The doctrine of explosives and demolitions focuses on the procedures that support the combat operations provided by engineer capabilities to the combined arms team. This doctrine reduces the effectiveness of barriers, obstacles, infrastructure, and minefields to maintain mobility and momentum in the operating area. Field Manual (FM) 3-34.214 is the reference manual for explosives and demolitions procedures that support combat operations, as well as, peacetime training missions requiring demolition (the destruction of structures, facilities, or material by use of fire, water, explosives, mechanical, or other means) (FM 1-02) applications.
Recent plots and attacks in the Homeland and overseas demonstrate a continuing terrorist focus on acquiring commercially available materials and components that can be used in constructing improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Heightened public and state and local official awareness, as well as tightened legal controls, have made it more difficult to purchase certain products that contain explosive precursors in bulk quantities or concentrated forms. Operatives are now more likely to use surreptitious, though legal, methods—such as multiple purchases in smaller quantities—to acquire sufficient amounts to create explosives.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Commerce in Explosives: List of Explosive Materials published in the Federal Register October 19, 2011.
Terrorists can acquire precursor materials legally through a variety of commercial transactions, secondhand from individuals with access to such substances, or through theft. Many precursors can be purchased legitimately and without special authorization from chemical supply stores. They also are available at retail stores that sell beauty supply products, hardware and home improvement materials, groceries, and swimming pool supplies, and are used widely in hospitals, universities, construction sites, industrial facilities, farms, and mining operations.
This booklet is a quick reference guide describing indicators and warnings related to homemade explosives. It is intended to aid military, federal, state, and local law enforcement personnel to visually recognize the materials, chemicals, and equipment associated with the manufacture of homemade explosives. The examples in this guide were selected based on historical incidents, intelligence on emerging threats, and the commercial availability of the components. Given the variety of substitute materials available for the manufacture of homemade explosives, this guide should not be considered all inclusive. Instead, it should be used to establish a basic understanding of typical materials, chemicals, and equipment associated with the manufacture of homemade explosives and to enable on-scene personnel to determine if they are dealing with a potentially dangerous situation.
FOUO Department of Homeland Security Introduction to Explosives from April 2008.
(U//FOUO) Terrorists typically favor basic tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP), off-the-shelf technology and readily available resources when planning and carrying out an attack. While simplistic in effort, these factors can be a lethal and destructive combination. Terrorists also continue to explore innovative attack options that take advantage of overlooked vulnerabilities inherent to the civilian sector. One such vulnerability is transporting bulk quantities of ammonium nitrate (AN) via the road, rail and waterway network. Using a region’s bulk AN transportation network to attack critical infrastructure and urban centers would arguably qualify as a high probability — high casualty/destruction threat scenario.
(U//FOUO) Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP) is a powerful, highly unstable homemade explosive that terrorist and extremist groups have used in bomb-making. Similarities in appearance and methods of production can cause first responders to mistake TATP for methamphetamine, placing anyone in the area in a potentially hazardous situation. TATP may explode if not handled carefully.