Army Spending $500 million to Prepare Soldiers for Underground Combat
The Department of Defense (DOD) will spend $572 million to train U.S. Army soldiers to fight underground in places such as sewers and railway systems under dense urban areas around the world.
New equipment and training will enable soldiers to fight in complete darkness, with bad air and lack of cover from enemy fire.
For future fighting, infantry units will need to know how to effectively navigate, communicate, breach heavy obstacles and attack enemy forces in underground mazes.
“… we have to look at ourselves and say ‘ok, how does our current set of equipment and our tactics stack up?'” said Col. Townley Hedrick, commandant of the Infantry School at the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, Georgia
It is estimated that there are about 10,000 large-scale underground military facilities around the world that are intended to serve as subterranean cities.
According to a new training guide, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can move up to 30,000 troops an hour through a network of deep tunnels under the border into South Korea. He is also said to have subterranean nuclear missile facilities, as well as “a regimental air base [built] into a granite mountain.”
There are six locations that are suitable for this type of training and feature subterranean networks. They’re located at Fort Hood, TX; Fort Story, VA; Fort Leonard Wood, MO; Camp Atterbury-Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, IN; Tunnel Warfare Center, China Lake, CA and Yuma Proving Grounds, AZ.
Training is only one aspect of the operation effort. Much of the budget will go towards new equipment.
The Army is looking at the handheld MPU-5 smart radio, with a price tag of $10,000/unit, that will allow units to talk to each other and to the surface as well. The troops will also need self-contained breathing equipment, which could cost as much as $13,000 each. Hand-carried ballistic shields will provide cover from enemy fire. And of course, in total darkness, troops will need enhanced night vision goggles.