The following remarks on British training problems for engineer units
are presented in order to indicate methods of obtaining thorough performance
and creating realism in the technical elements of field exercises.
In training exercises an unusually large number of umpires are assigned
to Division and Corps engineer units. One senior umpire is assigned to each
Headquarters and three officer umpires are allotted to each Field Company. In
the case of an exercise including large numbers of minor demolitions, a number
of noncommissioned officer umpires are added. Each officer is provided with
his own transportation and also has at least one motorcycle messenger.
Umpires are instructed to give full consideration to technical as well as
tactical details of operations. For example, in the case of demolitions, umpires
are reminded that in actual combat no large demolition plan ever functions at
100 percent efficiency. Where there appears to be a valid reason to suppose that
a demolition might not function (e.g., because of inadequate waterproofing
precautions in appropriate cases) the demolition might be ruled a failure or a
In order to emphasize the selection of explosives available in combat, and
their limited quantities, wooden blocks to represent standard charges, sand
to represent bulk explosives, packets of gravel to represent special types of
explosive charges, and varied kinds of cord and string to represent primacord,
safety fuze, and instantaneous fuze are prepared and carried by troop units. Each
time a demolition is prepared, the correct amount of dummy explosive is
placed in position. When the unit's supply of dummy explosive is exhausted, no
more demolitions can be prepared until additional stores are received.
When the camouflet method is used in a cratering operation, units are required
to drive a hole in some suitable nearby waste ground, to fire an actual
camouflet charge, and then to fill the chamber produced with an adequate amount
of dummy explosive.
No demolition is considered complete unless the demolition party actually
fires a primer or a small, token explosive charge as near as practicable to the
site of the planned demolition.
c. Repair of Standard Bridge Equipment
After a simulated shelling or bombing of a temporary bridge, the umpire
directs the actual removal of those parts of the bridge considered to have been
destroyed or badly damaged. The removed parts cannot be used again during the
exercise. This procedure emphasizes the need for adequate spare elements of
standard bridges and of bridge materials for improvised structures. It also
brings out the necessity for having adequate transportation equipment and
maintenance parties, required for the repair of structures during actual
operations. It is apparent that these lessons are not learned if the umpire
merely rules a bridge out of action for a specified period of time.
In the case of enemy demolitions, opposing troops are in many cases presented
upon arriving at a structure with a sketch depicting the existing condition
of the structure. In case repair of an existing bridge is possible, passage
is allowed over the original bridge once the requisite materials have been
produced at the site and working parties have been there for the time calculated
as necessary to effect the repairs.