Ospery, the bird of the Selous Scouts.Selous Scouts "Pamwe Chete" title block.Ospery, the bird of the Selous Scouts.






























Mines and Booby Traps


  1. The enemy has found that the use of mines and booby traps as a means of waging war has been particularly profitable. The nature of the terrain and the climate, the limited and undeveloped road network, the enemy's sound knowledge of the bush and inherent qualities of hunting techniques have enabled him to inflict considerable casualties to security forces at minimum risk or expense to himself.
  2. The very success of his efforts has resulted in a general increase of activity in this direction, and security forces will be faced with the problem of mine warfare throughout any ATOPS campaign.
  3. The aim of this chapter is to give the basic requirements for all ranks to be mine-conscious and to use a sensible approach to respond to another means of waging war.
  4. To counter this threat and to reduce the security forces' casualties to an absolute minimum, every man should be trained in the following:
    1. To use his eyes to spot anything unusual on a track or path.
    2. To recognize basic explosives and types of mines in use. C. To use mine detectors and mine-lifting equipment issued to his unit. d. Finally, and perhaps most important of all, he should know when to leave objects alone and call for an explosives expert.


  1. The types of devices used by the enemy can be divided into two main categories.
    1. Non-explosive.
    2. Explosive.
  2. Non-explosive. In the absence of explosive materials the enemy may resort to non-explosive booby-trap techniques. These may include vehicle pits, lassoes, nets, etc. As a rule, these traps in themselves are not lethal or completely destructive, and as a result may be accompanied by ambushes.
  3. Explosive. This type of device is widely used and may include the use of all conventional materials. These materials may be acquired from external or internal sources, and frequently include commercial explosives which, through the lack of control, are more readily available. There are two main categories:

                    a. Mines. 

                    b. Explosive booby traps.

5. Mines. The most common types of mines used are:

    a. Anti-vehicle or anti-tank (AV). Their function is to damage or destroy vehicles, affect morale, restrict movement and inflict casualties. They normally detonate under a minimum pressure of 60 kilograms. However, because they are frequently connected to anti-personnel mines, or to a booby-trap device, they often operate on a much lower pressure. 

    b. Anti-personnel (AP). These mines are intended to kill or wound personnel and cause injuries with shrapnel or blast, thereby severely lowering morale. There are numerous varieties and they are designed to operate on the lowest pressures. 

    c. Improvised mines. These mines are often used by the terrorists, especially when manufactured mines are not available. They can be AV or AP and are normally made from any explosive materials available at the time.

6. General composition of mines. Most mines consist of the following components:

    a. Initiating action. This can be mechanical or electrical and operates by pressure, decompression, pull or release. 

    b. Trigger mechanism. This is the device which activates the detonator. 

    c. Detonator. This is a small sensitive explosive charge. 

    d. Primer. This is an intermediate charge which is initiated by the detonator, and the explosion of the primer in the center of the principal charge causes the mine to blow up. 

    e. Principal charge. This is the basic element of the mine and designed to produce its destructive effects.

7. Basic operating procedures. The initiating action can be set off in a number of ways. However, the most common are by pressure and pull:

    a. Pressure. The explosive device is normally buried underground, and the principal charge may or may not be beside the detonator set. The most common ignition process is electric. The pressure exerted completes a circuit, thus initiating the explosion. This system is particularly sensitive and permits the operation of the mine at insignificant pressures. In some cases the ignition process is mechanical and the application of pressure causes the release of a striker which initiates the detonator. This process is usually less sensitive than the electric ignition process and because of this is easier to neutralize. 

    b. Pull. In this case the explosive device operates when a pull is exerted, normally upon a tripwire, protruding stake, etc. Once activated by the pull, the explosive device can operate either through an electrical system or by mechanical means, all similar to the systems described above.

    c. Mixed methods. Sometimes mixed methods are used. For example, pressure can be exerted on a stretched wire or plank, which is buried in very soft earth or a crater, thus initiating the explosive device by a process of pulling due to the ground giving way under the pressure exerted.

8. Anti-lifting devices. Any of the processes described above can be connected to anti-lifting devices. Normally these devices operate by decompression, but are frequently found with other activating devices. Because of this, whenever it is intended to remove an explosive device from the position in which it is found, the job must be done by a man working from cover and using a rope of sufficient length. Only after the explosive device's removal and a minimum wait of five minutes, in case of delay mechanisms, should the device be approached.

