How to Identify, Locate and Avoid Landmines
QRF Infantry Tactics
Landmines are still a very real thing. We used to see them all the time on the Iraq border. They are nasty and hard to spot, but not impossible to find.
This article is part of a series we are using to teach QRF Infantry Tactics. Here is an outline of the free lessons. They are numbered in the order they are taught in the printed book.
- How to Form Your Own Platoon
- How to Travel During Wartime Without Getting Ambushed
- Hand & Arm Signals - Communicate Silently
- Prisoners of War
- How to Remove the Injured From Battle
- Reaction to Contact (How to Respond if You Get Attacked)
- How to Stop an Armored Vehicle
- Convoys and Obstacles
- How to Identify, Locate and Avoid Landmines
- Fighting Back: How to Ambush Your Enemy
- Fighting Back: Tactical Formations
- Breaking Contact (How to Retreat)
- How to Conduct TCPs (Traffic Control Points)
- A Letter to the Commander (How to Keep Your Men Alive)
- A Story of Battle (What a Real Ambush Looks Like and How I Lived Through It)
Introduction - How to Identify, Locate and Avoid Landmines
*Important Note* This is lesson 9 of our QRF Infantry Tactics series. Click here to read the article on lesson 1.
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Article Summery - How to Identify, Locate and Avoid Landmines
How to Identify, Locate and Avoid Landmines
Reaction to Contact: Landmines
This article will cover what the different types of landmines are, how to find them, and how to escape should you step on one.
Look for disturbed earth, unusual or out of place features, surface laid mines (that is mines that must be level with the top of the ground), tilt rods (little rods that stick up out of the ground to catch your feet and detonate the charge), and trip wires.
All of these are a dead give away that the area is full of mines. If you find yourself in the middle of a minefield, the only way to clear it is on your belly.
Getting Through a Minefield
Another way of clearing a minefield is to detonate them all. This eliminates the minefield but it’s loud and time-consuming.
Warning!: DON'T attempt to remove the mines and reuse them elsewhere, you will kill yourself. That failed tactic has eliminated many would be bomb makers in Iraq.
What Common Landmines Look Like
Surface Laid Landmines
The Bouncing Betty - Landmines
Most landmines are either activated by stepping on them or when you step off of them. Some, like the Bouncing Betty, shoot up out of the ground and then detonate.
This little device was widely used in WW2 by the Germans. As you can see, there isn’t much of a warning that it’s there.
When you step off of the device, it pops up out of the ground and then detonates. This is to maximize the effect of the blast. An explosive blast that takes place just feet off of the ground throws shrapnel further than one that blows up at ground level.
When a charge goes off at ground level (this is because of the dirt) it blows up and then out. Which only makes it effective for about 5 meters. But a charge that goes off 3 feet in the air, could throw shrapnel for 15 meters and hit more than one victim.
This was the inspiration for the cluster bomb. This is a bomb that is dropped from an aircraft and detonates several meters off the ground.
Landmines – What To Do If You Step On One
If you or your buddy steps on an actual landmine (not a booby trap), you will know it pretty fast. If it blows immediately then, you’re going to go immediately to trauma care. If you realize what you’ve stepped on one and don’t move to prevent it from going off, then you now find yourself in a pickle.
At this point, there’s only one chance you’ve got and it ain’t pretty. However, if done right, it could limit the damage and you both may get out alive. The issue is that you have to be willing to risk bleeding with your buddy.
You need to talk to him as you go, keep him calm. If he panics, you're both screwed. Just before you jerk him back, tell him, “I’m going to jerk you back on 3. When I do, you need to pull your foot out of that boot at the same time. On three - One...Two...THREE!”
When you do this, it will pull him out of his boot and off of the charge. He should land on you, and you both should end up on the ground. (Hopefully still in one piece. )
If this charge is a Bouncing Betty, the sand bags should be heavy enough that it will keep it from launching up into the air.
Honestly, the desired end goal is to keep it from going off at all. Your buddy might loose a boot, but he should be in one piece.
