Talk:Tunnel warfare

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US Army info on tunnel warfare[edit]

A Historical Analysis of Tunnel Warfare and the Contemporary Perspective Authors: Allen D. Reece; ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES

Abstract: The threat of tunnel warfare and the adequacy of United States doctrine against such a threat are the focus for this monograph. Having to engage a contemporary enemy in a subterranean fight begs the question: Is our doctrine sufficient in subterranean warfare? If not, then a study of such tactics is necessary before faced with such a threat. The North Koreans are such a threat; through 40 years of experience, they have developed extensive tunnel networks that will be a part of their infiltration routes into Seoul should they decide to invade the South. This paper reviews 130 years of subterranean warfare, certain principles of war from FM 100-5, the current threat in North Korea, and current United States Army doctrine. Through this study, the monograph examines the effective use of tunnel warfare throughout the years. It looks at the future threat to United States' forces, and will cover lessons learned, spedfically, from the Vietnam era. The final portion of the paper is the likely results should Allied forces and North Korea fight. This leads to a recommendation for eombating threats such as the one in North Korea and attempts to answer the question: is there sufficient doctrine to combat this threat, and who gains the advantage in the fight? The answer is yes, the doctrine that is available will allow the United States and its Allies to fight and win on the subterranean battlefield.

Title: A Historical Analysis of Tunnel Warfare and the Contemporary Perspective. Author: Reece, Allen D Report Date: 18 Dec 1997 Accession Number: ADA339626 Url:

modern tunnels and countermeasures[edit]

Home > Nation & World > World News World News

Saddam may be hiding in Baghdad's vast underground network

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

By Michael Woods, Post-Gazette National Bureau

WASHINGTON -- Saddam Hussein's last stand -- if he remains standing -- might end up involving not weapons of mass destruction, but weapons of mass transit.

Coalition troops may have to hunt down Saddam or other top Iraqi leaders in the miles of underground bunkers and tunnels said to honeycomb Baghdad -- including what was meant to be used as the city's subway system.

"I think that's one of the reasons why our troops captured the airport so quickly, and raced downtown to the presidential palaces -- to get access to the tunnel system," said Richard A. Muller, a physicist at the University of California at Berkeley who recently reported on tunnel warfare in the journal Technology Review.

After capturing Baghdad International Airport, U.S. military officials said one tunnel appeared to extend 10 miles to downtown Baghdad. As they ventured underground, U.S. troops grabbed a colonel who had been calling in artillery fire and discovered 12 rooms with white marble floors, 10-foot ceilings and fluorescent lighting.

The main source of information about the Baghdad tunnel system is Dr. Hussein Shahristani, formerly Iraq's top atomic scientist, who defected in 1991 after being imprisoned.

Shahristani said Saddam had built at least 60 miles of tunnels under Baghdad. The system began as a public subway, but the tunnels were later militarized and supplemented with a maze-like network of escape routes and chambers for hiding illegal weapons.

Modern tunnel-boring machines -- 150-ton monsters with diamond-tipped teeth -- can chew through almost 230 feet of soft soil in one day, Muller said. "Such tunnels are remarkably difficult to locate," he added, noting that entrances can be concealed in warehouses, office buildings, factories or homes. Saddam is known to have a number of elaborate bunkers connected to the Baghdad tunnel network.

The known technologies for detecting subterranean structures, while impressive, may be of limited value in densely packed urban areas like Baghdad, Muller said. They include:

Ground-penetrating radar that can see to depths of about 30 feet in dry desert soil.

Infrared sensors that can detect heat from human activities.

Special cameras that can sense chemical releases from ventilation system exhaust.

Listening devices that can snoop for noise.

Seismic devices that can pound the ground and record bounceback waves.

Gravimeters that can measure variations in the gravitational field between two or more points to pinpoint underground installations.

But Saddam has tunneled deep in Baghdad. Sewers, water pipes and other underground utilities, along with urban noise, would complicate detection efforts. Tips from informants are probably the best hope in figuring out where to find Saddam or his top lieutenants, Muller said.

Once U.S. forces think they know where Iraqi leaders are holed up, tunnel-busting weapons are available, including specialized bombs and agents that could be put into ventilation shafts to incapacitate or kill occupants.

The Russians used "stereophonic bombs" during their war in Afghanistan. One charge would explode, sealing a tunnel entrance, followed by another explosion that would create a deadly pressure wave.

U. S. forces possess a "thermobaric" bomb, used for the first time in Afghanistan in 2002. A primary explosion releases fuel for a secondary explosion that creates a vast aerial conflagration, which sucks up oxygen and suffocates people in confined spaces.

Even if they chose to use such devices, U.S. troops still would have to conduct clean-up searches, a task Muller described as difficult. Tunnel networks occupy three dimensions, where searchers easily get disoriented. And Global Positioning System navigation is useless underground.

