And the best part, we got to blow shit up! Some of us became very good at estimating charges, clearing a path through a mine field, taking down a bridge and that sort of thing. The one really nasty thing some of us were really, really good at was setting up mine fields and booby traps. I could set up stuff that even I could not take apart without blowing myself up. (Learning with training devices saved a lot of us from death and maiming ourselves.)
One really handy device was the M18 Claymore Anti Personal Mine. The actual point of today’s post is not really to talk about the fun I used to have, but the conversation I had today trying to explain to somebody that you can’t fix stupid. There are many things in military and police work that have been developed to be “idiot proof.” But as I learned a long time ago, when you make something idiot proof, they make a better idiot. Some people have no common sense, or mechanical skills.
I’ve seen training NCOs and police officers tell a group during training that: “this new thing (weapon, device, tool, etc) is idiot proof.” While the soldier or cop is looking at the new thing and trying to see how they can actually screw it up.
Police range master may have noticed this “fact” with the Glock pistol. It is about the most idiot proof handgun ever made. However, if you run a range long enough, you will find a cop that finds a way to make that weapon fail. I’ve seen them put 9mm rounds in a .40 cal, getting the 9mm stuck in the barrel, then feeding a .40 cal and pulling the trigger. Ouch! I’ve seen them fail to fire, because the dumbass thought he (it’s always the male cops) could take it apart…then put it back together wrong because he’s usually the type too fucking stupid to even know how to change a flat tire.
And take the US Army and US Marines. They demand that everything be idiot proof.
But I can still remember in Jan 2003 when I was first called up for active duty for Iraq. I was placed in a unit of “mess kit repair” soldiers. They were all very, very smart…but almost none of them had any combat training. For our training task, I was asked to train and test them on the Claymore mine. After the training, I suggested that they unit not even order any such mines as they would likely suffer major casualties from their own troops.
The M18A1 Claymore mine consists of a horizontally convex green plastic case (inert training versions are blue). The shape was developed through experimentation to deliver the optimum distribution of fragments at 50 m (55 yd) range. The case has the words "Front Toward Enemy" embossed on the front surface of the mine. A simple open sight on the top surface allows for aiming the mine. Two pairs of scissor legs attached to the bottom support the mine and allow it to be aimed vertically. On both sides of the sight are fuse wells set at 45 degrees.
Internally the mine contains a layer C4 explosive behind a matrix of about seven hundred 1⁄8-inch-diameter (3.2 mm) steel balls.
When the M18A1 is detonated, the explosion drives the spheres out of the mine at a velocity of 1,200 m/s (3,937 ft/s) , at the same time breaking the matrix into individual fragments. The steel balls are projected in a 60° fan-shaped pattern that is 6.5 feet high and 50 m (55 yd) wide at a range of 50 meters. These fragments are moderately effective up to a range of 100 m, with a hit probability of around 10% on a prone man-sized 1.3-square-foot (0.12 m2) target. The fragments can travel up to 250 m. The optimum effective range is 50 m.
The weapon and all its accessories are carried in a bandolier. An instruction sheet for the weapon is sewn inside the cover of the bandolier.
Yep, War and stuff is a nasty buisness...but I bet a lot of you sleep better at night knowing that there are those willing to do nasty things in your defense.