Up Next - Fighting Back, Ambushing Your Enemy
Now that you've learned How to Identify, Locate and Avoid Landmines - it is time to learn how to fight back and ambush your enemy. Click here to read the next article.
2-3 Second Rushing- “I’m up, he sees me, I’m down.” That what you say to your self as you run from one cover/concealment location to another. This is done so you can advance or retreat without getting shot. By the time the enemy gets his sights on you, you’re hitting the ground. Then your buddy jumps up and runs.
360 Security- Always maintain the ability to fire and scan in every direction. The fewer men you have, the more vigilant they must be in monitoring their sector of fire.
AUW – Advanced Urban Warfare are advanced tactics for fighting within an urban environment.
Baseline of Fire- a position usually formed by the Alpha team. All members come and form a line facing the enemy. Remember to keep 360 security. Then they use suppressive fire to keep the enemy heads down and attention on.
Bound and overwatch- One soldier shoots with suppressive fire while the other advances onto the enemy’s position, or retreats from their position. Often using 2-3 second rushing.
Breaking contact- basically you realize that you have bit off more than you can chew and wanta get the hell out of there alive. There are formations and tactics to do this properly. Bound and overwatch, Auzzy Peel, and Rolling Peel.
Casualty Collection Point- Predesignated location just outside the contact area of a raid sight, or locations along the route of travel, in which you will collect your wounded for treatment and stabilization for movement to a medical facility. Can also double as rally point.
CCT- Casualty Collection Team. A small team that usually consist of 3-4 guys that collect the dead or wounded during the fight. This is seen more often in AUW (Advanced Urban Warfare).
Choke Point – This is much like a fatal funnel, it is an area that you have no choice but to go through due to the natural terrain features. Example: a bridge over a large river.
Commo - communications
Concealment- A position behind an object that cannot stop bullets or fragmentation, but can act as a visual block. (i.e. tall grass)
Convoy - A group of vehicles traveling in the same direction for the same purpose.
Cover- A position behind an object that can stop bullets, fragmentation, and visual contact. (i.e. Rock)
cross-load ammo – This is like socialism, but with ammo. You will compile all of your ammunition and distribute it equally. This is typically done after a firefight.
Direct Fire- Precision incoming fire. Think J-Dam off a F-15 or rifle fire.
Dismounts – Men that get out of the vehicle and push forward on foot to either engage the enemy or clear an obstacle.
EPT- Enemy Prisoner Team. Similar to the CCT, but not as caring. They secure and search the POW again and move them (wounded or not) to the POW security point for yet another search, treatment, and evacuation for further interrogation. CCT can double as EPT.
Far Ambush- an attack that is outside of hand grenade range.
Fatal Funnel – This is like a choke point. It is an area that gives you no choice but to go through in which you have no option to go left or right. The only way out would be to push forward or go backwards.
Flanking- Moving toward the blind side of the enemy to gain tactical advantage.
FLIR Imagery – This is an advanced thermal optic used by drones and other aircrafts to spot personnel, weapon cashes or anything else that gives off a heat signature. This is very difficult to avoid.
Force on Force Training - Split your platoon in half and have one side defend, while the other side attacks. Be sure to use actual projectiles such as air soft, paint ball, or SIM rounds.
Formation- A specific placement of men to gain maximum tactical advantage.
Forward Operation Base (FOB) – Is a city within a city. Much like a standard military base here in America. Just this base is totally geared for war. Round the clock guards, stationary and roaming, TCP, etc.
Grenadier - Is the guy that carries the grenade launcher and grenades. Second most important weapon system in a fight. Can cause mass casualties with only one shot.
Indirect Fire- incoming fire that is from an arial weapon. Think artillery, mortars, or grenade launcher.
Intervals – distance between each person
KIA- killed in action.
KISS – Keep it simple stupid
Lift and Shift- A command given by team leader to fire high and away from your approaching troops. This keeps enemy’s heads down without hitting friendly forces.
Limit Of Advance – When advancing through an objective, this is an area where you stop your assault.
L-Shape- L shape ambush is when you literally place your men in a form of an L and let the enemy walk into your cross fire. With this shape, there is no way you can hit each other. But your enemy has nowhere to go and is getting hit from what seems like all sides.
