Here is an area where people have cultivated, then suddenly
stopped. Even the dead wood in the area beyond has been left.
The edge of the field was mined during the war to prevent people
stealing the crops.
start of the mined area coincides with the start of uneven ground
full of tree roots and boulders. If those laying defensive mines
have a choice, they will always site the defensive mine-belt
on relatively useless land.
pictures I have shown have been selected because there is something
for you to see. In many cases the undergrowth is so dense that
there is not. The ground is rocky and uneven, with gullies and
boulders, and the undergrowth is so dense that cutting it is
the part of mine clearance that takes longest.
can see a mine sign in this picture. It has been cut in half
diagonally before being placed.
light forestation is not easy to work in - and the terrain is
usually very uneven.
may also take place in dense jungle, like this part of Angola.
Paths through this have been mined, then abandoned and become
thing to remember is that mines can move, so they may not be
where they were placed. In this example, there was a military
post at the top of the hill. It was mined to prevent the enemy
approaching through the trees at night. The paths to the top
were left unmined to allow safe access. After heavy rain, water
surged down this path and deposited lots of earth and stones
from higher up. Among the stones you may be able to see mines.
uses of MINES
Channeling the enemy
that is what minefields are like - and provides an introduction
to why they were laid. To summarise….. Around
the world, their main purpose is "Defensive". They may be defending
military posts, villages, items of infrastructure, isolated
farms, etc. In
some places they are used widely for "Area denial". This may
be denying access to water sources, food supplies or even homes.
The denial of rural villages to their occupants can disrupt
an agricultural economy and be effective at destabilising a
region. Mining civilian homes can be an effective part of ethnic
extension of "Area denial" is "Route denial" when mines are placed on
roads to restrict their use by anyone, military or civilian. Western
military forces are taught that mines are meant for "Channeling
the enemy". This concept generally relies on the enemy knowing
(or quickly finding out) where the mines are and being forced
into a narrow "killing zone". I have not come across much real
evidence of it in Humanitarian Demining. The
last use - which may be particularly prevalent "post-conflict"
- is the use of mines in "Banditry".
areas are very rarely "fields". By definition, those placing
the mines did not want to use the mined land, so when the mines
were used defensively they are often placed on land with a low
value other than as a potential access route.
introduction finishes with a brief look at what may be found
in mined areas. The picture above shows the items found in an Angolan
minefield in a day. While
improvised devices are relatively rare, mortars and RPGs are
commonly found in any area that was disputed. In many cases,
they outnumber the mines remaining. The
minefield comprised PPM-2 and MAI-75
AP blast mines and POMZ-2 and 2M
AP fragmentation mines. Notice the poor condition in which some
were found. The mined area bordered a road on which the solitary
AT mine was found.
South African made PRANK switch, (a "toe-popper") det-cord
and explosive had been placed at a later date to plug a gap
among the blast mines.
countries where the conflict has been over for a long time,
most of the mines found are relatively old and/or unsophisticated.
Some become more sensitive as they decay, others lose their
ability to function. Many remain functional for several decades.
that the use of AP mines as "triggers" for larger mines
is common on roads in some areas.
other thing in mined areas that is often relevant to deminers
- is metal. All metal contamination slows down manual clearance
with metal-detectors. If an area has been fought over, it is
common to find abandoned bullets…..
when there are fragmentation mines, the fragment contamination
can be high. Similarly,
the remains of original mined-area fencing can slow things down. Go to other minefield pictures. Angola; Kurdistan; Iran.
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