Province of Kunar. Kishlak Barikot. These names are more often than others flashed in staff development, combat orders and military reports of the Afghan army. Not capturing Barikot from the move, the spooks decided to take it out of sight. They surrounded this small village in the Kunar province bordering Pakistan with several rows of siege trenches, mined all roads and approaches leading to it from the depths of the country, and led a methodical shelling of the army garrison concentrated in the ancient Bariotka fortress. The Pakistanis helped them with fire from heavy guns.
The siege lasted many weeks. The garrison suffered heavy losses, which only partially could be replenished from the air. There was only one way out: to send large units here, defeat the gangs and rescue the defenders of Barikot.
It was then that the command of the Afghan army appealed to the Soviet sappers: "Help us conduct the fighting columns. At the approaches to Barikot, the whole earth is crammed with explosives. We cannot cope with it alone."
Before the gorge of Pecs-Dar, the column stopped, broke the marching order. Ahead of the barrier of several blockages and mine-explosive obstacles. The blasting from the top was littered with 80 meters of the road.
Chief of Staff 45 ISP - Lieutenant Colonel V.I. Khramtsov
The engineer unit of the 45 COI during the Kunar operation. 1985
BTR with watch moves no road.
The second blockage is through 200 meters, the height of 2,5 meters. The third one is the height up to 8 meters, the rock was broken down - fragments up to 10 meters in diameter. Turned into the designated sectors of the attack tower of the BMP and BTR, bristling with guns and machine guns. Dozens of eyes, inflamed with fatigue, stared hard after the search for mine-searching service, who had gone ahead along the stony mound.
It was always the same: as soon as the dangerous section of the road or turn was envious. The column has become accustomed to these frequent stops, deaf blasts of mines detected. Accustomed to this dangerous game with the death of a handful of people in bulletproof vests with sparkling, polished stones sapper probes. Developed by the constant risk of dexterity, a special sapper ingenuity helped the calculation from afar to detect a masked landmine, a skilful machine gunner or sniper. Everyone in the column knew: if they ran into an ambush, the sappers would be the first to die.
During the years of the war in Afghanistan, dushmans attacked in terms of mining, invented many tricky charges. In particular, they like to lay old air bombs in the corners of duvali, connect them with small anti-personnel mines, they are usually put on the road.
At the cusp of a martial order, a mine search officer with a dog was moving ...
Mine-searching dogs were exhausted from long work, they lost their sense of smell. Their bleeding paws left rust spots ...
Having made the passage, the watch moves on ... In the background - WRI (engineering demining machine)
The insurgents, trained in Pakistan’s special camps near Peshawar by foreign instructors, primarily American ones, who had their hands still on mining Vietnamese roads, bore deep mines (up to 70 cm) made in Italy in a plastic case, one for six, the other for two and a half kilograms explosives. It is very difficult to find them, there is almost no metal there, only a tiny spring, fuses. Neither a probe, nor other means of engineering intelligence could take such a mine. We need intuition, experience, attention, knowledge of the unmasking signs and properties. The action of "Italian" is unpredictable. 100 heavy machines can pass through it, and 101-I will explode: the primer will squeeze in this time, the masking layer will be squeezed, the necessary pressure on the fuse will be created. Douchemen put mines carefully, try not to leave marks. Can you imagine what attention the sapper needs? It becomes more difficult to determine their location, they “powder” them so that nothing suspicious is seen. The hole is stoned and gravel, tightly tamped. To find such a mine probe is very difficult, the needle into the rocky soil does not climb, there is a mine detector. But in the local stones there are a lot of metallic impurities, the device reacts to them almost as much as to metal. One must really be an ace in his own business, so that by the subtlest shades in the sound of the signal, by the subtle differences in length and height, there is a false anxiety. And all the same, how much rock is turned over.
Many mines are set "on the non-recoverability", besides they are hidden not only on the road, but also hung on trees, fixed on rocks along the transport convoys.
The car’s board would slide on the rock — an explosion; an antenna would be hooked on the branches of a tree — an explosion ... The situation required to be on the watchman. Especially here, in the Pecs-Dar gorge, squeezed on both sides by the mountains.
