As mentioned previously, tunnel rat soldiers were a last-ditch attempt and not the usual go-to solution. Every group would do things differently. If the army located an entrance and needed it explored, the team lowered a tunnel rat into the area to scout out the surroundings. Proceeding cautiously, they moved in enough until a fellow soldier could fit into the tunnel with them. From this point, they were to seek out enemy soldiers or potential hiding spaces where they may have once been.
Generally, while underground tunnel rat soldiers employed a “shoot first, ask questions later” method. If they hesitated at all, it is highly likely they would be the ones to die in such close confines. To avoid running into issues, tunnel rats remained very cautious of the number of shots they fired. After shooting a maximum of three bullets, soldiers would typically reload to avoid letting the enemy know when they were out of ammo.
The army sent in tunnel rat soldiers with the aim of locating the enemy, finding their resources, and cutting off their supplies. During one search and destroy operation, for example, a unit destroyed 6000 pounds of rice, 40 pounds of salt, 8 rifle grenades, 8 bunkers, numerous dwellings, and one 120-foot-long tunnel. One battalion also found an âunderground complex that covered 2,000 meters and yielded cameras, films, printing presses, and type, in addition to the usual cache of weapons and ammunition.’ Shockingly, a US soldier even uncovered a missing M-48 tank buried six-feet deep; the Viet Cong were using it as a command centre.
According to studies conducted during the war, after one year of service, the hearing and smell of a typical tunnel rat became sixty percent better than that of an average man. Naturally, their opponents were equally as skilled in this department and so tunnel rat soldiers were careful not to clean too much, or use certain products in case their enemies smelled them coming. They harnessed their newfound abilities to help them with survival because unlike their enemies, they lacked experience in these small dark tunnels.