55 The historiography of the Jaffa battle is complex and contested. Sana’a. Nicknamed “Baladia,” the Arabic word for “city,” the training area was built in 2005 in part by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at a cost of $45 million. 31 For a discussion of the merits of the traitorous appellation of Flavius, see William den Hollander, “Was Josephus a ‘Jewish Benedict Arnold?’” Mosaic, Nov. 14, 2014, https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/uncategorized/2014/11/was-josephus-a-jewish-benedict-arnold/?print. The defending force can only determine the tactics of the attacking force so long as the attacker does not put the defender under cognitive as well as physical pressure. But regardless, having the right environment in which to train is the most important factor. These injunctions would, we believe, result in operations more truly in line with the maneuvrist approach that is now frequently invoked but is not actively practiced. David Betz is Professor of War in the Modern World in the War Studies Department at King’s College London. Urban Warfare Tactics. In this respect, the Russian military of the mid-1990s was staggeringly bad compared to the Chechen irregulars they faced, who were highly motivated, skilled, and well equipped.66 In the case of Baghdad in 2003, the roles were reversed: The attacking American marines and soldiers were supremely capable and their boldness paid off against a demoralized, half-routed, and uncoordinated enemy that was decidedly back on its heels. 105 A point treated with great perspicacity recently in, John Spencer, “The Destructive Age of Urban Warfare; or, How to Kill a City and How to Protect it,” Modern War Institute, March 28, 2019, https://mwi.usma.edu/destructive-age-urban-warfare-kill-city-protect/. A U.S. Marine Corps senior noncommissioned officer who visited the facility in the summer of 2017 was particularly impressed by the relative degree of seriousness with which the French treated urban training, remarking, A significant aspect of this quality training is that the OpFor [Opposition Force] is staffed with quality soldiers who plan and fight with the will to win. However, these narrow passages can also become deathtraps if the enemy clears them using explosives or flamethrowers. The factors that threaten an army’s equanimity when it comes to fighting in an urban environment are the same for all belligerents. 2) Increased Danger for Room and Building Clearing: When facing an adversary armed with machineguns, mines, booby traps, high explosives and artillery, the task of clearing an enemy-held room or building becomes much more dangerous. Second, cities are imbued with a symbolic resonance that makes them dangerous objectives for politicians. 19 Alice Hills, Future War in Cities: Rethinking a Liberal Dilemma (London: Frank Cass, 2004). 4 (1996): 25, https://doi.org/10.1080/03071849608446045. They ought, though, to try to be “right enough” — to be able to determine the big picture goals, such that they are decisive and incisive enough to be turned into clear orders. Their fury, however, was largely assuaged by the initially agreeable results: A superior Spanish military force was quickly routed at the cost of a handful of British casualties and Buenos Aires was occupied. The profusion of places to hide in this multidimensional environment means engagement typically occurs at very short distances and fire fights are swift and brutal. It also raises questions about the argument, discussed below, that urban operations are necessarily highly demanding in terms of manpower given that the Irgun were decidedly outnumbered.55. The fact is, though, that American and British urban operations in Iraq after 2003 were, on the whole, characterized by a decided lack of sustained political concern as politicians and military-strategic headquarters back home urged caution and retreat on local commanders for fear of costly entanglement. For all the difficulties of operating in urban settings, as long as the city is still functioning to some degree, the opportunities for “living off the land” are significantly greater than in most other environments. Duration. Western armed forces are unlikely to employ overwhelming firepower in a congested battlespace where there are so many noncombatants, because a) in most conceivable contingencies it would exceed the limits of political acceptability, and b) in most instances there are viable, or better, alternatives. The army fighting in this context should seek to create a thousand small outflanking maneuvers together to generate the conditions to destroy their enemy’s ability to put together a response. ), CQB training for fighting forces (how a small team of infantry soldiers should fight in close and built spaces). Urban warfare is not intrinsically more difficult than other forms of warfare. It was to little avail, however, for two reasons. Yet, security was inadequate by design, though not the local commander’s. On the Symbolic Importance of Cities. 24 Oliver Carroll, “Inside the Bloody Battle for Ukraine’s Donetsk Airport,” Newsweek, Feb. 3, 2015, http://www.newsweek.com/2015/02/13/inside-bloody-battle-ukraines-donetsk-airport-304115.html. British soldiers, for example, are told from the moment training begins that they are part of the most professional fighting force in history, that they are the best equipped, best trained, and best supported soldiers in the world, and that they need not fear anyone, or any environment. 