Soldier Combat Skills

Chapter 14-3 – Obstacles

This section discusses how to breach and cross a minefield or wire obstacle.


14-17. In combat, enemy units use obstacles to stop slow or channel their opponent’s movement. Because of that, you may have to bypass or breach (make a gap through) those obstacles in order to continue your mission. There are many ways to breach a minefield. One way is to probe for and mark mines to clear a footpath through the minefield.


  1. Leave your rifle and LCE with another Soldier in the team.
  2. Leave on your Kevlar helmet and vest to protect you from possible blasts.
  3. Get a wooden stick about 30 centimeters (12 inches) long for a probe and sharpen one of the ends. Do not use a metal probe.
  4. Place the unsharpened end of the probe in the palm of one hand with your fingers extended and your thumb holding the probe.
  5. Probe every 5 centimeters (2 inches) across a l-meter front. Push the probe gently into the ground at an angle less than 45 degrees (Figure 14-16).
  6. Kneel (or lie down) and feel upward and forward with your free hand to find tripwires and pressure prongs before starting to probe.
  7. Put just enough pressure on the probe to sink it slowly into the ground. If the probe does not go into the ground, pick or chip the dirt away with the probe and remove it by hand.

  1. Stop probing when the probe hits a solid object.
  2. Remove enough dirt from around the object to find out what it is.
  3. Clear a lane in depth of 10-meter (33 feet) intervals and ensure the lane overlaps (Figure 14-17).


14-18. Remove enough dirt from around it to see what type of mine it is.

1. Mark it and report its exact location to your leader. There are several ways to mark a mine. How it is marked is not as important as having others understand the marking. A common way to mark a mine is to tie a piece of paper, cloth, or engineer tape to a stake and put the stake in the ground by the mine (Figure 14-18).


14-19. Once a footpath has been probed and the mines marked, a security team should cross the minefield to secure the far side (Figure 14-19). After the far side is secure, the rest of the unit should cross.


14-20. Breaching a wire obstacle may require stealth; for example, when done by a patrol. It may not require stealth during an attack. Breaches requiring stealth are normally done with wire cutters. Other breaches are normally done with bangalore torpedoes and breach kits. This paragraph discusses how to probe for and mark mines, as well as cross minefields:


14-21. This paragraph discusses how to cut and cross wire.

To cut through a wire obstacle with stealth–

  1. Cut only the lower strands and leave the top strand in place; this decreases the likelihood that the enemy will discover the gap.
  2. Cut the wire near a picket. To reduce the noise of a cut, have another Soldier wrap cloth around the wire and hold the wire with both hands. Cut part of the way through the wire between the other Soldier’s hands and have him bend the wire back and forth until it breaks. If you are alone, wrap cloth around the wire near a picket, partially cut the wire, and then bend and break the wire.

To breach an obstacle made of concertina:

  1. Cut the wire and stake it back to keep the breach open.
  2. Stake the wire back far enough to allow room for Soldiers to move through the obstacle.


14-22. A bangalore torpedo comes in a kit that has ten torpedo sections, ten connecting sleeves, and one nose sleeve (Figure 14-20). Use only the number of torpedo sections and connecting sleeves needed.

14-23. All torpedo sections have a threaded cap well at each end so they may be assembled in any order. Use the connecting sleeves to connect the torpedo sections together. To prevent early detonation of the entire bangalore torpedo, should you actually hit a mine while pushing the bangalore through the obstacle, attach an improvised (wooden) torpedo section to its end. That section can be made out of any wooden pole or stick equal to the size of a real torpedo section. Attach the nose sleeve to the end of the wooden section.

14-24. After the bangalore torpedo has been assembled and pushed through the obstacle, prime it with either detonation cord or with the MDI nonelectric firing system (Figure 14-21); only the MDI method will be described. The bangalore torpedo is primed using an M11, M16, M14, or M18 blasting cap. Insert the blasting cap into the cap well in the end section of the charge and secure it with a priming adapter. If a priming adapter is unavailable, use tape to hold the blasting cap firmly in place.

14-25. Before the bangalore torpedo is fired, ensure you seek available cover (at least 35 meters away) from the safety danger zone. You will use wire cutters to cut away any wire not cut by the explosion.


14-26. The APOBS is an explosive line charge system that allows safe breaching through complex antipersonnel obstacles (Figure 14-22). The APOBS is used to conduct deliberate or hasty breaches through enemy antipersonnel minefields and multistrand wire obstacles. A lightweight 125 pound (57 kilogram) system with delay and command firing modes, it can be carried by two Soldiers with backpacks and can be deployed within 30 to 120 seconds.

14-27. Once set in place, the APOBS rocket is fired from a 35-meter standoff position, sending the line charge with fragmentation grenades over the minefield and/or wire obstacle. The grenades neutralize or clear the mines and sever the wire, effectively clearing a footpath 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 1 meter) wide by 148 feet (50 yards or 45 meters) long.

14-28. The APOBS has significant advantages over the bangalore torpedo, which weighs 145 kilograms (320 pounds) more, takes significantly longer to set up, and cannot be deployed from a standoff position. It also reduces the number of Soldiers required to carry and employ the system from 12 Soldiers to two.

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