UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
COMBAT ENGINEER INSTRUCTION COMPANY
MARINE CORPS ENGINEER SCHOOL
PSC BOX 20069
CAMP LEJEUNE, NORTH CAROLINA 28542-0069
ROUTE AND AREA CLEARANCE
COMBAT ENGINEER NCO COURSE
1. LEARNING OBJECTIVES.
a. TERMINAL LEARNING OBJECTIVE.
(1) As a member of a team, given a tactical situation, a map,
a route/area to be cleared, clearance equipment, and an operation
order, conduct route and area clearance operations to locate,
identify, mark, and/or reduce all explosive/non-explosive obstacles on
the designate route/area per the references. (1361-MOBL-2027)
b. ENABLING LEARNING OBJECTIVES.
(1) Without the aid of references, given a route/area to be
cleared, visually identify the probable location of explosive/non-
explosive obstacles, per the references. (1371-MOBL-2027a)
(2) Without the aid of references, given a route/area to be
cleared, determine the task organization of an engineer squad to
conduct route and area clearances, per the references. (1371-MOBL-
(3) Without the aid of references, given a route/area to be
cleared, determine specific equipment required for the task organized
teams to conduct route and area clearance, per the references. (1371-
(4) Given a scenario and a route clearance order, plan route
sweep operations to ensure sufficient mobility to support the concept
of operations and the commander's intent, per the references. (1371-
(5) With the aid of references, identify the components of an
Intern Vehicle-Mounted Mine Detector (IVMMD) set per the references.
(6) Without the aid of references, define the tenets of the
IED-D framework per the references. (1371-MOBL-2027f)
(7) Without the aid of references, identify the two phases of
route clearance per the references. (1371-MOBL-2027g)
(8) Without the aid of references, state the capabilities of
the Buffalo Heavy Mine-Protected clearance vehicle per the references.
(9) Without the aid of references, identify the route
clearance team roles and responsibilities per the references. (1371-
2. ROUTE CLEARANCE. Route clearance is the detection, investigation,
marking and reporting, and neutralization of explosive hazards (EH)
and other obstacles along a defined route to enable assured mobility
for the maneuver commander. It is a combined arms operation that
relies on a reconnaissance of the route to be cleared. The goal of
route clearance is to detect and neutralize EH and improve and know
the route to be able to conduct future change detection operations.
a. Team Composition.
(1) The Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB)
process is an excellent tool to predict the possible EH threats in the
COE. Commanders must use the information derived from a technical
survey (the detailed topographical and technical investigation of
known or suspected mined areas identified during the planning phase),
forensic analysis, and other information gathered through various
sources, which are key to the planning and task organization of
equipment and resources from mission start through completion. The
EHDB, designed to track mines, IEDs, and other EH information is
essential in conducting pattern analysis to determine possible EH
sites and potential mobility challenges.
(2) The information gathered from the IPB or engineer
battlefield assessment (EBA) and the reconnaissance effort determines
the composition of the team. The determination is based on many
factors. These factors include the following:
(b) Threat level
(c) Terrain and weather
(d) Time and equipment available
(e) Type and quantity of EH expected to be encountered
(f) Length, width, and surface composition (pavement,
gravel, and dirt) of the route to be cleared
(g) Median and shoulder condition of the route
(h) Primary traffic using the route
(i) Urban versus rural considerations
(3) Route Clearance teams are generally comprised of the
(a) Engineers. Engineers provide detection of EH and
neutralization of mines and booby traps. Engineers with construction
equipment conduct improvement operations. EOCA Marines in these units
can remotely identify and dispose of by detonation those designated
UXO or IEDs for which they are specifically trained and authorized.
See TM 093-89D-02 for EOCA capabilities.
(b) Explosive Ordnance Disposal Personnel. Ideally, EOD
personnel are integrated into the team to render safe and dispose of
IEDs and UXO. EOD teams respond according to the commander’s
priorities of effort. Priorities include safety and collection of
actionable intelligence to target the bomb maker, which contributes to
the assured mobility of the routes.
(c) Infantry, Military Police, or Aviation Units. These
assets provide security and neutralize hostile forces.
(d) Medical Team. The medical team provides first aid to
sick and injured personnel.
(e) Special Operations. Psychological operations (PSYOP)
and civil affairs teams provide support for the counterintelligence
b. Elements. The elements of a route clearance team consist of
security and C2, detection and neutralization, and improvement.
(1) Command and Control Element. The C2 element integrates
the activities of the security, detection and neutralization, and
improvement elements. It maintains communications with its higher
headquarters and with the maneuver unit whose operational environment
the Route Clearance team is operating in. The C2 element usually
travels within the security element. Deception measures are important
to conceal the location of the C2 element (for example, if the C2
vehicle has five antennas, then all the vehicles should have five
(2) Security Element. The security element consists of the
forward, flank, and rear sections. The mission of the security
element is to provide traffic control, crew-served weapons support,
and protection and can dismount as necessary. The mission of the
forward security section is to observe oncoming traffic for threats,
identify hazards or obstructions in the route, and cordon suspect
vehicles identified by other elements. The mission of the flank
security section is to protect the main body from threats on the
shoulder or traffic traveling in the opposite direction and observe
vehicles passing through the work area for threats and provide traffic
control within the work area. The mission of the rear security
section is to observe approaching traffic for threats, provide a
visual warning to traffic that the Route Clearance team is ahead on
the route, contain suspect vehicles, and provide limited traffic
control. The three security teams must be integrated and centrally
(3) Detection and Neutralization Element. The mission of the
detection and neutralization element is to scan the medians and
shoulders of a route and sweep them for EH, using visual, metallic,
and electronic detection capabilities. The element pinpoints the
location and remotely investigates suspected EH, marks and reports
UXO, and secures and reports IEDs. EOD- or EOCA-trained personnel use
robotics or other means to conduct standoff neutralization, when
required, to provide assured mobility to the maneuver commander.
(4) Improvement Element. The mission of the improvement
element is to remove all concealment for EH from the entire width of
the median and the shoulders of the route. This requires a
significant effort by engineer equipment during the initial
reconnaissance and improvement operations. Upon completion of the
work of the improvement element on a section of the route, the median
and shoulders should be flat and level, eliminating any opportunity to
hide EH or IED-making material without altering the terrain. Given
random, systematic detection sweeps, changes in terrain will become
immediately obvious, indicating potential EH. The requirement for
engineer equipment during change detection operations is lessened but
is still required (for example, to clear new rubbish from the
(5) Example Organization for Clearance Operation.
c. Phases. Route Clearance missions consist of two phases.
(1) Right-of-Way-Clearance. In the initial phase, all
elements of the team perform their various functions. The improvement
element removes rubble, debris, berms, holes, trenches, vegetation,
and trash from the medians and shoulders of the routes to eliminate
concealment of EH and aid in the visual and sensory detection of EH.
The team then conducts a route reconnaissance to identify and record
the location of man-made objects (buried pipe and cable), to
investigate suspicious areas, and neutralize EH. This operation
provides the team with a clear understanding of the condition of the
route, allowing future operations to focus on changes to that
(2) Route Maintenance and Sweep Operations. The team (with a
reduced improvement element) conducts systematic, random detection
sweeps of the cleared areas and progresses to deterrence and detection
sweeps along the cleared route. It focuses a visual-detection sweep
on changed conditions, investigates suspected devices remotely with a
mine-protected clearance vehicle or other system, and neutralizes EH
(3) The route is cleared after the initial reconnaissance and
improvement operations are conducted; however, it will not remain
clear without persistent surveillance or continuous change detection
d. Dismounted Route Clearance.
(1) Whenever possible, mounted or mechanical route clearance
is preferable to dismounted or manual. Dismounted route clearance may
be necessary for areas with restrictive terrain or in areas requiring
(2) The following should be considered when conducting
dismounted route clearance:
(a) The time allocated for Route clearance.
(b) The quantity and type of detectors available.
(c) The terrain, vegetation, and soil composition.
(d) The war debris (large and small) and vegetation and
(e) The possibility of trip wires or booby traps.
(f) The urban, rural, or mixed areas (such as small towns
in rural regions).
(g) Task organization is similar to mounted route
clearance, minus the improvement element.