The leader of the mine search service with his four-legged assistant moved first on the edge of the battle formation. The German Shepherd, who had already sniffed more than a dozen of mines, ran like a professional snake, not tearing off the muzzle from the hot road. At each stop, she fanned her woolen sides, cut her ears, as if warning the counselor about a suspicious place.
The rest of the calculation numbers followed. Moving the ledge one by one with mine detectors, probes, instruments for detecting possible explosion control wires. Everything in body armor, helmets, machine guns on a military platoon, at the belt are grenades, trotyl checkers for undermining undetectable mines, demining cats ...
In the rear guard slowly crawled IMR - a lashing machine, glittering in the sun polished with granite knives - dumps, teeth scraper - ripper. Drivers know that walking speed is a real torture, but what to do, hurry - you take off into the air. How many times in the life of a sapper can be mistaken - everyone knows. Having made the passage, the WRI goes along with the watch. The remaining sappers continue to work layer by layer to remove the blockage. Crush explosives large fragments, fall off them to the side. Then the layout: a layer of earth, a layer of trunks, branches, and even for the strength of the boxes from under the ammunition, filled with rubble. Fixed a damaged area, again all forward, to the place where WRI has already made its way through the next barrier ...
“Ten, twenty, fifty, one hundred meters ...” - mentally pretending the distance traveled by calculation, Lieutenant Colonel V. I. Khramtsov - Chief of Staff of 45 COI, never taking his eyes off the binoculars. A dangerous place for a mine trap ... He himself often takes up a mine detector, a dipstick and follows a mined path, on an equal footing with his subordinates, checks himself under mortar fire. I am sure that the high right to send people to land mines, to battle, must be conquered.
From the heat, constant nervous and physical stress, people literally collapsed, their clothes torn with white traces of salty sweat were torn, rumpled. Losing their strength, they lost the sense of smell of mine-searching dogs, their bleeding paws left rust spots ... It was painful to watch people. The hands of the sappers especially suffered, or rather the fingers: always sensitive, tenacious, as if surgeons or musicians, they were now in abrasions, with worn nails, the local soil is not something that a small sapper shovel could hardly give in to a pickaxe, and a disguised mine or a landmine - she demanding that it should be tenderly, tenderly, fingers ...
Dushmans undermine almost everything - they got a taste. The road, cars, warehouses in the mountains, caves and trails, donkeys walking freely along the roadsides.
Among the piles of trophies were always anti-tank mines - "Italians", in a plastic case.
Mined weapon and radio equipment in numerous mountain warehouses. Spirits mined everything that a man could undertake.
Mina in the pressure cooker housing.
Mina-surprise in the lighter body.
In service with the "spirits" there were various types of mines, including anti-tank and anti-personnel, as well as land mines with remote control, These are mines American M-19, M18A1, PCME-S, "Claymore", Swedish M-102, English MK -7, Czechoslovakia, Italian TS-2,5, TS-1,6, T 6.1, TS 50, SH-55, etc.
Sly souls, put mines puzzling, on sappers, on a car in a convoy, on the third wheel of an armored personnel carrier, on a helicopter. What dushman will not do to get a fee. Mines are delivered from Pakistan by caravans, in Afghanistan they are distributed between gangs. Each dushmansky demolition man buys a mine from his leader for his money. In the case of a "successful" explosion, he receives a bribe that far exceeds these costs.
Mina, put on a helicopter, explodes from the rotation of the blades. Her contacts are drawn in a small tin box, similar to a tin can. A flexible, sensitive plate sticking out of the box with the tongue sticking out slightly, trembling from the movement of air. A simple wind makes her sing, mourn melancholy, shake, but never close. But when the helicopter lands, its powerful blades “brush” the ground, tear the prickly grass, beat up clouds of dust. And then the disc is pressed against the edge of the tin. Explosion...
Mountain depots with weapons are especially cleverly mined - they mine approaches to caves, entrances, rapids, lintels, struts, machine guns and carbines laid in rows, radio equipment, sleeping bags, clothes, lamps, tape recorders, flashlights - they mine everything that can be hand man. When sappers enter such a cave, they will surely walk away, they bare their arms up to their elbows, and their legs to their knees. They walk cautiously, overcoming the space centimeter by centimeter, not breathing, holding back life in themselves, so that bare skin can feel the thin wiring extended to the fuse.
