Engineer BOLC students develop confidence one explosion at a time
July 24, 2014
To the engineer students who had just detonated their first explosive charges the sound of falling rocks and dirt pelting the bunker was music to their ears.
"A confidence blast is the first shot at the demolition range. Each student primes a block of TNT, stick of dynamite and block of C-4, and then ties each one into a ring main. The purpose is to instill confidence in each student's ability to prime and initiate demo," said Capt. Katie Baumann, Engineer Basic Officer Leader Course, module officer-in-charge.
Sixty-five EBOLC students spent July 10 on Fort Leonard Wood's heavy demolition range building and detonating their own explosive charges.
The demolition portion of instruction consists of basic-demolition-charge calculations and placement for timber-cutting-charge calculations, steel-cutting-charge calculations and shape charges, cratering charges and breaching.
"Students get hands-on experience with everything they are taught in the classroom. The first shot on the demolition range is the confidence blast, and then students breach a wire obstacle using Bangalore. The third shot is steel cutting, in which students place C-4 on a steel I-beam in order to collapse, damage or destroy a bridge to disrupt enemy movement," Baumann said.
Shape charges are used to bore holes in the ground in which cratering charges are placed.
"I was surprised when we charged the H6 (cratering charge). Debris was falling for like a mile. I enjoyed it," said 2nd Lt. Melanie Hindley, EBOLC student.
After setting off the explosion, Hindley and her teammates walked out to the demolition pit to inspect the blast cavity.
"It's beautiful," Hindley said, as she peered into the large hole, about 30 feet wide and 20 feet deep.
"This is the first time I've ever worked with dynamite or C-4. The sheer magnitude of these explosives can be easily overlooked. The fact that we got to have hands-on training is crucial. It's great to experience the diversity of the explosives," she added.
Second Lt. Ray Gibson, EBOLC student, said the hands-on portion really emphasized what he learned in the classroom.
"It was pretty neat to feel the pressure when it hits your body," Gibson said. "Now I am more than confident to lead Soldiers at the demolition range."
Following the shape and cratering charges, students conducted urban breaching on wood and steel doors.
Baumann said her students need to learn demolition in order to supervise the instruction of new Soldiers-in-training.
"Hands-on training instills confidence in his or her knowledge and ability to construct and place demolition firing systems. In order for a platoon leader to effectively supervise training, he or she must be proficient at the given tasks and know how to safely conduct training without any misfires or safety infractions," Baumann said.
The Soldiers from this EBOLC class will finish their almost 20-week course in October, then head to their duty stations.