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War of the Moles Dig or Die

War of the Moles Dig or Die

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Published by glennallyn
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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: glennallyn on Jun 05, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/25/2013

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THE WAR OF THE MOLES: DIG OR DIE
“The shovel is brother to the gun.” 
Carl Sandburg, American Poet and Spanish-American War veteranSoldiers hate to dig. Soldiers have
always
hated to dig. No doubtwhen the Roman Legions broke off their march early for the day todig and erect a defensive stockade, the legionnaires bitched aboutthat digging. But the Romans digging in every night in their 
castra
marching camps played a great part in their kicking butt across acontinent or too.The advantages of fortified marching-camps were substantial.Camps could be situated on the most suitable ground: i.e.preferably level, dry, clear of trees and stones and close tosources of drinkable water, forageable crops and good grazingfor horses and pack-animals. Properly patrolled, fortified campsmade surprise attacks impossible and successful attacks rare -in fact, no case is recorded in the ancient literature of a Romanmarching-camp being successfully stormed. The securityafforded by fortified camps permitted soldiers to sleep soundly,while animals, baggage and supplies were safely corraledwithin its precinct. If the army engaged an enemy near amarching-camp, a small garrison of a few hundred men wouldsuffice to defend the camp and its contents. In case of defeat,fleeing soldiers could take refuge in their marching-camp. After their disaster on the battlefield of Cannae (216 BC), some17,000 Roman troops (out of a total deployment of over 80,000)escaped death or capture by fleeing to the two marching-campsthat the army had established nearby, according to Livy.In more modern times, as our pal Burt Gummer says, dirt is “the bestbullet stopper there is.” And not just bullets. The trend in wars pasthas always been that shrapnel--from grenades, mortars, artillery,bombs, etc.--has inflicted many more casualties than small arms fire.
 
To the enemies who found themselves at the mercy of massedWestern firepower, the keep up the fight it became “Dig or Die.”Consider the following from a U.S. Army study. This represents aplatoon of 33 men spread throughout an area 250 by 50 meters. Anartillery battery firing 30 rounds at the area will probably cause thefollowing casualties under the conditions shown. By medium artillery,we can assume something in the range of the NATO 105-mm or theformer ComBloc 122-mm. PD means Point Detonating, i.e. the shellsexplode when they hit the ground. VT means Variable Time, i.e.shells set for airbursts overhead.
 
 Although light forces are supposed to be able to dig and dig fast, with just an E-tool it is an exhausting endeavor. That’s with the old schoolwooden-handled combination pick and shovel E-tool. Digging inanything but soft loam with the modern U.S. tri-fold shovel is anexercise in futility. Then again, U.S. forces haven’t faced any realheavy incoming artillery from the enemy since the Vietnam War.Iraqis and Taliban guerillas may lob some mortars or rockets at anFOB, but in such cases heavy engineering equipment such asbackhoes and ‘dozers have been available to do the real work.In the case of most opponents…Japan, Iraq, North Korea, Afghanistan, Vietnam, even Germany in Italy and the coast of France…their forces have had, sometimes quite literally, years inwhich to dig elaborate fortifications, bunkers, pillboxes, bombproofs,fighting positions, tunnels, trenches, etc. With years to prepare, evenguerilla forces can create positions virtually impervious to all but thelargest and most accurate heavy weapons. Examples include suchdiverse places as Iwo Jima and Okinawa, the tunnels of Cu Chi inVietnam, and the Zhawar Kili cave complex in Afghanistan.

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