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052-192-1242 (SL1) - Locate Mine and Booby Trap Indicators by Visual Means

Standards: Visually locate all mine/booby trap indicators, and improvised markings in the prescribed area without causing injury to personnel and damage to equipment. Report indicators to immediate supervisor.

Conditions: Given an urban/rural area, (containing mine and booby trap indicators) to maneuver in, around or through in support of missions and operations. 


Standards: Visually locate all mine/booby trap indicators, and improvised markings in the prescribed area without causing injury to personnel and damage to equipment.  Report indicators to immediate supervisor. 

Performance Steps

1.   Gather information pertaining to mines and booby traps associated with the area of operations through-

a. Leader disseminated information.

b. References (graphic training aids, land mine handbooks, and special publications).

c. Mine boards.

d. Reports.

e. Intelligence briefs.

f.  Operation orders.

2.   Recognize mine and booby trap indicators during movement.

Note: The only true indicators that there are mines or booby traps present are if someone spots a mine or booby trap or if a person or vehicle detonates a mine or booby trap. Spotting mines or booby traps as an initial indicator is extremely rare and should not be the primary focus of checking for mines or booby traps.

Caution: You must be alert for signs of anything out of place or unnatural as you maneuver through an area. If you see something that is a possible indicator, the element must stop, assess the indicator, and look for other indicators to confirm or deny the suspicious area before continuing or taking further action

Warning: Unexploded ordnance (UXO) is a hazard on the battlefield. UXO includes ordnance items that have been fired, projected, dropped, or placed in such a way that they could become armed and go off. Whether in an area by design or accident, these items have not yet functioned. Whatever the reason, UXO poses the risk of injury or death to all personnel in its immediate vicinity. Once recognized, never approach any closer to a UXO.

Note: Refer to the task number 093-401-5040 (React to Unexploded Ordnance Hazards) for information on identifying and taking immediate actions when dealing with a UXO.

a. Mine and booby trap indicators.

Note: With the exception of stake mines and the majority of directional fragmentation mines, most hand or mechanically laid mines are buried. Once burying a mine has disturbed the natural surface of the ground, nature usually has a way of showing where this event took place. Unusual erosion, plant growth, or animal casualties may be vital clues to alert you that there might be mines, booby traps, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), or UXOs present.

(1)  Dead animals with missing or damaged limbs.

Note: The animal may have walked several miles before dying.

(2)  Human remains.

(a)   Overgrown, unattended fields and pastures next to cultivated used areas.

(b)   Trees and bushes not collected for firewood.

(3)  Damaged vehicles left on or off the road.

(4)  Wilted or dead patches of vegetation.

(5)  Circles of lush grass among thin grass.

(6)  Odd features in the ground or patterns that are not normally present in nature.

(7)  Unattended vehicles, trailers, or boxes and abandoned military equipment such as weapons, ammunition, uniforms, or papers.

CAUTION: These indicators may represent an ied or booby trap. Be alert for wires, detonating cord, or a shock tube running from these devices to the roadside. Cables or wires used in command detonated devices are sometimes buried, so look for disturbed soil in lines running up to the road and away from the suspected area

(8)  Disturbed ground.

(a)   Depressions in the ground (regular or odd spacing).

(b)   Raised patches of earth (regular or odd spacing).

(9)  Unused paths, routes, or trails.

(10) Debris on or along a route.

(11) Signs of road repair (such as new fill, pavement, patches, ditches, or culverts).

Note: There may be signs of single holes or several holes, possibly in some form of a pattern at tactical or key locations.

(12) Potholes in tracks.

(13) Disturbances in previous tire tracks or tracks that stop unexplainably.

(14) Craters.

(15) Areas avoided by local civilians.

(16) Patterns of objects that could be used as a sighting line.

(17) Mine or explosive packaging.

(18) Patches of new brick work, plaster, or mud on walls

(19) Abandoned defensive positions, trenches, and destroyed buildings.

(20) Abandoned buildings, piles of wood, or materials not claimed by the locals.

CAUTION: Buildings are excellent sites for booby traps. Assume that all unsecured buildings are booby-trapped

(21) Trip wires, strings, or cables.

(22) Evidence of electrical wires, batteries, mouse traps, clothes pins, steel tubes, or springs.

(23) Small shiny metal plates, split lightweight bomb casings, empty cluster bomb canisters, and small parachutes or drogues (funnel shaped drag chute) from submunitions (all indicators of cluster bomb strikes or scatterable-mine attacks).

b. Improvised markings of mines, booby traps, and UXOs (Figure 052-192-1242-1).



Figure 052-192-1242-1. Samples of Mine Markings



Note: Not all armies and fighting organizations mark their minefields to the same standards as required by the United States (US) Army. Many local factions, militia, or units will lay mines and mark them in their own way with readily available materials rather than formal markings. These markings are generally used to warn their own troops and local civilians of the presence of mines, booby traps, IEDs, or UXOs. Friendly units operating in these environments must gain this local knowledge in order to identify mine markers and hazardous areas.


(1)  Rock piles or individual rocks painted red are United Nations (UN), threat army, or local-faction danger area markers.


Note: Used by the various fighting factions and locals to mark the minefield perimeters.


(2)  Different color tapes attached to a stick, tree limb, picket, pole, or wall.


(3)  Crossed bones, sticks, or twigs.


(4)  Rows of light colored or painted white stones.


Note: Used by the UN to mark safe lanes and cleared areas. Stones are usually in regular patterns and close together.


(5)  Circle of stones surrounding objects.


Note: Signs used by locals to mark individual mines and UXOs. Where there is one mine or explosive hazard, there are usually more in the area.


(6)  Pieces of both cloth and metal material attached to poles, sticks, or walls.


(7)  Burned fields normally indicate UN mine clearance operations.


(8)  Red lettering and marks painted on rock faces or building walls. For example, start point (SP), indicating minefield start point. UN demining reference markers, such as reference point (RP) and benchmark (BM). Minefields will be close to these markers.


c. Man-made markings of mines, booby traps, IEDs, and UXOs (Figure 052-192-1242-2).


Figure 052-192-1242-2. Samples of Mine Signs



(1)  Red rectangular or triangular signs attached to wire, stakes, posts, or pickets with a written warning on one side.


Note: Generally, if you can read the writing, you are on the safe side.


(2)  Triangular signs with a picture of someone being blown up by a mine.


(3)  Ongoing UN minefield clearance operations are delineated with wooden posts with red and white tops.


(4)  Burned fields, indicating UN mine clearance operations.

3.   Report all suspected areas to the immediate supervisor.


Evaluation Preparation:  Setup:  Provide an area which contains suspected mine and booby trap indicators.  Record and provide description of all suspected mine, booby trap indicators and locations on the evaluation sheet. 


Performance Measures



1.   Gathered information pertaining to mines and booby traps associated with the area of operations.



2.   Recognized mine and booby trap indicators during movement.



3.   Reported all suspected areas to the immediate supervisor.




Evaluation Guidance:  Score the soldier GO if all performance measures are passed (P).  Score the soldier NO-GO if any performance measure is failed.  If the soldier fails any performance measure, show him how to do it correctly.








FM 20-32



GTA 05-10-044



TC 20-32-5