9. Explosive booby traps.

    a. General description. Usually the devices which serve to make up booby traps are hand grenades, shells or bombs and mines, especially the AP variety. The ignition processes are extremely varied and make full use of pressure, decompression, pull release, friction or time-trigger mechanisms. 

    b. Basic operating procedures. These are very similar to the techniques described in paragraph 7 above. Nevertheless their diversity is a fundamental characteristic, as operating procedures will simply depend upon the imagination and resources of the users.



1. Explosive devices are frequently used by the enemy with the following aims:

    a. offensive action.

        1. To inflict casualties on security force troops. 

        2. To lower morale by the creation of a sense of insecurity. 

        3. To destroy equipment, namely vehicles, with the dual purpose of reducing material and burdening the war effort. 

        4. To deny, hinder and impede tactical or logistical movements. 

        5. To channel the movement of troops into areas which might be favorable to the enemy. 

        6. To substantially increase enemy areas of influence without maintaining a permanent presence. 

        7. To destroy installations essential to the requirements of the troops and local population.

    b. Defensive action.

        1. To defend enemy installations, bases and sanctuaries. 

        2. As alarm systems to give him more time and/or space to maneuver. 

        3. To save manpower.

Method of Employment

2. Types of explosive devices most frequently used by the enemy.

    a. The most common types of explosive devices used are AP and AV mines of Russian and Chinese origin. These may include the most modern types of mines which are designed to prevent detection by mine detectors. 

    b. Improvised mines, i.e., wooden or cardboard boxes packed with explosive supplemented with stones, nails and pieces of metal. The quantity of explosive is variable and is, in many cases, larger than that of the conventional mine. The improvised mine is usually detonated with a booby-trapped grenade.

3. Most common areas of laying. The scope is unlimited. However, the most common areas are described below:

    a. AV mines. These are generally placed:

        1. On rises on hills so that vehicles, on detonating the mine, will roll backwards onto other vehicles, thus increasing the damage and number of casualties. 

        2. In rocky areas which will hinder prodding and increase shrapnel effect. 

        3. Next to fords or on tracks running by a river or gorge so that, on detonating the mine, the vehicle will fall into the river or gorge. 

        4. On narrow roads and defiles with the aim of blocking certain routes. 

        5. On detours. 

        6. On roads where water has accumulated, making detection difficult. 

        7. In sandy areas where laying and concealment is less difficult.

    b. AP mines. These are generally placed:

        1. On tracks frequently used by military forces. 

        2. Beside trees and other attractive spots which are likely to be used by troops as resting places. 

        3. Beside trees and other natural cover near the verges of roads which might be used as cover by troops. This type of mine laying is frequently used in conjunction with AV mines or an ambush, thus causing troops to leave the road in search of cover. 

        4. On new tracks made by troops due to the tendency in thick bush to return by the same route. 

        5. On tracks recently cleared by troops, which leads them to suppose that they are cleared for the return.

    c. In general, tracks frequently used by the local population are not mined.

4. Common techniques employed by the enemy.

    a. In most cases, the enemy is well-trained in the art of concealment and deception. Explosive devices are frequently laid with the aim of defeating detection techniques. 

    b. The enemy will always attempt to exploit the natural reaction of military forces. Thus tiredness, instinctive curiosity, rashness, aggressiveness,, excessive confidence, etc., are reactions which are generally exploited. 

    c. It is impossible to give examples of every technique. However, some of the more common methods are detailed below:

        1. Pamphlets and subversive material scattered within a mined area in an attempt to disorganize planned movement. The pamphlets may well be the initiating device.

        2. Repetition of a number of unbooby-trapped explosive devices, leading troops to suppose that the remainder detected will be in an identical condition. 

        3. Small objects, such as money, documents and equipment, left where they are visible will be sufficient for anyone, reacting instinc- tively, to initiate a device. 

        4. The mining of unlikely areas, such as tarred roads. 

        5. The placing in the road of the occasional small object which is instinctively avoided, thus diverting traffic into a mined area. Examples are: a dead animal, old vehicle wheel, pool of water, pieces of glass, an area of ground deliberately disturbed so as to look suspicious, or even a small mine, real or dummy, partially exposed. 

        6. A tripwire exposed as bait and so sited that to reach it one has to cross a mined or booby-trapped area. 

        7. Booby-trapped booby traps. For example, the booby trapping of a mine with a hand grenade which in turn is booby-trapped by another concealed a short distance away. 

        8. Planting mines in areas which offer good concealment. For example, recently repaired roads or roads under repair. There have been cases of staged "official" repairs with appropriate traffic signs. 

        9. Two-way devices. 

        10. The planting of improvised mines, without their container box, thus making detection by prodding extremely difficult. 

