From July 17th through 19th, the engineers from Operations Group’s Sidewinder Team conducted a class for other Observer Coach / Trainers and the 11th Cavalry Regiment’s 58th Engineer Company on urban demolition breaching skills. The class familiarized the students on the explosive theory and blast effects of demolitions, breach charge construction, and protective measures to be taken. SFC Lloyd Cole, a graduate of the U.S. Army’s Urban Mobility Breaching Course was the primary instructor.
The class consisted of two days of classroom instruction and one day at NTC’s Live-fire “SACON” Village. The students were able to calculate, construct and emplace charges on obstacles which units typically encounter in a Military Operation in Urban Terrain (MOUT) environment.
During the classroom session, attendees from Dragon, Tarantula, Cobra, Scorpion and the 58th Engineer Company received instruction on how to calculate the Net Explosive Weight (NEW), input the NEW into formulas that would give the Minimum Safe Distance (MSD) from both the initial and residual blast, misfire porcedures and emplacement of the initiation systems onto the charges. Instruction was also given on the charge placement of the target and as SFC Cole stated, “You can have the right amount of demolitions, but if you place the charge in the wrong spot or incorrectly all you will do is create a peep hole to look at the bad guy on the other side.” Once the calculations were done, the students were broken down into four groups and constructed inert charges using their newfound knowledge into the charges that would be used on the live fire exercise. The teams then rehearsed proper stacking, initiation and implementation of the charges utilizing their calculations to determine placement of the stack relative to the size and placement of the charge.
Although there are a variety of charges that can be used in an Urban Breach, the instruction and hands on training dealt with the most commonly used charges in a MOUT environment. The four teams constructed some of the charges taught by SFC Cole consisting of: the flex linear and water impulse charges which are used to defeat a door on either the hinge or lock side; the oval charge (also known as the silhouette charge) which is used to breach a wall and create a mouse hole; and the concrete charge that is used to breach a cinder block or concrete type wall.
Once the teams had created their four charges at Live Fire Range 16, a four-station round robin was set up to defeat each obstacle. The teams used the water impulse and flex linear to defeat two doors, the oval/silhouette charge was used to defeat a wooden wall and the concrete charge was used to defeat a cinder block wall. The live-fire exercise took approximately fours hours from construction of charges to detonation of all the charges. The teams were able to construct all four charges, determine the best placement and appropriate stand-off and safely breach all obstacles.
Upon completion of the live-fire exercise an AAR was conducted. All students appreciated the hands on training with demolitions, the integration of the Sappers from the 58th EN Company and the knowledge they took with them on proper planning, prep and implementation of a breach team in a MOUT environment. The students encouraged the Sidewinder team to continue the training on an annual basis as it benefits engineers and maneuver Soldiers alike. One of the assistant instructors, MSG Chris Reinhard explained that this training will better enable Observer Coach / Trainers to safely and successfully coach rotational training units as they conduct urban breaching missions – a skill often used in Afghanistan.