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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

BOOM! (shaka laka laka) 
I cannot WAIT to check out one of these things!

http://www.defensetech.org/archives/001944.html

These weapons - high-end bunker busters with low penetration and huge knockdown power - seem like Godsends in the urban battlefield, and may be the countermeasure we've been looking for to the enemy tactic of rigging entire houses to explode and then luring marines and soldiers into them - a tactic adopted from Palestinians in their low-intensity urban fight against Israelis.

With this weapon, you don't need to enter the house. You can bring it down on top of the enemy and move on.

Additionally, because the penetration is minimal, you can be assured that the maximum explosive force is delivered to the target itself, and not, say, to the school or orphanage or women's and children's hospital that always seems to be positioned immediately beyond it.

Previously, the choices available to US servicemen were unpalatable:

You could call for an artillery strike or air strike that would cause a good deal of damage to surrounding properties which may be unoccupied and worth preserving.

You could call for mortar support. But mortars lack the ability to penetrate a concrete roof, in many cases. (I know because I had a platoon living in a concrete structure which suffered at least one direct mortar hit to the roof. It cut a chip out of the cement, and perforated a nearby (and thankfully unoccupied) cot.)

You could call for tank support. But the HEAT rounds had too high a muzzle velocity and were apt to take out three or four houses beyond the target house

You could use a shoulder-fired munition such as an AT-4. But AT-4s lacked the punch required to bring down a structure. They had some limited value as cave closers in Afghanistan, but this new weapon promises to be even more effective.

Call for a TOW missile or Hellfire Missile. These are bloody expensive. The TOW is designed for use against tanks, not buildings (though it has been used in this way.)

In practice, though, most gun trucks will arm themselves with a mix of 50 cal and Mk 19 40mm ammo, rather than TOWs. You can't always get TOWs forward on demand.

Finally, you could storm the building. This was the riskiest course of action of all, and forced you to shoot wounded on the first pass through anyway, just to make sure they were out of the fight. (No, you don't have time to check them out. You double tap every shadow on the way through, and you go through like lightning on the first pass.)

On the upside, storming the building sometimes leads to intelligence coups which can save allied lives later. You have to reach a balance.

The author's idea that we need some sort of national debate in order to field this weapon is just silly. This weapon will SAVE US lives, and it will REDUCE collateral damage. It's a direct fire weapon, and it need not be used against houses unless we're recieving direct fire from them.

This is a no brainer. If it is as effective as this article depicts, we need to field them in bulk, and get our fighters trained up in their use NOW, and start working pronto on the doctrine.

I can see the weapon being adapted to the anti VBIED role, with a few modifications (mostly for the sake of accuracy. Though a good antique anti-tank gun would do the trick too.)

The DefenseTech writer ought to stop thinking like a lawyer and start thinking like a soldier. Decisive victory has a way of obviating the need for apologies. And dead moojies file no lawsuits.

Splash, out

Jason

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