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Weapons Effects And Employment

This appendix supplements organizational How-to-Fight manuals by providing data and considerations pertaining to the employment and effectiveness of ground maneuver unit organic weapons on the urban battlefield.

Major US Army weapon systems are currently being tested to determine effects (penetration/breaching) upon various types of construction materials. Test results and employment considerations will be incorporated in this appendix when available.

The characteristics of built-up areas and the nature of urban warfare impact on both the effectiveness of our weapons and how they may be employed. The following basic factors, acting in various combinations, must be considered by commanders during offensive or defensive operations.

  • Relative locations of the firer and the target. Both the firer and the target may be inside or outside buildings. Either one may be inside a building while the other is outside. In addition, both the firer and the target may be inside the same or separate building.

  • Structural configuration of buildings. The basic classes of structures encountered in built-up areas can generally be classified as concrete, masonry, or wooden. However, any one structure may include a combination of these materials. All buildings offer concealment even though the degree of protection (cover) varies with the material used. In some cases, th structure itself may have to be targeted before personnel in it can be attacked.

  • Firing ranges and angles. Engagement ranges may vary from point-blank to the maximum effective range of a weapon. Minimum arming ranges and troop safety from backblast or fragmentation effects must be considered. Depression and elevation limits for selected weapons may create dead space. Target engagement from oblique angles, either vertical or horizontal, demands increased marksmanship skills.

  • Visibility limitations. Added to weather conditions that limit visibility are the urban factors of target masking and increased dead space caused by buildings or rubble. Obscuration from smoke and dust, concealment offered by shaded areas, rubble, and manmade structures influence visibility.


During the urban battle, the M16A1 is suitable for the engagement of targets in the open or those behind the light cover of doors, shutters, ceilings, and wooden or plaster walls. Its automatic capability makes it an excellent assault rifle for clearing buildings and close-quarter combat.

The penetrating power of its 5.56mm round against other material targets is limited as illustrated in the following figure.

Figure B-2. M16 Penetration (5.56mm Ball) at 200m

Although close combat is a dominant characteristic of urban combat, the ability to kill small fleeting targets located in windows, loopholes, or bunker apertures is required. The M16A1 rifle in the semiautomatic mode provides the accuracy required for this task. To take maximum advantage of the cover offered by manmade features, particularly while advancing through built-up areas, riflemen must be trained to fire from either the right or left shoulder and to engage small targets from oblique angles at and above street level.

When fighting inside buildings, the automatic fire mode and quick fire technique (see FM 23-9, M16A1 Rifle and Rifle Marksmanship) should be used. A series of 3-round bursts provides effective suppression and a more efficient use of ammunition than one long burst. Quick fire is the most effective engagement technique at close quarters.

CAUTION: Remember the M16 round will penetrate wood and plaster. Make sure that no friendly troops are on the other side of interior walls.

Within built-up areas, reduced ambient light and strong shadow patterns of varying density limit the effectiveness of night vision and sighting devices. The use of aiming stakes in the defense and of the pointing technique in the offense, both using 3-round bursts, are night firing skills required of all urban fighters.

Because of the reduced engagement ranges common to the urban battlefield, the M16A1 can also be used as a highly efficient sniper weapon. In this environment, the sniper is both a casualty producer and an intimidating psychological weapon. In addition to covering obstacles, dead space, and gaps in planned fires, the sniper should be assigned target engagement priorities. The following priority is recommended:

  • Tank commanders.

  • Direct fire support weapons crewmen.

  • BMP commanders.

  • Crew-served weapons personnel.

  • Officers.

  • Forward observers.

  • Other personnel.

In the urban environment as elsewhere, the Browning caliber .50 machinegun and the 7.62mm M60 machinegun provide high volume, long-range, automatic fires for the suppression or destruction of targets. Structural material penetration capabilities for each weapon are summarized in the following tables.

Figure B-3. Machinegun

The primary consideration impacting on the employment of machineguns within built-up areas is the limited availability of long-range fields of fire. Although machineguns should be emplaced at the lowest level possible, grazing fire at ground level -is frequently obstructed by rubble.

