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Friday, June 30, 2006


There's a Blackadder sketch where Blackadder and George are talking about mines. Every minewarfare lesson I've ever had has had this sketch as an introduction. The script goes something along the lines of:

George: If we do happen to step on a mine, Sir, what do we do ?

Blackadder: Normal procedure, Lieutenant, is to jump 200 feet in the air and scatter oneself over a wide area.

This is very funny (no trust me it is) and I always laugh. Patrolling around a small Bosnian town and seeing 5 year old child missing both legs below the knee puts a different spin on things.

There is a particularly nasty mine in the Balkans known as the PROM-2. If you were unfortunate enough to sit through Behind Enemy Lines then this is the mine that the hero manages to outrun. He is the only person ever to outrun a PROM-2.

The mine has 6 tripwires running from its centre and is very sensitive. If you set it off a small explosive charge pops it out of the ground to about waist height before the main charge spreads shrapnel over a wide area. If you are lucky, and you are an adult, then all that will happen is that you will lose both legs. Of course if you are child then it will take your head off.

There are still thousands of mines buried in the Balkans. I think about that sometimes when I'm going for a walk in the countryside in the UK.


Blogger gonorr said...

being a geek, there is more info here

One nasty little piece of work. I often think of similier things watching the kinder run through fields.

8:01 pm  
Anonymous Rob said...

I love Blackadder! I was thinking more along the lines of the seagulls from finding nemo though.

12:19 am  
Blogger FOUR DINNERS said...

Jesus. And we call ourselves civilised and we make shit like that. This planet has thousands and thousands of life forms. We aren't one of 'em. We're a virus spreadin' over the globe.

1:16 am  
Blogger Theblonde said...

We are indeed, very fortunate to have the freedom to roam our countryside and to let our kids explore local woods without fear of potential mines.

Here we worry about danger from lurking dangerous humans instead.

10:46 am  
Blogger The Great Blandini said...

The human is a fucked-up creature, isn't it?

How much do we spend on munitions development each year?


11:57 pm  
Blogger PI said...

I wonder if the people who make them ever think of the consequences.

10:08 am  
Blogger Sir Stewart Wallace said...

Given the cunning that goes into the design of these things, I rather suspect they do.

8:03 pm  
Blogger toastedeggbanjo said...

I remember 2 great stories of mine training around Bosnia.

The first was pretour when the instructor going through the mine clearing drills decided to inject a bit of humour by stating that you should send a "NIG" out to stamp around to fine the mine, "NIG" you see is army slang for a new person (New In Green/New In Germany/New Intake Gunner/New Intake Guardsman etc) Oh how we laughed when the TA Lawyer put a complaint in for racial abuse

Second one was mid tour when the mine team came round and refreshed the drills, during the brief an American on the trianing was confused as she was tught never to try and clear mines and wait for the mine team to come out and clear it for you.

"Yeah well what if you crash you vehicle off road in the missle of nowhere and have a casualty and need to get to a place of safety ?" responded the Engineer

"I would use the radio to call for assitance" She replied

"What if you have lost comms (communications) and can't call HQ ?"

"But," she confidently answered "I have been assured that would never happen"

9:56 am  
Blogger The Boy said...

Many truths were spoke for the mouth of Blackadder, and you have to laugh. Its that or cry.

Mines have to be one of the most insiduous inventions of mankind due to their way of surviving for decades and hurting mostly the innocent.

1:22 pm  
Blogger toastedeggbanjo said...

In defence of the mine, if there could ever be a defence

Mines are extremely useful for controlling and shaping the battlefield, thing is, they aren't actually designed to kill as such, they are to put up an obsticle that will either slow up or divert and enemy. This is VERY useful if you are a small unit against a much larger more powerful force, its known as a force multiplier.

Thing about them is, if you stick them in the ground, you have to pick them up and this is the difference in places like Bosnia. Just about every soldier was given a batch of mines, they would move into position dig in, then walk some distance ahead and plant a mine, when the order came to move position, the guy that stuck the mine in didn't want to stomp around the undergrowth looking for the things and would thus leave them in situ and bugger off to the next position and stick another mine in, this happened all over t he shop and is the current problem the country has, as is the prblems in other countries. Don't get me wrong, not playing a holier than thou card as I am pretty sure there a few old minefield left in the North African Desert, I'm just pointing out that its the wanton and ill discipline use of the things that cause so much more pain

2:28 pm  

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