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Chapter 1 Modern Urban Warfare “... the likelihood is high that in the future, the National Command Authorities will again commit Marines to missions in urban areas.” A Concept for Future Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain 1001. Importance of Urban Areas. Throughout history, military planners have viewed cities as centers of gravity. As such, in war, cities are something to be either protected or taken away, depending upon one’s perspective (MCDP 1, Warfighting). Cities house the population centers, transportation hubs, seats of government, sources of wealth, centers for industry, information networks, and key nodes of communication within a nation. Recent forecasts based on population statistics and the worldwide migration trend from agrarian to industrialized societies predict that 85 percent of the world’s population will reside in urbanized areas by the year 2025. As the world trend toward urbanization increases, the military significance of cities is likely to increase proportionally. Urbanized areas, themselves, may be significant sources of future conflict. Cities historically are where radical ideas ferment, dissenters find allies, mixtures of people cause ethnic friction, and discontented groups receive media attention. Adversaries may focus on the capture of radio and television stations in an attempt to influence public opinion and attain their political goals. Our political leaders may take advantage to neutralize or stabilize some extremely volatile political situations, or to provide assistance to allies in need of support, by deploying U.S. forces into urban environments, 1002. The Marine Corps Role in Urban Warfare. As the Nation’s force in readiness, forward deployed with expeditionary forces, Marines must be prepared to fight on urbanized terrain. In the past two decades, MAGTFs ranging in size from MEFs (Saudi Arabia, Desert Shield/Desert Storm; Somalia, Restore Hope) through Marine expeditionary units (MEUs) (Beirut, Lebanon; Grenada, Urgent Fury; Somalia, Eastern Exit and Restore Hope) have participated in MOUT. The task-organization and combined-arms aspect of the MAGTF makes it well suited for combat on urbanized terrain. The results of geographical studies show that 60 percent of politically significant urban areas outside allied or former Warsaw Pact territory are located along or within 25 miles of a coastline; 75 percent are within 150 miles; 87 percent are within 300 miles; 95 percent are within 600 miles; and all are within 800 miles. U.S. embassies and diplomatic facilities are primarily located in cities where the host country’s political and economic leadership is concentrated. The Marine Corps will continue to play a prominent role in future evacuations of U.S. citizens, as well as the conduct of peace, counterinsurgency, and contingency operations centered on urbanized areas. Today’s Marine air-ground task forces (MAGTFs) are deployed as part of naval expeditionary forces (NEFs) that maintain a global forward presence for rapid crisis response. These integrated 1-1
combined-arms forces are part of the Nation’s proven contingency and naval power projection force. Therefore, Marines may find themselves rapidly deployed and employed in actions across the spectrum of military operations. Many of these trouble spots will likely be located in or around large urban centers. In the years since World War II, the United States has employed military force more than 200 times. Of these, four out of five involved naval forces, and the majority of the naval efforts included Marines embarked in amphibious ships. The reasons are straightforward: availability and adaptability. Availability derives from the loiter time of forward deployed forces embarked on amphibious shipping. Adaptability comes from the Marine Corps’ MAGTF organization, doctrine, training, and equipment, which prepare us for expeditionary missions from the sea in support of a variety of missions, including forcible entry. Enhancing our adaptability are the maritime prepositioning forces (MPFs). MPFs provide a rapid buildup of combat and logistics equipment that is joined with Marines on a distant shore, creating a substantial combat force. Despite our availability and adaptability, the prospect of urban warfare combined with an amphibious assault is a complex task which requires special preparation. At the outset of a developing situation, forward-deployed expeditionary forces can move quickly within range of a crisis that threatens the political stability of a country. Urban intervention operations must often be planned and executed in a matter of hours or days (rather than weeks or months) to take advantage of the internal turmoil surrounding a developing crisis. Navy and Marine forces should anticipate deployment to urbanized areas on a day-to-day basis.
