Of the nine PMR-2A mines in the original minefield, only seven were recovered. The others may have been left in place as a point minefield or may have been lost, and could inadvertently injure personnel or damage equipment.
NOTE: The drawing from the factional mine record form is never replicated on the minefield register form. This is to preclude introducing errors. The original faction form (which contains the original drawing) is attached to the translated minefield register form.
TFE Minefield Spot Report
Mine fields discovered by TFE units were reported to the MAC using the TFE Mine Report.
Mine reports had to be accurate and timely. Mine information provided to the MAC could potentially save lives and avoid damage to equipment. The TFE Mine Spot Report was the primary means of passing mine data to the MAC; however, the data was only as good as it reported. Some of the keys to successful mine data collection are as follows:
- Reports must be readable and should be complete.
- Reports should include the width and depth of the minefield. This can be accomplished by providing the four grid coordinates of the minefield corners. On numerous occasions in Bosnia, units provided only a single grid coordinate. This may be sufficient for point minefields but does not provide for the approximate size of the mined area.
- If possible, the exact number and types of mines should be indicated. This includes the mine nomenclature, if available. Soldier mine cards can help with this. If nomenclature is not known, visual characteristics of the mine may be recorded. The size, shape and color of the mine(s) should be noted. Any noticeable trip wires should also be recorded.
- Emplacement techniques should be described. Are the mines surfaced laid, or buried? Are there any mines rigged to other items such as trees or sticks?
- The report should indicate whether the minefield is marked and how.
- Reference points that will help others locate the minefield should be included such as landmarks or structures (school, water well, roads, intersections).
- If possible, the report should state the intended purpose of the minefield. This could help analysts identify emplacement patterns or enemy techniques.
- Units should pass mine data to the MAC as soon as it is collected. In Bosnia, units often held on to factional mine reports until they felt they had a sufficient number of records to turn in. Often, the MAC would press the factional engineers to turn in records that had already been handed over to TFE units in the field.
LESSONS LEARNED: Collection of mine data is the primary means for completing the minefield picture. Mine data allows units to safely conduct operational planning of convoys and patrols, and enhances force protection.
Taci-Print Mine Maps
Using all of the mine data it received, the MAC inputted data into its computer minefield data base and templated the minefields on a 1:50,000 U.S. map. Because the factions all read maps up and right grid coordinates had to be converted, terrain association was used for accuracy.
Taci-Print Mine Map Legend
The Taci-Print Mine Map Legend used the color green for Bosnian Government Army (BiH) (Muslim) and Bosnian Croat Army (HVO) (Croat) mines. The color red was used for the Army of Bosnian Republic of Serbia (VRS) (Serb) mines.
Minefield Removal Report
Task Force Eagle units use this report when observing faction mine lifting operations.
Mine Data Collection and Reporting
It was discovered from past dealings with the SFOR Engineer Staff and the UN Mine Action Center in Sarajevo that there was no precise vernacular within the SFOR regarding minefield clearance terms. The TFE MAC developed the following matrix of terms to assist in developing a common understanding of clearance terms.
|U.S. Vernacular||SFOR Vernacular|
|"Cleared" - All mines in a minefield picked up in accordance with the factional minefield record and destroyed. Factional work attested to by an SFOR representative. Minefield clearance form completed and returned to the Mine Action Center.||"Lifted" - All mines in a minefield picked up in accordance with the factional minefield record and destroyed. Factional work attested to by SFOR representative. Minefield clearance form completed and returned to the MAC by SFOR element observing factional work, attesting to the number and type of mines removed and destroyed.|
|"Partially Cleared" - SFOR unit observes factional units clear minefields in accordance with factional minefield records. However, not all mines are recovered and destroyed. The minefield is carried as "Partially Cleared." SFOR completes the minefield clearance form attesting to those mines that were recovered only, including a note on the clearance form that not all mines on the factional minefield report were recovered.||No equivalent.|
|"De-mined" - All mines removed and destroyed by factions (SFOR observed). Minefield cleared to humanitarian standards (99.6% cleared), and proofed with mechanical proofing tool three times and/or with mine dogs.||"Cleared" - All mines removed and destroyed by factions (SFOR observed). Minefield cleared to humanitarian standards (99.6% cleared), and proofed with mechanical proofing tool three times and/or with mine dogs.|
NOTE: SFOR soldiers did not conduct minefield clearance or de-mining operations. Clearing and/or de-mining was a factional responsibility. SFOR soldiers were charged with the responsibility of observing and attesting to the work performed by the factions. SFOR soldiers did not attest that minefields were, in fact, "cleared" or "de-mined."
Section IV: New and Experimental Breaching Equipment
Section VI: Mine Strikes
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