Meet the Rome Plow, the U.S. Army's jungle bulldozer

Had it been adorned with a mounted gun, the Rome Plow, named for the city in Goergia where it was manufactured, could have been categorized a "Shitty Technical". The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Land Clearing Teams, though, wanted to fell trees with it, not the enemy—an assigned tank platoon and infantry company was required nearby for crowd-control duty. Born out of the lack of doctrine concerning the new terrain encountered in Vietnam, tactics quickly morphed as the entrenched European battlefield-centric approaches were adapted for the jungle via trial and error.

Experience had shown that conventional infantry sweeps merely displaced the enemy temporarily. When the soldiers left, the VC returned. Clearing the jungle would remove the sanctuary. …

Rome's K/G blade was wider than the dozer, nearly as tall as a man, and weighed more than 2 tons. Mounted at a 30-degree angle to cast debris aside, the blade rode six inches above ground level to cut trunks but to leave root systems intact to prevent erosion. Besides its extremely sharp slicing edge, the spade curved more than the conventional earth-moving blade and a reinforced steel "stinger" protruded from its left side. The driver used the stinger to weaken large trees by stabbing them repeatedly and twisting the tractor.

Vietnam Landclearers Association | Lawrence M. Greenberg – Jungle Eaters and Rome Plow Companies

Rome Plows used three basic types of cuts: area, road and tactical. Area cuts were directed at known or suspected enemy locations, with the primary aim to expose guerrillas to observation and interdiction. After plows slashed broad swaths across infiltration routs, electronic sensors and aerial observation harassed the VC.

Road cuts eliminated likely ambush sites by clearing 100 to 300 meter tracts of jungle that ran close to highways.

The Rome Plow divisions merged over the years and were eventually handed over one by one to the Vietnamese 318th Land-Clearing Company via the "Buddy System". The Rome Plow was truly a cutting edge weapon, adapted with the best we could field, using then-current day technology; however we would do well to remember that all weapons depend on exclusively on the skill, bravery and sacrifices employed by the operators bleeding and frequently dying at the front line.

The Rome Plow Company still sells the KG Series clearing blade to this day, ready for redeployment should the need arise once again.