FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Misidentifying a grenade can have disastrous consequences, even if the grenade just produces smoke.
The Army employs three different types of smoke grenades: the M83 smoke grenade, the M18 colored smoke grenade and the M106 Screen Obscurant Device. While the three types appear similar, they definitely are not all created equal.
A group of trainers were on post at Fort Jackson Monday, July 11, through Thursday, July 14, to teach drill sergeants and other noncommissioned officers how to identify the different types of grenades while in turn keeping troops safe.
"The M106 is a bursting grenade, not a burning grenade," said John H. Ryan Jr, a senior close combat munitions analyst from Fort Benning, Georgia, during training Monday.
A Soldier who misidentifies a grenade will put himself at risk of serious injury, Ryan said. Soldiers have lost fingers when grenades exploded in their hands.
"A couple of Soldiers got hurt because (the grenade) looked so much like a smoke grenade, and (they) said, 'It got me confused,'" Ryan said.
Before handling grenades, Soldiers should read the"TC 3-23.30 Grenades and Pyrotechnic Signals," a training circular that outlines the proper handling and throwing of hand grenades and pyrotechnic signals, Ryan advised.
While the munitions are similar, their markings are very different.
M18 colored smoke grenades are painted green with white letters with the tops colored in either red, yellow, green, white or purple. The M83 is green with a white top, while the M106 is lime green with a single brown stripe, a silver top and warnings written on the outside. The M106 also has a single ring pin and confidence clip.
When employed the M83 goes "pop, sizzle" while the M106 goes "pop, crack" as the casing is blown off with a small charge and the smoke is quickly dispersed, Ryan said. Once exploded the M106
quickly covers a seven meter by seven meter area with thick white smoke.
The grenade has been used since 2007 by operational forces, but it was only recently approved for institutional training by the Army Training and Doctrine Command.
For Sgt. Quacentia Lewis with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment, training on
the grenades will help her ensure Soldiers in Training know how to train safely.
"It's good training," she said. "Everyone needs to be familiar with the M106 to know that it is different from the other smoke grenades in that it will explode in your hands if you don't throw it
quickly. It's something good to know."
The 92A -- Logistical Supply Specialist, and only female Soldier at the training, said pulling
the grenades out of the ammo case felt the same as with other smoke grenades and she
"wanted to make sure they didn't go off."
The Soldiers going through the training had to successfully inspect the grenades to ensure they were safely packaged in the ammo can, the igniters were safely seated, and none were upside down.
"If this is upside down and you go to try and manipulate it, it could pop right there,"
said Michael Tumminellli, a training instructor with the Armament Research Development
and Engineering Center.
The NCOs were also trained to report if any of the munitions were missing.