Video: Edging, ever carefully, into an Afghan minefield

By ALEX PENA | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 1, 2013

MAZAR-E-SHARIF, Afghanistan — Soldiers who work route clearance with the 321st Engineering Company based at Camp Marmal in Mazar-e-Sharif are often the first to travel some roads, exposing themselves to the threat of mines.

On a recent mission, the route clearance unit was investigating reports that a set of unexploded mines was found on a hilltop near a local market place.

On the route clearance mission, the troops keep a sharp eye out for any signs of possible threats, not only from buried mines, but also from insurgents who may be in the crowded city, which they drive through ever day.

To minimize risk, the troops stop and talk with locals to find out if they’ve seen anything unusual. When walking toward the site of suspected mines, they walk single file to avoid stepping off the clearned path.


First Lt. George Harrivel, 321st Engineering Company, 67th Route Clearance Package, speaks with a local shopkeeper about possible mines that might have been placed in the mountains. The team calls these conversations KLEs, or key leadership engagements, and relies heavily on the information obtained from them to support their missions.


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