The .50 caliber machinegun will normally be employed in its vehicular mount during both offensive and defensive operations. If necessary, it can be mounted on the M3 tripod mount for use in the ground role or in the upper level of buildings. When mounted on a tripod, the .50 caliber machinegun can be used as an accurate, long-range sniper weapon and can supplement M16 sniper fires.

During room-to-room combat, the M60 machinegun can be fired from either the shoulder or the hip to provide a high volume of assault and suppressive fires. The use of the long sling to support the weapon and ammunition is preferred.

Because of their reduced range and penetrating power, M60 machineguns are less effective than caliber .50 machineguns. However, their greater availability and light weight make them well suited to augment heavy machinegun fire, or to be used in areas where caliber .50 machineguns cannot be positioned, or as a substitute when heavy machineguns are not available.


The DPW, which consists of the M16A1 rifle and an attached 40mm grenade launcher, provides a means for suppressing or neutralizing targets that are located in dead space or defilade and for projecting a variety of grenades to extended ranges.

Its special capabilities are a function of the type grenade used.

Figure B-4. M433 High Explosive Dual Purpose (HEDP)

M651E1 Tactical CS

Effective in driving the enemy from bunkers, buildings, subways, or sewers using a tactical agent (CS), the round has some incendiary characteristics. It could be a fire hazard when used in buildings.

M583 White Star Parachute

Is an effective signal and a battlefield illuminant that can be placed 300 meters forward of the squad position to illuminate an area 200 meters in diameter for a period of 40 seconds.

XM585 Star Clusters

Are red, white, and green; used for signaling. CAUTION - The green star cluster may appear white in bright sunlight.

XM635 Ground Smoke

Is used for spotting locations; not used for screening. Available in red, yellow, and green.

Significant characteristics of the M203, 40-mm Grenade Launcher, are:

  • Range at which a .5 probability of target hit can be expected:

         Area Target (fire team size)   350m
         Point Target-Window            125m
          Bunker Aperture                50m
          Vehicles/Emplacements         200m

  • Maximum Range 400m
  • Minimum Safe Firing Range Combat 31m
  • Minimum Arming Range 14-28m*

*This must be considered in close-in firing to insure that round will explode.

Within a built-up area, the M203 DPW provides the commander a highly accurate means of attacking point targets and defensive positions with a variety of munitions and the minimum exposure of his grenadiers. It can also be used to suppress heavy weapons and antitank gunners and to disable enemy armored vehicles when other antitank weapons are not available. In addition, since there is no backblast, the launcher can be fired from inclosed areas without taking special safety precautions.


A variety of handgrenades are available to the urban fighter.

M67 Fragmentation

Used chiefly to help clear rooms, they are thrown through windows or doors prior to entry. Used with the M213 time fuze, the grenade should be "cooked off" for two seconds to deny the enemy time to throw it back.

M34 WP Smoke Handgrenade

M34 WP Smoke Handgrenade These grenades are most often used to destroy flammable objects, to drive the enemy from wooden structures, or to create smoke screens to conceal movement.

CAUTION: The M34 has a 35m bursting radius.

ABC M/A3 CS Riot Control Grenade

These may be used to drive enemy troops out of fortifications when civilian casualties or collateral damage constraints are considerations.

AN-M8HC White Smoke and M18 Colored Smoke Grenades

These grenades may be used to screen squad or individual movement; to supplement screening provided by artillery, mortars, or smoke pots; and to mark locations or provide visual signals.


M2 Flamethrower and M202A1
Multishot Rocket Launcher (FLASH)

Figure 4-5. M202A1

Flame weapons are characterized by both a physical and a psychological casualty-producing capability. Flame need not be fired with pinpoint accuracy and can be controlled in order to limit collateral damage. The .M2 flamethrower has a short effective range (20 to 50 meters), but requires no special backblast preparation. The M202 flash can be used at greater ranges (20 to 200 meters for point targets, 20 to 500 meters for area targets), but has a backblast which must be considered.

Flame weapons are employed to:

  • Destroy enemy personnel in buildings or in open areas.
  • Suppress RPG-Saggers and other weapons.
  • Force armor crews to "button up."

NOTE: When fired from inside of rooms, the LAW safety requirements apply (see antitank weapon section).