        11. Empty tins (normally discarded by security troops) buried with other metal objects to mislead and confuse magnetic mine-detecting devices. 

        12. The use of easily dislodged stones placed on booby traps designed to be activated by decompression; for example, hand grenades with safety pins removed. 

        13. Main charges buried very deep in the ground, or off the actual road or track, and connected by detonating cord to a small activating device difficult to detect,

5. Methods of laying. It is impossible to lay down rigid patterns of mine laying. Detailed below are some of the methods more frequently used:

    a. Anti-vehicle mines.

        1. Three interconnected mines are connected by detonating cord, activated by a taut wire leading to a hand grenade. Two of the mines are placed in the center of the road and the third on one of the sides where the vehicle wheel tracks pass. Activation occurs by the pulling of a wire leading through the safety pin holes of a hand grenade and connected to a plank covering a concealed hole. Pressure on the plank by a vehicle or man causes the plank to sink into the hole, thereby pulling the wire from the grenade which then goes off and activates the main charges. 

        2. A mine is placed in the center of the road with its activating mechanism, operated by the pulling of a buried wire, under a wheel track. Under one of the wheel tracks a hole is made and covered with sticks, grass and earth so as to give way under the weight of a vehicle or man. Buried in the center of the road is an upturned clay or wooden pot containing several band grenades, nails, glass and slabs of TNT. One of the grenades is well pinned down with a stake and a wire passed through its safety pin holes with the other end passing across the top of the concealed hole to a stake on the far side of the hole. The wire is pulled by a wheel or man sinking into the hole which pulls the wire out of the grenade and activates the device. Sometimes artillery or mortar bombs are placed above the pot, almost at the surface of the road, to give greater effect to the mine.

        3. The planting of a minefield along the length of a road generally beings with a pair of mines (one on each wheel track) and then isolated mines separated by three to four kilometers alternating on each track (or simply laid at random) over a distance of 20 to 30 kilometers. However, the enemy will not always lay single mines and may place a number of mines in close proximity to ensure best results.

Mines connected by det cord.


  • V empty spaces
  • M explosive charges
  • T wooden boards/planks
  • F taut wires
  • G hand grenades
  • C detonating cord

Mine buried in road.


  • P clay or wooden pot
  • G hand grenade
  • E stakes
  • F taut wire
  • T twigs, grass and earth covering wire and stake
  • V wheel track
  • R reinforcing grenade(s)

    NOTE: Section 3 is incomplete it will be added at a later date (web master: TALDOZER).


Action by Troops

1. Dismounted troops. The best protection against mines and explosive devices is a high standard of training and a keenly developed sense of mine awareness. However, listed below are a few simple rules to assist in minimizing the dangers of these devices to personnel:

    a. Only one man at a time should work on a device while the remainder remain under cover. 

    b. When in doubt, always call in the services of a specialist. 

    c. Redouble precautions when tired or nearing the base on the return. 

    d. Keep your eyes on the ground when in a suspicious area. 

    e. Do not rush; time saved is paid for in lives. 

    f. Expect continuous changes in techniques used by the enemy and be prepared for them. 

    g. In dangerous ground be extremely cautious and be very careful with any suspicious-looking object. 

    h. The man who proceeds incautiously will cause the death of his comrades.

     i. Maintain concentration and strict discipline when working with mines or other devices. 

    j. Never move over suspected ground without good reason and don't ever be careless or overconfident. 

    k. Do not be misled or jump to conclusions when the first mines found are not activated or are simulated.

     l. Never:

        1. Cut or pull taut wires or cord. 

        2. Pull a slack wire or cord. 

        3. Simultaneously cut through two metallic strands. 

        4. Move in compact groups...

    m. Treat every mine or device as being booby-trapped.     

    n. Do not use the easiest or best sign-posted route without careful examination. 

    o. Whenever possible, avoid moving along paths or tracks and avoid the obvious. 

    p. Be extremely cautious in the selection of return routes and the use of newly made paths and/or tracks. 

    q. Keep up to date with new devices and techniques. 

    r. Look upon mines as a normal risk of war.

2. Mounted troops.

    a. In addition to the above-mentioned precautions, the following also apply:

        1. Move at a minimum distance of approximately 50 meters between vehicles. 

        2. The vehicle should be sandbagged, in particular the cab, over the wheels and under the seating. 

        3. If possible, make use of the side boards of the load-carrying part of the vehicle, opening them outwards to a 45-degree angle and reinforcing them with sandbags. 

