Knock Knock....

Word on the street is that we've requested some hand held thermobaric weaponry from Uncle Sam (according to the Telegraph today, would put link but it puts my name up so I didn't).

Anybody know of this is indeed the case?  Further, anyone done any training with them?

Will completely alter all FIBUA tactics if we get them, especially defensive ops if the baddies have them, so with the prospect of some FISHing in Iraq in the New Year, I'd (and I'm sure a whole load of other bayonet wielding blokes) would be interested to find out.

.......Not too keen on house to house in rubble after reading Stalingrad...  :-/
You're right, nasty piece of kit. If it's available I hope the Inf & RM get issued it before we go anywhere near Saddam. I think the FIBUA boys at Warminster are going to have to come up with some new ideas very quickly if these things ever get used against us, cause if Uncle Sam has developed them it won't be long before the Russians (or French) come up with some sort of export version readily available to nasty regiemes worldwide. Are thermobarbic weapons covered under the Geneva or Hague Conventions or any of the rules of war?

Hmm.... I wonder how long it will be before there's a friendly fire incident involving the Yanks and these weapons? Taking bets now!.......
We've been needing an update to our FIBUA drills for years - they are still the same drills that the Canadians found didn't work in Caen, and we confirmed didn't work in every built up area from Normandy to the Rhine.  The preferred solution apparently (see Jary and Carbuncle in BAR) is to set up good fields of fire then get a tank to make a hole in the building.  Then introduce flame into the hole (so a flamethrower tank is useful) and accept everyone's surrender as they all come running out beating at their clothing.  Repeat as necessary.  All this diving through windows into rooms full of barbed wire shouting "room clear" should be left to the SAS - presumably they get issued different rifles for exactly this reason  ;)(sorry DM, seen your new SA80 thread on the Inf board, but lost the will to live while trying to come up with a coherent answer.  Will try again...) ::)

Thermobaric weapons are nothing new and the Ruskies have used plenty of handheld RPO-A's ( very successfully in Grozny as well as the bigger air/rocket delivered versions.  Shoulder launched thermobaric weapons are ideal for FIBUA, as they introduce flame (and overpressure) into a building through any opening (door, window) without the need for a tank or flamethrower.  When they detonate, they also create a "flame front" that will break down internal partition walls that would normally offer some shelter from a conventional flame weapon, while at the same time consuming pretty much all the oxygen in the structure, causing collapsed lungs and suffocation.  Oh, and and a bloody great explosion.

Years ago I was told by DS on a course that Fuel Air Explosives (similar properties to, but technically slightly different from, thermobaric weapons) would revolutionise the way we conduct defensive ops, because we would need to dig our Warriors in as part of the section trench (like the Ruskies do) so we could all get in it and batten down if an FAE was dropped.  Otherwise the overpressure would kill everyone, even under OHP.  However, this was the last time I remember hearing the word "defence" mentioned in the British Army (just prior to us being issued the combat folding spoon - sorry, ETH), so I think the matter has now been dropped ;D

Anyway, I'm not sure the yanks have any shoulder launched thermobaric kit - the Ruskies are the world leaders.  Perhaps they would lend us some...
Thanks Paoli,
Seems that the US has developed shoulder launched kit, which is good.

Russians have indeed completely altered their FIBUA tactics as a result of Chechnya.  Perhaps we should think about it, they've been doing live firing exercises there for some time now, so should know a thing or two.  I seem to remember reading some good stuff on the fighting there a couple of years ago.  Ivan has indeed binned the idea of the room clearance a la Copehill Down as too many of them were getting slotted, and lets face it, we will never receive enough grenades to do every room, which I believe would be the way ahead prior to any entrance.  Instead, they stand off with larger calibre long range weapons, and our friend the RPO.

As for alternative entry drills, until we receive a thermobaric solution, I favour the 90lb 155 round in direct fire role. Strong-point my arrse!  You can do all of the shoring-up you like, but when that shell comes knocking your ears will ring a tad.

In addition, we have no formed tactis for the use of Wr in FIBUA.  The idea of using it in the investment (or whatever it is called now) phase is ludicrous.  It has plenty of fire power, and would greatly assist, especially with ammunition resupply, CASEVAC.  (Of course, as with any AFV it will need detailed protection).  The fact is, since we cannot do any live FIBUA (and by that I mean blowing buildings up and seeing what our systems will do - anybody made a real mouse-hole and seen one go off then pile into the hole afterwards?  If so let us know).

Hopefully we'll get a chance to practise prior to giving it a go for real!  But this callsign is not holding his breath.
Conceptually.. we avoid clearing building at all costs. It is only as a last resort when other options have failed or when there is an operational necessity to urgently do it.  And of course as others have said .. before we clear  . . the area is pulverised with everything we have. Room clearing drills IMHO, are just to ensure that we have some form of basis to clear areas of rubble or cellars should we have to.

I am great fan for the use of flame for clearing such areas. Historically very successful. However, the Geneva Convention is one of the reasons why this has not been pursued further. A pity.  ;)

I cannot comment on thermobaric in this forum but I suggest you read the TD note on the subject if you haven't already, and of course have access to it - which all serving soldiers should have.