101 David Reid, “Domino’s Delivers World’s First Ever Pizza by Drone’, CNBC, Nov. 16, 2016. To impose political will upon a group of people through the use of force would seem to require that it be exercised where the people actually live, generate wealth, and conduct collective public life. Also bear in mind that Flavius Josephus was not an objective historian but rather a hagiographer. The urban environment has a tendency to amplify the negative effects of viewing the relationship between politics and tactics as hierarchical, discrete, and unidirectional. It is wrong, however, to place the blame for the confusion one sees in contemporary counter-insurgency theory and practice on the peculiarities of the urban environment. 73 The base can be seen in this report by Gunnar Breske: ‘Häuserkampf in Schnöggersburg- Bundeswehr baut Geisterstadt,” Tagesthemen, ARD television, Oct. 2, 2015, in German but with English subtitles, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDzUWFrbmMI. This has not been the case, however, in more recent urban battles. These included: various enhancements to C2ISR (command, control, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance), improving the ability of friendly forces to see and understand the operational environment in real time in complex detail; a range of autonomous weapons and logistics systems to reduce the exposure of soldiers to the highest risks; several measures to improve mobility and force protection; and some concepts for helping commanders to better influence the information environment.89 Many, if not all, of these technologies and ideas could prove useful and will soon be or are already available. 63 Louis A. DiMarco, Concrete Hell: Urban Warfare from Stalingrad to Iraq (Oxford: Osprey, 2012), 162. The appetite of all Western governments, including the United States, for the large-scale deployment of conventional forces has diminished markedly since the early days of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the urban context, a main benefit of a high-tempo maneuver operation over a methodical firepower-driven one is that the former deprives the defenders of the time to fortify, particularly by employing improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which have proven a difficult challenge for attacking forces, as well as a serious impediment to post-war rebuilding efforts. The truth of the matter is that this perfectly sensible tactical advice to the urban guerrilla is just as pertinent now to the regular Western soldier. British doctrine describes the near future of war alliteratively as congested, cluttered, connected, contested, and constrained.6 Likewise, the notable strategic thinker David Kilcullen goes for three related Cs: crowded, complex, and coastal.7. The truth is that the jungle is neutral. In a short, decisive battle lasting a few hours, much of it hand-to-hand, in which tanks blasted holes through the walls of structures through which the Gurkhas advanced, 100 Germans were killed, while the British lost only seven men.60, Each of these instances featured unorthodox tactics; aggressive, rapid combined-arms action; and close-quarter fighting in which the allied troops had to guard against civilian casualties. There has developed a sort of orthodoxy, going back at least 20 years, which holds that population growth, urbanization, and interconnectedness — the driving forces of change in the global political economy — are pushing war into modes and contexts that conventional armed forces are finding, and will continue to find, vexingly difficult — in particular, the city. But population centers can only be bypassed for so long in the hope of avoiding a military operation in the midst of a major concentration of noncombatants. When it comes to the numbers and effectiveness of weapons, the most important thing is the tactical aptitude and leadership qualities of the combat forces involved. Units that have spent the past seventeen years learning to restrain their use of firepower, will have to break the habit quickly. However, the Navy continued to pursue unattainable force levels and, today, has lost command of the seas…, Citizens, Suspects, and Enemies: Examining Police Militarization, A U.S. Media Strategy for the 2020s: Lessons from the Cold War, The U.S. Navy’s Loss of Command of the Seas to China and How to Regain It, https://doi.org/10.1080/03071849608446045, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/646821/20151203-FOE_35_final_v29_web.pdf, https://www.infinityjournal.com/article/212/Teaching_Your_Enemy_to_Win/, https://doi.org/10.1080/13533319508413551, https://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2003-03-18&number=118&display=allpossible, http://www.newsweek.com/2015/02/13/inside-bloody-battle-ukraines-donetsk-airport-304115.html, https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/2017/10/marawi-ruins-battle-pro-isil-fighters-171023071620271.html, https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/uncategorized/2014/11/was-josephus-a-jewish-benedict-arnold/?print, https://doi.org/10.1080/00396338.2012.709395, https://www.jcs.mil/Portals/36/Documents/Doctrine/pubs/jp3_06.