U.S. Army Special Forces Guide to Unconventional Warfare

BOOK: U.S. Army Special Forces Guide to Unconventional Warfare
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U.S. Army Special Forces Guide to Unconventional Warfare
Devices and Techniques for Incendiaries
Department of the Army

Copyright © 2011 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without the express written consent of the publisher, except in the case of brief excerpts in critical reviews or articles. All inquiries should be addressed to Skyhorse Publishing, 307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018.

Skyhorse Publishing books may be purchased in bulk at special discounts for sales promotion, corporate gifts, fund-raising, or educational purposes. Special editions can also be created to specifications. For details, contact the Special Sales Department, Skyhorse Publishing, 307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018 or [email protected].


10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

U.S. Army Special Forces guide to unconventional warfare : devices and techniques for incendiaries / Department of the Army.

p. cm.

Includes index.


1. Incendiary weapons. 2. United States. Army. Special Forces. I. United States. Dept. of the Army.

UF860.U85 2011



Printed in China


This manual is one of a series now being published, primarily for U.S. Army Special Forces, that deals with subjects pertaining to destructive techniques and their applications to targets in guerrilla and unconventional warfare. The series consists of both classified and unclassified manuals of three types:

. Unconventional Warfare Reference Manuals consist of detailed, illustrated abstracts of the technical literature. They are designed to provide sources of information and ideas and to minimize duplication of effort.

. Unconventional Warfare Devices and Technique Manuals cover incendiaries, explosives, weapons, and harmful additives. They present principles of construction and methods of use of devices and techniques that are proven reliable and effective.

. Unconventional Warfare Target Manuals identify critical components of selected targets and describe methods for destruction of the target using applicable devices and techniques.

This manual on incendiaries is written to serve the U.S. Army Special Forces in the field. It covers all aspects of incendiary systems including the incendiary devices, means for igniting them, techniques for their use, methods of improvising them, and sources of material supply. Some of the devices can be improvised from locally available materials. Detailed instructions are given for preparation steps. Others can be improvised if more sophisticated materials are obtainable. Still others require fabrication or formulation in a laboratory or industrial plant.

All of the devices and techniques herein reported are known to work. It is a special feature of this manual to present only those items that produce useful results as verified by independent test. Before an item becomes eligible for inclusion in this manual, it passes engineering tests designed to evaluate effectiveness, reliability, and safety. Not only does this program provide performance data, it also eliminates items that prove to be ineffective, unreliable, or unsafe, even though they may exist in print elsewhere. Although laboratory and final testing are adequate, user familiarization with construction, operation, and performance of each item or technique is recommended before tactical use. Instructions and formulations must be followed precisely to assure proper functioning of the incendiaries.

The material in this manual is grouped into six chapters.

Each chapter is subdivided into paragraphs having 4-digit numbers, the first representing section numbers, and the last two paragraph numbers.

This numbering system was selected to make location of material convenient for the reader, once he has become familiar with the arrangement. Section numbers are uniquely assigned to one subject and repeated for the same subject in other manuals of this series. Also for convenience, each paragraph (except in
is subdivided uniformly into four subparagraphs:

Description, Material and Equipment, Preparation, and Application.

It is anticipated that this manual will be revised or changed from time to time. In this way it will be possible to update present material and add new devices and techniques as they become available. Comments are invited and the submission of new information is encouraged. Address information to Commanding Officer, U.S. Army Frankford Arsenal, SMUFA-U3200, Philadelphia, Pa., 19137.


. This manual covers all aspects of incendiary systems. It describes useful initiators, igniters, incendiary materials, delay mechanisms, and spontaneous combustion devices designed for direct use in sabotage and unconventional warfare.

. Incendiaries are primarily used in sabotage to set fire to wooden structures and other combustible targets. Certain incendiaries, such as thermite, can be used for melting, cutting, or welding metals.

. The most basic incendiary system consists of putting a lighted match to an easily combustible material. However, a simple match is not always effective. There are many important combustible targets that require far more heat for reliable ignition than is available from a match. There are also instances where delayed ignition is essential for sabotage success. This manual contains formulations and devices to satisfy the requirements for high ignition heat and predetermined ignition delay times for use in sabotage and other harassment actions.