Just waiting for them to turn up!  Or at least, to find out whether they will, hopefully with some nice pictures on how to use.

Ref room clearance however, it still appears to provide the back-bone of our tactics in all of our FIBUA training.  If this indeed is a last resort then maybe we should re-examine our way of doing business.  This is certainly the case in all training I have seen / experienced.  That said, I haven't had anything to do with FIBUATAT so maybe this is already in the pipeline.

Regarding the use of Wr in the urban environment, my gang has some top training ahead (providing we do not take a detour to the south along the way) so hopefully I may be able to throw some ideas up.

Also Ramillies, any thoughts on CATT?  Seen it underway yet.  Would be interested to know your opinion.
Yes .. room clearance is a drill - once learnt it can be adapted to a variety of scenarios. The priciples are the most important aspect IMHO.

Urban warfare has been actively promoted by HQ Inf in the past few years as it is an activity that has been paid lip service in the past. It needs dedicated equipment and weaponry, and of course this comes at a cost.

I have not had much to do with CATT so cannot really comment. I have seen the US equivalent as well. As long as everyone remembers that CATT is a simulator and that by definition it will have faults, then I think it is superb. As the majority of hiccups can be ironed out before going into the field - it will make the whole experience for more beneficial for all concerned.

Enjoy the urban trg !   ;)
A question for anyone out there.  When did the use of flame become prohibited by the Convention (correct me if I'm wrong but it is only prohibited where its use is to cause injury or death, is it not)?

Am still under the impression that the former Sovs have flame-thrower bns on their strength (probably skeleton and unmanned but that's an aside).  Have just watched the US clearing Manilla at the end of WW2, and flame semed a fairly effective method of requesting people to leave their strong-points.  Unless something has happened since then to further prohibit its use, we are in danger of forgetting another hard-won lesson.

Yes, I am aware of the whole collateral damage issue and the fact that they killed many civies and that times have changed. It does remain an effective weapon against shored-up defenders.
Paoli is right.  This stuff has been knocking aboe FSU for years.  There is even a thermobaric warhead for the RPG 7.  You're not going to track all them with Dubbya's keyhole satellites.

Lets be careful out there.
DM, as far as I am aware (which doesn't count for much, admittedly ::)) there is no prohibition of flame weapons by the Geneva Convention.

The UN Inhumane Weapons Convention 1981 also does not forbit the use of flame and and incendiary weapons against military targets - hence we can (and do) still use Red Phos weapons.   (We had to get rid of White Phos because it might choke people while it was setting them on fire, so is therefore considered a naughty banned chemical agent.  Let this be a warning to anyone in Iraq that if the Americans bomb your house and your sofa gives off choking fumes as it burns, you will be prosecuted as a war criminal ;)).  

People like to be sanctimonious about flame weapons, but there is considerable evidence that they can reduce casualties on both sides because troops who would normally fight to the death don't fancy going out like that (and who can blame them?).  Also, they have short ranges, so targeting is less of an issue than with many other weapons systems (i.e. before you fire you have to get so close to the target that you might actually notice they are unarmed civilians at a wedding party...).

So why don't we use them?  Same reasons as we've had the LSW as the principle firepower in our platoons since 1986 - we are a peacetime army and we've forgotton the lessons of high intensity warfighting, and all our procurement is based on a huge defensive battle that never happened on the North German Plain.  Oh, and can you imagine telling the SASC that you would like a chapter added to Pam 21 to cover your BE with a flamethrower?   ;D ;D

By the way, getting back to thermobaric weapons, has anyone out there seen this "Combat Blast Protection" garment that TD Note 00/4 talks about us trialling?  I visualise it rather like a mail hauberk coming down to the knees, and I'm particularly keen on the idea of wearing it over my CBA :-X :mad:
Many thanks Paoli,

I feel a UOR coming on.  Cannot wait to get back to work to write that one!

Also abosolutely with you on the forgetting of lessons.  As I have said on many other posts, what our grandfathers took 6 years to learn the hard way, we seem to dismiss more often than not.  You are right, we are a peacetime army at the moment, too concerned with ROE, and less with getting the job done as quickly and with as few friendly casualties as possible.

You're absolutely right ref flame, both in its uses and its status under the Geneva Convention. Regarding thermobaric weapons we are calling them 'enhanced blast' for no real reason that I can understand. On the UK FIBUA Instructors' Course last year (incidentally well worth doing if you're into that sort of thing) we were told that the MOD had just issued a requirement for a manportable shoulder launched enhanced blast weapon. This would be able to be fired from inside a buliding ( think NLAW), would penetrate before initiating (so you wouldn't have to fire it through a door or window like you have to with many of the Russian first generation systems), and would weigh about the same as NLAW.

Expect it to be in the shops by Xmas 2006.


They are called enhanced blast because they are not thermobaric. Nor are they fuel-air. All use different chemistry / physics to achieve their desired effects. Read at work this week so will post description of their effects and how they achieve them, when hangover goes.

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