Significant characteristics of the M202A1 are:

  • Ranges at which a .5 probability of target hit can be expected:

       Area Target (fire team size)     500m
       Point Target
       Stationary Vehicle or            200m
        Uncovered Position Bunker
        Aperture                        200m
       Bunker Aperture                   50m

  • Minimum Arming Range 6-13m
  • Bursting Radius of Rocket Warhead 20m

Flame weapons used against fortified positions should be aimed directly at the aperture. Even if the round or burst misses, enough of the flaming material will enter the position to cause casualties. Against troops behind a barricade, the M2 flamethrower can be fired in a traversing burst to cover a wide frontage. Blind angle burst may be fired without exposing the gunner and exploit the splattering effect of the thickened fuel.

Bursts of fuel fired without ignition (wetshots) can be fired with the M2 to be ignited with a subsequent shot to create an intense fireball. This technique is effective in destroying captured equipment or in killing enemy soldiers in sewers and basements. If the enemy has established a position in a wooden building, the building can be burned down. Flame is also effective when fired on the back deck of tanks or at their vision blocks.

Thickened fuel is difficult to extinguish, and therefore a commander must ascertain what will burn before he employs flame. Limits imposed on collateral damage, either political or tactical, will be the most serious constraint to use of flame. Commanders must also insure that soldiers using flame weapons are provided adequate security.


Antitank weapons may perform a dual-purpose role in urban combat. While they are designed and employed primarily to defeat enemy armor, they may also be used when required to attack structures or fortified targets.

Antitank Role

The general employment considerations for antitank weapons contained in organizational How-to-Fight manuals are applicable to offensive and defensive operations or urbanized terrain. Within built-up areas, special attention must be given to restrictions on fields of fire and mobility.

TOWs and DRAGONs provide overwatch antitank fires during the attack of a built-up area and an extended-range capability for the engagement of armor during the defense. Within built-up areas, they are best employed from the upper stories of buildings in order to attain long-range fields of fire. Their minimum firing range of 65 meters may limit firing opportunities in the confines of densely built-up areas. When fired from street level, rubble or other obstacles may interfere with missile flight. At least 3.5 feet (1.1 meters) of vertical clearance over such obstacles must be maintained.


The maximum depression and elevation limits of the TOW mount may also result in dead space and preclude the engagements of close-in targets.

Figure B-7a Maximum Depression and Elevation Limits

The DRAGON is lightweight and easily moved or shifted from one position to another within the same building or between buildings. When deciding whether to dismount TOWs, the commander must weigh the advantage of gaining longer range fires against the disadvantage of losing mobility. While the TOW is manportable, considerable effort and time will be required to move the launcher and missiles from position to position. In many cases, the best technique may be to reallocate TOWs to task forces operating on the periphery of the built-up area, rather than to those within it.

LAWs, DRAGONs and 90mm RCLRs, because of their light weight and mobility, can attain effective short-range shots by firing from the upper stories of buildings or from flanking positions. These engagements are targeted against the more vulnerable parts of the tank and catch the tank in a situation where it cannot counterfire.

Figure B-7b 1st-Round Hit Probability.

Elevated firing positions also increase the first-round hit probability as shown.

Firing down at a tank from an angle of 20 degrees increases the chance of a hit by 2/3 at 200 meters.

A 45-degree angle doubles the first-round probability of a hit when compared to a ground level shot.

Since the LAW warhead is less lethal than those of the other antitank weapons, multiple hits are necessary. LAWs should be used in volleys, pairs, or sequences.

Backblast. Backblast is an important limiting factor when employing antitank weapons in the restrictive terrain of the urban battlefield. The following tables outline backblast data for antitank weapons fired in the open.

Figure B-8. Backblast Hazard

Firing from Enclosed Areas. None of the antitank weapons described here can be fired from an unvented or completely enclosed room. To be fired from inside a building, the following conditions must be met.

  • The enclosure must be of sturdy construction with a ceiling at least 7 feet (2.1 meters) high. Minimum floor sizes by weapon and type construction are as shown below:

                 FRAME        MASONRY
                  (M)           (M)

    TOW 6 x 10 6 x 6 DRAGON 4.5 x 5 3 x 6 90mm RCLR 4.5 x 5 3 X 6 LAW 2 x 3.5 Min 1.3 to Back Wall

  • In all cases there must be 20 square feet (2 square meters) of ventilation to the rear of the weapons. An open door will normally provide adequate ventilation.