Soldiers dubbed "tunnel rats" who searched Viet Cong tunnel networks during the Vietnam War carried only a flashlight and a .45-caliber pistol. Coalition forces are undoubtedly better equipped -- with such devices as night-vision goggles and handheld noise or infrared detectors -- but searching tunnels remains arduous work, Muller said.

The Pentagon's relatively new Tunnel Warfare Center, established in 2001, may have developed secret new technologies or tactics.

"Prior to 9/11, tunnel warfare was not an issue," said U. S. Navy Cmdr. Bill Manofsky, who helped establish the center at the Navy's weapons facility in China Lake, Calif. The war in Afghanistan, however, saw al-Qaida and Taliban forces holed up in tunnels and caves, focusing attention on the need for special training and weapons.

Military planners also were mindful of the coming conflict in Iraq, and other countries girding for battles below the surface.

"The North Koreans are such a threat," Allen D. Reece warned in an analysis of subterranean military operations prepared at the U.S. Army School of Advanced Military Studies. "Through 40 years of experience, they have developed extensive tunnel networks that will be a part of their infiltration routes in Seoul should they decide to invade the South."

Military tunneling is as ancient as war itself, Muller said. To "'undermine" originally meant to breach a military wall from below. The explosives used in such exploits eventually became known as "mines."

The art of tunnel warfare progressed considerably during the Cold War, as the United States, the Soviet Union and their allies developed extensive underground bunkers and tunnels to protect against nuclear attack. Saddam is widely known to have admired the underground complexes built by Marshal Tito, Yugoslavia's former strongman.

In recent years, some countries also have been inspired to tunnel underground to hide secret activities and escape the prying eyes of spy satellites.

ancient tunnel warfare[edit]

In ancient times tunnel warfare was used to undermine the fundaments of fortifications. When the tunnel was finished, the wooden structures inside were burned. the buildings above the tunnel were thus suddenly destroyed, openeing gaps for an assault. One of the most famous examplesfor this is the taking of Kazan by Ivan IV of Russia.

The Greeks and Romans already knew it and advised countermining as defence.

Wandalstouring 00:47, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

That reminds me, digging tunnels is also one of the ways the Chinese attack a walled city during a seige. I guess we either have to work up a specific definition for this type of warfare, or we need to revamp this article entirely. deadkid_dk 00:51, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

I think "Didao Zhan" refers only to the guerilla-style tunnel warfare. I'm not sure whether the siege stuff should be included, but I think if anything it should go to Chinese siege warfare. ;) -- Миборовский 00:53, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

The article is about: Tunnel war and siege tunnels are nothing specifically Chinese. They are known worldwide. The guerilla style tunnel warfare had predecessors in post-Roman Germany, were wide areas were connected by tunnels and surprise trenches making it possible to ambush whole armies. There are several sources about how much the Romans were afraid of these. Wandalstouring 01:10, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

Suggested move[edit]

Should we move this article to Tunnel warfare? deadkid_dk 21:57, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

Well there are two choices:

the article only refers to the Chinese tunnel war without making it a general principle of warfare invented in China later employed by the Vietnamese.

or the article gives an overview of tunnel warfare, its principals and different employment.

When I found this article it was not exclusively about the Chinese tunnel war.

I hope the article of tunnelwarfare I wrote gives an overview of its employment and effects. The article specifically about the Chinese tunnel war was really poor. Wandalstouring 21:14, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

Besides this article is under military tactics and not under Chinese history. Wandalstouring 21:28, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

This was originally used for the Chinese army project, and China was probably the only nation during World War 2 that reused this tactic against superior army.... Somehow this article expanded itself... and now it looked more in depth history about Tunnel Warfare.

Beside of critizing, you got a better suggestion?

Hanchi 15/6 2006


Wonder what would have happened in the vietnam war if the US had been able to use Tallboy and Grand Slam (i.e.: large bunker busting bombs) on the tunnel networks? -- (talk) 12:28, 24 July 2008 (UTC)

Use of tunnels in Gaza[edit]

This line is disputed, please discuss, find sources to support or remove:

Tunnels have been dug from the area of the town of Rafiah in the Gaza Strip into the area of Rafiah in Egypt. These tunnels are used to smuggle a wide variety of material into the Gaza Strip - some for civilian use (food, fuel etc) but also a large amount of military supplies - weapons, ammunition and other military equipment.

Another editor's comment: This would seem to imply that the majority of the material was for military use, which is highly dubious and at the very least would need to be cited.

Now we know that the majority of the material was for military use don't we? In fact the most well equipped tunnels were constructed solely to conduct war crimes.

Rodaen (talk) 21:42, 31 December 2011 (UTC)

Proposed merge from Mining (military)[edit]

The articles Mining (military) and Tunnel warfare seem to overlap a great deal in scope, so I propose that they should be merged. – Fayenatic London 16:25, 26 April 2015 (UTC)

Agree. ViennaUK (talk) 09:05, 16 May 2015 (UTC)
Agreed and  Done Klbrain (talk) 20:17, 26 August 2017 (UTC)