LT – Lieutenant, the lowest rank that a commissioned officer can hold in the military. In my experience they are usually “GOOD IDEA” fairies and cost you more sleepless night and pain than any one else.
LOA- Limit of Advance. Tells the men in your section to stop movement, and commander of other section to start their assault.
LZ – Landing Zone for an aircraft.
Murphy’s Law – An old army wise tale. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, it’s Murphy’s law.
NCO – Non-commissioned officer, where the rubber meets the road, the backbone of the military. The guy that puts foot to ass, trains the men, keeps them alive in a hot zone, and makes heroes out of LT’s.
Near Ambush- An attack that is within hand grenade range. I.E. I can throw a hand grenade and it kill the enemy.
Neighborhood Guardian – Is like the stationary or roaming guard. The watchdog of your community.
Package - A term used for the person/thing that is being protected or delivered.
Pat Tillman – Former NFL player that joined the Army Rangers after 9/11. Was killed in action during a firefight in Afghanistan. Stood up from behind cover in front of his team and was hit by friendly fire.
Platoon – Is a group of men that comprise of two sections of about 6 soldiers. They are headed by the platoon Sergeant and Lieutenant.
Platoon Leader Recon- when the LT, Senior, and a radio guy move forward to observe the objective while leaving the main body behind . This is done to prevent too much noise from excessive movement.
Point Man – The man that is at the front of your formation, this is typically a sniper.
POW- prisoner of war.
Prone - The most stable firing position and the safest during a firefight. Just lay down.
precision fire – Shooting carefully to aim and actually hit the target instead of just spraying lead.
QRF (Quick Reaction Force) – Modern day minutemen. You can also think of them as emergency responders during war.
Rally Points - Predesignated location for your men to fall back to. This would be used as a gathering point after a raid, breaking contact, or that one member that gets separated from the group. Can also be used as check points along the route of travel to ensure you are on course.
Ranger File – Think ducks in a row. Walking in a single file line. This is used in areas with thick under brush.
Reaction to contact – Reacting to enemy shooting at you. Depending on the situation, you will react a certain way.
RPK – Russian version of a squad automatic weapon, typically carried by their machine gunners.
Sector of Fire- The area in which you are responsible for and have free range of engagement.
Sig acts – Significant activities within the last 24 hours. Firefights, enemy activity, etc.
SLLS - Pronounced Seals, stands for Stop, Look, Listen, Smell. Basically just be observant, you might just find something.
Sniper- an enemy sharp shooter that uses concealment to hide their position while delivering procession fire on enemy.
Stationary Guards – Guards that sit in one location observing their sector of fire.
Stockholm's Syndrome- A state of mind prisoners can develop in which they sympathize with their kidnapper and no longer try to escape.
Suppressive Fire- one round a sec. This is designed to keep the enemy’s head down while your other section advances onto their position.
S vest - Suicide vest. A vest that is rigged with explosives, designed to be worn by individuals willing to blow themselves and others up .
TC - Truck or Track Commander
Thermal Sighting Imagery – Optic system used to see day or night based upon your body’s heat. Does not work through glass or any kind of obstruction. Also faulty in the desert at high noon as everything is hot.
Triage – This is where you assess the wounded in mass amounts so that you know who to treat first that have a better chance of living.
Train to Failure – Train as if everything is failing you. Radios die, weapons jam, no support, medic is dead, etc.
Victim Detonated – Basically a booby trap that is detonated by the victim themselves be it via trip wire, thermal imagery, pressure plate, etc.
VIP - Very Important Person
Wedge Formation - Formation used when in the open. Designed to look like a wedge. Gives you more of a chance of surviving a sniper ambush.
Side note: When you get into contact with the enemy just yell out your commands. The enemy knows you’re there anyways. Be sure that the command is repeated back to you by the rest of the group. This is to ensure they understood the order and to give anyone that didn’t hear it a second chance at hearing the order. Furthermore, dig deep, grab your balls and sound off. Use your man voice. When all hell is breaking out around you and guys are dying, no one is going to hear or listen to you if you sound like freaking Mickey Mouse.