(h) The security element must be prepared to assist the
detection and neutralization element in disengaging from enemy
(3) The detection and neutralization element consists of
Marines with mine detectors and/or other available detection equipment
(such as handheld sniffers, mobile jammers, and dogs). The number of
mine detector operators required will vary with the width of the route
to be cleared and the sweep width of the detector used to clear it.
For example, the sweep width for the Army-Navy/portable special
search-14 (AN/PSS-14) mine detector is 5 feet. Divide the width of the
road to be cleared by 5 feet. To determine the number of AN/PSS-14
mine detector operators needed, round up. Add an additional operator
to ensure that the lanes have overlap.
(4) A dedicated prober using the appropriate techniques must
investigate each suspect object identified by the mine detector
operator. Local policy and procedures will determine the type of
marking device used.
(5) A minimum of 25 meters spacing between Marines should be
provided. Spacing will vary depending on the METT-T.
(6) Figures 4-1 and 4-2 and Table 4-1 show an example of team
composition and equipment for a clearing operation. The sweep-team
composition is subject to change due to personnel availability and the
tactical situation. Figure 4-3, page 4-4, shows a sweep team in
e. Basis for Planning. The principles of breaching operations
apply to the development and execution of the route clearance mission.
The breaching tenets (intelligence, fundamentals, organization, mass,
and synchronization) are the basis for planning.
(1) Intelligence. Incorporating the IPB and the METT-T
factors into route clearance operations will enable units to predict
what the enemy is most likely to do and where it is likely to do it.
The IPB and the EBA offer ideal methods for establishing a situational
template. After the S-2 and the engineer identify the most probable
threat sites, the S-2 designates them as named areas of interest
(NAIs). These NAIs are the focus of the reconnaissance effort.
Engineers work in concert with other reconnaissance assets to confirm
the presence or absence of ambushes, IEDs, UXO, and minefields. The
information gathered from the IPB and the reconnaissance effort
determines the method and the level of Route Clearance necessary. It
also helps the commander determine any outside resources (such as EOD
or special operations forces [SOF]) that he may need.
(2) Fundamentals. Suppress, obscure, secure, reduce, and
resupply (SOSRR) may not be executed, but it is planned as it is in
breaching operations. Units must be prepared to execute SOSRR
fundamentals, as necessary.
(3) Organization. The route clearance team is organized into
security and C2, detection and neutralization and improvement elements
as discussed earlier. The following table lists sample tools and
functions of the elements.
(4) Mass. Enough maneuver and engineer assets must be
allocated to the route clearance team. The METT-T and route
characteristics determine the size and composition of the team.
Normally, a 50 percent redundancy of engineer assets should be
allocated to the team.
(5) Synchronization. All aspects of synchronization must be
implemented when planning route clearance. It is especially important
that rehearsals be conducted at the combined arms level. Rehearsals
(a) Reaction to enemy contact.
(b) Reaction to an ambush.
(c) Communications exercise.
(d) Fire Support (obscuration smoke, immediate suppression
fires, critical friendly zones for counter-fire radar, and no-fire
area around the route clearance site).
(e) Sustainment (maneuver, casualty evacuation, marking
materials, and demolitions resupply).
f. Methods and Types. Intelligence determines the method and
type of route clearance to conduct. The determination is based on the
situation, the time available, the threat level, and available assets.
(1) Clearance Methods. There are three methods of route
clearance—linear, combat, and combat route. The method employed
depends on the situation, the time available, and the clearance assets
available. The maneuver force should always establish static security
positions at critical locations following the completion of route
(a) Linear. In linear clearance the clearance begins at
checkpoint 1 and is completed at checkpoint 2. This method provides
the best assurance of route clearance. Although this is an effective
method, it is not the most secure method in a high-threat environment.
It is also time-intensive and constrains the maneuver commander’s
(b) Combat. Whereas linear clearance focuses on a
specific route, combat clearance focuses on specific points along a
route. Intelligence can identify likely areas for obstacle and ambush
locations. These areas become named areas of interest (NAIs) or
objectives for combat clearance missions. The combat clearance method
divides a route into sections according to the number of suspected
high-threat areas. Once the unit clears these areas, the route is
considered clear. Combat forces can patrol the route from these
objectives to ensure that the route is secure and, if necessary, the
sweep element can sweep the surrounding area if a minefield is found.
Following the seizure of these objectives, the commander must assume a
moderate risk that the S2 and the force engineer have identified all
high-threat areas and that the route is clear of obstacles.
(c) Combat route. This method combines the clearance
capabilities of the linear method with the security and surprise
elements of the combat method. It is a two-phase, force-intensive
operation and may require a battalion-size element, depending on the
route’s length. First, identified high-threat areas are targeted,
secured, and cleared of obstacles and enemy forces before a sweep team
moves. The sweep team then travels down the road and clears obstacles
missed or not identified previously. The advantage of this method is
that the TF commander immediately secures MSRs and then finds the
enemy, confident that MSRs are relatively safe.
(2) Types. There are two types of sweep operations –
deliberate and hasty. Deliberate and hasty clearance operations can
be modified to meet the time and equipment limitations of the task
force. Both types can be used with any of the three clearance methods
(linear, combat, and combat route).
(a) Deliberate. A deliberate sweep is very thorough and
includes a complete sweep of the entire road (shoulders, culverts,
ditches, bridges). It is the most time-consuming sweep operation and
relies on electronic and visual detection systems. Mechanical
detection provides a third means of detection and is the method used
to proof the route after the sweep team has passed through the area.
The deliberate sweep includes a route reconnaissance and looks at all
areas of a route, including bypasses. The deliberate sweep focuses on
thoroughness rather than speed. This method is very slow and tedious
and should only be used when time is not a factor. Up to 100 meters
can be covered per hour.
(b) Hasty. A hasty sweep consists of visual inspection,
physical search or probing, and the use of mine detectors. It is the
fastest, most risky method and is suited for an armored or mechanized
team. It relies primarily upon visual detection (thermal sights or
the naked eye) for minefield identification. The road surface,
culverts, ditches, and bridges are inspected and searched. Visual
detection is accompanied by a mechanical proofing system. Mine
detectors are used by sweep teams to check all suspected areas. The
primary objective of this technique is speed, moving approximately 3
to 5 kph. The sweep team focuses on identifying immediate risks to
traffic, neutralizing those risks, and continuing on with the mission.
3. ROUTE CLEARANCE EQUIPMENT.
a. Mine Detectors.
(1) Army-Navy/Portable Special Search-12. The AN/PSS-12 mine
detector can only detect metal, but most mines and booby traps have
metal components in their design. The detector can locate and
identify plastic or wooden mines by their slight metallic signature.
However, when employed in highly mineralized soils where the EH threat
is of low-metal content, detection becomes very difficult. The
detector is handheld and identifies suspected mines and buried EH by
an audio signal in the headphones. Consideration must be given to the
maximum amount of time an individual can operate the detector. The
leader should consider the METT-T factors, the threat level, and the
stress level of the unit as well as the individual Marine’s fatigue
level and state of mind. As a rule, 20 to 30 minutes is the maximum
amount of time a Marine can use the detector effectively.
(2) Army-Navy/Portable Special Search-14.
(a) The AN/PSS-14 is a handheld mine detector designed to
replace the currently fielded AN/PSS-12 metal detector. The AN/PSS-14
integrates a state-of-the-art metal detector with a compact GPR into a
lightweight handheld system (about 11 pounds with batteries). Only
one standard-issue battery (BB-390A/U or BB-390B/U) is used to power
(b) Capabilities. The AN/PSS-14 is capable of detecting
metallic and low-metallic AP and AT mines in on-road and off-road
conditions. Sensor fusion and sophisticated algorithms reduce the
false alarm rate that current metal detectors experience in cluttered
metal environments. The integral AN/PSS-14 metal detector sensor is
capable of operating and detecting the metallic content in mines in
soils with high mineral and metallic content.
