"In Vietnam, mines and boobytraps accounted for 70 percent of all casualties," said the 39-year-old combat veteran of the nation's last major war. "These babies are cripplers, killers and maimers. Some can pop a tank a couple feet in the air, then leave it on its side. Others explode under foot, and the last you see of your leg is a reddish mist."
The official said some of the mines can be detonated by a tank's magnetic field, so they go off under a vehicle's vulnerable belly, rather than under its better-protected tread. Others are compact mines whose blast is channeled upward to give them more punch per pound. Some are plastic and are almost undetectable because they contain no more metal than a ballpoint pen.
[George Cutchall] recently briefed a Marine rifle company that is likely to be one of the first in a ground war to reach the minefields' leading edge. "We have got armored bulldozers for clearing passages, but these can be blown, too," he explained. "We have Aardvark flails that chew up the earth and explode most anything buried there.