Demolitions kit using same modified map case

Even though the world is rapidly urbanizing, and we had a clear warning of urban combat in Somalia, its a sad commentary that the Army has retired the M728 Combat Engineer Vehicle (CEV) which had a 165mm demolition gun to destroy enemy building/bunkers/fortifications from a safe stand-off range and not replaced it with either the 165mm demolition gun in the turret of selected Abrams tanks, fielded a High-Explosive Plastic (HEP) round for the 120mm main gun of our tanks or even fielded a TOW missile with a HEP round for the Bradley Engineer Fighting Vehicle (EBFV) under consideration. The M551 Sheridan light tank was retired and the M8 Armored Gun System (AGS) was cancelled after 6 were built. We have hundreds of enhanced M113A3 Armored Fighting Vehicles (AFVs) that could be outfitted with bunker-busting weapons to turn the new Fort Polk-based Strike force from a "paper tiger" Headquarters to an immediate war fighting tool of the U.S. Army. A perfect example of light AFVs saving the day was the Tet offensive in 1968, M113s with gun-shield protected machine guns were able to rapidly move into Ton San Nut airbase to save it from being over-run by several thousand enemy foot Soldiers by overwhelming protected firepower. These same vehicles flushed out the die-hard Viet cong from Saigon, saving hundreds of American lives that would have been lost in infantry-pure assaults.

The best way to enter a building is through an unexpected breech hole

The result of this force structure neglect is that U.S. Army Soldiers will now have to race across enemy automatic weapons fire to hand-emplace demolitions charges to breech holes in walls to enter buildings and destroy obstacles. Hand-emplaced demolitions charges may even be needed to destroy mines if rocket-propelled mine charges are unavialable or expended. We have tried to paper over (with doctrinal publications) this weakness by using terms like "Precision MOUT" and "Surgical MOUT" to convey the idea that we do not need this kind of overwhelming destructive firepower because we will use SWAT-team style room-clearing techniques using pistols, rifles. All fine IF you can get INTO the building to gain access into the rooms in the first place.

We can make sure that we employ BFV engine smoke, smoke grenades and hand-held disposible rockets like the AT4 and the SMAW-D Bunker Defeat Munition to allow us to get into firing positions of enemy buildings/bunkers and destroy them from a safe stand-off using better Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP) that appreciate the need for explosive shock action to win on the battlefield. We can ask for SMAWs and M3 RAAWS Carl Gustav 84mm recoilless rifles to be supplied to us. We can train with simulated demolitions charges and become as speedy and protected as we can be at emplacing them. The men running forward to emplace demolitions charges should be wearing rifle-caliber resistant body armor with minimum TA-50 equipment slowing him down.

The M183 or M37 Satchel charge is composed of 16 x 1.25 pound C4 plastic explosive blocks weighing 20 pounds. It holds them in a canvass green bag with strap. The blocks can be used individually, in combinations or all at once by electric or non-electric priming methods. Untamped, the Satchel charge breeches a 3-foot thick concrete wall. Unfortunately thanks to paranoia over explosives devices and terrorist attacks getting a spent M-60 fuze ignitor used in non-electric detonation systems is not possible. Its even harder to get actual demolitions training for infantry personnel.

Cutting time fuse
Fortunately, I have been a combat engineer in a previous unit and have had hands-on demolitions training. The essential steps for detonating a block of C4 is to crimp a non-electric blasting cap to a length of time fuze desired for adequate delay to get under cover.

Timing a test length of time fuse

You measure the burning rate with a test piece of time fuze then calculate the length you need, and cut it for the blasting cap.

Inspecting a blasting cap for foreign matter in the tube opening Crimping a blasting cap to time fuse

Then crimp a blasting cap to the desired length of time fuse.

Poking a hole with M2 cap crimpers for a blasting cap in a block of explosives

You then take your M2 crimper tool and poke a hole deep enough for the blasting cap in the C4. You insert the blasting cap/time fuse carefully and gingerly into the C4...

Priming explosive with the blasting cap and time fuse

...and then can set the time fuze off with a MRE match cut into and inserted into the side of the time fuze end

Alternate technique of lighting time fuse uses a match stick

or screw on a M-60 fuse ignitor and turn/pull to set off its percussion cap to start the time fuze.

Setting off time fuse with M60 fuse ignitor
THEN shout a warning 3 times and take cover!

To simulate a Satchel charge, obtain a G.I. map case, and modify with quick-release straps and sew on a name tape with the word: DEMOLITIONS. This bag fits nicely into the left or right rear sponson storage rack of the BFV for quick access by dismounting infantry. The breech kit can be accessed even if the rear ramp is up, protecting the BFV from enemy fire.

Next, cut 16 pieces of wood 12" long by 3" wide, 3" deep and paint white to simulate C4 blocks. Drill half-inch diameter holes in each simulated C4 block to simulate a well to accept a simulated blasting cap. The blocks for our unit were cut by Mr. Andy Rudd. Put them inside the DEMOLITIONS map case.

Cut pieces of wood to simulate the weight/shape of 1.25 pound C4 blocks

To create a M-60 fuze ignitor simulator, you will need 2 spent glue sticks (UHU and an Elmer's Glue stick type), a metal clasp ring and some clothesline wire. For the time fuze, and blasting cap; go to a hardware store and get 2 feet of black co-axial cable to be the time fuze, and a small metal cleaning brush. Cut the shiny metal handle of the brush off with the cutting end of a Gerber Multi-tool or Leatherman's tool. As you close down on the metal tube, it will crimp and you finish by pulling back and forth on the brush end until it breaks off.

Small metal brush end cut off and end crimped to simulate a blasting cap

You still have a working brush that can be used inside the buttstock rifle cleaning kit of your M-16 rifle. You now have a suitable working replica of a blasting cap. Push the co-axial cable into the simulated blasting cap.

Drill a hole with your multi-tool/leatherman into the center of the glue stick twist end which raises/lowers the glue stick. Insert the end of the co-axial cable without the simulated blasting cap.

Close-up of glue stick end with metal clasp ring to simulate pull-ring

The end of the glue stick where the glue was will be covered by the ridged end of the Elmer's Glue stick by cutting it off. Drill a hole inside the center of the cap for your bell shaped piece of clothesline wire. Push the bell shape loop through the hole from the inside. This loop will show through so you can insert the metal ring clasp through it. This simulates the pull-ring of the M-60 fuze ignitor.

Then, scrape off the threads of the UHU Glue stick and model airplane cement the Elmer's Glue stick cap to it.

Paint the entire simulated M-60 fuze ignitor Olive Drab green with model airplane paint.

Complete simulated non-electric firing system

Repeat the process for as many non-electric blasting cap systems you require. 16 sets for each block in the simulated satchel charge would be ideal. This way, you can simulate an explosive charge set-up for each block in the bag.

You can use these simulated "pop 'n drop" demolitions charges during Field Training Exercises (FTXs) and major exercises held at places like JRTC where the Observer/Controllers (OCs) will insist that you show them the steps and implements needed to set off demolitions charges. You cannot "yadda yadda" demolitions charges---you have to do the steps and you need the simulated implements, otherwise we will not be able to realistically train and get the best TTP possible to overcome our present precarious situation when it comes to defeating enemies with buildings/bunkers/obstacles. Expedient mines can be created by tying black 550 parachute cord between several blocks to represent detonation cord. The mines can be surface laid or buried or even pulled across by the Soldier after a vehicle stops at an obstacle then detonated using simulation charges.