Whether they take the form of a punji pit full of poisonous spikes or explosive devices, booby traps have been employed throughout the history of warfare to wreak havoc on opposing forces. Here’s what the United States Marine Corps has to say on the subject.
Use of booby traps
In so called “modern warfare”, the use of booby traps serves the following purposes.
1) - Restrict troop movements
2) - Inflict casualties
3) - Put on a strain on medical personnel
4) - Lower morale
amongst the troops
5) - Create confusion
6) - Deny comfort
and the use of various facilities
Some of your more popular ones
Most of your everyday booby traps can be lumped into the following categories.
1) - First of all, you’ve got your concealed ones. These little babies are either hidden completely from view or are constructed to resemble something harmless. Usually the surrounding area hasn’t been disturbed to a large degree.
2) - Then you’ve got what the USMC
calls ones that are placed in “constricted localities”. In other words, the smaller the space, the more likely you’ll stumble onto one of them.
3) - This is probably a no brainer but the next ones are called “concentration” type traps. The logic
behind this is that the more of them that are laid, the more of them that are likely to be detonated. In this scenario, many of the booby traps are so-called “dummy” traps that might steer the friendly forces
in the direction of the real traps.
4) - Then you’ve got your “Double Bluff”. This strategy utilizes an obvious trap in order to hide the existence of another set in close proximity.
5) - The enemy might set up obstacles such as blocks in the road or in urban warfare, piling up furniture
to deny access to the friendlies. When the friendlies try to remove said obstacle, BOOM!. These are what are known as “inconvenience” traps.
6) - We’ve all probably seen it in the movies at some time or another. You know, the soldier is looking for a souvenir
of some type and handles a rather non-descript object such as a picture or other some sort of valuable. Usually one his buddies will scream
at him to “Put that down!”. Too late, he was just a victim of what is known as a “Curiosity
” type of booby trap.
7) - Then you’ve got your things that you take for granted. Actions such as the simple act
of opening a door or window, using a telephone
or turning a light
switch might trigger what is known in booby trap parlance as “Everyday Operations”
Regardless of what form they are in, most explosive booby traps all have these things in common.
1) -Trigger Switch
2) - Detonator assembly
3) -A Safety device
4) - An explosive charge
These are tried and true methods that have been used with varying degrees of success in triggering booby traps to go off.
1) – Pressure The best example I can come up with is stepping on a land mine.
2) - Pressure release. The inverse is true. Once you take your foot off the mine, detonation will occur.
3) - Pull or tension. Trip wires come to mind.
4) – Tension release. Same goes for tension release.
Time Marches On…
As time and technology have progressed, here a some of your more modern ways in which booby traps may be triggered.
1) - Mechanical time delay – tickticktickticktickticktick – BOOM! Your basic household clock has been used to set off the explosive charge.
2) - Electrical time delay – Why use a mechanical clock when you can use a micro chip
3) - Chemical time delay – Ah, this one uses something such as acid
as a corrosive agent that will detonate the booby trap once the restraining wire has been corrupted.
4) - Electrical collapsing circuit
– this little devil
requires that a wire be broken through the collapsing circuit, thereby triggering detonation.
How to find ‘em…
Okay, now that you know a little about some of the types and methods used in booby trap deployment, how do you find the suckers?
Well, the Marine Corps provides some detection methods during boot camp that each and every future grunt would be wise to keep in their heads. Here’s what they’ll tell you to be on the lookout for.
1) - An absence of people – providing that the friendlies haven’t blown up everything in sight, the locals probably know more about the placement of booby traps than you would think. If you see them staying away from a particular location, chances are it might be booby trapped.
2) - Attractive Items – “Hey, look at that beautiful piece of (insert object here). What a great souvenir
it would make. I wonder why somebody left it laying around and why nobody has taken it yet?” Now you know…
3) - Disturbed items such as the ground your walking on, any loose floor boards or electrical fittings might serve to provide a hiding place for any type of booby trap.
4) - Any signs of recent work or construction such as sawdust
or nails might indicate the presence of booby traps.
5)- A trail of footprints
might indicate that the enemy has been in and around your position in the recent past has set one of the devices to explode in the near future
There are some others methods that they mention and while there are no tried and true methods for detecting booby traps, they do state that there is no substitute for a keen eye and suspicious minds.
Oh yeah, they recommend that if you are unfortunate enough to stumble on to a booby trap, don’t try and detonate it yourself. Mark the area, alert your buddies and call in the experts, those folks known as the combat engineers.
Based on some information gleaned from http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/6453/moutpoi27.html