(1) Interim Vehicle Mounted Mine Detector (IVMMD) System. The
Interim Vehicle Mounted Mine Detector (IVMMD) system is mounted on a
blast and fragmentation survivable vehicle. The primary mission of
the IVMMD system is to perform mine detection and proofing during
route clearance operations. The Husky is purpose-built to survive in
high mine-threat environments. The Husky can be employed over all
types of roads as well as off road. The Husky as a stand-alone
vehicle is equipped with a mine-detection system with height-
adjustable heads to detect surface-laid and buried high-metallic anti-
tank and anti-personnel mines and metal-containing improvised
explosive devices (IEDs). A marking system in incorporated in the
Husky Mk2 Towing/Mine Detection Vehicle (T/MDV)
(a) Components. The IVMMD set consists of two (2) Husky
Towing/Mine Detection Vehicles (T/MDVs), and three (3) Mine Detonation
Trailers (MDTs). The system also comes with repair modules, referred
to as Red Packs which contain spare detection arrays and front and
rear assemblies. Once assembled, organic engineer vehicles can easily
tow them to the repair site. Each complete IVMMD comes packaged in
eight (8) specialized containers and must be assembled on site. Each
unit receiving two (2) or more IVMMDs will also receive a third repair
pack, called a Blue Pack. It contains all the major repair parts such
as axles, engines, and batteries. The Blue Pack is self-contained and
must be mounted on an organic trailer, capable of carrying a 20 foot
International Standards Organization (ISO) container, for movement to
the repair site.
(b) Mine Detonation Trailers (MDT). The Husky as a towing
vehicle pulls three mine-detonation trailers (MDT), each with a
different track, providing a full three-meter-wide proofing
capability. The MDT is specifically designed to apply large ground
pressures to initiate pressure-activated mines. Formal designation of
trailers is First Mine-Detonation Trailer (F/MDT), Second Mine-
Detonation Trailer (S/MDT), and Third Mine-Detonation Trailer (T/MDT).
Collectively the trailers are referred to as the Duisendpoot (an
Afrikaans word that means ―centipede‖).
(c) Capabilities and Limitations.
1 Husky Capabilities include:
a Survivability against mine blast and
fragmentation, and small arms fire. The Husky can withstand blasts
from an Anti-Personnel (AP) mine with little or no damage.
b Operator protection via a specially designed
seating and safety harness to limit and protect the operator from mine
c Modularity via a front and rear breakaway
module. A damaged module assembly can be removed and replaced, with a
back-up spare wheel module assembly, with ease and within a quick time
d The Husky can negotiate 60% gradient slopes
without towing the MDTs (Mine Detonation Trailers).
2 Limitations of the Husky include:
a Cross-country mobility is difficult.
b System cannot detect non-metallic mines. The
lower the metal content of the mine, the less likely the Towing Mine
Detection Vehicle (T/MDV) will detect the mine. It is more difficult
for the operator to notice a change in audible signal in low-metallic
mines. When operating in the locate mode, the detector will ignore
small metal objects to limit the number of false alarms. This is
especially true when operating in the Loc 1 (L1) detecting mode. The
built-in detection system cannot detect non-metallic mines.
c Due to the design and capabilities, the Husky is
better suited for a rural environment or slower, deliberate route
d The mission commander needs to consider the
abilities of each individual Husky operator while conducting sweeps.
If their performance is deteriorating then operators should be changed
out due to high levels of concentration necessary to operate the
e The Husky while towing the MDTs is unable to
maneuver through serpentines at forward operating bases (FOBs) and
combat outposts (COPs), and the MDTs are generally not used in-theater
by route clearance teams.
(2) Buffalo Heavy Mine-Protected Clearance Vehicle (MPCV).
The Buffalo 23-ton, full time 6x6 wheel drive, Mine-Protected
Clearance Vehicle (MPCV) is purpose-built for use in mine-clearing
operations, and adapted to the interrogation of suspected explosive
hazards such as IEDs. The Buffalo MPCV is constructed of a one-piece
welded armor plated steel body with a V-shaped hull. Power is
provided by a MACK V-Mac III Model E-Tech 6-cylinder turbo-charged
diesel engine. The vehicle is equipped with a push-button automatic
transmission with two driving ratios, High and Low range.
(a) Capabilities and Limitations.
a The MPCV is fitted with an articulated arm
modified from a commercially available hydraulic crane. A fully
adjustable, high-resolution video camera is mounted on the front
segment of the articulated arm with a dashboard mounted monitor.
b The MPCV offers seating for five personnel as
currently configured with ECM equipment for route clearance missions.
c The vehicle glass used is rated to military
specifications to take multiple hits from NATO 7.62mm ball in a 200-mm
(8‖) triangle. Newer versions are rated for NATO 7.62mm AP., and are
outfitted with L-Rod Bar Armor.
d Fuel cell capacity is 85 gallons, range of
approx. 382 miles, and top speed of 55 miles per hour.
e Capable of fording at depth of 40in.
a The operator must be aware of and compensate for
the increased size and weight of the vehicle.
b The operator must be aware of the articulated
arm position at all times during operation.
c The operator must be aware of the limited Field
of View (FOV) from the cab at all times and incorporate the camera
system and other crewmembers to assist.
(b) Components. The Buffalo has two camera systems:
1 The crane camera is used to view targets approached
by the crane.
2 The front and rear camera system aid the vehicle
operator while maneuvering the vehicle in confined areas.
3 Hydraulic crane / Articulating arm. The articulating
arm is a commercially fitted Modified Fassi F 45.22 hydraulic crane
mounted to the right side front bumper, and has a mine-clearing tool
attached to it called the ―spork‖. The hydraulic arm has two sections.
Both of the sections can move simultaneously. The outer section is the
only portion of the boom that extends. The arm is fitted with a camera
that is remotely operated by the crane operator from inside the
vehicle. Range of boom is approximately 23 ft. Extended boom length
is approximately 30 ft.
(3) RG-31 Medium Mine Protected Vehicle (MMPV). The RG-31
medium mine-protected vehicle (MMPV) is purpose-built for use in high
mine-threat environments. The primary mission of the RG-31 in a route
clearance team is security. The RG-31 is a full-time four-wheel
drive, multi-purpose 5 seat personnel carrier suitable for on-road and
off-road applications with a range of approximately 340 miles. The
design and construction of the vehicle is intended to provide
protection for the occupants from small arms fire, land mines, and
IEDs. The vehicle is accessed through a rear door.
(4) Cougar 6x6. The Cougar 6x6 medium mine protected vehicle
is intended for use in point, route and area clearance of mines and
improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The vehicle safely transports
Marines, engineers, and equipment in areas where mines and IEDs may be
deployed. The armored hull is a monocoque capsule constructed from a
single welded piece of specialty armored steel, protecting against
landmines, improvised explosive devices, and small arms fire. The
Cougar performs various roles within the route clearance team; the
primary role is engineer specific tasks such as robotics teams,
demolition and/or breacher teams. Additionally, the Cougar can
perform mission roles such as security and C2.
(a) Variants. The two most common Cougar 6x6 variants in
use is the Hardened Engineer Vehicle (HEV), and the Joint EOD Rapid
Response Vehicle (JERRV) configured as a 6x6 Engineering Vehicle (EV).
The JERRV 6x6 (EV) is similar to the Cougar 6x6 but has a ring mount
Cougar 6x6 Hardened Engineer Vehicle (HEV)
Cougar 6x6 Joint EOD Rapid Response Vehicle (JERRV)
(b) Capabilities and Features
1 The Cougar 6x6 carries a driver, mission commander,
and up to eight crew members.
2 The Cougar 6x6 normally operates in the 4X6 mode.
In this configuration, the four rear wheels drive the vehicle. On
demand 6x6 operation provides the six wheel drive typically used for
off-road operation. A 6x6 differential lock option provides for
increased low speed traction under wet and slippery conditions.
3 The Cougar can drive through barricades, climb 60%
grades, travel cross–country, and traverse through sand, mud and snow.
4 The Cougar can ford hard bottom water crossings up
to 39 inches (1.0 meters) without special preparation. It can travel
through ditches and climb vertical obstacles.
c. Electronic Countermeasures (ECM). ECM is an effective tool in
IED Defeat if properly utilized and should be included into all IED
Operations. ECM falls into two major categories:
(1) Jammers. Jammers are RF emitters that prevent RCIEDs from
detonating. Jammers work basically by overpowering or emitting more
energy than the enemy’s RF emitter that controls the detonation of an
IED. Jammers vary in complexity and capability. They also work on a
wide range of frequencies. Many Jammers can conduct frequency-hopping
actions that allow them to adjust to various threats that are
presented on the battlefield. Jammers counter IEDs that use
commercially available or homemade wireless radio frequency (RF)
equipment to remotely detonate an explosive charge. Jammers are
primarily used for convoys and route clearance operations.
