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MOPMS: It Isn't Just for Light Engineers
by SFC Vernon Hamaker

Scatterable mine systems allow the tactical commander to rapidly emplace obstacles that attack the enemy's maneuver while maintaining operational flexibility for friendly forces. The most multi-functional scatterable mine system is the Modular Pack Mine System, known as the "MOPMS." The MOPMS can be employed as either a tactical or protective obstacle. It can be used during both offensive and defensive missions to support the tactical plan. The doctrinal reference for MOPMS employment is FM 20-32, Mine/Countermine Operations, 30 Sep 92.

Current trends at NTC indicate that mechanized engineers place less emphasis on MOPMS and often do not use MOPMS to the same degree of effectiveness as their light counterparts. This is due, in the author's opinion, to a lack of understanding of the capabilities of this very flexible and capable system. This article describes the system, lists some observations made at the NTC, and provides some recommendations to improve MOPMS employment.

MOPMS MAJOR COMPONENTS

  • M71 RCU (Remote Control Unit) or M34 Blasting Machine
  • M131 Dispenser
  • BA 5598/U Battery

The MOPMS is a man-portable, 162-pound, suitcase-shaped mine dispenser that can be placed at any location before dispensing the mines. The dispenser contains 21 mines (17 AT and 4 AP) which are propelled up to 35 meters from the container in a 180-degree semicircle. The density is 0.01 mine per square meter. The safety zone around one container is 55 meters to the front and sides of the container and 20 meters to the rear (see Figure 1). It takes two minutes for a dispensed mine to arm. The MOPMS provides a self-contained, on-call minefield emplacement capability for all forces. You can command detonate, reuse (if mines are not dispensed), and directly place to provide complete coverage of targets. The flexibility to command detonate or extend the self-destruct time is an added benefit not currently available with other scatterable mine systems.

Figure 1

The MOPMS is ideally suited for the following minefield missions:

  • Close gaps or lanes in existing minefields
  • Hasty protective minefields
  • Deliberate protective minefields
  • Nuisance minefields
  • Ambushes
  • Tactical minefields intended to disrupt or fix (see Figure 2)
  • In support of MOUT operations

Figure 2 - MOPMS Disrupt Minefield

Because of its compact design, the MOPMS is very versatile. Below is an example of how MOPMS can be utilized to execute a reserve obstacle:

Your platoon has been given a reserve obstacle mission to execute a hasty road crater. Based on the enemy situation and your risk assessment, you requested the use of MOPMS for additional security while you prepare and execute the road crater. At the road crater site, the first mission is to identify and site locations to place the MOPMS out of enemy weapons range to support the platoon while preparing the road crater site. If something should go wrong while you are working, you can initiate the MOPMS to disrupt the enemy before they reach the road crater location. When the last vehicle from the security force withdraws past the road crater location, detonate the charges and then initiate the MOPMS to disrupt the enemy before they reach the crater. Another option, if time and enemy situation permit, is to recover the unused MOPMS dispensers. The key to success is good communication between the platoon leader and the screening force commander.

OBSERVED TRENDS AT THE NTC:

  • Units often arrive at the NTC without the batteries needed to operate Remote Control Units (RCUs) and MOPMS dispensers.
  • RCUs are often missing components or are unserviceable due to lack of maintenance.
  • MOPMS is often not integrated during the planning process for each mission.
  • Arming and duration times, although significant factors, are often not discussed.
  • The decision point for MOPMS execution is often inadequate or not defined.
  • Rehearsals of MOPMS execution and target turnover are seldom conducted.
  • No reconnaissance of MOPMS locations is conducted for good line of sight from the RCU.
  • Units do not achieve the commander's intent with MOPMS execution.
  • MOPMS, when placed, is not covered by indirect or direct fire weapons.
  • MOPMS is too often used solely for defensive operations, when it can be used just as effectively during offensive operations.

RECOMMENDATIONS TO IMPROVE MOPMS EMPLOYMENT:

  • Include MOPMS in all Home Station combined arms training.
  • Include emplacement of a minefield with the MOPMS as a task during the unit's Sapper Stakes competition.
  • Include the minefield emplacement task on the unit's Critical Task List.
  • Require training during Sergeants' Time to get all soldiers proficient on the minefield emplacement task.
  • Integrate into the decision-making process for every mission.
  • Conduct rehearsals on execution to ensure understanding of firing procedures, trigger points, and safe distance.
  • Resource to ensure unit has enough BA 5598/U batteries on-hand to conduct training and operations.
  • Conduct weekly maintenance on the RCUs.
  • Conduct cross-training with the infantry and armor units on how to operate and appreciate this valuable weapon.

The MOPMS is a vital asset to engineers and maneuver units due to its flexibility and compact design. Unit leaders should ensure all soldiers are trained and proficient in placing the MOPMS. Tasks that appear to be simple are often overlooked and neglected. Soldiers trained to employ MOPMS frequently PCS or ETS before training other soldiers to execute the task. It is our responsibility as leaders to ensure we take the time to train our soldiers. Remember the bottom line: Train on MOPMS - Integrate MOPMS during planning and execution to increase combat effectiveness.


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