Report from Kuwait--Part Four - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

12/11/02

Report from Kuwait--Part Four

An improvised claymore mine. An improvised claymore mine.
An armored bulldozer. An armored bulldozer.
Building a portable bridge over a desert obstacle. Building a portable bridge over a desert obstacle.

It looks like some plain old putty. But when combat engineers of the Third Infantry Division put that putty to work, watch out. It's C-4, which SSgt. Don Chandler explained detonates by heat and pressure.

"You can cook with it as long as you don't press on it," he said. "Once you press on it with the heat and the pressure combined, then it'll explode."

A piece in his hand about the size of a bar of soap is deadly.

"That right there will kill, it'll take my hand off right now," he said. "Just this little bit right here, I can blow a door off hinges, I can blow just about anything I want to blow if placed properly."

Placing it properly might mean setting a booby trap for someone sneaking up on our troops. Chandler can make an improvised claymore mine using C-4, a soap dish, and nails.

"It's an anti-personnel mine, strictly to wound, maim, enemy personnel," he explained. "You set up at night, strictly for defense. It's not an offensive weapon, strictly for self-protection."

Engineers also learn how to disarm explosives. Pvt. Robert Williams grew up in Savannah, but in the Kuwaiti desert, he's learning skills that could save his life.

"When it came down to the land mine training, I was terrified," he said. His trainer helped him overcome his fear of land mines. "You know you're going to have to do something, so just get out there and attack it," Williams said. "And with his help, I was able to go out there and find the final test, and I came through it all right."

If you can't blow it up, build it up. Engineers use armored bulldozers to build berms around the camps, and to dig fighting positions for tanks. It's a wild ride.

When there's no road, they can build their own over almost any obstacle. They say it takes just three minutes to assemble a portable bridge.

Reported by: Mike Manhatton, mmanhatton@wtoc.com

Mike will be filing reports from the Middle East all this week on THE News.

 

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