(2) Pre-Detonators. Pre-Detonators work by directing a large
amount of RF energy at the IED for the purpose of causing either the
blasting cap to detonate or by destroying the circuitry that allows
the IED to function. Pre-detonators are crucial in destroying IEDs
before the enemy is able to employ IEDs against friendly forces. The
primary use of pre-detonators is a proactive approach to route
clearance operations. Pre-detonators are normally a Division or
higher level asset.
4. AREA CLEARANCE.
a. Area clearance is, in land operations, the detection and, if
found, identification, marking and neutralization, destruction, or
removal of mines or other explosive ordnance, IEDs, and booby traps in
a defined area to allow a military operation to continue with reduced
risk. It is a combined arms operation. The clearance of landmine
hazards is primarily the responsibility of combat engineer units; the
clearing of all other EH is primarily the responsibility of EOD units.
b. Unlike breaching operations, time is available for planning
and execution of area clearance operations. Area clearance operations
are inherently dangerous. Leaders must perform constant risk, threat,
and task analysis using the METT-T. Area clearance operations are
normally not conducted under fire, are only conducted during hours of
daylight, and are not normally conducted in adverse weather. Leaders
and planners must strive to limit the areas requiring clearing to only
those areas necessary to support military operations. When possible,
areas not required for military operations and not an immediate threat
to joint forces will be permanently marked and avoided.
c. Some of the most common military operations requiring area
clearance include equipment retrieval operations, construction of
runways, asset storage facilities, maintenance facilities, forward air
refueling point operations, and bed-down facilities, recovery of air
and seaports, and personnel extraction. The largest area clearance
mission is the clearing of an airfield. The cleared area required to
support air LOCs is enormous. Aviation operational planners may
establish and set priorities of work as to what areas are cleared
first to establish and support initial flight operations and what
sequence is required to bring the airfield to full operational
capability. The close coordination of EOD and engineer staffs is
critical in this planning process.
d. The OIC determines the perimeter of the area to be cleared and
ensures that it is marked. The OIC divides the area into sections to
be cleared. The sections should be no larger than 40 meters wide by
100 meters long. The OIC assigns squad-size weep teams to each
section. As the sections are cleared, they are marked for safety and
control purposes. This process is continued until the entire area is
5. IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVE DEVICE OPERATIONS.
(1) An IED is a device placed or fabricated in an improvised
manner incorporating destructive, lethal, noxious, pyrotechnic, or
incendiary chemicals and designed to destroy, incapacitate, harass, or
distract. It may incorporate military stores, but is normally devised
from nonmilitary components (JP 3-07.2) (JP 1-02). IEDs can be
manufactured using military stores or commercial products, such as
fertilizer and batteries. Most sophisticated IEDs use a small amount
of explosive to trigger a larger quantity of poorer grade explosive
material. The sophistication of the device depends on the maker.
This device can range from being very simple to very complex with
booby traps, AHDs, and sophisticated electronic initiation devices to
(2) IEDs do not have to be large to be effective. Most are
small and are directed at individual targets, such as military
personnel or politicians. Often these are planted along a roadside
and detonated as a vehicle passes. Larger devices can be placed in
vehicles parked along the roadway or driven into the target by PBIEDs
willing to give up their life for the cause.
(3) IEDs are similar in nature to booby traps in their
employment and use. It is possible for EH to be both a victim-
actuated IED and a booby trap. Like booby traps, IEDs are only
limited by the imagination and sophistication of the enemy using them.
EOD has the primary responsibility for the disposal of IEDs.
b. Components. IEDs can vary widely in shape and form. IEDs
share a common set of components and consist of a main charge,
initiating system, and casing.
(1) Main Charge. Military munitions are one of the most
common types of charges, usually 122-millimeter or larger mortar,
tank, and/or artillery rounds. These items are the easiest to use and
provide for relatively easy ―daisy-chaining,‖ which is linking
multiple main charges together over long or short distances for
simultaneous detonation. Other IEDs have used military, commercial,
and homemade explosives, such as plastic explosives, trinitrotoluene
(TNT), ammonium nitrate (fertilizer) and fuel oil. Common hardware,
such as ball bearings, bolts, nuts, or nails, can be used to enhance
the fragmentation. Propane tanks, fuel cans, and battery acid can and
have been added to IEDs to propagate the blast and thermal effects of
(2) Initiating System. The initiation system or fuse sets off
the device. Initiation systems are often complicated and can range
from a simple hard wire for command detonation, a cellular telephone
or remote controlled/radio controlled improvised explosive device
(RCIED) detonation, a time fuse detonation, or victim-operated
detonation. Multiple initiation systems can be used to detonate a
device. These initiation systems trigger the IED event. Batteries or
an uninterrupted power supply are used as a power source for
detonators. Batteries of all types are the primary source of power
for IEDs. Batteries could be as small as 9-volt, AA, or those used in
long-range cordless telephones (LRCTs), to car and truck batteries.
IEDs may even be wired into the local power supply of a home or
(3) Casing. Casings can be anything that can contain any or
all components of the IED. The casing can provide enhanced
fragmentation and also camouflage the IED. A myriad of containers
have been used as casings, including soda cans, animal carcasses,
plastic bags, and vests or satchels for suicide bombers.
c. Initiation Methods.
(1) Time. Time IEDs are designed to function after a preset
delay, allowing the enemy to escape or target military forces which
have created a pattern. Timers used include igniferous (producing
fire), chemical, mechanical, and electronic.
(2) Command. Command-initiated IEDs are a common method of
employment and allow the enemy to choose the optimum moment of
initiation. They are normally used against targets that are in
transit or where a routine pattern has been established. The most
common types of command-initiated methods are with command wires or
radio-controlled devices, such as LRCTs, cellular telephones, and
remote car openers and alarms.
(3) Victim. A victim-operated IED is a means of attacking an
individual or group of individuals. There are various types of
initiation devices, which include pull or trip, pressure, pressure
release, movement-sensitive, light-sensitive, proximity, and
d. Typical IED types.
(1) Command-Wire IED.
(a) The command-wired IED is initiated by a hard wire
attached to some sort of power source, similar to that of the Claymore
mine. The explosive is emplaced and then camouflaged to avoid
detection. Depending on the amount of time used and the care taken in
camouflaging techniques to emplace the device and run the wires, the
wires may be visible to the convoy or patrol coming in contact with
(b) The use of a command-wired IED mandates that the
operator is physically attached to the explosive device in some
manner. This type of IED is also frequently used in conjunction with
aiming stakes to ensure accuracy.
(2) Suicide IED.
(a) The suicide IED is also known as a suicide bomber.
The explosives are attached to a person. The person carrying the IED
moves into kill range of the target and then initiates the explosives.
This type of IED is often initiated with a plunger type trigger device
or a reverse plunger device also known as a ―deadman’s switch.‖
(b) The reverse plunger device requires the carrier to
maintain pressure on the trigger until the carrier is ready to
detonate the explosives. This system is used so that even if the
carrier is stopped by gunfire, the device will still detonate. These
types of initiation systems have also been used with a small delay
built into the trigger. The carrier can be shot and release the
trigger, but the explosion will not occur for several seconds, giving
the unsuspecting shooters time to walk up on the body of the carrier.
(3) Radio-Controlled IED.
(a) The RCIED is initiated electronically with a wireless
method consisting of a transmitter and a receiver. Examples include a
radio, cordless phone, or key fob (an electronic handheld device used
for remote keyless entry systems using infrared with a required clear
line-of-sight to function or using challenge-response authentication
over RF which does not require line-of-sight).
(b) RCIEDs have been effectively used in many recent
conflicts, including Palestine, the Balkans, Chechnya, Afghanistan,
and Iraq (Operation Enduring Freedom [OEF], OIF, and Operation Desert
Storm [ODS]). The threat uses either cheap, easy-to-assemble
components to target military forces and civilians and/or expensive,
more sophisticated technology to counter the coalition’s technically
superior armored and nonarmored vehicles. They provide standoff and
do not require the threat to commit forces.
