Like many words that have found their way into the British Army’s common vocabulary Sangar has its origins in India. According to uncle Wikipedia it comes from the Persian for stone (san) and built (gar) although a more learned source describes a more complex origin;
The etymology of this word will be traced in Pushto and other languages of Indian sprachbund (Indian language union or linguistic area). Lahnda: sãgaṛh m. ʻ line of entrenchments, stone walls for defense ʼ.(CDIAL 12845) گ • (sang) m, Hindi spelling: संग stone, weight; association, union (Persian. Hindi)
Whatever the origin it was commonly used by the British Indian Army to describe a small temporary fortified position used on the North West Frontier where it was impossible to dig trenches.
The official description is;
A sangar is a protected sentry post, normally located around the perimeter of a base. Its main function is to provide early warning of enemy/terrorist activity/attack in order to protect forces both within the base and those deployed within sight of the sangar
Originally using stones and rocks the Sangar developed to include sand bags, construction materials and in some cases, concrete culvert pipes.
Wherever the British and Commonwealth Armies fought they would make use of sangars.
The Britain’s Small Wars web site has good photographs of Argentine sangars around Stanley, click here
In Northern Ireland the sangar was developed even further to include RPG screens, bulletproof glass observation panels and sophisticated surveillance equipment.
In Afghanistan the Sangar has been transformed by Hesco although wriggly tin, timber and sandbags are still in widespread use.
They even get the occasional VIP visitor
The website of the Coldstream Guards has a good article on the Royal Engineers production of a Hesco Sangar, click here for some great before and after images.
Although not as sexy as the exotica on display at FOBEX the latest evolution of the humble sangar is the EES, the Expeditionary Elevated Sangar.
The EES is a prefabricated kit of parts with the elevation being taken care of by a Cuplock scaffold tower. Cuplock scaffolding has been used for many years in the Army but mainly for elevating water tanks, see the details on my post on water supply.
It uses an innovative node point that allows up to 4 components to be connected at the same point.
The loading jib on new Iveco Tracker Self Loading Dump Truck (Protected) is long enough to fill the Hesco bastion containers but where this or other long reach plant is not available they have to be filled by hand, lifting 16 tonnes of aggregate in bergens, nice!
The EES is a clever design because it minimises the use of labour and it is labour that is expensive. It also means that a finite number of always in short supply combat engineers can ‘do more’
So how much is one of these marvels of British military engineering?
We can get a few clues by looking at the military aid budget and export control publications. One source lists the cost of an EES at £25,942 and another describes how five of them cost £120,921.
All of them were gifted to Afghanistan.