Combat engineer support to military operations may be summarised under
the following headings:
The capability to deliver firepower, troops and supplies to any part of
the battlefield is crucial to success. Combat engineers use their skills
to overcome physical obstacles both natural and man-made, ensuring that
armoured and mechanised troops can reach their targets and fight
Combat Engineers employ a wide variety of equipment, including
tank-mounted, amphibious and girder bridges, to cross physical barriers.
This equipment can be rapidly deployed to any part of the battlefield to
ensure minimum interruption to progress.
Combat engineers are trained and equipped to clear enemy minefields
which block or hinder movement. All combat engineers are trained to
clear minefields by hand with the minimum risk. They also employ a
number of explosive and mechanical devices to clear paths through
Combat engineers are also trained to detect and to destroy booby traps.
Improving the mobility of own and friendly forces may include the
Route clearance and maintenance
Construction and maintenance of
Routes to and from hides
Bridging, rafting and assisting
amphibious vehicles at water obstacles
Detection and clearance of mines and
Assisting the movement of heavy
artillery and communications units
Preparation of landing sites for
Counter-mobility is the term used to describe efforts to hinder enemy
movement. Combat engineers aim to ensure that hostile forces cannot have
freedom of mobility. Combat engineers are trained in the use of
explosive charges to create obstacles, crater roads and destroy bridges.
In this role, the combat engineer may be required to delay detonation
until the last possible moment to allow the withdrawal of friendly
forces in the face of an advancing enemy.
Combat engineers are also responsible for laying anti-tank mines, either
by hand or mechanically, to damage vehicles and disrupt enemy forces.
Combat engineers are trained to handle these devices safely and deploy
them to maximum effect. Combat engineers are also trained for setting
Earthwork defences, ditches and obstacles - one of the earliest forms of
battlefield engineering - are also used to prevent the advance of enemy
vehicles. Hindering enemy movement may include the following tasks:
Construction of minefields
Improvement of natural obstacles by
demolitions, cratering, and barricades
Nuisance mining and booby traps
Construction of obstacles to armoured
vehicle movement, such as tank ditches
Construction of field defences is a core task for combat engineers. The
capability to protect troops, equipment and weapons is critical. Combat
engineers provide advice and assistance to the other parts of the Land
Forces and the other services on the best methods of concealment and
camouflage, and use mechanised plant to construct defensive positions
and blast-proof screens.
Protection for troops in defensive positions may include field defences,
minefields, wire, and other obstacles. Because of their commitment to
other primary roles, there may be little engineer assistance available
for the construction of defensive positions. What assistance can be
given would normally be in the form of earth-moving plant to assist in
digging, and advice on the design and methods of construction of field
defences and obstacles.
Combat Engineers Military Works units have design and management teams
that can provide military infrastructure support to all armed services
and other government departments. Secondary protection roles include:
A major Engineer commitment in the forward
area is the construction, maintenance and repair, of dispersed airfields
for aircraft and landing sites for helicopters.
Combat engineers also perform non-combat tasks during national peacetime
contingencies and multilateral peace support operations in foreign
General support engineering, including
airfield damage repair and repair of ancillary installations for
fuel and power, construction of temporary buildings, power and water
supplies, repair and construction of POL pipelines and storage
facilities, and construction and routine maintenance of airstrips
and helicopter landing sites
Survey – including maps and aeronautical
Explosive Ordnance Disposal – including
terrorist and insurgent bombs
Traffic Movement Lights for mobilisation
Postal and courier services for all the
Recent coalition and peace support
operations have highlighted the importance of combat engineers in all
spheres of military activity. During the period 1993 - 2011, the
multitude of tasks for which engineer support has been requested has
stretched the resources of the Corps to its limit.
Engineers are almost always among the first priorities in any call for
support: tracks must be improved, roads built, accommodation constructed
for soldiers and refugees, clean water provided and mined areas cleared.
For example during 2003, 22 Engineer Regiment (operating in Iraq) was
tasked to supply a quick fix to problem areas along the diesel pipeline
for the Oil Security Force (OSF), and to ensure regular supplies of
water for the Iraqi population in Basra and the surrounding urban areas.