By Brad Rhen
| Aug. 20, 2020
Soldiers from 2nd Squadron, 104th Cavalry Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team insert a detonation cord into a block of C4 plastic explosive during demolition familiarization training Aug. 14, 2020, at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa. (Photo by Brad Rhen)
A block of C4 plastic explosive detonates during demolition familiarization training conducted by Soldiers from 2nd Squadron, 104th Cavalry Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team on Aug. 14, 2020, at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa. (Photo by Brad Rhen)
FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. – A good number of Soldiers probably join the Army for the opportunity to blow stuff up.
Soldiers from 2nd Squadron, 104th Cavalry Regiment, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team got to do just that recently.
The squadron, which is headquartered in Reading, Pa., conducted demolition and claymore mine familiarization training on Aug. 14 as part of the unit’s annual training.
The demolition training consisted of inserting detonation cord into a block of C4 plastic explosive and using an initiator to ignite cord, then watching from an observation bunker as the C4 detonated.
“The idea is that they understand basic setup of C4 and demolitions,” said Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Sanders of Alpha Troop, 2/104th Cavalry, the officer in charge of the demolition range. “Most of these guys haven’t done this since basic training, if ever.”
There are several uses for explosives in combat scenarios, including breaching an obstacle and creating an obstacle, said Sanders, who resides in Quakertown, Pa.
“Breaching an obstacle could be knocking doors down or destroying man-made barriers and roads or in terrain, but also if you’re trying to deny access, you can create obstacles by blowing trees or blowing up boulders to create things that you can manipulate to create an obstacle,” he said.
The training is very beneficial, and it’s also a good morale booster, Sanders said.
“How often do guys join the Army want to blow stuff up and five years later they haven’t blown anything up,” he said. “So this is a good opportunity for them to do just that.”
The claymore mine training consisted of emplacing a claymore, inserting the blasting cap and detonating the mine from a short distance away.
Although claymore use is not necessarily specific to the cavalry, knowing how to use them is a good skill for cav scouts to have, said 1st Lt. Ryan Briglia of Bravo Troop, 2/104th Cavalry, the officer in charge of the claymore range.
“The cav uses what is called OPs, or observation posts, so when they’re out on the observations posts, one of the security measures they can take is have a claymore mine emplaced outside of their position,” he said. “That way if there is enemy personnel encroaching on their position they can fire the mine as a protective measure.”
Briglia, who resides in Phoenixville, Pa., said firing claymores is not something the unit gets to do all the time, so the Soldiers definitely enjoyed it.
“It’s definitely a morale boost to make something go boom,” he said.
The training was the first time firing a claymore for Spc. Jamir Harris, a mortarman with Bravo Troop, 2/104th Cavalry, from Allentown, Pa. The mines are louder than he thought they would be.
“From what I’ve heard, we don’t often do this so this was a good experience,” he said. “I’ve only been in for a couple years so being able to do this was a great opportunity. It was nothing like what I thought a claymore was. I thought it would be less explosive, so seeing it in person, it’s nothing like what I imagined.”
Harris said using a live claymore made him a little nervous while he was setting it up. However, he said, getting the hands-on experience with a live mine makes him more confident he would be able to use one if necessary while deployed.
And, he said, blowing things up is always fun.
“It’s more fun to do it yourself than just watching from a distance,” he said.