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Assault Breacher Vehicle sees first combat in Operation Cobra's Anger

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Published on Feb 11, 2010

The Joker, the nickname given by the crew to one of the 72 ton, 40 foot long Assault Breacher Vehicles. "The Joker" is seeing its first combat duty in Operation Cobra's Anger in Afghanistan. ABV's are fitted with a plow and nearly 7,000 pounds of explosives. The Breachers are the Marines Corps' answer to the deadliest threat facing United States and NATO troops in Afghanistan, thousands of land mines and roadside bombs aka improvised explosive devices, that litter the Afghan Taliban region.

The Breachers are metal monsters that look like a tank with a cannon, carry a 15-foot wide plow supported by metal skis that glide on the dirt, digging a safety lane through the numerous minefields laid by the Taliban.

If there are too many mines, the Breachers can fire rockets carrying high grade C-4 explosive up to 150 yards forward, detonating the hidden bombs at a safe distance so that troops and vehicles can pass through safely.

The detonations, over 1,700 pounds of Mine Clearing Line Charge, send a sheet fire into the air and shock waves rippling through the desert in all directions.

Reporters watched the "Breacher" in action today as Marines edged closer to Marjah, a southern Taliban stronghold that NATO commanders plan to attack in the next days, in the largest joint NATO-Afghan operation of the Afghan war. Troops are expected to face a massive threat from mines and roadside bombs as they push into Marjah, 380 miles southwest of Kabul.

"This may be the largest IED threat and largest minefield that NATO has ever faced," says Brig Gen. Larry Nicholson, Marines commander in southern Afghanistan.

Several Breachers, including "The Joker" and its twin "Iceman", are being used in the Marjah assault. Military commanders hope they will make a huge difference as troops pierce through layer after layer of minefields circling the town.

ABV's are a cross between a bulldozer and Abrams tank with a 1,500 horsepower turbine engine. Breachers are so valuable that they only travel along with a tank retrieval vehicle to drag them to safety if they are damaged.

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