pdf, http://www.uniraq.org/images/factsheets_reports/Mosul_report%2017Oct2016-10Jul201731%20October_2017.pdf, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.orbis.2009.01.004, https://mwi.usma.edu/army-needs-urban-warfare-school-needs-soon/, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/troops-train-in-the-middle-east-of-england, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDzUWFrbmMI, http://armyrecognition.com/eurosatory_2018_official_news_online/rheinmetall_presented_its_latest_legatus_live_urban_operations_training_systems_at_eurosatory_2018.html, https://southfront.org/russia-defense-report-fighting-the-next-war/, https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR160.html, https://www.army.mil/article/208189/army_combat_fitness_test_set_to_become_new_pt_test_of_record_in_late_2020, https://www.economist.com/china/2018/06/23/china-is-trying-to-turn-itself-into-a-country-of-19-super-regions?frsc=dg%7Ce, https://www.marxists.org/archive/marighella-carlos/1969/06/minimanual-urban-guerrilla/index.htm, https://www.armyupress.army.mil/Portals/7/Primer-on-Urban-Operation/Documents/Mosul-Public-Release1.pdf, http://www.kenno-shield.com/balpro/force-protection-balpro-products/, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ah1ogq_mHw&list=PLx2Zn7hPXT7d1zDzuqt00NOsI4ZzyTXUu&index=6, https://www.geekwire.com/2018/nasa-faa-cast-wide-net-get-ready-revolution-urban-air-mobility/, https://mwi.usma.edu/better-approach-urban-operations-treat-cities-like-human-bodies/, https://mwi.usma.edu/destructive-age-urban-warfare-kill-city-protect/. At the command level, the “maneuvrist approach” is the first tenet of the British Army’s philosophy for operations and a frequent reference point for allied armies.92 Applying this philosophy in the urban environment demands that commanders fight the urge to control in real time. Towns and cities were thus repeatedly cleared, or at any rate temporarily pacified, only to be subsequently abandoned to insurgents. A platoon or company-sized element might clear a building successfully, only to die in a massive explosion as the enemy detonates pre-positioned demolition charges, bringing the entire building down. That is what will enable placing a greater emphasis on tempo and exploiting the greater tactical flexibility and individual lethality of the modern Western soldier in the conduct of operations. With the aerial perspective afforded to them by such devices, Islamic State commanders were able to control and direct multiple VBIED attacks over a large area, including on moving columns or columns that had briefly halted. Nevertheless, there are a wide range of very plausible limited contingencies — strategic raids on certain facilities and noncombatant evacuation operations spring most readily to mind — that will propel armed forces into urban environments to one degree or another. Some of our interlocutors advised that a new facility has been approved in the United States that is large and, by international standards, lavishly well funded (reputedly at $6-9 billion). This would, of course, require enough soldiers to achieve multiple, simultaneous actions and in so doing create a situation complex enough to overwhelm the enemy’s ability to comprehend it. 75 Interview with former senior Russian Ministry of Defence official, Moscow, Oct. 6, 2017. The reference to interpretation and reinterpretation of space shows the influence of postmodern and post-structuralist theory, which was popular in Israeli military thinking at the time. John Spencer, chair of Urban Warfare Studies at the Modern War Institute, West Point at War in the Global City conference, Warwick University, Dec. 11, 2018, echoed the same things our British interlocutors told us. At some point, one eventually gets to Baghdad or Mosul, or to Aleppo or Raqqa. Then what? For the United States as a whole, it was an embarrassing setback, but it was not terribly consequential. 8. 99 Urban Warfare Study Day at British Army, Land Warfare Centre, Warminster, July 10, 2018. Undoubtedly, the key constraint is the potential intermingling of civilians and civilian infrastructure with combat operations. What allowed them to operate in this manner was the group’s relatively sophisticated C2ISR system, which included modified, off-the-shelf drones. While this development deserves…, The incoming Biden administration has an opportunity to strengthen U.S. national security by revitalizing U.S. international broadcasting, both in terms of organizational structure and overall strategy. It is perhaps truer to say that the urban environment is more difficult to fight in for a commander who is not down at the small-team level. …The best care of troops is founded in good training, as this reduces casualties.88. There are obvious difficulties that fighting a war in an urban environment poses, but they are surmountable through a combination of realistic hard training, changes in command mindset — at the strategic and political level as much as at the tactical level — and technological innovation (in order of priority). Together, these factors create a monster — like the mythical hundred-eyed Greek giant Argus Panoptes — that looms in the consciousness of generals and statesmen.5 Seemingly grave tactical challenges are mixed with strategic unpredictability in a context of strict limitations on the use of force and acceptance of casualties. Good militaries increase in competence as they fight. There are many advantages to operating in such a manner, including fewer civilian casualties, as potentially jittery soldiers are less likely to open fire on unidentified vehicles approaching their perimeter. 97 Technical data and a video of the Balpro system may be seen on the company’s website: “Force Protection Balpro Protector – Fast Fortification System,” Kenno, http://www.kenno-shield.com/balpro/force-protection-balpro-products/. Even so, fully detaching from ongoing conflicts has proven extremely difficult. Currently, Western soldiers are likely to be part of a force that is loath to let them use those advantages because the politicians that control that force are often uncertain as to the value of the prize, which makes them risk-averse. Below are six critical factors that military units will need to consider when preparing for high-intensity conventional urban combat: 1) Greater Freedom for Heavy Weapons and Firepower: In a combined-arms urban fight, it is likely that civilians will either have evacuated prior to the battle or will be doing everything they can to stay out of the way. Callwell in his classic, Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice, 3rd ed. The Irgun then defended its gains against counterattacks by a much larger British combined-arms force, which had the benefit of naval gunfire and air support.54 The example of Jaffa contradicts the argument that urban warfare necessarily favors the defense over the offense — the Irgun was quite successful at both in the same battle. Combined arms operations, including the use of armor, are likely to continue to have a significant role in any future major urban conflict. Military units might want to study World War II battles to relearn many “dirty tricks” of urban combat that have not been used for decades. 48 Huchthausen, America’s Splendid Little Wars, 62. We excluded numerous cases of besieged cities in which capitulation occurred after the exterior defenses were breached, or where a defending commander surrendered when a breach looked inevitable — a typical occurrence in early-modern European fortress warfare.10 We also excluded cases where, although significant fighting continued on the streets after the outer defenses had failed, the historical accounts of said fighting were patchy and therefore there was little for us to say about it.11 Our two examples were chosen because they superbly illustrate the rapid political, economic, and diplomatic impacts of urban warfare. Both the American and British armed forces, among others, have shifted the emphasis of physical training away from the high endurance forced march toward developing all around stronger soldiers who are trained in the sort of repeated anaerobic bursts of activity typically required in urban operations, like hauling themselves, their equipment, and perhaps wounded comrades, over walls and through windows.85 Still, more could be done. The 1999 Kosovo War, which NATO conducted almost entirely from the air, epitomized this line of strategic reasoning. Is the environment big enough for large units to practice macro-level combined arms and support functions simultaneously, not just micro-individual or small-unit battle drills? Indeed, it is striking in speaking to and reading the accounts of commanders of many post-Cold War operations how little they highlight the difficulties of urban environments as compared to other complaints. One of the main conclusions of important scholars like Hills is that, although tactics of urban warfare have changed little, the strategic context has evolved considerably as a result of globalization, demography, and urbanization. It was decisive, caused few civilian casualties, and involved the use of lighter, more discriminate weapons. ; Fire attacks – reconnaissance by fire is used by apprehensive soldiers when they suspect the enemy is nearby. Third, the defender usually determines the tactics in cities — a key advantage, and one that normally accrues to irregular more so than regular forces. It is widely agreed that one of the most effective pieces of equipment in the arsenal of the urban counter-insurgency in Iraq was the collection of concrete barriers of varying sizes, called “T-walls” on account of their cross-sectional appearance.80 Most famously, T-walls were a key element of the 2008 Battle of Sadr City, a large Shiite suburb of Baghdad, where they were used effectively to enable friendly force maneuver. Spencer was a company commander in the Sadr City battle and also served in Iraq in 2015–16 as an adviser on barrier systems. Even if civilians remain on the battlefield, accidental civilian deaths are often accepted as a tragic but unavoidable reality of high-intensity warfare. Aleppo. Much of this concern focuses on the material aspects of militarization: the greater use of military equipment and tactics by police officers. Rather, as we have discussed already, it is about the policy objective: What is the political effect that the military force is supposed to achieve in the city? The German unit also had tank and artillery support. Qualitative evidence on all sieges conducted inside Syria, where a majority of the prewar population lived in urban areas, shows how its regime forces constitute a prime example of this process. See also Todd C. Helmus and Russell W. Glenn, Steeling the Mind: Combat Stress Reactions and their Implications for Future Warfare (Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2005), 39–67. Whatever the environment, soldiers must be taught to outthink the adversary, to get inside the enemy’s decision-action cycle using violence and tempo and then stay there, because keeping the enemy on its heels, reeling backward and struggling just to survive, is universally recognized as key to a successful operation. Consider first the following scene from Flavius Josephus’ The Jewish War, which recounts a critical battle in the siege of Jerusalem by Roman legions under the command of Titus, son of the emperor Vespasian, in the year 70 AD: Threatening death to any of the populace who would breathe a word about surrender, and butchering all who even spoke casually about peace, they attacked the Romans who had entered. But history and the experience of recent urban operations show that soldiers and commanders — properly trained and equipped — can act judiciously and achieve the goals of their mission despite the odds seeming to be against them. Urban combat differs from combat in the open at both the operational and the tactical levels. 104 Martin Coward, Urbicide: The Politics of Urban Destruction (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2009), 15. The solution is to ruthlessly and efficiently apply the maneuvrist approach at the tactical level. Despite Goering’s bombast, there is a kernel of truth to what he said: Stalingrad was undeniably stupendous and practically incomparable. Rarely are the potential advantages of operating in an urban environment considered. See, John Spencer and John Amble, “A Better Approach to Urban Operations: Treat Cities Like Human Bodies,” Modern War Institute, Sept. 13, 2017, https://mwi.usma.edu/better-approach-urban-operations-treat-cities-like-human-bodies/. Currently it is based upon extant military doctrine — and, presumably, on the private advice of generals to policymakers — which says that urban conflict requires an approach that is reliant upon massive firepower and overwhelming manpower. The characteristics of an average city include tall buildings, narrow alleys, sewage tunnels and possibly a subway system. Why not the city? Moreover, as we have stressed in other respects, it can be a neutral factor that affects all belligerents the same, for better or worse. Though the density of habitation may change, war remains a human endeavor that takes place among people.42 When it comes to warfare on land, there is no unpeopled place where combat can occur without reference to noncombatants, as though in a gladiatorial ring where bloodied fighters are clearly sequestered from the onlookers.43. 52 Quoted in, Eyal Weizman, Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation (New York: Verso, 2012), 198. American and British environmental doctrine emphasizes the significant operational challenges that this environment presents.2 In truth, however, the urban setting is neutral. 1. A German general captured by the British during the North Africa campaign in World War II put it this way: Desert fighting was a “tactician’s paradise and the quartermaster’s nightmare.”40 This is based, however, on something of a misapprehension — that in environments outside of towns and cities one is not operating among the people. Military and strategic thought is most compelling and practically useful when it is empiric, pragmatic, and phlegmatic. In fact, Popham had acted independently on his own judgment as a commander, having convinced himself that the people of the region were “groaning under the tyranny” of Spain and eager for liberation. Then, neighborhoods were cleared one by one in operations normally starting with the rapid fortification of small combat outposts from which small-unit actions would be conducted. Finally, the dependence of some adversaries on one or more urban areas for their own sustainment — logistics, popular support, and so on — are potential centers of gravity that can be attacked. 93 Carlos Marighella, Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla (1969), 4. Even today, while decision-makers acknowledge that they are going to have to fight in an urban environment at some point, when left to their own devices in wargames and experiments, NATO generals elect to bypass cities without hesitation. Applying multiple points of pressure to the enemy would allow a force to achieve the mission while affording the commander the opportunity to judge where and how to commit resources to exploit success. 5 We thank independent scholar Lily Betz for this apposite allusion to mythology. To make the best use of the advantages regular soldiers have over their irregular and less well-trained adversaries, conventional military thinking must be turned on its head. Stalingrad, on the other hand, was unlimited. Why should the urban environment be any different?87. An average city include tall buildings, narrow alleys, sewage tunnels and a. Also served in Iraq off balance Killing Your way to control, ” in, Brassey ’ s Private (. Turn right, Turn Left allied generals faced very different political strictures on tactics: Theory! 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