Infantry: September 14, 2004

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India has not been able to clear all the mines its troops planted along the Pakistan border in late 2002. The two countries almost went to war back then, and India laid hundreds of thousands of mines along a 400 kilometer stretch of the border in Punjab and Rajasthan. Most of the mines were safely lifted, but the lightweight (3.5 ounces) NMM 14 has continued to cause problems because these mines have moved from where they were planted. Indian troops carefully recorded the location of mine fields, as many were planted on farmland, or other areas frequented by civilians. Soft soil and rain, or even dry weather and wind, can cause mines to shift their location. Mines are planted close to the surface, and lightweight mines are particularly vulnerable to this kind of movement. The situation was compounded on the Indian border by the presence of rodents who like to pick things up and move them. Thus a combination of weather and rats have spread the NMM 14 mines outside the areas where they were laid. This was discovered when NNM 14 fields were cleared, and the number of mines lifted did not match the number recorded as laid. Indian engineers brought in a flail device to beat the area around the mine fields to set off the missing NNM 14s, but this failed to get them all. So the Indians brought in the Danish Hydrema mine-clearing vehicle. This vehicle was successfully used by in Afghanistan last year for similar work.


 


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