Here's what it looks like when Marines blast their way into buildings while battling in cities

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Here's what it looks like when Marines blast their way into buildings while battling in cities

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  • For US Marines, when the path forward is blocked by obstacles, combat engineers are sometimes called in to execute a breach using explosive charges.
  • During a recent visit to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Insider observed the US Marine Corps 1st Combat Engineer Battalion and members of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force conduct urban breaching training.
  • One Marine said that while the blast from the small charges feel like someone pushed you, the big ones feel like getting hit by a linebacker.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.-Sometimes in urban combat, Marines run up against obstacles that can really only be cleared with a bit of explosive power.

In those moments, troops turn to combat engineers trained to blast their way through doors, walls, windows, and even roofs.

(A JGSDF-led breach)

Insider recently had the chance to observe Marines and members of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force engage in urban breaching training at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

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(A USMC-led breach)

During the training, troops practiced blowing the doors off a training structure with various explosives. The videos above and the photos below show what it is like and what exactly goes into explosive breaching operations.

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During the urban breaching training, the Marines and their Japanese partners used four types of explosive charges: detonating cord linear charges, uli knot sliders, doughnut charges, and water charges.

During the urban breaching training, the Marines and their Japanese partners used four types of explosive charges: detonating cord linear charges, uli knot sliders, doughnut charges, and water charges.

The linear charges can be run vertically on the sides or in the center of a door. The uli knot sliders are for door hinges. Doughnut charges are for door knobs. And water charges buckle metal doors.

The linear charges can be run vertically on the sides or in the center of a door. The uli knot sliders are for door hinges. Doughnut charges are for door knobs. And water charges buckle metal doors.
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The charges take around two to three minutes to make. The breach, which is carried out by two-man breaching teams, takes about 2 minutes max, although experienced breachers can do it faster.

The charges take around two to three minutes to make. The breach, which is carried out by two-man breaching teams, takes about 2 minutes max, although experienced breachers can do it faster.

For normal urban breaching operations, there are usually about four to six people, including the combat engineers and the assault force, in a stack (the line of people).

For normal urban breaching operations, there are usually about four to six people, including the combat engineers and the assault force, in a stack (the line of people).
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One approach is to stack up at an angle behind a Kevlar blast blanket.

One approach is to stack up at an angle behind a Kevlar blast blanket.

Or, troops can stack up around the corner.

Or, troops can stack up around the corner.
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Before setting off the charge, the Marine with the detonator counts down from five. With heads down and mouths open, the troops in the stack exhale on three, clearing the air from their lungs.

Before setting off the charge, the Marine with the detonator counts down from five. With heads down and mouths open, the troops in the stack exhale on three, clearing the air from their lungs.

When the smaller charges go off, the blast wave feels like someone pushed you, but with the bigger charges, it feels like you were hit by a linebacker, a Marine told Insider.

When the smaller charges go off, the blast wave feels like someone pushed you, but with the bigger charges, it feels like you were hit by a linebacker, a Marine told Insider.
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While most of the other charges create a fiery explosion, the water charge, which will fold in a metal door like paper, creates a cloud of mist.

While most of the other charges create a fiery explosion, the water charge, which will fold in a metal door like paper, creates a cloud of mist.

In addition to the door charges, Marines also have oval charges for roofs.

In addition to the door charges, Marines also have oval charges for roofs.
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"Our last course of action is to go through a wall or a roof," a Marine told Insider, explaining that there is danger of hitting a gas line or something like that and putting the stack at risk. Doors and windows are safer choices.

"Our last course of action is to go through a wall or a roof," a Marine told Insider, explaining that there is danger of hitting a gas line or something like that and putting the stack at risk. Doors and windows are safer choices.