1003. Distinguishing Features of Urbanized Terrain. Urbanized terrain is a complex and challenging environment. It possesses all of the characteristics of the natural landscape, coupled with manmade construction, resulting in an incredibly complicated and fluid environment that influences the conduct of military operations in unique ways. Military operations on urbanized terrain (MOUT) is defined as all military actions planned and conducted on a topographical complex and its adjacent terrain where manmade construction is the dominant feature. It includes combat in cities, which is that portion of MOUT involving house-to-house and street-by-street fighting in towns and cities (Marine Corps Reference Publication (MCRP) 5-2A, Operational Terms and Graphics). MOUT effects the tactical options available to a commander. A built-up area is a concentration of structures, facilities, and populations, such as villages, cities, and towns, that form the economic and cultural focus for the surrounding area. (MCRP 5-2A) a. Cities. Cities are centers of finance, politics, transportation, communication, industry, and culture. They generally have large population concentrations ranging from tens of thousands to millions of people. Because of their psychological, political, or logistical value, control of cities have often been the scenes of pitched battles. (1) Operations in built-up areas are normally conducted to capitalize on the operational or tactical significance of a particular city. In developing nations, control of only a few cities 1-2
Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain is often the key to the control of national resources. The side that controls a major city usually has a psychological advantage, which can be enough to significantly affect the outcome of a countrywide conflict. (2) The abundance of guerrilla and terrorist operations conducted in built-up areas (e.g., Santo Domingo, Caracas, Belfast, Managua, and Beirut) demonstrates the importance many insurgent groups place on urban warfare. (3) In the past 40 years, many cities have expanded dramatically, losing their well-defined boundaries as they extended into the countryside. New transportation systems (highways, canals, and railroads) have been built to connect population centers. Industries have grown along those connectors, creating “strip areas.” Rural areas, although retaining much of their farmlike character, are connected to the towns by a network of secondary roads. b. Multiple Avenues of Approach. Urbanized terrain is a unique battlespace that provides both attacker and defender with numerous and varied avenues of approach and fields of fire. The urban battlespace is divided into four basic levels: building, street, subterranean, and air. Operations can be conducted from above ground, on ground level, inside buildings, or below the ground. Most operations will include fighting on all levels simultaneously. (1) Building Level. Buildings provide cover and concealment; limit or increase fields of observation and fire; and canalize, restrict, or block movement of forces, especially mechanized forces. They provide optimum perches for snipers and antiair weapons. Buildings also provide antitank weapons optimum positioning to allow engagement from above, exploiting an inherent weakness found in most armored vehicles. (2) Street Level. While streets provide the means for rapid advance or withdawal, forces moving along streets are often canalized by buildings and have little space for off-road maneuver. Because they are more difficult to bypass, obstacles on streets in urbanized areas are usually more effective than those on roads in open terrain. (3) Subterranean Level. Subterranean systems are easily overlooked but can be important to the outcome of operations. These areas may be substantial and include subways, sewers, cellars, and utility systems (Figure 1-1 on page 1-4). The city of Los Angeles alone has more than 200 miles of storm sewers located under the city streets. Both attacker and defender can use subterranean avenues to maneuver to the rear or the flanks of an enemy. These avenues also facilitate the conduct of ambushes, counterattacks, and infiltrations. (See Appendix E)
(4) Air Level. The air provides another avenue of approach in urbanized areas. Aviation assets can be used for high speed insertion or extraction of troops, supplies, and equipment. While aviation assets are not affected by obstacles on the streets, they are affected by light towers, signs, power lines, and other aerial obstructions. They are also vulnerable to the man-portable surface-to-air missile threat, crew served weapons, and small arms fire. c. Categories of Built-Up Areas. Built-up areas are generally classified as: Villages (populations of 3,000 or less) Strip areas (industrialized zones built along roads connecting towns or cities) Towns or small cities (populations of up to 100,000 and not part of a major urban complex) Large cities with associated urban sprawl (populations in the millions, covering hundreds of square kilometers). d. Characteristics of Urbanized Areas. A typical urban area consists of combinations of the city core, commercial ribbon, core periphery, residential sprawl, outlying industrial areas, and outlying high-rise areas. Each of the urban area’s regions has distinctive 1-4
Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain characteristics that may weigh heavily in planning for MOUT. Most urbanized areas resemble the generalized model shown in Figure 1-2.
Figure 1-2. Typical Urban Area (1) City Core. In most cities, the city core has undergone more recent development than the core periphery. As a result, the two regions are often quite different. Typical city cores are made up of high-rise buildings which vary in height. Modern urban planning for built-up areas allows for more open spaces between buildings than in old city cores or in core peripheries (Figure 1-3).
Figure 1-3. City Core
(2) Commercial Ribbon. Commercial ribbons are composed of rows of stores, shops, and restaurants that are built along both sides of major streets through built-up areas. 1-5
Typically, such streets are 25 meters wide or more. The buildings in the outer areas are uniformly two to three stories tall—about one story taller than the dwellings on the streets behind them (Figure 1-4).
Figure 1-4. Commercial Ribbons
(3) Core Periphery. The core periphery generally consists of streets 12 - 20 meters wide with continuous fronts of brick or concrete buildings. The building heights are fairly uniform—2 or 3 stories in small towns, 5 to 10 or more stories in large cities (Figure 1-5).
Figure 1-5. Core Periphery
Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain (4) Residential Sprawl. Residential sprawl areas consist mainly of low houses or apartments that are one to three stories tall. The area is primarily composed of detached dwellings that are usually arranged in irregular patterns along streets, with many smaller open areas between structures (Figure 1-6).
Figure 1-6. Residential Sprawl (5) Outlying Industrial Areas. These areas generally consist of clusters of industrial buildings varying from one to five stories in height. Buildings generally vary dramatically in size and composition to match the needs of the particular businesses they house. Industrial parks are good examples of this category (Figure 1-7).
(6) Outlying High-Rise Areas. These areas are similar in composition to city core areas, but may be composed of clusters of more modern multistory high-rise buildings in outlying parts of the city. Building height and size may vary dramatically (Figure 1-8). Generally, there is more open space between buildings located in the outlying high-rise areas than is found within the city core area.
Figure 1-8. Outlying High-Rise Area
1004. Modern Battles for Urbanized Terrain. Urban warfare is as old as war itself. Since man began building villages, he has fought battles in and around them. Geography, politics, and economics dictate that cities will continue to be an objective of armies in warfare. From the armies that invaded and liberated Europe twice during the 20th century, to the forces that fought in Korea and Vietnam, to our most recent urban battles in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, the basic principles of combat in built-up areas have essentially remained unchanged in this century. While the principles remain the same, the introduction of helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, armor, and precision-guided munitions (PGMs) has altered some of the techniques associated with urban combat.
Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain Twenty two modern urban battles are discussed to illustrate the trends, dominant factors, and principles of combat in urbanized areas. (The majority of this material is extracted from the 1987 study, Modern Experience in City Combat, produced by Abbott Associates.) Aachen Arnhem Ashrafiyeh Ban Me Thuot Beirut Port/Hotel (I) Beirut 1982 (II) Berlin Cherbourg Hue Jerusalem Khorramshahr
Manila Ortona Quang Tri City I Quang Tri City II Seoul Sidon Stalingrad Suez City Tel Zaatar Tyre Zahle
A brief description of each battle is provided to illustrate that battle’s significance. a. Stalingrad (1942 - 1943). The tenacious Soviet defense of Stalingrad cost the attacking Germans dearly in every way and set up conditions for a decisive counteroffensive. This classic urban battle involved large forces and resulted in innovative urban combat techniques and the creation of the highly successful storm groups (task-organized assault units). (Length of battle: greater than 30 days) (Casualties: 1,630,000+) b. Ortona (1943). In this Italian town, determined resistance by a battalion of the elite German 3rd Parachute Regiment against Canadian Army attackers demonstrated the difficulty of overcoming a well-prepared defense. The Canadians were unfamiliar with urban combat and had to develop urban fighting techniques during the battle. After the town was largely destroyed and the defender had extracted a high cost in time and casualties from Canadian forces, the German parachute battalion withdrew. (Length of battle: 6 - 13 days) (Casualties: estimated in the hundreds) c. Aachen (1944). The battle for Aachen, Germany, in the fall of 1944 developed during the U.S. First Army’s offensive to breach the Westwall fortifications and the vaunted Siegfried Line. Aachen, the ancient capital of Charlemagne, had symbolic political and psychological significance to both the Germans and Americans. Furthermore, it was the first city on German soil to face an assault by the Allies. This first major battle on German soil foreshadowed bitter resistance against the American attackers in subsequent battles. The German defenders surrendered only after the city was destroyed. Although the U.S. Army had achieved a clear tactical victory, the German defense of Aachen cost the U.S. First Army valuable time and delayed the planned attack to the Rhine river. (Length of battle: 14 - 30 days) (Casualties: 8,000+) 1-9
d. Arnhem (1944). On September 17, 1944, Operation Market-Garden, the largest airborne operation in history, was launched in the Netherlands. The plan was to land three airborne divisions to seize key bridges along a 100-kilometer-long corridor through which allied mechanized forces would pass as the first step in the final offensive into Germany. The British 1st Airborne Division made a surprise landing near the Dutch city of Arnhem in order to seize a bridge over the Rhine river for advancing British forces. An unexpected German armor force counterattacked and eliminated all footholds, virtually destroying the British division before a linkup could occur. (Length of battle: 6 - 13 days) (Casualties: estimated in the thousands) e. Cherbourg (1944). By June 17, 1944, U.S. forces advancing toward Cherbourg from the Normandy beachhead succeeded in cutting off defending German forces in the Cotentin Peninsula. Four German divisions withdrew to a perimeter surrounding Cherbourg. After much fighting, particularly in strongpoints outside the city, the German garrison surrendered to the Americans. Unfortunately for the Americans, the port facilities were destroyed which denied their early use by Allied forces. (Length of battle: 6 - 13 days) (Casualties: estimated in the thousands) f. Berlin (1945). The long, bloody Soviet offensive to seize the German capital city effectively concluded the last battle of World War II in Europe. Bitter fighting occurred, but the defense was never well coordinated due in part to poor preparation by the Germans. (Length of battle: 14 - 30 days) (Casualties: estimated in the thousands) g. Manila (1945). Japanese Army troops evacuated Manila under pressure from advancing American forces, but the local Japanese naval commander independently decided to hold the city at all costs. Despite defending Manila with poorly trained and equipped personnel, the determined resistance resulted in a high number of casualties to attacking U.S. forces as well as the destruction of the city and much of its population. (Length of battle: 14 - 30 days) (Casualties: 22,000+) h. Seoul (1950). Following the Inchon landing, U.S. and Republic of Korea (ROK) forces recaptured the South Korean capital from the North Koreans. The fighting was unusual in that combat was largely centered on seizure of street barricades rather than buildings. (Length of battle: 6 - 13 days) (Casualties: Marines, 2,383; others, estimated in the thousands) i. Jerusalem (1967). Israeli forces seized Jerusalem in a well prepared and well executed operation. Despite an uncoordinated Jordanian defense, Israeli casualties in this battle were the highest of those encountered during the Six Day War. Regular Jordanian forces withdrew during the latter stages of the battle, effectively ending organized resistance. (Length of battle: 48 hours to 5 days) (Casualties: Israeli forces, 400+; Jordanian forces, estimated in the hundreds) j. Hue (1968). On January 31, 1968, the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and Viet Cong (VC) forces launched their Tet Offensive at targets throughout South Vietnam. As part of this operation, two NVA/VC regiments and two sapper battalions conducted a surprise attack and 1-10
Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain seized part of the walled city (Citadel) of Hue. The NVA/VC held this part of the walled city for about three weeks against determined U.S. and South Vietnamese forces before finally succumbing. The battle for Hue is considered one of the most intense and savage battles of the Vietnam War. (Length of battle: 14 - 30 days) (Casualties: Marines, 433; others, 5000+) k. Quang Tri City I and II (1972). An objective of the North Vietnamese 1972 winter-spring offensive was the capture of Quang Tri, the northernmost major city in South Vietnam. The NVA overwhelmed the Army, Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) defenders (I). Later, the city was recaptured (II) by a smaller ARVN force using extensive artillery and air support. The large conventional forces involved on both sides made Quang Tri I and II the major urban battles of the Vietnam War. (Length of battle: Quang Tri I, 6 - 13 days; Quang Tri II, 30 days or greater) (Casualties: battles combined, 30,000+) l. Suez City (1973). Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) attempted to seize this Egyptian city before the anticipated United Nations (U.N.) cease-fire to end the Yom Kippur War. IDF armored shock tactics led to disaster against a well-prepared Egyptian defense. High casualties forced the IDF to withdraw. (Length of battle: less than 24 hours) (Casualties: Israeli forces, estimated 100 - 500; others, unknown) m. Ban Me Thuot (1975). This South Vietnamese highlands town was the first strategic city to fall in the final North Vietnamese general offensive in 1975 South Vietnamese forces were surprised and overwhelmed. The fall of Ban Me Thuot resulted in a rout that the North Vietnamese exploited to achieve total victory in Vietnam. (Length of battle: 24 - 48 hours) (Casualties: estimated in the hundreds) n. Beirut I (1976). When the Lebanese civil war broke out in the spring of 1975, combat in the capital city of Beirut assumed a central role. The battle for Beirut I was a series of small, local operations between largely irregular Christian and Muslim forces fighting over control of the hotel and port districts. Combat was not decisive, but led to changes in the boundary, called the “Green Line.” This separated the antagonists and lead to the stagnation of the Lebanese conflict. (Length of battle: greater than 30 days) (Casualties: estimated in the hundreds) o. Tel Zaatar (1976). Lebanese Christian attackers encircled and methodically besieged this Palestinian camp before overcoming its defenders with a final assault. (Length of battle: greater than 30 days) (Casualties: estimated in the hundreds) p. Ashrafiyeh (1978). The Syrian forces occupying portions of Lebanon faced a complex political situation in which the power of the Christian militia was seen as a clear threat to stability. In an attempt to weaken the Christian militia by an attack on their center of power, the Syrians laid siege to the Christian militia stronghold of East Beirut (Ashrafiyeh). This urban battle was essentially an artillery bombardment without air attacks. Syria failed to break the will of the defenders and final positions remained unchanged. (Length of battle: greater than 30 days) (Casualties: estimated in the hundreds) 1-11
q. Khorramshahr (1980). Iranian regular forces initially evacuated this port city in the face of an Iraqi offensive. Irregular Iranian forces, however, continued to fight. They offered prolonged resistance and inflicted heavy casualties. Iraq eventually won this battle, but at a high cost in time and resources that ultimately served to halt the entire offensive against Iran. The intensity of fighting during the battle for Khorramshahr earned the city the nickname, “City of Blood.” (Length of battle: 14 - 30 days) (Casualties: Iraqi, 3,000 - 9,000; Iranian, estimated in the thousands) r. Zahle (1981). Syria laid siege to the Lebanese regular forces and militia in this key crossroads town. Fighting was inconclusive and ended in a negotiated settlement whereby the Lebanese defenders evacuated the town. (Length of battle: greater than 30 days) (Casualties: estimated in the hundreds) s. Beirut II (1982). The siege of Beirut culminated the Israeli campaign to evict the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) from Lebanon. Fighting under domestic and world political pressures, the IDF besieged the PLO, selectively applying heavy ground and air firepower in conjunction with psychological warfare and limited-objective ground operations. The fighting resulted in a negotiated PLO evacuation from the city. (Length of battle: greater than 30 days) (Casualties: 2,300+) t. Sidon (1982). Israeli forces easily seized this PLO southern headquarters during the invasion of Lebanon. The IDF was fully prepared for major urban combat using lessons learned from earlier battles, but resistance was unexpectedly light as PLO forces had largely withdrawn from the city. (Length of battle: 48 hours to 5 days) (Casualties: unknown) u. Tyre (1982). The Israeli attack on the PLO in this Lebanese coastal city was well planned, with excellent intelligence on the target. All branches of the IDF participated in an operation that included naval fire support and amphibious landings. PLO resistance was uncoordinated and easily overcome. (Length of battle: 48 hours to 5 days) (Casualties: Israeli forces, 120+; others unknown) 1005. Modern Urban Battle Analysis and Observations. The 20th-century urban warfare experience has caused us to reevaluate old factors and consider new developments that affect the way we fight in this environment. The following discussion, based on the historical analysis of these select urban battles, illustrates the importance of maneuver warfare and combined arms philosophies in the urban environment. Factors that have had an impact on the manner in which urban warfare has been conducted are: Intelligence is imperative to success in urban warfare. “Maneuver warfare requires a firm focus on the enemy” (MCDP 2, Intelligence). Few subsequent tactical changes can overcome the far-reaching impact of a major intelligence error. a. Intelligence. The historical review of modern urban battles discloses that the attacker will usually win. Failures to win generally reflect classic military errors not characteristically unique to cities. However, of the battles studied, battles lost were attributed to errors in 1-12
Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain initial intelligence. The battles of Arnhem and Suez City probably would never have occurred had the attacker known the strength and locations of the defender’s forces. At Stalingrad, the attacking Germans were aware of the defending forces facing them in the Sixth Army’s zone, but the buildup of Soviet forces in other areas of the front was not anticipated and resulted in tactical surprise at those points, diluting the German offensive push to seize the city. Surprise is a combat multiplier and can substantially reduce the cost of urban warfare. b. Surprise. Surprise is a combat multiplier and can substantially reduce the cost of urban warfare. It can be achieved through deception, stealth, and ambiguity (MCDP 1-3, Tactics). Surprise was achieved by the attacker at Aachen and Ban Me Thuot and by the defender at Suez City. Surprise can be an important asset to increase leverage, but, as the failure at Arnhem shows, not necessarily a decisive one. When surprise is employed as a means to overcome other disadvantages, it is important to maintain accurate intelligence. In urban areas, tactical surprise by the attacker can be used to preempt effective defensive preparation of a city. c. Combined Arms. The MAGTF must capitalize on one of the key means for gaining advantage in maneuver warfare — the use of combined arms (MCDP 1-3, Tactics). The use of combined arms places the enemy in a dilemma. Any action the enemy takes to avoid one combat arm makes him more vulnerable to another. An analysis of categories of weapons systems found in a MAGTF helps to illustrate it is a warfighting organization well suited for MOUT: Combat in urban areas is primarily a small unit, infantry intensive operation (1) Infantry. Combat in urban areas is primarily a small-unit, infantry intensive operation. Restrictions on maneuver, particularly for mechanized units, increases oportunities for infiltration. Urban combat requires small-unit leadership, initiative, and skill. Decentralized actions and difficulties in command , control, and communications are typically encountered. Built-up areas, like close terrain found in other operational environments, are generally considered to be most suited for operations conducted by infantry. Infantry units can be organized, trained and equipped to negotiate urbanized terrain that restricts observation, fields of fire, and mechanized movement. (2) Armor. The role of armor in urban warfare can be significant. Of the 22 battles studied, armor participated in 21. In three-fourths of these battles, organic tank support was a central element when special assault teams were employed. Overall, special assault units supported by tanks were more successful than any other task organization. The use of tanks to the attacker inside a city has been effective only when they were protected by infantry. Tanks in support of infantry act as an “assault gun” that delivers concentrated, sustained fires to reduce held strongpoints. 1-13
The U.S. experience in Hue demonstrated the key role that armor can play on a combined-arms team fighting inside the city. The Marines’ most effective weapons during the battle were the M48A1 Patton tank and the M-50 Ontos. Both were protected by infantry. The M48A1, with its 90-mm main gun, was used extensively to reduce fortified positions. The Ontos, an armor-protected tracked vehicle mounting six 106-mm recoilless rifles, was highly effective against concrete and steel structures. The munitions of these armored systems provided breaches that the infantry could exploit. Armor providing direct-fire support inside a built-up area requires protection by infantry. In contrast, during the Suez City battle, Israeli armor forces attacked on “armor thrust avenues” into the city, outpacing their armored personnel carrier (APC) mounted paratroop/infantry support. The Egyptian defenders lacked organic artillery (except limited antiaircraft artillery (AAA) and mortars) and had no air support and virtually no armor support. The Egyptians prepared “kill zones” on the principal avenues down which the IDF armored forces attacked. As the lead IDF armor battalion entered the second of the three road intersection objectives, the Egyptians engaged with Sagger missiles, RPGs, ZSU-23 antiaircraft guns, antitank grenades thrown from balconies, and small arms. All of the tank commanders in the lead battalion were killed or wounded. Disabled vehicles blocked the road. Vehicles veering into the narrow side streets became trapped and were destroyed. The lack of infantry to protect the armor proved disastrous to the attacking armor battalion. (3) Artillery. Artillery has played an important role in most major urban conflicts. At Aachen, U.S. forces combined infantry with antitank teams and artillery (in a direct-fire role) down to the squad and fire team level. Also, artillery firing shells with “delay” fuzes in an indirect-fire role were used to penetrate one or more floors before exploding, thus driving the enemy to the ground where infantry and armor could attack. Artillery was also positioned to fire perpendicular to the direction of movement of assaulting forces. Thus, fratricide from artillery range errors was alleviated. Artillery has two distinct roles: outside the built-up area to isolate or prevent isolation with indirect-fire; and within the built-up area to provide direct-fire support. Artillery proved most useful for interdicting enemy supplies, enemy evacuation, and the movement of reinforcements in the enemy’s rear; for physically and psychologically harassing the enemy; and in direct-fire roles within a city. Artillery employed in the indirect-fire role has been effective in disrupting defenders in half of the studied battles. However, some indirect-fire roles have proved more effective than others in urban combat. Artillery was most effective in the interdiction of supplies, enemy evacuation, movement of reinforcements in the enemy’s rear (outside the city), and for 1-14
Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain indiscriminate physical and psychological harassment of the enemy. Artillery used as an indirect-fire siege weapon, as was done at Ashrafiyeh and Zahle, proved ineffective. Artillery can also cause problems for the attacker. The rubble resulting from indirect artillery fires can create considerable obstacles for the attacker while providing the defender with obstacles, materials, cover, and concealment. Artillery employed in the direct-fire role proved useful in the reduction of strongpoints. Self-propelled artillery was used effectively inside Aachen and Stalingrad and more recently by the IDF at Beirut II. (4) Mortars. The mortar is the most used indirect-fire weapon in urban combat. The mortar’s high angle of fire allows the round to reach the street level accurately without being masked by surrounding structures. During the battle for Hue city, the most effective fire support provided to Marines was the indirect fire from 60-mm, 81-mm, and 4.2-inch mortars. Approximately 20,000 rounds of high explosive (HE) 60-mm and 81-mm mortar ammunition were expended during the battle. The 4.2-inch mortar was used primarily to deliver riot control agent munitions. It was discovered that 4.2-inch riot control agent munitions could be fired with great effectiveness through the tops of buildings to drive the enemy out. When the enemy emerged from their concealed positions, HE rounds were fired to complete the attack. (5) Antiaircraft Artillery. Antiaircraft artillery (AAA) was extremely useful in a ground fire role in some urban battles. AAA was used only rarely in World War II, and then generally against assaulting personnel rather than against structures. AAA has been used more frequently in more recent events, but against buildings rather than people. The high rates of fire of modern AAA make it excellent in terms of shock and destructive potential. However, ammunition supply can be a problem because the volume of fire. During Hue, the Duster, an AAA vehicle mounting twin 40-mm guns, was provided to the Marines by the U.S. Army. These guns were extremely effective in the suppression of enemy positions due to the lethality of the 40-mm round and the quantities in which it could be delivered. During the Suez City battle, the Egyptians used the ZSU-23 antiaircraft gun in the direct-fire role against armored columns. This gun proved to be frightening and effective. Its high volume of explosive power created shock among IDF armor personnel akin to the shock that the IDF armor thrust tactics were designed to create. During Sidon, the IDF used 20-mm antiaircraft Vulcans in the direct-fire role against ground targets with great success. (6) Aviation. Historically, aviation assets have played an important role in helping to isolate the objective and to interdict the flow of the defender’s supplies and reinforcements. However, aviation has been relatively ineffective when not used in conjunction with ground forces. In past wars, bombing operations have been used in attempts to reduce the defender’s will to resist and destroy their physical capabilities. In the majority of urban battles, aerial bombing, by itself, did not erode the defender’s will to resist, nor did it significantly degrade the defender’s military capabilities. 1-15
Aviation plays an important role in interdicting movement of the defender’s supplies and reinforcement into the built-up area. The Marine air-ground task force is employed as a combined arms team. As such, the aviation combat element will not usually be called upon to conduct independent operations in MOUT. It will function as part of a MAGTF and, regardless of operating on or over urbanized terrain, will still execute the six functions of Marine aviation (i.e., offensive air support, assault support, antiair warfare, electronic warfare, air reconnaissance, and control of aircraft and missiles) in support of the MAGTF. In future urban warfare, aviation will be even more effective due to advances in fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, precision guided munitions, improved munitions, communications, sensors, and targeting systems. Our battle study already indicates a trend toward more extensive aviation participation in MOUT. As an example, the IDF in Beirut II employed bombing by fixed-wing aircraft using cluster bomb units, “smart” bombs, phosphorous, and other munitions. Attack helicopters operated on the outskirts of the built up area with impunity, and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) proceeded swiftly and efficiently using helicopter support. d. Combat Forces. Whether attacking or defending, the size of the force relative to the enemy can be critical to success. When provided with adequate forces, the attacker can isolate and encircle the defender and prevent a breakout or linkup. The defender can use them to create a mobile defense or to create strong reserves for counterattacks. Other factors that impact on the size of forces required are the degree of surprise achieved and the firepower utilized (aviation, armor, artillery, mortars, etc.). They should be weighed against the sophistication of the prepared defense. Ample consideration should be given to the local population, degree of external support, and utilization of existing services (communications, water, etc.). Regardless of the size or quality of defensive forces, the defender usually extracts large costs from the attacker in time, resources, and casualties. In the historical examples reviewed, the defender was usually outnumbered by the attacker, the quality of the defender’s available forces was inferior, and defeat of the forces defending the city was usually certain. However, regardless of the size or quality of defensive forces, the defender can extract enormous costs to the attacker in time, resources, and casualties. As was seen at Khorramshahr, the Iranian defenders, outnumbered 4 to 1, still held the city for 26 days. Although the Iranian defenders eventually lost the city, its defense allowed the remaining Iranian forces time to organize and redeploy. Furthermore, the winter rains that followed the battle turned much of the region into a sea of mud and largely halted further Iraqi efforts. The Iraqi army’s offensive thrusts into Iran lost momentum as a result of the defense of Khorramshahr.
Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain e. Special Assault Teams. In these battle studies, “shock units” or “special assault teams” have been used by attackers (and often by defenders) with great success. These organizations were characterized by the integration of combined arms at the battalion level and below. Control was decentralized to lower echelons (down to the squad level in some cases). Assault teams typically contained infantry with various combinations of armor, artillery, and engineers. Hence, all combat arms should plan, train, and develop common tactics, techniques, and procedures for use on urbanized terrain. Before the battle of Aachen, U.S. ground forces conducted intensive urban training with antitank teams and artillery pieces down to the squad and fire team levels. In contrast, the defender, in most cases having to fight with whatever forces were locally available, had no opportunity to conduct combined-arms training. The use of combined arms warfare on urbanized terrain is imperative. f. Time. In most cases, successful conclusion of an urban battle took two to three times longer than the initial estimates. Consequently, the additional tome resulted in the expenditure of more logistics and the loss of more personnel then initially anticipated. This often had adverse affects on the overall campaign. Well-planned urban defense, even if the defender is isolated or lacking in aviation, armor, or artillery weapons, can be time consuming to the attacker. Time can allow the defender to reorganize, redeploy, or marshal resources in other areas. Generally, urban warfare is time consuming. Three battles where time played an unanticipated critical role in the attacker’s strategic timetable were Aachen, Khorramshahr, and Stalingrad. In these battles, the defenders delayed the attacker longer than was estimated, resulting in the modification of operational or strategic plans. g. Isolation. The attacker won all urban battles where the defender was totally isolated. Even the partial isolation of the defenders resulted in attackers enjoying a success rate of 80 percent. Conversely, attackers won only 50 percent of the battles in which defenders were not significantly isolated, and those victories came at great cost. No single factor is more important to the attacker’s success than isolation of the urban area. In most urban battles, some form of isolation occurred as a result of the attacker’s actions. While it is unrealistic to envision complete isolation of a city until enemy forces to the rear of the city are pushed far beyond its outermost boundaries, total isolation does not appear necessary. The key to the attacker’s success is in stemming the unimpeded flow of manpower, supplies, and weapons to replace the defender’s losses. h. Cost. The cost of conducting urban warfare is relative to the percentage of total expended resources, the time elapsed, and the results achieved. The cost to the attacker was considered 1-17
high in the majority of urban battles. A high cost does not necessarily imply that the results were not worth the price. The attacker and defender must thoroughly evaluate the overall cost prior to committing to an urban battle. From the offensive point of view, several factors can be associated with cost. First, and most importantly, isolating the urban area is critical to the attacker’s success. Second, overwhelming superiority is needed if all costs are to be minimized. Third, the operation should be carefully planned. Fourth, intelligence is invaluable. Knowing where and how the city has been prepared for defense is also important. Fifth, attacking forces should understand the unique nature of urban combat. Clear tactics, techniques, and procedures for urban combat is required. Every aspect, from taking a building to using destructive technology and coordinating combined arms, must be thoroughly understood. Careful consideration of these five factors can minimize the cost of urban warfare to the attacker. Attacker cost was generally high in casualties, time, and resources in the majority of urban battles studied. From the standpoint of the defender, the critical variable is the defensive preparation of the city. Defensive preparations should include measures to prevent isolation of the city by the attackers. The capture of a prepared city can be made to be extremely costly. Preparations can include creating kill zones, clearing fields of fire, constructing canalizing obstacles, establishing reinforcing and fall-back positions, decentralizing command and control, and organizing multiple movement routes above ground, between rooftops, and below ground in subways and sewers. Artillery and aviation support can also be valuable force multipliers in defense. i. Rules of Engagement (ROE). The nature of the military operation may restrict our use of weapons. The majority of urban battles since 1967 (such as Beirut II, Hue, Jerusalem) have had one or more of the following restrictions imposed on the attacking force: (1) Minimizing civilian casualties and/or collateral destruction in order to: Avoiding alienation of the local population Reducing the risk of adverse world or domestic opinion Preserving facilities for future use Preserving cultural facilities and grounds. (2) Limiting the use of specific ground or air weapons. j. Logistics. Timely combat service support, particularly in the areas of ammunition resupply and casualty treatment and evacuation, is a critical element in MOUT. 1-18
Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain (1) Logistics Support. Historically, combat in urban environments has seen a dramatic increase in the amounts of Class IV (shoring, sandbags, concertina wire), Class V (ammunition), and Class VIII (medical material). Unique items, such as rope, grappling hooks, and ladders are required for operations on urbanized terrain. Intense close-quarter combat requires a continuous flow of ammunition, particularly small-arms, tank, antitank, mortar, and artillery ammunition, as well as mines, grenades, and demolition explosives. Medical supplies must be readily available to treat the anticipated increase in casualties. Once battle the has been initiated, combat forces will require continuous supply. Urban warfare requires a flexible, balanced logistics system capable of sustaining the close-quarter fighting evolutions within the built-up area. One method of providing continuous logistics support is to establish a “push system.” Essentially, this system pushes supplies to fighting units without their having to request them. A “push system” should negate the inherent delays of a “pull system,” which requires units to request supplies then await their arrival. Optimally however, a balanced approach should be taken to sustain engaged forces (MCDP 4.). Combat service support, in terms of its timeliness and anticipation of the true needs of the combat units, should sustain the tempo of operations. It should avoid the delivery of unwanted or unnecessary supplies. To achieve this balanced approach, logisticians must develop flexible support plans that readily adapt to the ebb and flow of urban combat. Mobile aid stations and surgical teams should be positioned as far forward as the tactical situation allows and be provided with dedicated evacuation vehicles. (2) Health Service Support (HSS). Responsive treatment and evacuation plans should be established to handle the expected increase in casualties. Both immediate treatment and evacuation are critical in maintaining the morale and confidence of forces engaged in urban warfare. To meet casualty treatment and evacuation needs, mobile aid stations with surgical teams should be placed as far forward as the tactical situation allows. Dedicated vehicles and aircraft for the evacuation of casualties should be provided. In addition to casualties resulting from physical injury on the battlefield, there are often considerable psychological casualties in modern battles, particularly urban battles. This can be attributed to the intense, sustained, and close-quarter combat associated with urban warfare. In many battles, attacking troops were not properly trained for urban warfare and felt inadequate in their ability to fight on equal terms with the defender. Many felt moral or ethical dilemmas associated with collateral damage and civilian casualties. Finally, the constant threat of being killed from any quarter coupled with the extreme fatigue of fighting in an urban environment can create psychological casualties. Leaders at all levels should be attuned to the symptoms associated with psychological casualties in order to get effected individuals prompt treatment so that they can be returned to their units.