(c) RCIEDs require an OP from which to time the remote
detonation. The following apply:
1 The OP location is greatly dependent on the range of
the remote device.
2 The OP location is highly dependent on line-of-
3 Garage door openers have a range of less than 50
4 Wireless phones have greater ranges, but require
5 Cellular telephones have greater ranges, but are
highly dependent on relay towers or repeaters.
(d) Many situations involve secondary RCIEDs meant for
vehicles stopped after the first RCIED detonates. An RCIED is
typically used to stop a convoy, conduct an ambush, or detonate a
secondary RCIED on a halted convoy.
(4) Vehicle-Borne IED. A VBIED is a vehicle filled with
explosives. The vehicle may be driven or towed to a target. The
vehicle may be either moving or static. The VBIED may be initiated in
a variety of ways. The nature of the initiation device will depend on
whether the initiator is remaining inside the vehicle. The initiation
method of a VBIED should be spelled out in reports (for example,
remote-controlled VBIED, command-wired VBIED, timed VBIED, or suicide
(5) Victim-Operated IED.
(a) The victim-operated IED, also known as the victim-
actuated IED, is initiated by actions of an unsuspecting person or, in
some cases, by one willing to commit suicide. Examples of this type
of initiation may be the use of tripwire, pressure plate, bait, or
passive infrared sensor initiation. An example of the bait technique
may include newly trained HN Soldiers and Marines on patrol who pick
up a used AK-47 magazine attached to an explosive device. The victim-
operated IED was placed in such a manner as to not be visible to the
initiator, but deadly just the same. In Figure D-6, the electronic
circuit is complete when the clothespin tripwire is pulled.
(b) Pressure plate or pressure switch devices initiate
IEDs through the use of pressure exerted on a switch, either from a
vehicle or a person. The triggers that target vehicles are typically
larger and connected to larger amounts of explosive material than
pressure plate-initiated IEDs targeting a person or foot patrol. IEDs
using pressure plate-triggering devices may be found on any route that
has frequent or routine vehicular or foot travel.
(c) Figure D-7 is a diagram of a crude pressure switch.
The two metal strips are insulated from one another by bits of rubber
at each end. A wire from the battery is attached to one metal strip.
A lead wire from the electric caps is attached to the other metal
strip. The inner tube is used to weather proof and provide
camouflage. When a vehicle drives over the pressure switch, it
compresses the two metal contacts, causing them to touch, and
completes the firing circuit.
(d) Passive infrared sensors are electronic devices used
to detect change produced by an infrared emitting source. Contrary to
popular belief, passive infrared sensors do not have a red beam,
visible with use of night vision or any other type of optical
assistance devices, shining across the target area. A device which
emits a beam would make the electronic device active versus passive.
(e) With a passive infrared system, the device is a
detector not an emitter. The detector is set to detect rapid changes
(for example, temperature changes) in the infrared spectrum. When
changes are detected, for example, when a vehicle enters into the
device’s ―field of sight,‖ the system is triggered to function as
designed. Explosives may be initiated by such a passive infrared
(f) One example of a passive infrared sensor-initiated
device seen in the Iraqi theater is an EFP (see Figure D-8 and Figure
D-9). An EFP is an IED constructed from a pipe, fitted with a concave
liner, usually made of copper (brass and steel have been noted, but
not as frequently) because copper is denser and has a lower melting
point. The acceleration and deformation of the metal causes it to
melt and flow into a shaft which is also pushed to super high speed by
the explosion. The small shaft of heavy molten metal moving at high
speed forces tremendous energy into one small spot on the target.
Upon detonation, the liner forms into a lethal projectile. A
detonation charge causes the liner to form into a ―hyper-velocity‖
projectile or ―focused energy‖ projectile that is capable of
penetrating armored vehicles. The triggerman may arm the passive
infrared sensor by radio control if the radio control receiver is
located outside the protective electronic countermeasure bubble and is
connected to the passive infrared sensor by command wire.
e. Uses and Targets.
(1) IEDs can be used in the following manner:
(a) Disguised static IEDs concealed with just about
anything (trash, boxes, tires, and so on) and placed in, on, or under
a target (to include unsecured vehicles).
(b) Disguised moveable IEDs (VBIEDs, suicide bomber vests,
or remote-controlled cars).
(c) Thrown or projected IEDs (improvised grenades,
rockets, or mortars) in areas such as overpasses and rooftops.
(d) Hidden with chemical containers (such as cylinder
containers) or ton containers that will release a toxic gas with the
(e) Hoax IEDs (Used for learning friendly force TTP,
entrapment, nonexplosive obstacles, and development of complacency for
future IED attacks, they resemble an actual IED, but have no charge or
lack a fully functioning initiator device).
(2) IEDs can be designed to attack specific targets, such as
high-visibility targets, high-value targets (HVTs), and military
targets, such as:
(a) Quick-reaction forces (QRFs) and first responders.
(b) Specialized route clearance equipment and personnel.
(d) Checkpoints and control points.
(e) Logistics movements or combat patrols.
(f) Any location or object that the enemy has assessed by
pattern analysis to be vulnerable.
(3) There are several different types of attacks involving
IEDs and VBIEDs. Examples of these include basic, change of traffic,
and multiple IEDs (see Figures D-10 through D-12). Such attacks may
be supported by direct and indirect fires as well as other obstacles
to stop and canalize forces.
(1) The primary indication of an IED will be a change in the
environment (something new on the route that was not there yesterday).
The enemy may leave behind visual indicators of an emplaced IED by
accident or, in some cases, on purpose to inform the local population
or for use as an aiming reference point. Vigilant observation for
these subtle indicators can increase the likelihood of IED detection
by friendly forces before detonation. Examples of possible roadside
IED indicators include, but are not limited to:
(a) Unusual behavior patterns or changes in community
patterns, such as noticeably fewer people or vehicles in a normally
busy area, open windows, or the absence of women or children.
(b) Vehicles following a convoy for a long distance and
then pulling to the roadside.
(c) Personnel on overpasses.
(d) Signals from vehicles or bystanders (flashing
(e) People videotaping ordinary activities or military
actions. Enemies using IEDs often digitally record their activities
for use as recruitment or training tools.
(f) Suspicious objects.
(g) Metallic objects, such as soda cans and cylinders.
(h) Colors that seem out of place, such as freshly
disturbed dirt, concrete that does not match the surrounding areas,
colored detonating cord, or other exposed parts of an IED.
(i) Markers by the side of the road such as tires, rock
piles, ribbon, or tape that may identify an IED location to the local
population or serve as an aiming reference (such as light poles,
fronts or ends of guardrails, and road intersections or turns).
(j) New or out of place objects in an environment such as
dirt piles, construction, dead animals, or trash.
(k) Graffiti symbols or writing on buildings.
(l) Signs that are newly erected or seem out of place.
(m) Chemical containers (such as cylinders and drums) that
appear out of place.
(2) Friendly forces should be especially vigilant around:
(a) Obstacles in the roadway to channel convoys.
(b) Exposed antennas, detonating cord, wires, or ordnance.
(c) Wires laid in plain site; these may be part of an IED
or designed to draw friendly force attention before detonation of the
g. Locations. IEDs may be emplaced anywhere that enough space
exists or can be created to hide or disguise the IED. Whenever
possible, devices are located where employment can exploit known U.S.
patterns (such as the use of an MSR) or vulnerabilities (such as soft-
skinned vehicles or chokepoints). Common areas of IED emplacement
include, but are not limited to:
(1) Previous IED sites (past successes).
(2) Frequently traveled, predictable routes, such as roads
leading to FOBs and along common patrol routes.
(3) Boundary turnaround points (pattern).
(4) Roadway shoulders (usually within 10 feet).
(5) Medians, by the roadside, or buried under the surface of
any type of road, often in potholes and covered with dirt or reheated
(6) Trees, light posts, signs, overpasses, and elevated bridge
(7) Unattended vehicles, trucks, cars, carts, or motorcycles
(attached or installed in them).
(8) Guardrails (hidden inside) or under any type of material
(9) Potential incident control points (ICPs).
(10) Abandoned structures (sometimes partially demolished).
(11) Cinder blocks (hidden behind) or piles of sand to direct
blast into the kill zone.
(12) Animal carcasses and deceased human bodies.
