Infantry Drills

Section I: Obstacle Types and Categories

Previous: Appendix H: Obstacle Reduction and Employment

H-1. An obstacle is an obstruction designed or employed by friendly or enemy forces to disrupt, fix, turn, or block the movement of the opposing force. Obstacles can impose additional losses in personnel, time, and equipment. It is e-vital Infantry leaders and Soldiers are knowledgeable in the various types of obstacles; not only to employ them, but to reduce them when employed by enemy forces.

H-2. U.S. forces’ employment of certain obstacles, mines, and anti-handling devices (AHDs) are governed by the Law of Land Warfare and applicable international laws. Rules governing their employment also are listed in the appropriate sections in this appendix.

H-3. There are four general types of obstacles. Each type is determined by its distinct battlefield purpose and overall concept of the operation:

  • Protective obstacles are employed to protect Soldiers, equipment, supplies, and facilities from enemy attacks or other threats.
  • Tactical obstacles directly affect the opponent’s maneuver in a way giving the defending force a positional advantage.
  • Nuisance obstacles impose caution on opposing forces. They disrupt, delay, and sometimes weaken or destroy follow-on echelons.
  • Phony obstacles deceive the attacking force concerning the exact location of real obstacles. They cause the attacker to question his decision to breach and may cause him to expend his reduction assets wastefully.
    • Phony minefields are used to degrade enemy mobility and preserve-friendly mobility.
    • Intended to simulate live minefields and deceive the enemy, they are used when lack of time, personnel, or materiel prevents use of actual mines.
    • They also may be used as gaps in live minefields.
    • A phony minefield must look like a live minefield, so Soldiers must bury metallic objects or make the ground look as though objects are buried.

H-4. Obstacles are employed by both friendly and enemy forces. The main categories of obstacles are:

  • Existing obstacles.
  • Reinforcing obstacles.

Next: H-5: Existing Obstacles

Go Back To: U.S. Army FM 3-21.8: The Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad