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A Cadre Fireblade is the most grizzled and seasoned Tau Fire Warrior of a Hunter Cadre, whose extraordinary skill at the Fire Warrior's art of battle leads him to eschew Tau Battlesuit technology and remain as a leader of the Tau infantry. Cadre Fireblades are excellent field leaders and their long experience at war has taught them exactly where to place shots to maximise damage, and fire with pinpoint accuracy. It is on the firing line that Cadre Fireblades really comes into their own. There, they radiate a steadying calm, directing their Fire Warriors to maintain accurate fire no matter the circumstances, instilling each Tau trooper with the precision and efficiency that is the hallmark of thousands of Terran years of martial training.
Whether breaking the impetus of an advancing horde of Ork Greenskins or seeking to bring down the heavily armoured Space Marines of the Imperium, no one knows a Fire Warrior's strength better than a Cadre Fireblade. A Cadre Fireblade will always extol a focus upon what they believe to be the Tau's primary military strength -- overwhelming infantry firepower! Theirs is the ability to drive and direct Fire Warriors as they pour volley after volley of merciless pulse fire onto the target.
Experts in the standard Fire Caste tactical doctrine as laid down in the Code of Fire, Cadre Fireblades will also instruct all warriors nearby to fight closely together, with each member of a team doing his utmost to protect not just his comrades, but also nearby teams in his cadre. All teams then provide mutual support on the battlefield when the enemy launches a major assault, helping to annihilate the foe with mutually reinforcing fields of overlapping firepower.
Cadre Fireblades were once Fire Warrior troopers like any other in the Hunter Cadre, and as they gained experience, they rose to become Shas'ui -- veterans and squad leaders. Whereas most of these seasoned leaders eventually choose the great honour of donning a Battlesuit, there are a few who instead prefer to remain amongst the infantry with the Fire Warriors. For some Fireblades, this is a practical realisation that the tactical versatility required by Crisis or Stealth Teams eludes them; for others, it is simply a preference to remain squarely situated with the heart of any Tau gunline.
The military path that takes a soldier to become a Cadre Fireblade means that they will never rise to the rank of Shas'o -- they are limited to a level just beneath that of Shas'el. Nor does the title carry with it the élan associated with those who pilot a Battlesuit. Nonetheless, a Cadre Fireblade, or Shas'nel in the Tau Lexicon, is a highly respected role - not least because of their willingness to forgo prestige. The constant drilling and workman-like efficiency of a Cadre Fireblade is, to the Tau, a willing embrace of their most central societal philosophy, the Tau'va - the Greater Good.
Cadre Fireblades are most commonly found armed with a Pulse Rifle as their primary weapon, along with an attached Marker Light designator. Cadre Fireblades carry Photon Grenades as standard weapons to help them in repelling attacking foes, and they are armoured in elaborately designed Fire Warrior Combat Armour. Cadre Fireblades will also often be found holding a Bonding Knife, symbolising the ritual of Ta’lissera that they have undergone to bond with the Fire Warriors of their Cadre. Up to two Tau Drones, which can be Gun Drones, Shield Drones, or Marker Drones, are sometimes found accompanying Cadre Fireblades into combat.
- Codex: Tau Empire (6th Edition), pp. 32, 36, 97