(13) Fake bodies or scarecrows in coalition uniforms.
h. Planning Considerations. A thorough mission analysis is
crucial to planning. Both the process and the products of mission
analysis help the commander and staff develop and refine their SU and
develop effective plans. By having a thorough understanding of the
METT-T factors, the commander and staff are better equipped to develop
effective plans to accomplish the mission. This section offers IED
planning considerations along the METT-T factors.
(1) Mission. During mission analysis, the staff identifies
those specified and implied tasks necessary for mission
accomplishment, to include IED defeat tasks. Leaders must coordinate
their IED defeat efforts with adjacent units and integrate them as
necessary. Often, leaders will need to coordinate the use of theater-
level assets and resources for use in IED defeat operations. IED
defeat tasks may include:
(a) Reconnaissance (route, zone, area).
(b) Security patrols.
(c) Route security.
(d) Route clearance.
(e) Area security, to include defending critical sites and
(g) Cordon and search operations.
(h) Sniper operations.
(2) Enemy. IEDs are often a weapon of choice for insurgents
and terrorists due to imbalances in technology or numbers. IEDs allow
them to strike without exposing themselves. This negates the
advantages of conventional forces and allows the insurgent or
terrorist to fight on its own terms. Conventional forces are often
left to mitigate the effects of the device which impacts upon mission
completion. IED defeat must engage the entire system, to include
public support, financing, supply, manufacturing, leadership, and the
planning processes of the enemy. Enemy considerations include their
disposition (organization, strength, location, and tactical mobility),
doctrine and/or methods, vulnerabilities, and probable COAs. Focus
(a) Methods and TTP for initiation of IEDs.
(b) Common materials used.
(c) Favored targets.
(d) Patterns developed for the areas and location of IED
(e) Organization (cells, echeloned, and so forth).
(f) Supply sources.
(g) Safe house and safe areas (for the insurgents).
(h) Level of popular support (may vary across the AO).
(i) Communications means.
(j) Known or suspected funding sources.
(k) Known or suspected leadership.
(3) Terrain and Weather. The terrain has a direct impact on
the selection of objectives and locations for the placement of IEDs.
The type of terrain will also impact on the effectiveness of IEDs or
the protective measures of friendly forces. The natural and man-made
terrain features not only affect maneuver and mobility in an
operation, but can also mask the employment of IEDs. Terrain is
analyzed from both the friendly and enemy perspectives using the OAKOC
methodology. Typical locations for enemy IED emplacement include:
(a) Bridges and overpasses.
(b) Road and rail intersections.
(c) Places that force slowdowns and closer intervals on
convoys (winding turns, unpaved surfaces, steep or sharp turns, narrow
roadways, and choke points).
(d) Areas of dense civilian traffic or congestion.
(e) Culverts or tunnels.
(f) Terrain that provides overwatch.
(g) Terrain that offers cover or concealment for IEDs and
(h) Terrain used for marshalling personnel, equipment, and
(i) Weather and the climate have direct and indirect
effects on IEDs. The weather affects the:
1 Visibility of IEDs, initiators, and targets.
2 Selection of emplacement for IEDs.
3 Effectiveness of IEDs (Low and dense cloud cover may
increase the blast effects of an IED, and temperature and moisture may
cause failure to initiate or premature detonation.).
(4) Troops and Support Available. The types of units and
support that commanders should consider for IED defeat operations
(a) Intelligence support, to include all the intelligence
(b) Reconnaissance assets, to include reconnaissance
units, scouts, and UASs.
(c) Engineer units and support, to include mobility
augmentation companies, clearance companies, sapper units, search
teams, and specialized search dog teams.
(d) EOD units or personnel.
(e) Combat forces, to include maneuver and fire support
(f) Linguist support.
(g) Civil affairs (CA) support.
(h) MP units.
(i) Psychological operations (PSYOP) support.
(5) Time Available. Leaders must take into account the
ability of their unit and subordinate units to plan, prepare, and
execute operations within the time available. The ability of the
enemy to plan, prepare, execute, and react is also a function of time.
Within IED defeat, many operations are time-sensitive. They include:
(a) Convoying route change detection.
(b) Responding to an IED incident (EOD render safe and
disposal, forensics, and so forth).
(d) Raiding an IED maker or factory.
(e) Seizing stockpiled caches.
i. IED defeat framework.
(1) With a focus on clearing IEDs, the IED defeat framework is
derived from the fundamentals of assured mobility. Assured mobility
encompasses those actions that enable commanders with the ability to
deploy, move, and maneuver where and when they desire (without
interruption or delay) and to achieve the mission (see FM 3-34). When
properly planned and evaluated, the fundamentals of assured mobility
assist in developing SU for the commander that allows them to exploit
opportunities to defeat the IED prior to its inception, thus enabling
freedom of movement and maneuver. Because all IEDs will not be
eliminated, commanders plan to mitigate the impacts by developing
standing operating procedures (SOPs), TTPs, battle drills, and other
response actions to lessen the effects of the IED and/or eliminate the
enemy’s desired outcome. To effectively mitigate the impact of IEDs,
the fundamentals of detect, avoid, neutralize, and protect are used in
conjunction with the factors of METT-T to plan and develop coordinated
and well-executed responses.
(2) As a parallel construct to the framework of assured
mobility, the IED defeat framework enables commanders and staffs to
exploit (proactive defeat) the IED networks and the associated
operations before they occur. It also provides a methodology for
mitigating (reactive defeat) the impacts of the IED by addressing IEDs
(3) The IED defeat framework (see Figure 4-7) can be broken
down into two major sub elements: proactive (pre detection or those
measures that facilitate exploitation) and reactive (post detection or
those measures that mitigate the IED).
(a) Proactive defeat is focused on denying the enemy the
ability to even emplace an IED. Proactive elements are actions taken
by friendly forces to predict, detect, prevent, avoid, neutralize, and
protect against IED events.
(b) Reactive defeat typically is a function of the
clearance operation. Reactive elements are actions taken by friendly
forces to detect, avoid, neutralize, and protect against IED events.
(a) Planners must accurately predict potential enemy
impediments to force mobility by analyzing the enemy’s TTPs,
capability, and evolution. The maneuver planning staff (to include
engineer, intelligence, and EOD planners) work together to produce the
common operational picture (COP) and develop a real-time modified
combined-obstacle overlay. Intelligence and known IED locations
should be shared, and the IED picture should be developed jointly.
The explosive hazards database (EHDB) provides valuable information on
enemy attacks, and IEDs encountered in the AO. Its data can be used
in pattern analysis to determine possible IED sites. Prediction
requires a constantly updated understanding of the OE and is a
function of division-, brigade-, and/or task force-level staff action,
coordination, and analysis.
(b) For the framework of IED defeat the staff section
engineer, along with the S-2, must identify and understand enemy
personnel, equipment, infrastructure, TTP, support mechanisms, or
other actions to forecast specific enemy IED operations directed
against U.S. interests. This is driven largely by the success of
analysis in requirements management and assists in:
1 Identifying patterns of enemy behavior.
2 Identifying emerging threats.
3 Predicting future enemy actions.
4 Prioritizing ISR missions.
5 Exploiting IED threat vulnerabilities.
6 Targeting enemy IED attack nodes (such as funding
7 Disseminating alert information rapidly to specific
8 Analyzing forensics and enabling better on-scene
(c) The physical identification (indicators) of explosive
threats is typically gained through visual and/or aerial
reconnaissance. It is accomplished using different maneuver and ISR
assets, such as engineer IED defeat patrols; infantry patrols;
observation posts; HUMINT sources; SIGINT sources; and reconnaissance,
surveillance, and target acquisition assets.
(d) Change detection technology can be used to identify
where enemy threats exist and areas to avoid. Change detection is
based on the physical comparison of two photographic images of the
same terrain taken at different points in time. The first step to
conduct change detection is to place photographic equipment on an
airborne platform, and then fly over the specified terrain and
photograph the AO. Then at a later time, conduct the exact same
flight and again photograph the AO. Following the second flight, the
imagery from both flights is compared side by side to look for
anomalies or changes in the terrain that might indicate threat
activity. This can be done manually, be automated, or be a
combination of both.
