Military Obstacles

Military Obstacles

 

man-made obstacles and barriers employed previous to or in the course of military action in order to inflict losses on the enemy and prevent the advance or maneuver of his troops on land and of his ships and other waterborne means on the water and to hinder flights by aircraft in the airspace close to the ground and landings by airplanes (or helicopters) on the ground. Depending on where they are used, military obstacles are divided into ground, sea (lake, river), and air obstacles; by method of action they are divided into explosive, nonexplosive, and combined-type obstacles. They may be used in all types of operations and combat. Explosive obstacles are the most often used. A system of different types of obstacles is created for defense purposes.

Ground obstacles are divided into antitank, antipersonnel infantry, anti trans port, and antilanding obstacles. The antitank obstacles include antitank minefields; individual mines; fougasses; scarps; counterscarps; antitank ditches; craters in the ground; reinforced-concrete, wood, and metal post obstacles; log and stone obstacles; barricades; metal hedgehogs; traps; snow piles; floods; and fires preventing troop movement. Among the antipersonnel obstacles are antipersonnel minefields, fougasses, booby traps, dirt walls, ditches, concealed pits (depressions in the earth in the form of truncated cones), abatis, log obstacles, wire fences, rolls of concertina wire, chevaux-de-frise, hedgehogs, wire-loop and other types of snares, hastily erected wire obstacles, electrified obstacles, water barriers, and walls of fire. Among the antitransport obstacles are antitransport mines; fougasses used to destroy railroad highway beds, bridges, tunnels, and road structures; roads that are dug up; barriers; barricades; post obstacles; craters on roads; and road-bed mines. Antilanding obstacles are set up against aerial and sea landings. Antitank, antipersonnel, and other mines as well as barriers, pits, posts, rocks, ditches, wire nets, hedgehogs, and chevaux-de-frise are used against air landings. Against sea (lake or river) landing parties and also to counteract an enemy making an assault crossing of a water barrier, explosive and nonexplosive obstacles are set up on the shore and in the water. They make it difficult for the enemy landing equipment and parties to approach and come out on the bank.

Sea (lake, river) obstacles are used to prevent enemy ships from passing along sea (lake) lines of communication, channels, rivers, and canals and also to make it difficult for enemy ships, submarines, torpedoes, and other waterborne means to penetrate harbors, ports, and roadsteads and to get to points where sea (lake, river) landing parties can be landed. In setting up such obstacles contact and noncontact naval (river) mines, floating booms, cable nets, post obstacles, harbor blocks, and underwater piles are used.

Aerial obstacles are used to prevent flights by enemy airplanes and other flying craft in the airspace close to the earth. Barrage balloons and other means are used as air obstacles to cover the approaches to important objects; their function is to obstruct enemy air action at low elevations and make dive-bombing difficult.

The history of obstacles goes back many centuries. Ram-parts, ditches, concealed pits, stone walls, wooden palisades, timber abatis and log obstacles, and floods have been used as ground obstacles since ancient times; among the naval obstacles the same is true of underwater piles, harbor blocks, and post obstacles. In the 18th century explosives gradually began to be used for obstacles, and in the defense of Sevastopol’ in 1854–55 land mines were used. During the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05, Russian troops defending Port Arthur used antipersonnel mines and field fougasses that were exploded electrically, as well as electrified wire obstacles. Military obstacles became very widespread during World War I (1914–18), especially the mining of terrain and the establishment of entire zones of wire entanglements. Russian military engineers such as Gritskevich, Dragomirov, and Revenskii developed a number of designs for new antipersonnel and antitank mines during the war, and their designs were used successfully in setting up obstacles. In 1916 in the defense of London, Venice, and Paris barrage balloons were used for the first time as antiaircraft obstacles. Before World War II (1939–45) metal, concrete, reinforced-concrete, and granite post obstacles, antitank ditches, wire networks, floods, swamps, log obstacles, minefields, and fougasses were used extensively in the fortified regions of the European states and in construction of fortified lines such as the Maginot (France), Mannerheim (Finland), and Siegfried (Germany). During World War II and especially in the Great Patriotic War (1941–45) explosive obstacles found broad application in all types of combat. In the battle of Moscow in 1941, Soviet troops for the first time began to use mobile obstacle detachments to set up obstacles; these detachments were later used successfully in other operations. During the war the Soviet Army used more than 70 million mines of various types, including 30 million antitank mines. Nonexplosive obstacles were also used in conjunction with the mining of terrain.

In the postwar period there has been significant development of the means used to set up various obstacles, especially explosive obstacles. Nuclear demolition devices (nuclear field charges) and surface (or underground) explosions of nu-clear ammunition can be used for this purpose.

REFERENCES

Karbyshev, D. M. Izbrannye nauchnye trudy. Moscow, 1962.
Ivolgin, A. I. Razvitie i primenenie minno-podryvnykh sredstv, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1956.
Baluev, V. K. Razvitie voenno-inzhenernoi elektrotekhniki. Moscow, 1958.

G. F. SAMOILOVICH

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