Sappers are the Army’s experts in mobility on the battlefield. They stop the enemy from moving around and clear obstacles that inhibit the U.S. infantry and other ground troops. To do these jobs, they have to know how to fight an enemy, construct infrastructure like bridges and fences, and destroy enemy obstacles with explosives and tools.
Here are 19 photos that show their mission:
1. Engineers clear routes through enemy territory for maneuver forces.
2. To do this, they detect enemy mines, IEDs, barbed wire, trenches, and other obstructions.
3. If an obstruction or explosive is detected, the engineers ‘interrogate’ (sapper speak) the obstacle and decide what to do.
4. Once they identify a threat, they may mark it so infantry units know where the safe path is.
5. But they often decide to blow the obstruction up. Sappers are known for their skill with explosives.
6. When the enemy is hiding in a building, the sappers can cut through the walls or doors to get to them.
7. They could also just blow the door off the hinges or a hole in a wall. Again, sappers blow up a lot of stuff.
8. Once the building is open, they can force their way inside but will often leave the task of searching the building to the infantry or other maneuver units.
9. When the enemy protects the objective with barbed wire and other obstacles, the engineers use Bangalore torpedoes to blow open a path.
10. Another specialty of engineers is getting themselves and equipment to hard to reach places. Here, sappers create improvised rafts to cross a lake.
11. They also have proper boats, like the Zodiac, that they’ll use to cross the water.
12. Sappers can even drop directly into the water with their equipment and boats via a helicopter.
13. They’ll climb up cliff faces or repel from ledges to open a route or block an enemy.
14. Sappers use many different explosives, including missiles, to complete their missions.
15. Javelin Missiles are most commonly used to destroy enemy armored vehicles.
16. Engineers may aim to hit an enemy tank or armored vehicle while it’s in a choke point, preventing other vehicles from crossing there.
17. Enemy ground units can be stopped or slowed with mines. Claymores fire a barrage of steel bearings at enemies.
18. For more security, the sappers and other engineers can put up fences or other obstacles.
19. This prevents enemy soldiers from getting to friendly forces as easily.