1006. Implications of Urban Warfare. The commander charged with making decisions needs to understand the operational and strategic implications of a tactical struggle in an urban area (MCDP 1-1, Strategy, and MCDP 1-2, Campaigning.). Three urban battles (Stalingrad, Hue, and Beirut II) illustrate the importance of seeing beyond the tactical nature of the battle. Commanders must see beyond the immediate tactical implications of fighting an urban battle. The battle for Stalingrad had major operational and strategic implications. The entanglement of German forces at Stalingrad bought time for the Soviets to mobilize and prevent a major combined effort of two German Army Groups in the south. While Stalingrad resulted operationally in the destruction of the German Sixth Army, the strategic results were even greater. Stalingrad caused a complete change of German strategy in the east. Hitler made major changes in his General Staff, and from this point on in the war, he was a man estranged from his military leadership. The loss of enough men and equipment to field one-fourth of the German Army shook the foundations of the Third Reich. The Battle for Hue, although only one of over one hundred different attacks of the Tet Offensive of 1968, had a negative impact on the will of both the American people and their political leadership. Hue marked a revolution in the coverage of war by modern mass media. It was the first time Americans could and watch an ongoing battle from their living room on the evening news. Hue was a television bonanza for almost a month. When North Vietnamese leadership directed that Hue be held for at least seven days, it was clearly not their intent to win a tactical battle, but to strike at the strategic center of gravity—in this case, the will of the American people. Although the battle for Hue was a tactical victory for the U.S., the North Vietnamese had achieved their strategic goal of making the American public question the costs associated with the war. During the battle of Beirut II, the IDF’s objective was to drive the PLO from Lebanon. The ability of the PLO to leverage the media to gain an advantage was one of the most significant weapons in their arsenal. Despite an Israeli tactical victory, the costs in image, prestige, allies, and, most importantly, its own national will were enormous. The results of this battle eventually caused a change of political leadership at the highest levels of government. 1007. Key Insights. Analysis of modern urban battles provides insight into the major factors affecting the course and outcome of combat. Consideration of these key insights are required in order to effectively and efficiently plan and execute MOUT: a. MOUT is infantry intensive. b. A tactical battle may have far-reaching implications. No longer are the strategic, operational, and tactical levels overlap, creating the situation where tactical actions can have operational and possibly strategic repercussions (MCDP 1-1, Strategy, and MCDP 1-2, Campaigning). 1-20
Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain c. Commanders at all levels must understand the impact that media representation will have on the accomplishment of operational and strategic objectives. d. Maneuver warfare doctrine must be applied to the environment. e. Intelligence is imperative to success in urban warfare. f. Surprise is a combat multiplier. g. Armor, artillery, and aviation are effective at the outer perimeter of built-up areas for causing isolation or preventing reinforcement. h. Armor operating inside a built-up area must be protected by infantry. i. Artillery providing direct fire inside a built-up area can be effective in the reduction of strongpoints. j. As force ratio increases in favor of the attacker, combat duration decreases. k. Urban warfare is time consuming. l. Isolation of an urban defender ultimately ensures his defeat. m. Attack of an urban area is costly to the attacker in terms of resources and casualties. 1008. Necessity for Preparation. Since MAGTFs are usually forward-deployed forces, it is inevitable that MAGTFs will be tasked to deploy to urban areas and conduct military operations. Fighting in this environment will be violent, close, and personal. Fighting in villages, towns, and cities are likely to become more frequent for military forces as the United States responds to global crises. Forces will be expected to exercise adaptability in responding to a wide variety of missions in the world’s built-up areas. Marines may soon find themselves operating in the conceptual “three block battlefield” within a city grid: feeding refugees in one block, separating combatants in the adjoining block, and returning hostile fire in a third block. MOUT is infantry intensive. The remaining chapters and appendices of this publication focus on how the GCE fights and integrates supporting elements in an urban environment.