  • All small loose objects and window/door glass must be removed from the firing area.

  • Combustible material must be removed from behind the weapon. Curtains and overstuffed furniture out of the blast area should be left in place to help absorb sound.

  • For ATGMs, the following vertical clearances between the bottom of the launch tube and the firing aperture are required.


    TOW 6 in/15 cm DRAGON 9 in/23 cm

  • Everyone in the room must be forward of the rear of the weapon and must wear helmets and earplugs.

Antistructure Role

The most important tasks to be performed against structures are the neutralization of fortified firing positions and personnel/weapon systems behind barriers. Antitank weapons can be used in this role; none, however, is as effective as heavy direct-fire weapons (tank/artillery) or standard demolitions. The following table summarizes in general terms the penetration capability of antitank weapons against various structural materials common to built-up areas.



TOW 8/2.6 4/1.3 1.33/.4 DRAGON 9/2.6 4/1.3 1/.3 LAW 6/1.9 2/.6 .67/.2 90mm HEAT 3.5/1.1 2.5/.8 .83/.3

NOTE: Penetration does not necessarily imply a concurrent destruction of the structural integrity of a position. Testing is being conducted to develop effects data for deployed weapons and those under development.

Against sandbagged emplacements, antitank weapons should be aimed at the center of the firing aperture. Even if the round does not go through the aperture, the bunker's walls are usually easiest to penetrate at the apertures.

Against structures, antitank weapons should be aimed about 6 inches below or to the side of a firing aperture. This will increase the spalling effect and thereby enhance the probability of killing soldiers behind the wall.

Wall breaching is another urban combat task for which antitank weapons may be used. Breaching operations are designed to improve mobility by providing access to building interiors without using existing doors or windows. Breaching techniques may also be used to create loopholes for weapon positions or to allow handgrenades to be thrown into defended structures. As a guideline, breach holes for troop mobility should approximate 24 inches (60cm) in diameter. Loopholes should be approximately 6 inches (20cm) in diameter.

None of the antitank weapons organic to maneuver battalions will provide a one-shot wall-breaching capability. To breach walls, a number of shots should be planned.

The use of antitank guided missiles (ATGMs) to breach or destroy structural targets or fortifications, although possible, is inefficient because of the high cost and limited availability of missiles. These weapons should be reserved for use against armored vehicles.

Although the penetration data for the LAW appears promising, it is not an effective breaching weapon. Test data indicates that it cannot, even with multiple shots, create a man-size breach hole.

Wall breaching is much more efficiently accomplished by heavy direct-fire weapons or demolitions (see appendix E, Demolitions).


Terrain masking by buildings on the urban battlefield is an important fire support consideration. While all fires are masked to some degree, mortars are the least affected of all because of their high-angle trajectory.

Mortars are most often the main indirect-fire support for forward teams in built-up areas. The requirements for indirect fires close to forward elements often preclude the use of supporting artillery because of the obstruction of tall buildings Normally, mortars are employed in general support and emplaced within or near an occupied position of the task force reserve Mortar positions with adequate mask clearance may be limited within built-up areas. Also, difficulty may be encountered in finding positions which provide suitable hardstand. Occasionally, when the depth of the task force defensive area is quite shallow or when suitable firing positions are not available within the task force area, mortars may be positioned behind the reserve.

If there is nothing but concrete in the mortar platoon's area, mortars can be fired using sandbags as a buffer under the baseplates and curbs as anchors or braces. Aiming posts can be placed in dirt-filled cans or supported by sandbags. The minimum range for 900 meters of the 107-mm mortar will also be an important positioning constraint.

In planning target concentrations, priorities are given to streets and other open areas as well as to areas containing lightly constructed buildings. Because of the excellent cover normally afforded defending troops in a built-up area, airburst concentrations may be planned much closer to friendly positions than in other situations. Incendiary fires are planned in detail and are most effective against enemy forces in Type A and B areas.

Extensive use of mortar illuminating fires can be planned for the hours of darkness. However, the masking effect of buildings also impacts on the use of illumination. It will often be necessary to plan illumination so that friendly positions are in shadows and enemy positions are lighted.

06-21-1996; 13:24:32

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