FORT IRWIN, California – “Earthpig One-Six, this is Bravo Six, you are clear to advance on the objective,” is heard over the radio within the crowded, oven-like Bradley Fighting Vehicle operated by engineers of the 334th Brigade Engineer Battalion in the middle of the Mojave Desert on June 15, 2016.
The platoon, consisting of two Bradley Fighting Vehicles and an Assault Breaching Vehicle, was preparing for a live-fire breaching mission utilizing the mine clearing line charge while in “The Box” during National Training Center rotation 16-07 for the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, at Fort Irwin, California.
“The 1st Battalion, 145th Armored Regiment, requested my platoon as an asset in an obstacle breaching lane where we used a mine clearing line charge, or MICLIC,” said Sgt. Adam Clark, a combat engineer with A Co., 334th BEB. “We provide security for our ABV asset to be able to effectively launch the rocket and detonate the charges to clear whatever the obstacle may be.”
The MICLIC is used to quickly and safely clear obstacles that hinder mobility, like concertina wire and minefields. The vast expanse of desert offered at NTC offers a large enough training area for engineer units to fire the MICLIC, a weapon system that is rarely fired as a live charge, said Clark.
“Cleared to breach the objective,” a command called over the radio by the 1-145 AR commander requesting engineer support. And with that, nearly 1,800 pounds of composite C-4, strapped to a 100-meter towline, is shot by a rocket over the obstacle.
“After the rocket is launched, we have to wait for clearance to blow the charges,” said Spc. Nate Duehlmeier, a Bradley Fighting Vehicle gunner with A Co., 334th BEB, providing security for the AVB. “The anticipation for this moment has built up during the nearly two years of training we have done and every second that ticks by seems like an eternity.”
“Earthpig, this is Bravo Six, you are clear to detonate,” finally comes in over the radio. After the three-second delayed charge, a deafening boom and a dusty fireball engulfs the now eight-meter by 100-meter lane, blackened with soot from the explosion.
The Soldiers’ problem solving skills were put to the test when the obstacle was not completely breached upon the initial explosion. After clearing some concertina wire, the breach point is proofed and the 1-145th AR’s mission can continue as planned.
With the culminating event of nearly two years of training now in the rear-view mirror, the Soldiers of the 334th BEB declared their mission a success.