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Soldiers Who Deploy Overseas Have Training In Mine Detection

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FAETTEVILLE, N.C. — All soldiers who deploy overseas have some training in detecting land mines.

Members of the 37th Engineer Battallion at Fort Bragg showed members of the media Tuesday the tedious process of finding and clearing a mine.

There are high-tech mine detectors, but the handheld versions are much more common. Once they sound an alarm, a soldier slowly gets on the ground with a mine probe and puts his head within feet of a potential explosive.

"If you hit something sturdy, it will slide out of your hand and that's how you know to stop digging around and step away and see if what you found was a mine," said Sgt. Kenneth Reed.

Soldiers said the challenge often comes with the age of the mine. Many have been in the ground for several years and are very unpredictable.

"They may not be in the best mechanical condition, so when you come upon the mine trying to decide whether it's in decent shape to remove it, you start poking and prodding on them, it starts to go off," said Sgt. Michael Ascott.

According to WRAL military expert, Gen. Robert Springer, with many Taliban forces destroyed or captured, mines are the most dangerous thing facing marines and soldiers in Afghanistan right now.

"Most land mines are not marked, some are, but in some cases, you don't know where they are. It would be marvelous to get our hands on somebody who has that information who could say there are land mines here and there are not," he said.

Afghanistan has more mines per square mile than any other nation in the world. A memorial at Fort Bragg honors seven soldiers killed during the Gulf War as they were destroying unexploded bomb and mortars on a mine field.