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Thread: Urban / City Warfare (merged thread)

  1. #61
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Default The U.S. military has seen the future, and it involves urban warfare

    Interesting article on military operations urban terrain

    Link to story

    This year marks a milestone in human history: For the first time, more than half the world's population will live in cities. A June 2007 report by the United Nations Population Fund said this "decisive shift from rural to urban growth" marks a change in "a balance that has lasted for millennia."

    Not coincidentally, Army Chief Gen. George Casey recently gave a blunt assessment of how the United States would wage wars in the future: "We're going to fight in cities."

    During his three years as commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Casey tried to come up with a way to fight an adaptive, largely ur-ban insurgency. That he never developed a fully effective approach explains, in part, his replacement by Gen. David Petraeus in early 2007. Petraeus' strategy of moving U.S. troops off huge bases and into local neighborhoods has tamped down violence in much of the country. Whether it will work in the long run remains to be seen.

    Cities - from Stalingrad to Moga-dishu to Fallujah, Iraq in 2004 - have long played host to history's major battles. In a 2005 speech in Quantico, Va., Marine Gen. Michael Hagee said, "In my opinion, Fallujah is . . . not a bad example of what we're going to fight in the future, and not a bad example of how to fight it. . . . It is about individual Marines going house to house, killing."

    The city as battlefield is partly a function of the city as the hub of modern commercial, educational, financial, social and political activity - a trend accelerated by globalization. Densely packed cities are where transportation arteries converge. Troops moving along the path of least resistance, such as paved roadways linking together major urban areas, are at some point bound to bump into opposing troops.

    Meanwhile, the urban explosion is accelerating: By 2020, the number of city dwellers will swell to 60 percent of the world's population, and by 2030, it will reach 80 percent. The most rapid growth now is occurring in Asia and Africa, where the ranks of city dwellers increases by a million people every week.

    Megacities - those with more than 10 million inhabitants - continue to expand. The U.N. says the wave of urbanization in the developing world could lead to continued unrest and conflict as the growth in population taxes the ability of cities to deliver security and basic services. It also will tax the ability of the U.S. military to adapt to a very different kind of war than it has traditionally waged.
    Much more at the LINK
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  2. #62
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    This is the same old stuff that's been doing the rounds now for 20 years.

    It's always the same angle, which is 'Future wars will be urban because,..." and then cite 5 or 6 facts that bear no relation to the argument.

    Question 1: Which of the worlds top 50 armies is optimised to conduct combat more in urban terrain than rural? - answer none.

    Question 2: How do armed forces and criminal gangs benefit from Urban terrain? - now take the answers to that question and relate them to the 5 or 6 facts.

    Question 3: How does urban terrain hinder armed forces and criminal gangs?

    I wish I was a senior military officer. I could express opinions without having to think about them before hand!
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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  3. #63
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    I think forces that have chosen to stake their campaigns on capturing/defending cities have tended to be the big losers in historical campaigns. It represents a variation on the "hunker down in a FOB" theme that we have acknowledged wasn't working in the current AOR.

    I can think of no good reason from a tactical perspective to fight in cities. Seems to me that there are two ways to do MOUT well--1)clearing buildings from the top down or 2)surrounding/bypassing cities, cutting off their denizens' access to critical infrastructure (like water, fuel, and electricity), and letting the occupants starve themselves into submission. The first imposes significant risk to one's own forces and the second has severe limitations from a humanitarian perspective.

  4. #64
    Council Member SteveMetz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    I think forces that have chosen to stake their campaigns on capturing/defending cities have tended to be the big losers in historical campaigns. It represents a variation on the "hunker down in a FOB" theme that we have acknowledged wasn't working in the current AOR.

    I can think of no good reason from a tactical perspective to fight in cities. Seems to me that there are two ways to do MOUT well--1)clearing buildings from the top down or 2)surrounding/bypassing cities, cutting off their denizens' access to critical infrastructure (like water, fuel, and electricity), and letting the occupants starve themselves into submission. The first imposes significant risk to one's own forces and the second has severe limitations from a humanitarian perspective.

    I've been arguing for years that MOUT is the environment where nonlethality and robotics could make a substantial difference. Clearing buildings and, more importantly, keeping them cleared are perfect tasks for robots equipped with nonlethal systems.

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    Default Feral Cities and the Scientific Way of Warfare

    All - sincere apologies for long absence from this forum, and for showing up now, only to toot our own horn.

    I wanted to call your attention to an upcoming book discussion that's going to be held at CTlab, from 5-8 December. The author is Dr. Antoine Bousquet, and the book, about to be published with Hurst & Co Publishers in the UK and COlumbia University Press in the US, is entitled The Scientific Way of Warfare: Order and Chaos on the Battlefields of Modernity.

    We already held a public lecture last week at University College London, entitled "Feral Cities and the Scientific Way of Warfare". It's the first in the Battlespace/s Public Lecture Series; it mixed architectural speculation and Bousquet's ideas. Streaming video of that event'll be available within a few days, and an interview with Bousquet has been posted to the CTlab website here, in preparation for the discussion. Quicklinks for the symposium can be found at top right of the main CTlab blog page.