. Every incendiary system consists of a group of elements starting with an initiator and ending with the main incendiary material. If the initiator does not produce enough heat for reliable ignition of the combustible target, an intermediate or booster incendiary is required. More than one booster is necessary for some targets. The initiator (ch 2) can consist of a simple match, a match and a fuse cord, an acid, or water. The intermediate heat sources are generally called igniters (ch 3). Igniters produce sufficient heat to set the principal incendiary charge (ch 4) aflame. Delay mechanisms (ch 5) are frequently used to prevent detection of the saboteur by postponement of the fire for some limited, predetermined time after placement and actuation of the device.

. Spontaneous combuston is a good sabotage tool. Favorable conditions can be established for the deliberate employment of spontaneous combustion (ch 6), that is, setting combustible material aflame without application of direct flame or spark.

. All of the devices and techniques described herein have been thoroughly checked by independent test to make certain that they work as intended. Detailed instructions are given for the necessary ingredients and their preparation. It is important that these instructions be followed carefully to be sure that the devices will operate properly. In addition, close attention to the instructions will assure safety.


Common terms used in connection with incendiary systems are defined below. Note that the definitions are worded so as to cover only incendiaries. Some of the terms have additional meanings in the related field of explosives.

a. Delay Mechanism
. Chemical, electrical, or mechanical elements that provide a time delay. Elements may be used singly or in combination. They provide a predetermined, limited time interval before an incendiary starts to burn.

A flexible fabric tube containing powder that is used to start fires at some remote location. The powder in the fuse burns and provides a time delay.

. An intermediate charge between an initiator and an incendiary material. It is set aflame by the initiator and produces sufficient heat at high temperature to ignite the main incendiary. Igniters are fast burning and relatively short lived.

Incendiary Material
. A material that burns with a hot flame for long periods. Its purpose is to set fire to wooden structures and other combustible targets.

Incendiary System.
A group of elements that are assembled to start fires. The system consists of initiator, delay mechanism (if needed), igniter, and incendiary material.

. The source that provides the first fire in an incendiary system. A match is an initiator. The initiator is so sensitive that it can be set off with little energy.

Spontaneous Combustion
. The outbreak of fire in combustible material that occurs without an application of direct spark or flame. The fire is the result of heat produced by the chemical action of certain oils.

. An incendiary mixture of iron oxide flakes and aluminum powder that reacts chemically when initiated to form molten iron. Thermite can be used to burn holes in steel or to weld steel parts together.


. The equipment needed for the manufacture of incendiaries consists of simple items. They are all readily available. Required are bottles, jars, pots, and spoons. There should be no difficulty in obtaining any of them. All of the necessary equipment is described in each paragraph dealing with a particular incendiary component.

. It is important that the operator follow the directions given in this manual
as written. They have been worked out carefully to give the desired results with the minimum chance of mishap. Don't experiment with different procedures or quantities.

. By its very nature, the manufacture of incendiaries is dangerous. It is the function of incendiaries to burn with an intense flame under the right conditions. Care must be taken that no fires result during the making or placing of the devices. There are also other dangers in addition to the fire hazard. The chemicals used as ingredients may burn the skin, give off poisonous fumes, or be easily flammable. They must not be eaten.

. When handled with care and proper precautions, incendiaries are fairly safe to make and use. Detailed precautions and instructions are given in each paragraph where they apply. General safety precautions follow:

Preventing a Fire Hazard

1. Fire prevention is much more important than fire fighting. Prevent fires from starting.

2. Keep Flammable liquids away from open flames.

3. Good housekeeping is the fire prevention. Keep work areas neat and orderly. Clean away all equipment and material not needed at the moment. Clean up spills as soon as possible.

4. Store incendiaries in closed containers away from heat. Do not store material any longer than necessary.

5. In the event of fire, remove the incendiaries from the danger area if this can be done quickly and safely. Use large quantities of water to fight fires.

6. Horse play is dangerous and absolutely intolerable.

Avoiding Chemical Hazards

1. Wear rubber gloves, apron, and glasses when handling concentrated chemicals if at all possible.

2. Avoid inhaling fumes. Perform reactions in a well ventilated area or out of doors because the boiling is often violent and large amounts of fumes are given off that are poisonous if breathed too much.

3. Avoid acid contact with the skin. If chemicals are spilled on a person, wash immediately in running water for several minutes. If they splash in the eyes, wash the open eye in running water for at least 15 minutes.

4. Clean up any acid that is spilled on floor or bench by flushing with large amounts of water. Acid spilled on wood can cause a fire.

5. Always pour concentrated acids into water. Never pour water into concentrated acids because a violent reaction will occur.

BOOK: U.S. Army Special Forces Guide to Unconventional Warfare
6.95Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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