        4. Leading vehicles must carry the minimum of personnel. 

        5. All vehicles must carry serviceable fire extinguishers. The use of petrol-driven vehicles will increase the fire hazard.

        6. Vehicles must be properly prepared, which may entail the removing of certain parts and the reinforcing of others either by means of steel plates or sandbags. 

        7. Exercise extreme caution when moving to the scene of an incident or when moving to reinforce own forces. 

        8. Vehicles must endeavor to keep in the tracks of the preceding vehicles.

    b. Clearing drills. If a mine is seen or suspected, the suggested drill is:

        1. Movement is halted and troops debus and establish all-around protection while the vehicle reverses in its own tracks to at least 100 meters away from the device. 

        2. Two men, each with detection devices and one carrying the grappling iron and nylon cord, then move forward walking in the tracks already made by the vehicle. A protection party, which should be positioned according to the terrain, will move with the detection elements to provide them with close protection. 

        3. From the point where the vehicle originally stopped they carefully prod their way forward, searching as explained in this chapter. 

        4. When a mine is encountered, the finder should notify his companion and then proceed with one of the methods described in paragraph 7 below.


3. Detection aids. The enemy is very adept at laying mines and explosive devices and as his skill and cunning improve he makes the detection of these mines and explosive devices difficult and complicated. However, to detect whatever he has laid, the following aids and methods may be used:

    a. Mine detectors. These vary from the type used to detect any metallic object buried below the surface of the ground to the more modern and sophisticated type that will detect any foreign matter buried below the ground's surface. The effectiveness and efficiency of these detectors will depend on the standard of operating, type and model and the enemy's efforts to counter their effectiveness. When used by correctly trained technical personnel, they can be most effective, but because of their limitations they should be used in conjunction with other detection methods. 

    b. Mechanical detectors. This type can vary from the flail type to a type of remote-controlled vehicle or device moving in front of a vehicle with the intention of detonating any mine or other type of explosive device that the enemy may have planted in the road or track. Its effectiveness will be determined by the enemy's mine-laying techniques. 

    c. Improvised means. This is probably the most expedient method, bearing in mind the effectiveness and availability of the above-mentioned equipment. This method can be carried out by making use of a prodder or a rake:

        1. Prodder. This can be the standard prodder or an improvised type which is used to prod the ground at an angle or to scratch the surface to detect any hidden object. Experience in the use of the prodder will improve its effectiveness. 

        2. Rake. This is the standard type of rake, but with a longer handle It is used to scrape the ground's surface to detect any possible hidden device. To facilitate its handling, it may be equipped with two small wheels.

    d. Users or operators of the above-mentioned equipment must be relieved frequently to avoid the strain placed on them while operating the various types of detectors.

4. Detection techniques. The following are the suggested techniques that may be applied when searching for or endeavoring to detect any concealed devices:

    a. Visual search. Whatever aid is being used, as an added means, a visual search will improve its effectiveness. The degree of effectiveness of a visual search will be determined by the experience of the person or persons concerned, their concentration, patience, powers of observation and keen sense of awareness. All soldiers must be made conscious of this awareness and not leave the detection to the operators of the various devices only. Although it will not be possible to mention all the points in this chapter, listed below are a few examples of what to look for which may indicate the presence of a buried or concealed device:

        1. Disturbed soil or soil with a varying degree of dampness. 

        2. Stones loosened or moved from their apparent original or normal position. 

        3. Smoothed-over soil between tracks and footprints. 

        4. Soil with suspicious-looking debris such as grass, leaves and sticks scattered over the surface. 

        5. Footprints converging at a point in the road. 

        6. Knee-, hand- or footprints in the soil indicating kneeling persons. In this case toe-cap prints will be most pronounced. 

        7. Vegetation not conforming to its surroundings. 

        8. Presence of apparent unnecessary cutting of vegetation. 

        9. Wire or nylon cords, taut or slack. 

        10. Any type of metallic reflection. 

        11. Leaves or sticks partially cleaned of normal dirt. 

        12. Scattered damp soil near wells or drops of water.

    b. Dismounted detection. This method is time-consuming and should it be necessary to cover long distances, a careful appreciation must be made, bearing in mind the enemy activity and techniques and terrain, to select the best route that would require the minimum of this type of detection. Best speed with this method is one and a half to two kilometers per hour. For maximum effect a mine detector should be used in conjunction with a prodder. The diagrams below give a suggested technique. For a normal width road two searchers must move abreast of each other with their search patterns overlapping.

    c. Mounted detection. This method can employ the mechanical-type equipment already mentioned, or visual means whereby a minimum of two men, placed as far forward as possible on both sides of a vehicle, search the road for any possible hidden device while the vehicle moves. The vehicles move slowly and will halt immediately at the slightest suspicious- looking sign. This method is slow and places great strain on the observers. Consequently they should be relieved frequently.

