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So, let's just say that the US Military has a tactic that involves setting forests alight and deploying troops there for combat. I don't know if this is plausible, or why they would do this, but I ask that you take these conditions as real when answering (Though, if you do think this would be an efficient tactic, then please do let me know in the comments/in your answer.)

What would a specialized soldier for fighting in forest fires look like? The main things I want to know are:

1) What protective gear would they need?

2) Would they wear special camouflage for the burning environment?

3) Are there any weapons that would be especially effective in this environment?

4) Would they use special vehicles, or would the normal, real ones suffice?

To group it all into one question, what would constitute a specialized modern soldier that fought in forest fires?

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    $\begingroup$ You should tell us about the opponents, first of all, why do you think they would survive in burning forest? $\endgroup$ – Alexander Apr 12 '18 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ Forest fires are hot. Why should anyone go in them? $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Apr 12 '18 at 18:17
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    $\begingroup$ Starting forest fires is a real tactic by the US military. They just don't send in soldiers $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Apr 12 '18 at 18:28
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    $\begingroup$ @RonJohn think of a Vietnam/Korea like environment where forrest/jungle battle is pretty much the baseline. The US had tactics napalming parts of the jungle, so having the ability to get troops right after/during the fire to take ground could be very useful. Not saying its going to be useful enough for specialist forrestfire troops but it might be. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Apr 12 '18 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ @RonJohn I did say in the body: "I don't know if this is plausible, or why they would do this, but I ask that you take these conditions as real when answering." $\endgroup$ – SealBoi Apr 12 '18 at 18:57
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Sealed gear with an independent air supply is a must. Depending on the role of these soldiers will change their level of armament. If you wanted they could all be equipped with modern exoskeleton technology. As they are unlikely to be deployed for long periods of time this makes the technology quite viable in this case. Additionally it would allow greater armour capacity,oxygen capacity and allow them to move more freely without tiring from the weight.

A basic level of fireproofing is a must as is heat proofing. This can be achieved through the use of non-flammable coatings and materials,cooled gel layers in the armour supplanted if really necessary by an integral AC unit. Similar to that used in modern Bomb Disposal Suits,Land Warrior and Future Soldier equipment load-outs.

If they are intended to set fires and fight in them I'd recommend starting with napalm airstrikes or white phosphorous artillery bombardment. In a forest or jungle you would spontaneously have a firestorm. Ideal camouflage is a mixture of native forest pattern with accents of black and red. Black for the smoke and ash,red for the raging blaze around them. Add some pieces like used on ghillie suits to break up their outline and make them look like phantoms amidst the smoke and flames.

Weapons wise I'd say that assault rifles,battle rifles,shotguns loaded with slug and HE shells, as well as white phosphorous grenades and grenade launchers would be very effective. The assault rifles and battle rifles providing good firepower,versatility and would be in their effective range within said blaze almost constantly due to the smoke and reduced visibility. The shotguns would be ideal for close quarters engagements and the HE shells serve to further disorient the enemy;additionally they can be used to blast apart barricades and target light vehicles (humvees,technicals,doors,etc). The grenade launchers would provide an easy means of blasting areas with troops sheltering from the blaze (hiding in trenches,bunkers,pill boxes,basements,etc) and the use of fire as a psychological weapon would be extremely effective. Light machine guns would also be ideal for their standard uses within squads for suppression of enemy troops.

For vehicles I'd recommend most MBT's (main battle tanks) with slight modifications where necessary for comfort of troops inside to grant heat protection and prevent smoke from entering inside. You can give the tanks a coaxial flamethrower (as is sometimes done) to make them literally spray fire everywhere as they advance alongside their main gun and turret. APC's for rapid deployment girded up a bit would be nice. But more realistically AFV's (armoured fighting vehicles) would be more useful in a slash and burn operation. Standard air cover can be provided if with reduced visibility,you can fly a drone or two overhead to keep an eye on enemy troop movements to coordinate with ground forces. Making artillery support via mortars brought close to the front easier to manage alongside the firepower of the AFV's and MBT's.

Using weapons that produce fire (white phosphorus,napalm,flamethrowers,incendiary rockets,etc) would add to the horror and confusion. While the solders equipped, (the "Flame Troopers", "Pyroneers", "Grey Devils",whatever name you like);for the inferno would seem monstrous. This can be added too with armour design,decals,the camouflage and also their equipment. If you wanted to be extra cruel they can have specialized recon units that carry camouflaged fire blankets and cover themselves with them in the burning areas. They then would seem to rise from the ashes when attacking enemy troops. Like demons or burning men. Which given the blanket may be on fire,they would very much look like it.

All in all,I found this to be a very interesting idea. Plenty of practical and psychological warfare potential.

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Well, let's take the obvious idea.

Fire fighters with guns

Take a fire fighter with the typical high-protective forest fire gear. Remove the water hose. Give them an M4 instead. Voila.

But wait.

Caveats

High-protective fire fighter gear features an oxygen mask and oxygen/fresh air tank. I'd imagine it's quite highly pressured, similar to aqualung. You cannot afford a bullet to a high-pressure tank in a combat situation. But there are options.

  • More shielding;
  • Tank protection, similar to fuel tanks in combat planes;
  • No high-pressure tank, but CO2 restoration chemicals: make O2 again from CO2.

ABC gear

All modern armies have something similar already. Namely the gear, designed to protect the soldiers from elements on atomic, biological, or chemical warfare. It's very roughly a full body condom.

It already protects from all bad components of a fire, except, well, heat and maybe physical damage such as crashing down burning branches. It might make sense to combine ABC gear with firemen's outfit, if going to war into burning forests is a thing.

Why should they?

I think that any modern army just won't go into a burning forest. Because, they don't have to.

  • Someone is hiding there? Encircle a forest and wait for anyone who tries to leave it.
  • There is something hidden? Wait until the forest burns down completely and then fetch the item.
  • You need something else inside? As the old and a bit grim joke tells us, even a bear would confess to being a rabbit with a bad enough treatment.
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No amount of high-tech gear will protect soldiers from forest fires. Think of this: every now and then there are impressive forest fires, and firefighters die while fighting those anyway. Firefighters specialized in surviving in fires, so if they also have to spend time and effort learning how to shoot and fight a war, they will be less prepared to survive in a fire.

If you are going to set forest alight, you don't need soldiers. You need ninjas:

Knife eye attack!

1) What protective gear would they need?

Ninja outfits.

2) Would they wear special camouflage for the burning environment?

They would use their ninjutsu to survive the fire. As for camouflage, they are already the stealthiest thing you can have.

3) Are there any weapons that would be especially effective in this environment?

Bamboo darts and wooden shuriken. In the fire they will be lit, so an enemy that manages to avoid most flames may still be lit.

4) Would they use special vehicles, or would the normal, real ones suffice?

Ninjas don't need land vehicles.

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