FORT CARSON, Colo.-- Helmeted heads watch patiently through the pockmarked ballistic glass from the inside of a bunker. A Soldier yells, "Claymore, claymore, claymore," and the view through the glass is lit up by a huge fireball.
The training on Sept. 15 and 16 marked the first claymore range for Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, at Fort Carson, Colo.
The training is especially crucial for the Soldiers of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company reconnaissance platoon.
"As the battalion's primary recon element, we'll be responsible for going out prior to the company or battalion attack and overlooking certain named areas of interest," said 2nd Lt. Elliot Corey, reconnaissance platoon leader, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Bn., 38th Inf. Reg., 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div., a native of Troy, Ill. "Once we get set in and have eyes on the objective, we'll set in a claymore in case we get discovered and have to retrograde; blow that claymore, pop smoke and get out of there."
Soldiers of Company A and the Headquarters and Headquarters Company reconnaissance platoon had to prove their proficiency before they were allowed to detonate their M18A1 claymore.
"All of our guys went through preliminary marksman instruction yesterday to ensure that they have general knowledge of the M18A1 claymore mine," said Sgt. Anthony Downing, reconnaissance team leader, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Bn., 38th Inf. Reg., 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div. "It's an explosive device and it can be very hazardous; the ability to emplace it properly is why we gave these guys good instructions the day prior and the day of the training."
Training was divided into two phases. Phase one familiarized Soldiers with the characteristics, capabilities and installation of the M18A1 claymore. In phase two Soldiers received instruction in nonelectrical firing systems and tactical employment.
"I'm looking at their confidence level and ability to emplace," said Downing, a native of Denver, Colo. "If I can get those two accomplished I'll feel confident in giving them a claymore and having them place it."
The minimum safe operating distance from the M18A1 claymore is 16 meters and the operator should be in a foxhole, behind cover, or lying prone in a depression before detonating. Soldiers within 100 meters of the mine must take cover to prevent being injured by secondary flying objects like sticks, stones, and pebbles.
"It's definitely a little bit more nerve racking than using the test set," said Pfc. Joshua Eastin, infantryman, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Bn., 38th Inf. Reg., 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div. "You go from the bright blue test set where you know nothing bad is going to happen and all of a sudden you have this explosive in your hands with almost two pounds of C-4."
One and three-fourths pounds of C-4 explosive propels 750 one-eighths inch diameter steel ball bearings within a 60 degree arc in front of the device at a velocity of 1200 meters per second during detonation.
"You go out there, set it in and you know that you're one trigger squeeze away from a pretty big explosion," said Eastin, a native of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
By the end of the training, 50 M18A1 claymores were successfully detonated and only the paper targets and a wooden pallet suffered injuries.
"It beats any training that I've done in my military career," said Downing. "I'm excited to get up and go to work in the morning."