5. Due to the complexity and unlimited number of devices employed by the enemy and the enemy's improving skill in the use of explosive devices, it is advisable that, whenever possible, units have readily available trained technical experts and specialist equipment to assist in the detection and neutralization of the various explosive devices. This is of particular importance when it is anticipated that a unit will be moving through an area that is suspected of being mined by the enemy. Basic mine-clearing equipment (rope, grapple and prodders) should be standard issue to sub-units engaged in ATOPS. It is essential that all sub-units receive training in the use of this equipment prior to being committed to operations.

6. To develop and improve the awareness previously mentioned, a system must be adopted whereby all personnel are kept informed as to new techniques and lessons learned.

Marking and Destruction

7. Once a device has been detected, the following are possible courses of action:

    a. The device is marked and reported. 

    b. The device is destroyed immediately.

8. Device marked and reported.

    a. Once a device has been detected, should there not be a qualified technical expert present, somebody with more experience must carefully inspect the device to ascertain its type, possible trigger mechanism and whether it is booby-trapped. This inspection must be visual so as not to disturb the device, which may result in an explosion. The device must then be marked in a suitable manner and its location reported to higher headquarters. This report is to include:

        1. Its location and how implanted, suspended, etc. 

        2. Type of device. 

        3. If possible, trigger mechanism. 

        4. Whether it appears to be booby-trapped. 

        5. Any trip wires or cord in close proximity of device. 

        6. Method used to mark it.

    b. After marking and reporting, the device can either be destroyed or, if it is a new device, neutralized. Under no circumstances will a device be neutralized and removed other than by an expert. Once removed, the device may be destroyed or retained for further examination, depending on instructions from higher headquarters.

9. Device destroyed.

    a. In this event, after the device has been detected and a careful examination has been carried out to determine its nature, the decision is made to destroy it. Whenever possible, a qualified technical expert should perform this task. However, members with practical experience in this respect could also carry out this task. Once the decision has been made to destroy the device where it has been located, the following will apply:

        1. Without disturbing the device and immediate vicinity too much, select the principal charge of the device. 

        2. Ensure that all other troops are safely under cover or a safe distance away. 

        3. The minimum number of men must be used for the task, preferably only one man. 

        4. Endeavor to ensure that the explosion will not cause sympathetic detonation of other devices in the same area that may endanger the lives of own troops. 

        5. Clear the area of dry grass and leaves, etc., to prevent the start of a fire. 

        6. Place the prepared charge, ensuring maximum destruction results. This could be TNT slabs, plastic explosive or hand grenades. 

        7. Initiate the charge and retire along a preplanned route to safe cover. Prior to initiation ensure area is clear of own troops When using hand grenades, a long wire or cord will have to be used to pull out the safety pins. The grenades must be fixed to a stake to ensure positive action.

    b. It may, under certain circumstances, be possible to destroy the device by its own system. In this case it may be possible to cause self- destruction by activating the trigger mechanism from a safe distance, e.g., pulling out the retaining stakes or pulling the tripwire from a safe place with a long cord or wire. 

    c. Under certain circumstances a trained man may remove the device to a safe place for destruction. Extreme caution must be exercised, however, to ensure that anti-lifting devices and/or booby traps are first neutralized or are not present. Anti-lifting devices invariably have a delay fuse, and provision must be made for this when attempting to lift or remove a device. In this case the best method for removing the device is to use a grapple and rope to pull it from its position.


10. Where and when the opportunity presents itself and should the circumstances permit, military forces may make use of mines and/or booby traps. possible reasons for use could be the following:

    a. Protective measures. To protect military bases, camps and installations and possibly certain key installations against possible enemy actions 

    b. Nuisance role. To mine or booby-trap possible enemy routes and/or crossing places, in particular across the border from countries giving assistance to the enemy. 

    c. Denial role. To deny certain routes or areas to the enemy, e.g. possible fire base positions that the enemy may use or approaches to villages, cultivations, etc.

11. Authority. Before any mines or booby traps are laid, authority must be granted by the highest appropriate headquarters. However, this authority could be delegated to lower levels.

NOTE: Incomplete section web master; TALDOZER.




THIS SITE LAST UPDATED: Sunday, September 16, 2007 06:43:38 PM

Copyright 2000 - 2007 by T.A.L. DOZER. All rights reserved.