Michael's Dispatches

The Snapper

Bomb Tricks and Techniques in Afghanistan


07 July 2011

CIVCAS (civilian casualties) are a huge problem for our side and for the enemy.  The enemy causes far more CIVCAS but as outsiders our mistakes have a more toxic psychological effect.  We won’t have to wait long for the next report of the Taliban accidentally, or purposefully, blowing up civilians.  It will probably happen today and tomorrow.

Our movements along the roads are predictable.  In many cases nothing that can be done about that.  The times may vary, but many of the routes are set by terrain or circumstance.  Our people are very well trained to spot the bombs, and they are supremely outfitted with an impressive array of countermeasures and armor.  There are few if any complaints from troops about their training or gear to avoid being blown up.  Nobody in history has been more prepared for IEDs than our current combat troops.  It’s hard to blow them up, but the enemy is smart and continues to land hard punches with low expense.  Everyone realizes there is only so much you can do, and then you are in war, and you take chances.

The enemy has difficulty hitting our vehicles with RCIEDs (radio-controlled IEDs) because our countermeasures are excellent.  Low-tech inexpensive methods, such as land mines, can work against us on roads, but the problem with land mines is that they are dumb and they blow up the first thing that ticks them off, which likely will be civilian traffic.  Enemy CIVCAS toxifies their operating environment and also misses their target.

And so the enemy has developed techniques to circumvent countermeasures and reduce CIVCAS.  One of those techniques is “the snapper.”


The snapper uses a tire for a diaphragm in which nails are used for contacts.  When a vehicle rolls over a snapper, the circuit closes.  To avoid CIVCAS, the enemy waits in hiding with a battery.  One of the electrodes is connected.  Traffic is allowed to roll over the snapper but there is no explosion.  When the target approaches, the enemy attaches the other connection and now the snapper is ARMED.

165527-2-web-1000pxCircuit closed

When the circuit closes this time, juice flows to the bomb, which must be very substantial to defeat our armor, but if the target is lesser-equipped Coalition forces or perhaps unarmored Afghans, it can be small.

And that’s it.  The snapper.

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