Using technology to keep Soldiers safe

By Maj. Dan Marchik | 469th Area Clearance Platoon | Feb. 1, 2019

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. —

This robot won’t vacuum your home and won’t respond to your voice, but it could save your life. Army Reserve soldiers from the 469th Engineer Platoon out of Bentonville Arkansas, a subordinate unit of the 416th Theater Engineer Command, were at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, this week learning how to use new equipment.

The M160 Robotic Mine Flail is designed to clear areas of anti-personnel mines to keep ground forces safe. Using line of sight remote control, soldiers remain a safe distance away from any potential detonations and tripwires.

“It takes the soldiers away from the kill-zone, that way they can fight instead of getting blown up,” explained Sgt. Patrick Cochran of the 469th.

The M160 churns up the ground using a drum with chains and small hammers, digging into the ground several inches, detonating any hazards in its path. The vehicle is armored to protect it from blasts that would otherwise injure or kill a soldier.

“There’s been some tests done with it and it actually holds up very well in an IED explosion and anti-personnel mines. It’s very durable,” said Staff Sgt. Gary Allen.

“It can be used from a vehicle or on foot…if you’re inside a vehicle, which would be the preferred method, you’re safer because you don’t have the risk of someone taking pot shots at you while you’re trying to operate it,” said Pvt. 1st Class Forrest Green.

Other attachments are available with the M160, such as a blade or roller, for other earth-moving missions.

“We can quickly clear an area so we can set up faster. We have a blade which can be used to set up hasty fighting positions,” said Couchran.

Although not entirely new to the Army’s arsenal, the M160 is another tool the Army Reserve engineers bring to the fight, and another way to keep soldiers safe.