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Combat engineering
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Combat engineering

A combat engineer is a military specialist in using the tools and techniques of engineering under combat conditions, who may perform any of a variety of tasks, under combat conditions. Such tasks typically include bridge and road construction; and mine laying, or detection and clearing. In other words, the sapper's tasks involve facillitating movement of allied forces, and impeding movement of the enemy's.

Usually, a combat engineer is also trained as infantry rifleman and has general combat-engineering training as well as special experties.

Table of contents
1 Terminology
2 Roles
3 Tools
4 History
5 Combat Engineering Corps in the armies of the world


A general combat enigneer is often called "Sapper" (the word itself derived from the French and British armies). In some armies - the term Sapper is a professional term and indicating on specific military rank and level of training.

For example:

Also to note is that the term combat engineer is different than a field engineer. The last is usually denotes a mechanic of the Ordenance Corps which is skilled in field maintainence of equipment, weapons and armored fighting vehicles.




In Ancient times, combat engineers were responsible for siege warfare and building field fortifications, temporary camps and roads. The best engineers of the ancient times were probably the Romans, who constructed huge siege-machines (catapults, battering rams and siege towers) as well as constructing fortified wooden camps and paved roads for their legions. Many of these Roman roads are still in active use two thousand years later.

In the Middle Ages combat engineers focused mainly on siege warfare. They planned castles and fortresses. When laying a siege, they planned and oversaw the efforts to penetrate through the castle's defences. When castles served a military purpose, one of the tasks of sappers was to weaken the bases of castle walls to enable them to be breached--before means of thwarting these activities were invented. Broadly speaking, sappers were originally experts at demolishing or otherwise overcoming or bypassing fortification systems.

When the first cannons appeared, combat engineers were responsible for maintaining the cannons while planning counter-artillery fortifications.

During the 20th century, combat engineers gained vast knowledge and experience in explosives. They are in charge for planting bombs, landmines and dynamites. More over, they are the only one with clearance to detonate enemy's explosive charge or handle live ammunition that failed to explode. They are in charge of the EOD department and they train specialist to difuse bombs.

Modern combat engineerings still retain the Roman role of building field fortifications, pave roads and breach through terrain obstacles. Notable combat engineerings were, for example, the breaching of the Suez canal during Yom Kippur War.

Combat Engineering Corps in the armies of the world

United States

In the United States Army, the three tasks of the combat engineer are mobility, countermobility, and survivability.

Plastic explosives are heavily used in combat engineering, which also includes explosive ordnance disposal.


In the Israeli Defence Forces the Combat Engineering Corps have several roles beside those who written above:

Royal Engineers of UK and Australia

Sapper (abbreviated Spr) is also the Royal Engineers' equivalent of Private.

This is also the case within the Royal Australian Engineers, where referring to a Sapper as a Private is considered an insult and can result in disciplinary charges being laid.