Photo Information

Marines assemble an explosive charge during the Special Operations Training Group’s Method of Entry Course, at the Breacher Pit on Stone Bay, Aug. 5. The two-week course teaches Marines how to overcome obstacles such as doors, fences, and walls through mechanical, thermal, ballistic, and explosive breaching. The Marines in the course are from various units scheduled to attach and deploy with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Photo by Sgt. Richard Blumenstein

Arithmetic blows things up

12 Aug 2011 | Sgt. Richard Blumenstein

“5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Boom!”

An explosion blows a door clear off its hinges, while a team of Marines preparing to assault the objective stand behind a shield just a few feet away.

Ten Marines soon found less is more when attempting to breach obstacles during the Special Operation Training Group’s Method of Entry Course at the Breacher Pit, which is located on the Stone Bay training area of the base, Aug. 1-12.

The two-week course teaches Marines how to overcome obstacles such as doors, fences, and walls through mechanical, thermal, ballistic, and explosive breaching. The Marines trained to identify the fastest and most efficient method for destroying obstacles, according to Sgt. Christopher Whited, an MOE instructor with SOTG.

“The mission of the breacher is to recognize, analyze and breach,” Whited said. “It’s to get the assault team into the objective.”

The affects of an explosion going off in your living room will most likely leave you rattled. To take advantage of the shock and awe unexpected explosions may induce on enemy combatants, Marines must be able to quickly descend on targets before the targets know what hit them.

As a result of that fact, Marines must be able to stand as close as safely possible to their soon to be newly created entryways.

“When the door flies off the hinges, the Marines have to be in that room as soon as they can,” said Capt. Cole Carpenter, the MOE Course officer-in-charge with SOTG. “So if there is a bad guy in there, he’s shaken up, he’s not quite ready for them.”

In the course Marines train to identify obstacles and find the best way to defeat them with explosives.

The Marines used a variety of explosives to blow off door knobs, blow doors from their hinges, or use explosives to cut obstacles in half.

“What we like to focus on is using explosives in a surgical way, using just enough explosives to blow just the doorknob off,” Carpenter said. “That way the charge is just big enough to blow the door off, but not hurt anybody inside.”

To accomplish this, the Marines trained to find the lowest Net Explosive Weight, the weight of explosive materials, value required to defeat different obstacles. The Marines made a variety of explosives and had to apply them to a wide range of obstacles.

“The biggest part of the course isn’t the construction. It isn’t the actual employment. It’s teaching them the math and how to figure out exactly how powerful the explosive is,” Carpenter said. “What it does is it allows them to put that charge on that door, and know the second that charge goes off how to exploit that explosion.”

In the course, the Marines also hammered, pried and sawed through obstacles with tools such as sledgehammers, quickie-saws and halligan bars. They also trained to use torches to cut through steel walls similar to walls of a ship, and used shotguns to breach doors.

“It takes a lot of attention to detail,” said Sgt. Russell Sanderford, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with Combat Logistics Battalion 24. “You can never be too careful, but at the same time you can never let that distract you from what you are breaching and how you are going to do it.”

The Marines taking part in the course are from various units scheduled to attach and deploy with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.