    CONFIRMED PARTICIPANTS:

    Kenneth Anderson – Law (American University)
    Josef Ansorge – International Relations (Cambridge University)
    John Matthew Barlow – History (Concordia University)
    Antoine Bousquet - Politics & Sociology (Birkbeck College)
    Martin Coward – International Relations (University of Sussex)
    Armando Geller – Conflict Analysis (Manchester Metropolitan University)
    James Gibson – Sociology (California State University, Long Beach)
    Derek Gregory – Geography (University of British Columbia)
    Craig Hayden –International Communications (American University)
    Charles Jones –International Relations (Cambridge University)
    Jason Ralph – Politics and International Studies (University of Leeds)
    Julian Reid – War Studies (King’s College London)
    Martin Senn – Political Science (University College London)
    Marc Tyrrell – Anthropology (Carleton University) [yes, OUR MarcT]
    Tony Waters – Sociology (California State University, Chico)

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    We're all looking forward to it, and I'd be interested to see the discussion extend to this part of the ether, as well. All feedback on form + content is welcome. Ping me direct with any questions/comments/suggestions.
    Last edited by Mike Innes; 12-02-2008 at 08:03 PM.
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    Current Intelligence Magazine

  6. #66
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Thanks for the heads-up, Mike. Marc told me about this, and I plan on reading the book as soon as I can get my grubby paws on it.

    However, there is one thing; I am unable to go to your site at work. Any idea why my local DOIM would block it? Unless there is something wrong with your end, I plan on pushing the issue to get access.

  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Innes View Post
    All - sincere apologies for long absence from this forum, and for showing up now, only to toot our own horn.
    Well worth tooting, Mike--you've done great things with the site, and the book and discussion look very interesting indeed.

  8. #68
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    @Rex: Well, then, toot. I have to thank Dave D for being a good web-friend about this, too. A lot of time and effort's gone into putting it together, and mostly just saving money be learning all the webwork from scratch (which obviously means huge costs in terms of time and energy).

    Anyway, I hope it fills a gap, can serve as a useful companion to what's going on over here.

    @120mm: I assume the message I got offline was from you, so I think we got that sorted. Some institutional filters might block it as a blog, which is too bad. Thanks for the good words.
    --
    Michael A. Innes, Editor & Publisher
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    Default Urban Warfare conference in Geneva, end of the month

    Sorry for the short notice, the ministry just sent this out:

    http://www.geopolitics.ch/en/colloqu...n_conflit.html

    No affiliation on my part, just passing it along.

  10. #70
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Default Has the US Solved the Urban Combat Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Haddick
    Has the US Solved the Urban Combat Problem

    So was the 2008 battle for Sadr City a one-off, the result of unique circumstances? Or is it a model for future U.S. MOUT operations? If U.S.-led coalition forces can dominate urban terrain almost as cleanly and cheaply as open terrain, what are the consequences for irregular adversaries? And how might they adapt?

    Readers, I welcome your comments.
    Happy to comment. In my opinion it's a one off, because context is everything.
    Sadr City is only 6 x 5 km laid out on a near perfect grid, and the US held all the cards, as concerns when and where to act.
    Going by what was said at CNAS, what happened in Sadr City is what should happen if you prepare properly for that type of operation. Nothing the US did there was new, or original. It's all urban operations best practice from the last 10 years.

    To try and draw lessons across to other circumstances may not give any useful insight, unless the same level of resources and preparation can be applied to circumstance that is substantially similar.

    To assume that coalition forces can dominate urban terrain as cleanly and cheaply as open terrain, would be grossly misleading based on the quality of evidence to hand.
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 06-16-2009 at 02:55 AM. Reason: Added link.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  11. #71
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    1-I would try and hi-jack some of the US vehicles and use them against them.

    2-IED's are just land mines to me and they could be exploited a lot further than they have been without having to use any type of remote or electronic ignition.

    3-Animal/insect delivered bio-agent.

    4-Scorched earth/ burn the place down since I couldn't get out alive.

    5-A lot of off the shelf security technology could be altered/used to give me some of the same benefits you would have.

    6-Hand held guided missiles that could be built locally, pretty much by hand.

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    - Figure out how they gather their intelligence and then feed them information that leads them to conclude that raids or airstrikes must be conducted at x school or y mosque or z children's clinic. Then invite the media for the after-party.

    - Sabotage or infect the water supply at the start of summer, creating a humanitarian disaster to blame on the occupiers

    - Have 10-year-olds fire mortars and dare the US to fire counterbattery.

    - Arrange outdoor meeting places for women only, where even the most conservative women could feel comfortable walking about unveiled only around other women and then accuse the US of using their UAVs to spy on the women to satisfy their perversions.

    - Conduct peaceful demonstrations demanding that the US leave; turn it into a media circus where unarmed civilians shout at armed US Soldiers and throw shoes and rocks at them

    - Arm insurgents with reflective belts

  13. #73
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Arrow No, not that

    - arm insurgents with reflective belts.
    :d

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    So the 900 pound gorilla has finally learned how to hit a squirrel without hurting himself too much?
    I doubt that this would work against another gorilla.

    It's possible to adapt. Camouflage, concealment and deception would work just fine.

    The army may have learned to copy police methods (police helicopter support) on larger scale. That's no solution, it's just some support.


    Airpower has played an important role in urban warfare before without being a great solution.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Heh, True. I don't think

    it would work against even a reasonably sized Rhesus Monkey, much less a Gorilla...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    It's possible to adapt. Camouflage, concealment and deception would work just fine.
    Yup. The best form of camouflage is the populace. We've gotten better at spotting insurgent activity when they think that they're safe from detection, let their guard down, and don't use camouflage. There's a fix to that. Call the people out into the streets and smuggle weapons through the market places or emplace IEDs while surrounded by crowds. All that the UAV is going to see is a mass of people. Likewise, fire your mortars and rockets from crowded open-air markets. What are we gonna do about it? Shoot back and kill everyone in the market place? We're seeing the blowback from that in Pakistan. Looks like the Taliban pretty much figured out what the Shia militiamen didn't.

    I also disagree with the author's assertion that we are doing things "cleanly and cheaply." There is nothing cheap about multiple UAVs, air weapons teams, armored vehicles, etc. There is also nothing clean about taking 5 years to gather the necessary intelligence and develop the techniques and procedures necessary to "dominate" a unique piece of terrain. I also dispute that we are dominant - as opposed to having an advantage that could slip away - and I think it is worth emphasizing again that the terrain that we are allegedly dominating is unique and it has taken us too long to figure out how to be more successful on that unique piece of terrain. Our slow climb up the learning curve is a frightening indicator of our ability to apply our craft in areas outside of that few square miles of ground. Rather than patting outselves on the backs, we should be asking why it took us so long to get to this point.

  17. #77
    Council Member The Cuyahoga Kid's Avatar
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    Looking for some clarification here.

    Are the article and associated comments referring to the multiple challenges caused by urban terrain during COIN and low intensity operations specifically, challenges caused by urban terrain during conventional warfare and high intensity conflict specifically or challenges caused by urban terrain during both?

    Also, there are a variety of disadvantages to operating in urban terrain while engaged in a counter insurgency which previous posters have mentioned, including collateral damage, use of civilian areas by enemy forces and a restrictive operating environment. But are there any advantages which urban terrain offers to the COIN forces while conducting a counter insurgency campaign?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-17-2009 at 10:58 PM.

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    I'll bite. The urban environment offers a concentrated population which may make providing security easier - i.e. you don't have dozens of scattered villages to protect. It may also simplify some of the logistics of delivering humanitarian aid. Cities tend to grow up in accessible areas. However, I'd bet that overall the urban environment makes things harder.

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    Default Sadr City & MOUT - learn from it don't copy it.

    As always, thank you for highlighting these events that us not in the U.S. miss. Btw, are we assuming the urban area is cleared of people or not?

    On the question, alas, no solution. To my limited understanding, Sadr City involved luxurious amounts of ISR and time, and in its own way was a 'brute force' approach (throw as many ISR, firing platforms and other assets at the problem as possible), a bigger less defined and multi-layer urban area would require exponentially more assets. I suggest it's possible to learn from Sadr City, not copy it - but that is what I'm guessing Gen. Petraeus meant.

    In any case, brief thoughts on #2,4 & 5:

    2) No need for coalition ground forces to go house-to-house, wrecking the city in the process,

    Unless there is some magic to tell me what people living in houses are thinking, or indicate prepositioned explosives (mines etc), I would still want to go house to house. Whether or not going house to house necessarily means wrecking the city is up to all combatant actors.

    4) Much reduced non-combatant casualties and refugee flows, resulting from persistent observation and precision fires,

    Persistent observation theoretically exists in CCTV systems, but even there it's hard to (in advance) know what is in a bag, car etc. From the description provided, overhead observation of Sadr City was not persistent in the way CCTV potentially is...so many ways to not see what the adversaries are actually doing (seconding Ken White's decoys, deceptions line of thought). The main problem, to me, is how it is possible to (pre-) identify targets, or positively post-identify them (make sure you know the guy about to be shot is the same person who shot at you).

    5) Perhaps most important, no climactic drama and resulting media attention.

    I understand the broader point of this, but surely for the population (residents in Sadr City) there was drama, that will be remembered (positively or negatively). This would then have an effect on how the population responds to further combat/aid etc.

    On potential adaptations, they are surely location-culture specific, but if the U.S. can see above ground, going underground seems logical (ok, this may apply mainly to cities with water-sanitation infrastructure that is underground, or where digging tunnels is possible.)

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    Sadr City 08 was a result of having plentiful and accurate ISR. Not exactly a one-off since if you can get the assets in those numbers (and even more importantly, the people who know how to use them), you can do it again...to the extent you have the resources. That's the rub.

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