By Sgt. Melissa StewartDecember 13, 2012
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Soldiers of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), have a new tool to help them counter the almost constant threat of improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan.
Members of A Company, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd BCT, as well as members of combat-arms units in the brigade, convoyed to Range 44 last week to conduct training on the Man Portable Line Charge, a piece of equipment designed to detonate or uncover hidden IEDs.
"In recent operations in Afghanistan, (MPLCs) have been used to breach IED beds, especially when you're out on dismounted patrols," said Capt. Christopher Raisl, commander of A Company, 3rd BSTB.
This is not the first time the Army has supplied Soldiers with such gear. The Anti-Personnel Obstacle Breeching System was designed to be carried between two Soldiers in backpacks and allow for hasty breeching.
"In theory, it will 'sympathetically' detonate the IEDs in the area, or at least uncover the pressure plate," Raisl said. "The only problem with that is that you have to (carry) two 55-pound packs.
"So they came up with this, the MPLC."
The system weighs about 35 pounds and can easily be carried, set up and detonated by one Soldier. It is a rocket-launched explosive system designed to clear an area of other explosives. A Soldier proficient on the MPLC can set up and detonate an explosive in approximately one minute.
"It's practical," said Spc Anthony Gaston, a team leader with A Company, 3rd BSTB. "They really conformed it to the issues we face in Afghanistan."
Gaston said the MPLC sets off pressure plates while searching out IEDs.
"For the challenges we come across, this is perfect," he added.
Some of the Soldiers who went through the training have real-life experience with the MPLC from the brigade's most recent deployment to Kandahar Province in Afghanistan.
"We were on a patrol to the north of (Combat Outpost) Garabohned and there was a (building) we had to go investigate, and there were reports of a heavily IED'd area," said Sgt. Andrew Pemberton, a squad leader with A Company. "We pulled out the MPLC, and we fired it to the back side of the (building). It employed perfectly."
The area Pemberton was patrolling was littered with IEDs. According to his account, the weapon helped him and his fellow Soldiers uncover three "sympathetics," or IEDs that were buried in the road.
A mechanism like the MPLC becomes invaluable to Soldiers needing to move across an area suspected to be full of explosives.
"The weapon has already proven to be a valuable asset to Soldiers in 3rd BCT," Pemberton said.
Soldiers said they realize the value of the MPLC and understand that it could save their lives while deployed.
Both seasoned combat veterans and new Soldiers fresh out of basic training were able to learn from and understand the training they received.
"The instructors seem extraordinarily knowledgeable about the man carried line charge system," Gaston said of the training his company received. "They say it takes about a minute for the average person to set one up, so hopefully, with this training, (my Soldiers) will be down to the minute."
Four MPLCs were fired at the range. After instructors from the Asymmetric Warfare Group demonstrated firing the first MPLC, Soldiers were chosen from the formation to fire the other three.
While everyone could not fire the MPLC, some of the Soldiers at the range said the device is so user-friendly that a Soldier only needs to see it fired to understand how to use it.