NORTHERN KUWAIT—Iraq is a land of land mines, so when the 1st Battalion, 13th Armor, rolls through soon, two of its 44 tanks will wield 10-ton tools designed to destroy mines.
The device is a hardened steel roller that connects to the front of a 70-ton Abrams battle tank. It consists of five discs on one side and an identical five on the other side, connected by massive steel arms, with a chain and smaller roller in between.
The heavy discs detonate pressure-activated mines. The small roller in between drags on the ground, creating a magnetic field that triggers mines with magnetic fuses. The tough steel absorbs the blast.
A tank fitted with the roller can lead a convoy over a road, detonating any mines that the Iraqi military or terrorists might have planted in potholes or laid on the surface.
With the roller, "You don't have to risk a life," said Lt. Col. Frank Sherman, who commands the battalion, which is based at Fort Riley, Kan.
A roller can withstand several separate explosions before it becomes disabled.
The tool, in use since the 1991 Persian Gulf War, also can knock aside obstructions, such as disabled vehicles.
(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.
PHOTO (from KRT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): USIRAQ-MINES