... The most dangerous was considered a narrow gloomy gorge - the entrance to the gorge, which is now surveyed by sappers. In such places usually spooks organized ambushes. Dumb witnesses of their insidious tactics were several combat vehicles, ruined by explosions.
Dumb witnesses of insidious tactics were several combat vehicles, torn by explosions.
Self-propelled installation ZSU-23-4 "Shipka" guard the column.
Sore with fatigue, their eyes looked at the fighters after the mine-searching service who had gone ahead.
Lieutenant Colonel V. Khramtsov after neutralizing an anti-tank mine in a protective suit of mine clearance.
The heightened sense of anxiety in a compartment with prudent caution, forcing the experienced commander to do everything possible for the sake of safety, at the last moment prompted me to once again check the dangerous part of the route - the cramps.
Having ordered the driver to move slowly, he began to peer into the rocky canvas with a tenacious, trained eye of the sapper. Nowhere on the road a single suspicious loosening. Yes, and her road can be called only with a very big stretch. Suddenly, his gaze came upon barely noticeable dark spots torn out tank trucks. My first thought was: “The oil pump in the BREM is leaking.”
But then the officer seemed burned, and suddenly! ...
A sapper's instinct is much more than a simple instinct, more than the instinct of an ordinary person. Sapper checks the ground not only with his hands or probe. Everything happens in the course: every little vein, every cell and nerve cord.
During the raid, the 45 sappers of the ISP removed 23 anti-tank mines and defused the system from 7 land mines. Alternately, at the limit of forces, three mine-searching calculations worked.
BTR dramatically slowed down. Groping for the wooden handle of the probe, the lieutenant colonel jumped off his armor and moved to the only visible mark. A few steps to a noticeable place he stopped, felt the ground with the tip of the probe. As he expected, the injections did not give anything: the needle did not go into the rocky ground. Then the sapper knelt down, took the knife. He took off the top layer, removed the stones smeared in fuel. And he saw what he was looking for: the edge of the hole, carefully stoned. There was no doubt - mine! But what and why the mine detector did not find, why did it not work when the BREM hit? The lieutenant colonel began to dig a tunnel in order to examine the mine thoroughly. He poured heavy on sweat, his suitcase squeezed his chest with a hot cylinder, pressed his weight onto his shoulders. But the officer did not feel the heat, did not notice the salty streams on the hot face, abrasions on his hands. Slowly, centimeter by centimeter, he bit into stony ground.
So fifteen minutes passed. Finally, fingers felt a ribbed side. Carefully removing small basalt, I saw that it was an Italian anti-tank mine TS 6,1 in a plastic case. It is laid by an experienced hand - upside down, in order to increase the resistance to explosion resistance, to hinder its explosion. That is why the mine did not work under the tracks. Obviously, it would have exploded in the closure of the column. So it had happened before ...
Began to fit under the mine anchor sapper cats. Suddenly, the machine-gun fire pierced the stones in front of his hands. A stone crumb hit her face, squealing at the ricochet of a bullet. Dushmans realized that the trick failed, and decided to destroy the sappers. Conduct aimed fire dushmanskim machine gunners did not give. Unanimously hit the machines of the mine-search service, covering their commander. Fiery jets of quadruple barrels of anti-aircraft installations ZSU - 23 / 4. The black falls of the caves, from where the shelling was carried out, closed the clouds of explosions.
Meanwhile, the officer slowly crawled off to the APC, behind him stretched a thin streak of rope, connected with a sapper cat. Under the protection of the BTR, he took a breath. And only now, pulling the rope, noticed how his fingers were trembling. Jerk pulled the cord ...
Soon the ambush was destroyed.
The column continued to move ...
When working on the article used periodical material. The author warmly thanks the director of the State Museum Exhibition Hall stories the war in Afghanistan of the Eastern Administrative District of the city of MOSCOW I. Yerin for the photos provided for writing this article.