Photo Information

Pfc. Matthew A. Caron, 19, from Manchester, NH, uses a sledgehammer to practice breaching through a door during raid rehearsals here Feb. 16. Marines with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment conducted mechanized raid training here Feb. 16-20. The Marines received instruction on the proper way to successfully breach doors and windows and took turns following the classes.

Photo by Cpl. Jeffrey Belovarac

Coming in: Company practices breaching

20 Feb 2009 | Cpl. Jeffrey Belovarac

Even bad guys know to lock their doors, but Marines know how to bust them down.

Marines with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, practiced breaching techniques as part of motorized raid training that took place here Feb. 16-20. The training was done to help prepare the Marines for their upcoming deployment with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit later this year.

As part of the exercise, Marines practiced mechanical breaching, which consists of manually breaking into a structure using sheer strength and handheld tools and is usually done by breaking windows or destroying doors to quickly and efficiently enter a structure.

To move fast while maintaining the element of surprise, sometimes Marines use demolition. However, blasting a door open with explosives could harm those on the other side, so that outcome must be weighed.

“You would only use it when all else failed or if it’s an assault on a known target,” said Cpl. Matthew A. Hubbard, 24, from Northern California. “It’s just not good to risk the collateral damage.”

Breachers carry a variety of tools with them. Among those is the Hooligan tool, an L-shaped tool designed to wedge doors open. A sledgehammer and bolt cutters are some of the more commonly known tools Marines use.

The tools themselves help a lot when trying to enter a building, but they still require a great amount of force from the Marine using them.

“Sometimes it will take a few hits with the hammer before the door opens. It’s not like you’re going to hit the door once and it will always open for you,” said Lance Cpl. Corey J. Gabler, 21, from Stirling, Ill. “There’s a difference between opening and breaking a door, and breaking it doesn’t always happen as easily.”

It’s easy to lose the element of surprise when trying to knock down doors that won’t give in on the first try.

“You don’t really want your men lined up outside standing there while one of them is making all kinds of noise trying to break a door down,” said Sgt. Joseph K. Jones, 23, from Elkhorn, Wis. “When you’re stacked up on a building, your main priority is to get inside that building as soon as possible and out of the open.”

During the five-day raid training, the infantry Marines put their breaching skills to use by busting through doors and windows.  

“It’s kind of cool getting to beat down a door with a hammer,” Lance Cpl. Joseph Kakascik, 19, from Carrollton, Ohio. “This kind of training is a lot more fun than most of the other stuff we do.”


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