Minefield Breaching

20. Combat divers may be required to breach mined areas in the water and on the exit areas in support of a gap-crossing operation. As detailed in Section 3, all obstacles are considered mined; however, there may be sections of rivers and fording or bridge sites that are mined with no other artificial obstacles.

21. It is not feasible for combat divers to neutralize and disarm submerged mines. These are limitations caused by the lack of visibility, manual dexterity, and the physical difficulties of manipulating the mines underwater. Normally, combat divers will use explosives, either placed on individual targets or as line charges, to destroy submerged mines. Generally, mines will not be employed in depths greater than 3 m because vehicle do not ford deeper than 1.8 m; most of the mines are concentrated in water depths of 1.5 m or less. Mines, other than magnetic influence mines, located in water deeper than the operating depth of the assault vehicles, rafts, or ferries may not have to be dealt with except as a follow-on operation.

22. The crossing-site commander must be aware of the limitations and capabilities of the combat divers supporting the operation. The engineer advisor will provide this information, with technical details being confirmed with the dive team leader. The key factors and method employed for successful breaching of an underwater minefield are:

a. accurate reconnaissance details;

b. knowledge of nature and types of mines;

c. coordination and liaison with the combat engineers from the force in place;

d. an accurate understanding of the capabilities and proximity of the enemy;

e. security of the objective from enemy observation and fire; and f. combat divers proficient and rehearsed in breaching procedures.

23. Assault Breaching of Mined Areas. In support of the force in place, combat divers can breach lanes with explosives. They may or may not use breathing apparatus. The organization detailed in Table 4-1 can be adapted to conduct this task. This method is designed to be quick, effective, and ensure surprise. It will provide lanes for AFVs and landing sites for rafts and assault boats on the enemy bank of a water obstacle. This method is similar to the method used during the execution of a hasty obstacle-crossing operation. This breaching method will provide the bridgehead force a foothold on a far bank and will significantly reduce the submerged mine threat for AFVs and dismounted troops. The general procedure is:

a. The recce party marks the charge locations.

Figure 4-3: Minefield Breaching on Land

ENEMY BANK

ENEMY BANK

FIRING POINT

BREACHING CHARGES

BREACHING CHARGES

®f FIRING CIRCUIT I LEADING BACK TO

© DIVERS ENTER WATER FROM UPSTREAM © BREACHING CHARGES ARE PLACED AS REQUIRED^ ® FIRING CIRCUIT IS SET OUT © CHARGES ARE INITIATED FROM THE FIRING POINT

FIRING POINT

Figure 4-4: Assault Breach b. The demolition team places and initiates the charges.

c. Divers move clear of the target area. They may move onto the enemy bank and act as guides for the assault echelon.

Mobility (Crossing and Breaching Operations) d. Bridgehead force lands.

24. The following methods can be used when a site is relatively secure from enemy observation and fire, such as when expanding a bridgehead.

a. Water Depth is 1.5 m or Less. The general procedure is:

(1) force in place combat engineers breach and secure a foothold on the home bank;

(2) a diver, without breathing apparatus, on a marked tending line begins clearing a 1 m area, moving against the current;

(3) mines found are marked as the arc is completed;

(4) mines on each arc are destroyed on site;

(5) once mines are disposed of, a new arc is cleared; and

(6) force in place combat engineers breach and secure a foothold on the far bank.

b. Water Depth is 1.5 m or Greater. The basic concepts of the method above can be applied; however, the use of breathing apparatus will make working conditions awkward. The general procedure is:

(1) force in place combat engineers breach and secure the home bank;

(2) line charges are placed and secured to the target area;

(3) charges are initiated; and

(4) combat divers breach and secure a foothold on the far bank.

c. Magnetic Influence Mines. Magnetic influence mines pose a significant risk to combat divers; through intelligence, their presence must be confirmed. When the threat of these mines is likely, combat divers should not be employed to breach these areas unless they are using wet suits and non-metal face masks only. Otherwise, their ensemble and other equipment could initiate the mines.

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