(a) Using ISR assets, engineers and other capabilities
planners identify early indicators for the location of natural and
man-made obstacles, preparations to create and emplace obstacles, and
potential means for obstacle creation. They identify both actual and
potential obstacles and propose solutions and alternate COAs to
minimize or eliminate their potential effects.
(b) For the framework of IED defeat, detection activities
contribute to the identification and location of enemy personnel,
explosive devices and their component parts, equipment, logistics
operations, and infrastructure to provide accurate and timely
information. Detection of IEDs is ideally accomplished before the
enemy can inhibit mobility or cause harm to U.S. and coalition forces.
The following actions assist in the efforts to interdict and destroy
1 Detecting and identifying explosive material and
2 Detecting CBRN material and TICs.
3 Recognizing various IED types.
4 Conducting forensic operations to track bomb makers
5 Conducting persistent surveillance.
6 Training to improve human detection of potential
7 Linking and synchronizing detection assets.
8 Using detection means across the full range
available (from imagery, mechanical-clearance operations, search
techniques, to dogs).
(c) EOD and engineers also provide additional training to
maneuver, MP, and HN forces to increase effectiveness in identifying
and detecting IEDs. The four general phases during which an IED can
be detected are prior to emplacement, during emplacement, while
emplaced but not detonated, and after detonation.
(a) Engineers and other planners apply this fundamental by
denying the enemy’s ability to influence mobility. This is
accomplished by forces acting proactively before the obstacles are
emplaced or activated. This may include aggressive action to destroy
enemy assets and capabilities before they can be used to create
obstacles. Political considerations and ROE may hinder the ability to
apply the fundamental early in a contingency. Prevent potential
impediments to maneuver from affecting the battlefield mobility of the
force by acting early, such as neutralizing before or during
(b) For the framework of IED defeat, these activities
disrupt and defeat the IED operational chain of events. These actions
focus on the target to interdict or destroy key enemy personnel (bomb
makers, leaders, and financiers), the infrastructure and logistics
capabilities (suppliers and bomb factories), and surveillance and
targeting efforts (reconnaissance and overmatch operations) before
emplacement of the device. They also include actions to deter public
support for the use of IED by the enemy. Prevention actions aid in:
1 Disrupting enemy operations and their support
2 Denying critical IED related supplies to the enemy.
3 Increasing awareness of enemy TTP and its
4 Denying the enemy the opportunity to emplace IEDs
(through presence patrols, OPs, checkpoints, aggressive surveillance
operations, and so forth).
5 Rewarding local nationals’ cooperation in
determining the location of caches or bomb making or emplacing
6 Denying easily concealed locations (such as trash
piles and debris along the sides of primary routes) and removing
abandoned vehicles along routes.
(c) To prevent enemy placement of IEDs, IED defeat forces
patrol continuously, especially in front of critical soft logistical
convoys. Marine competence and alertness, coupled with mounted crew
served weapons and hardening of soft-skinned vehicles, make a more
aggressive and less enticing target for the enemy. IED emplacement is
also prevented through the seizure of caches and securing critical
ammunition supply points within the AO. Reducing the amount of
ordnance available to bomb makers is a key component of prevention.
Finally, and most importantly, preventing the enemy from impeding
mobility in the first place requires successful targeting. The best
way to prevent IEDs is to capture or kill those that build the bomb.
ISR assets should be tasked and focused on gathering intelligence on
(a) If prevention fails, the commander will maneuver
forces to avoid impediments to mobility if this is viable within the
scheme of maneuver. For the framework of IED defeat, these activities
keep friendly forces from IEDs when prevention activities are not
possible or have failed. Avoidance activities include:
1 Increasing SU of the AO and continually refining the
COP and the timely and accurate dissemination of related information.
2 Ensuring timely and accurate status reporting and
3 Altering routes and routines.
4 Marking and bypassing suspected IEDs.
(b) Route status should be tracked and used to inform
higher and subordinate elements on the threat conditions for the
routes in the AO. This tracker is updated as necessary and briefed to
the commander. This tool is used to plan and execute convoys and
combat missions and avoid areas with IEDs. When IEDs are identified
or detonated, they are immediately reported to the brigade tactical
operations center. The unit reporting the IED sends an EH spot report
(SPOTREP) that contains critical IED information and a request for EOD
(a) Commanders plan to neutralize, reduce, or overcome
obstacles and impediments as soon as possible to allow unrestricted
movement of forces. The breaching tenants and fundamentals apply to
the fundamental of ―neutralize.‖ The combined arms team neutralizes,
reduces, or overcomes (breaches) impediments to battlefield mobility
that cannot be prevented or avoided. A commander’s decision to
destroy an IED in place must address the phase/context of the
operation so that the detonation will not accomplish the enemy’s
desired effect. For example, if the enemy has placed the IED on key
infrastructure/terrain, blowing the IED in place may accomplish the
enemy’s desired effect of destroying the target.
(b) For the framework of IED defeat, these activities
contribute to the destruction or reduction of enemy personnel,
explosive devices, or supplies. Neutralization can be proactive or
reactive in nature.
1 Proactive activities include conducting operations
to eliminate or interrupt the enemy leaders, suppliers, trainers,
enablers, and executors responsible for the employment of IED against
2 Reactive activities include conducting controlled
detonations or render safe procedures against identified EH. EOD
forces are the only personnel authorized to render safe IEDs or UXO.
Render safe procedures are particular courses or modes of action taken
by explosive ordnance personnel for access to, diagnosis, rendering
safe, recovery, and final disposal of explosive ordnance or any
hazardous material associated with an explosive ordnance incident.
(c) Breaching tenets and fundamentals apply when forced to
neutralize an obstacle. In extremely high operating tempo (OPTEMPO)
or high-intensity combat missions, engineer units may conduct limited
reduction or clearing of mines and other EH. Engineers are required
to clear obstacles as part of area clearance operations, overcome
urban barriers, and participate in combined arms route clearance
(d) IEDs should be neutralized as soon and safely as
possible to allow unrestricted movement. The unit that finds an IED
or the maneuver unit that owns the AO secures the site and keeps
civilians and other military traffic away from the hazard area. Once
the hazard is neutralized, the route is reopened.
(a) Engineers and other elements plan and implement
survivability and other protection measures that will deny the enemy
the ability to inflict damage as forces maneuver. This may include
countermobility missions to deny the enemy maneuver and provide
protection to friendly maneuvering forces. Maneuver elements protect
against enemy countermobility effects. Both personnel and equipment
must survive IEDs.
(b) For the framework of IED defeat, these activities
improve the survivability of IED targets through hardening, awareness
training, or other techniques. Protective activities include:
1 Disrupting, channeling, blocking, or redirecting
energy and fragmentation.
2 Creating greater standoff distances to reduce the
effect that IEDs have on their intended targets.
3 Incorporating unmanned platforms.
4 Using jamming devices.
5 Reducing time and distance in which intended targets
are within IED range.
6 Using smoke or moving under the cover of darkness.
7 Accelerating processes and increasing the
effectiveness of reaction and evacuation operations.
8 Providing blast and fragmentation mitigation for
platforms, structures, and personnel.
9 Avoiding establishing patterns and predictable forms
10 Conducting proper rehearsals for all operations.
11 Treating every operation as a combat mission (from
a simple convoy to daily FOB security).
(c) Each Marine should have in their possession: ballistic
eye protection, small arms protective insert plates, hatch operator
gloves, knee and elbow pads, advance combat helmets, and medical
battle packs. Items at the squad and higher levels include ratchet-
type tourniquets, different litter types, combat lifesaver bags at the
fire team level, and intra squad radios. These items provide
protection to Marines during or after IED incidents.
j. Actions in Response to IEDs.
(1) Commander’s Guidance and Authorization. Commanders
receive guidance or authorization from higher headquarters in an OPORD
or established procedures in the unit SOPs that frame IED
responsibilities during operations. While every unit must send an EH
SPOTREP when encountering an IED, a commander must ultimately decide
whether to mark and bypass the IED, isolate the area for follow-on EOD
response, or remotely destroy the device as they accomplish the
primary mission. The EOD team is a combat multiplier to any operation
and is the only organization authorized and equipped to conduct render
safe neutralization of an IED and collect detailed forensics from it.
