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Strategic considerations for bridge demolition


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A question for the Sappers

@Kingtiger @sjr162

After our Sunday Session it got me thinking.


Strategic considerations for bridge demolition.

Both Preliminary & Reserve Demolition


Basically in a time of war "Why drop this bridge now and hang on to that one" ?


I am guessing you would drop the big multi lane highway bridges first as they're the strongest/hardest to demolish.


Or would you hang onto them because they are the strongest/hardest to demolish?


A bridge in the open would be demolished first because it is harder to defend than one with some cover & concealment?


Any public domain papers you'd recommend reading?

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It's pretty simple. If you're confident that you're going to use that bridge later, don't demolish. If you're confident that you can defend a bridge without demolishing it, you don't. If however you can't defend everywhere (usually you can't), you demolish where you have insufficient resources for defense.


German cold war defense plans were aimed at denying access to infrastructure rather than its destruction. Like steel or concrete barriers that would hyraulically move out of the ground, and then lock in place. Or flooding terrain adjacent to sections of a canal (such as the one bypassing Hannover to the north which connects the Rhine with Weser and Elbe (and ultimately connects all the way to Berlin)) by "pulling a plug" rather than blowing it up. Or powerplants that would be shut down, then have identical key components removed everywhere. But of course there were also locations for demolition charges part of all major bridge constructions; the explosives would be stored no farther than maybe a kilometer away from a bridge, so you only had to get the charges, open manhole covers, insert the charges and wire them, so the bridges could be prepared for demolition by a sapper platoon in under two hours or so.

This is, of course, all history. The demolition charges are no longer stored "in the wild".

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Jebus, don't ask me, I am the guy who just blows them up because I'm told to, someone much higher ranked person does the tactical decisions... 


All I can add is from the grass level I work at, when we get order to delay or stopp (dont know the exact translations between the definitions) we also get instructions what routes/roads must be "green roads" (obstacle free roads, can be prepared for demilition work but only affected on order). Besides those we suggest upper commander which bridge we want to blow up and why, and he takes the decision.

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17 minutes ago, Kingtiger said:

Besides those we suggest upper commander which bridge we want to blow up and why, and he takes the decision. 

This is what I'm after :)



OK, so judicious use of Dragons teeth is more accurate for Cold War Germany, thanks :)

(I was going to blow everything up :D )


I'd have thought there was unclassified US Field Manual on the subject.

Oh Well...To Google!

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You normally need a MAJGEN (2 star) to sign a bridge demolition order.


That's the level where people determine if you need that specific bridge for the counter attack next week or not.


Many bridges are prepared for demolition (or indeed built with it in mind - e.g. South Korea since 1950s) as concurrent activity to save the initial time, plus you often have different phases to the demolition (first you crater it so its still up but less effective - say 6 lane road bridge reduced to 2 working lanes, then you drop it). That way if someone changes their mind even at a late stage the demolition is part way completed.


Edited by Gibsonm
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  • 1 month later...


Theres a scenario inspired by that video "The Demolition Guard", i think i may have played it with BG ANZAC at some point. Do you happen to remember what its called? Id like to see how the bridge demo was set up by the author (timings etc).


EDIT; Nevermind, i did a search....its called.... The Demolition Guard!

Edited by Bond_Villian
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