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US Marines in Afghanistan, 2011.

Mouse-holing is a tactic used in urban warfare, in which soldiers create access to adjoining rooms or buildings by blasting or tunneling through a wall. This tactic is used to avoid open streets where advancing infantry, caught in enfilade, are easily targeted by machine-gun and sniper fire.[1][2]


Mouse-holing began to appear in military tactical manuals in World War II. It was used with great success by Canadian forces during the Battle of Ortona,[3] and by Soviet forces during the Battle of Stalingrad. At Stalingrad, it allowed troops to consistently infiltrate areas to the German rear that were supposedly cleared.

With mouse-holing, combatants are able to move around an urban battlefield under cover, without needing to expose themselves to enemy fire or observation. A typical passage is large enough for a single file of soldiers. Large, unrestricted holes can compromise the structural integrity of the building, and offer little cover from opposing forces.

Similar to underground tunnels used in rural battlefields, mouse-holes can also allow forces to infiltrate behind enemy lines, providing a significant tactical advantage. In some cases, a mouse-hole will be camouflaged with furniture, especially when they are created to aid a defending force or a clandestine operation. When used in defensive positions, mouse holes often join and combine with underground tunnels.[citation needed]


Mouse holes can be made in light interior walls by hand or with small arms. More substantial walls require the use of explosives such as a satchel charge, or a large caliber, vehicle-mounted cannon or tank gun.[4] If time and conditions allow, breaches can be made with even small amounts of explosive if properly tamped and braced, e.g. with sandbags and props, to direct the force of the explosion into the wall.[5]

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