Before a commander decides to destroy IEDs with organic assets, they
must weigh the mission requirements with both safety and potential
actionable intelligence. Destroying the IED is extremely dangerous
and the less desirable COA due to unforeseen considerations in the
construction and placement of the IED and potential secondary IED
arrangement. Additionally, destruction most likely will prevent
forensic analysis that could provide intelligence to interrupt the
decision cycle of the enemy and potentially the IED supply chain,
which may impact IED use in the future.
(2) Leader’s Decision Considerations.
(a) When a unit encounters a suspected IED, the leader
must make a decision on the appropriate action to take. After taking
immediate actions to alert personnel and confirming the suspected IED
by remote means (such as robot, binoculars, thermal optics, and
repositioning), the leader must assess the following operational,
situational, and tactical factors:
1 Higher command guidance on IEDs.
2 The effect of the delay on the mission.
3 The threat from direct and indirect fire. The risk
of casualties from direct or indirect fire may be greater than that
from the IED.
4 The size, location, possibility of multiple devices,
and potential CBRNE contents of the IED.
5 The terrain determines the effectiveness and
discernment of the IED and, consequently, the ability of the unit to
detect, avoid, neutralize, or protect against it.
6 The alternate routes or positions available.
7 The location and security of potential incident
8 The degree of protection available.
9 The capabilities of the unit.
10 The availability of EOD, EOCA support.
11 The dedicated security support for EOD.
12 The danger to follow-on forces and missions.
13 The danger to the civilian population and
(b) After assessing the situation, the leader must report
it according to the unit SOP. An example of a leader’s decision
considerations is outlined in Figure 3-2. Possible leader COAs
1 Marking and bypassing the IED.
2 Isolating and securing the area for EOD response.
3 Remotely destroying the device.
(c) Regardless of the COA, leaders must consider the
following reactions, as a minimum, that could result from the selected
1 High-order detonation.
2 Death/injury and mass casualty or fratricide.
3 Release of CBRNE.
4 Collateral damage including downrange hazards.
5 Loss of forensics intelligence.
6 Damage to information operations.
7 Damage to counterinsurgency operations.
(3) Actions on Contact. If a suspected IED is found, the
following basic confirm, clear, cordon, control, and check (5-Cs)
steps will help to ensure that the situation is dealt with quickly and
safely. Remember, the first 5 to 10 seconds are critical. While the
5-Cs are conducted in no specific order, the response must be
instinctive, effective, and based on METT-T. The commander should
conduct the 5-Cs and then wait for EOD personnel to neutralize the
1 The presence of the suspected IED should be
confirmed. This should be done from a safe distance whenever
possible. Maximum use of hard cover and spotting equipment
(binoculars and scopes) should be made. From the decided position,
conduct 5- and 25-meter checks to ensure that no secondary devices are
2 Indicate the distance, direction, and description
(3-Ds) of the threat. After completing the 3-Ds, the element must
call the appropriate headquarters using the 9-line EH SPOTREP format.
3 5-meter checks.
a Visually check the area 5 meters around your
b Look for disturbed earth, suspicious objects,
loose bricks in walls, security ties on streetlights or anything out
of the ordinary
c Start your search at ground level and continue
up above head height, then conduct a physical check for a radius of 5
meters around your position. Be systematic and take your time.
d If in an armored vehicle, remain mounted in
order to take advantage of the vehicle’s protection.
4 25-meter checks.
a Add to the 5-meter check when the patrol or
convoy leader decides to occupy an area for any length of time.
b Visually scan out to 25 meters.
c Conduct a physical search out to 25-meters.
d Look for IED indicators and anything out of the
1 All personnel should be cleared from the area to a
tactically safe position and distance from the potential IED. All
leaders should use the factors of METT-T to determine a safe position
and distance; however, the minimum safe distance for exposed personnel
is 300 meters from the IED site.
2 Detonation may be imminent if the device was
activated before being located. When there is a possibility that all
IEDs have not been located, stay alert. Once the unit clears the
minimum 300-meter safe distance from the suspected IED, either the
lead or trail security element will conduct a 25- to 50-meter sweep on
each side of the route to locate IED materials and equipment
(detonating cord, receivers, transmitters, and so forth) that may lead
to other IEDs flanking the unit. If subsequent IEDs are located,
units will execute the procedures for clearing the area as listed
(c) Cordon. The area should be cordoned off (a minimum of
300 meters from a small device, 1,000 meters for a van-size device,
and 2,000 meters for a truck-size device). The purpose of the cordon
is to prevent unauthorized personnel from entering the site (for their
own safety and for the safety of the EOD responders), to preserve the
scene for further exploitation, and to provide outward protection and
security against command-initiated IEDs. As part of the cordon,
1 Direct personnel out of the danger area.
2 Establish escalation of force (EOF) measures.
3 Position jammers/counter radio-controlled IED
electronic warfare (CREW) devices to best protect the element.
4 Identify, clear, and establish an area for an ICP.
5 Ensure Marines remain vigilant in providing
protection and security against command-detonated IEDs, person-borne
improvised explosive devices (PBIEDs), and VBIEDs and scan for other
enemy activity such as a triggerman, cameraman, or sniper from their
6 Allow entry only to EOD (and WIT, if available)
7 Follow existing ROE procedures to question, search,
and detain suspects.
(d) Check. Check the immediate area around the ICP and
cordoned positions for secondary devices using the 5- and 25-meter
checks. Expand the search area as time/threat permits.
1 To ensure only authorized access, control the area
inside the cordon. Only emergency services (medical, firefighting, or
EOD) should be allowed to enter the cordon. All personnel and vehicles
should enter and exit the cordoned area through the ICP. All civilian
and nonessential military traffic should be diverted away from the
cordon. To ensure that no tampering occurs, maintain (from a safe
distance) a visual/line-of-sight (binoculars and scopes) observation
on the IED. Immediately report any personnel observed approaching the
IED according to the unit SOP. A 360-degree security around the
cordon should be maintained until EOD has given the all-clear signal.
k. Task Organization.
(1) Kill Teams. The kill team is responsible for clearing the
area of potential triggermen or enemy fighters before they get a
chance to detonate the IEDs. They are normally 100-250 meters away
from the road and 100 meters ahead of the search teams, depending on
the terrain. As the name implies their primary mission is to kill the
triggerman. Quite often you can envelop an unsuspecting enemy and get
to him before he gets you. Their secondary mission is searching for
firing wires or indicators.
(2) Scan Teams. The scan teams primary responsibility is to
look for IED indicators and IEDs. They are placed approximately 10-
25m away from the MSR and scan towards the MSR looking for indicators
and IEDS. This team can be included into the Search Team when the
situation demands it however the function of having someone who scans
the area looking inward towards the road (with stand-off) is
(3) Search Teams. The search teams are located along the edge
of the MSRs. Their primary purpose is to locate all explosive hazards
and ensure the route is clear. They are anchored at the road with one
Marine operating a mine detector along the side of the road. The
Search Team is responsible for the road and 10m on each side of the
(4) Cover/Security Team. The Cover/Security team is highly
armed and is usually motorized if at all possible. It should include
medium to heavy Machine Guns to support anyone who becomes engaged by
the enemy. This team can also have a quick reaction force in it that
can dismount and come to the aid of the team in contact. When
possible the Cover/Security Team should have ECM equipment with them
to cover the Search/Scan Teams as well as FO or FAC supt.
(5) Formations. There are various formations (V, W, and
formations) that can be utilized when conducting route sweep
operations for IEDs/explosive hazards. Adjust these techniques to
meet the situation that you are faced with based off of METT-TSL.
REFERENCE - TITLE PUBLICATION ID
Appropriate Equipment Manual
Combined Arms Breaching Operations FM 3-34.2
Engineer Field Data MCRP 3-17A
Engineer Forms and Reports MCRP 3-17B
Engineer Operations MCWP 3-17
Engineers in Combat Operations FM 5-100
Explosive Hazard Operations FM 3-34.210
Explosives and Demolitions FM 3-34.214
Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Defeat FM 3-34.119
Improvised Explosive Device and Vehicular Borne GTA 90-01-001
Improvised Explosive Device Smart Card
MAGTF Breaching Operations MCWP 3-17.3
MNC-I Counter IED Smart Book GTA 90-10-046
Mobility FM 5-101
Supported Battalion SOP