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It's the population stupid," said Duane Shattle, director of the joint urban operations office--who borrowed the axiom from the Clinton administration's quote about the economy. Units that work with civilians often disregarded, soldiers claim. Urban operations defining the environment. That's what we really need to do," says Duane Schattle, director of the joint urban operations office at Joint Forces Command.

Investments should target urban warfare. Joint Forces Command has built models and simulations to help commanders conduct better ISR collection and employment of ISR assets, says Duane Schattle, deputy director of the joint urban operations office. Eyes in the sky: urban battlefield is proving ground for unmanned aerial systems. As such, this manual demonstrates how to apply the doctrinal principles in FM to this unique environment.

To be replace by ATP ATP This publication complements established doctrine and provides a single-source reference to assist aviation and ground personnel in planning and coordinating tactical aviation support to urban operations. It promotes an understanding of the complexities of urban terrain and incorporates lessons learned and tactics, techniques, and procedures from recent aviation urban operations. ATTP Stability operations are briefly discussed in the context of transition considerations. Stability operations are inherently among the people and generally in urban environments.

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. At an individual level, regular soldiers are more lethal than their irregular adversaries, are in better physical condition, shoot straighter, and are from a military culture that in theory regards initiative as a key criterion for professional advancement.

Put simply, Western soldiers have numerous advantages over the enemy. To focus only on their disadvantages is ceding the psychological high ground before the first shot has been fired. 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.

". . . We Band of Brothers": The Call for Joint Urban Operations Doctrine | RAND

It has long been a truism of military history, as observed earlier, that no amount of tactical acumen can make up for defective strategy. But now it is worse than that even — bad policy actively drives bad tactics, while making strategy largely irrelevant.

Even the best fighting force in the world, if it is deployed statically and is permanently restrained from being proactive, is still eminently vulnerable to a fanatic in a bomb vest, with all the strategic impacts that that entails. It is ironic that in the pursuit of the laudable goal of limiting risk, specifically casualties to their own forces and to noncombatants, governments dictate strategies and prescribe tactics that, in practice, increase the risk and likely predetermine failure.

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Control measures are essential, but they need to be simple, robust, and as unrestrictive as possible. The fragmenting tendencies of the city require everyone to be comfortable operating in the pursuit of a well-articulated goal while not requiring minute-by-minute direction. Perhaps being the strongest gang is most similar to how naval doctrine conceives of sea control — interventions that are limited in time and scale of ambition and are characterized by a high degree of ruthless, independent action.

The current doctrine of strict control measures and positive control is no longer entirely fit for purpose, fixed as it is in the ground-holding concepts of land warfare. The underpinning logic of this doctrine is twofold. Second, the lack of visibility and the fluidity of the battle make it very difficult to discern friend from foe.

In an effort to avoid friendly fire and civilian casualties, therefore, commanders are wont to impose positive control upon their subordinates, requiring them to seek authorization for firing their weapons or moving. However, these concerns should be of decreasing importance.

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.

Notably, technological advances in the form of precision-fire weapons supported by unmanned aerial vehicles reduce the requirement for conventional artillery, even if they do not replace them altogether. It is helpful to reflect on the remarks made half a century ago by the Brazilian Marxist revolutionary Carlos Marighella, who wrote what was essentially a gangster warfighting manual dressed up with ideological claptrap:. The urban guerrilla must possess initiative, mobility, and flexibility, as well as versatility and a command of any situation.

Initiative especially is an indispensable quality. It is not always possible to foresee everything, and the urban guerrilla cannot let himself become confused, or wait for instructions. His duty is to act, to find adequate solutions for each problem he faces, and to retreat.

Joint Publication 1-0

It is better to err acting than to do nothing for fear of making a mistake. 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. Marighella and his followers and admirers were never so numerous or powerful as to be able to physically dominate the entirety of the cities in which they chose to operate.

Neither is any Western army up to such a task without an extraordinary concentration of effort that is politically implausible and therefore strategically tenuous. Before moving to our conclusion, it is worth dwelling briefly on the existing and likely impacts of technology on urban warfare, starting with C2ISR, as it is both an expansive and elusive subject, and its effects on the battlefield are pervasive and indirect. A main point we wish to stress, however, is that technology should be an enabler of the strongest gang theory — allowing dispersed operations of the sort idealized above.


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In practice, technology is too often an impediment when it is employed to reinforce a top-down, positive control-oriented command model that squelches small unit initiative. Technology is important, but it can become a problem when you let it drive the cart, as it were. Moreover, as we have stressed in other respects, it can be a neutral factor that affects all belligerents the same, for better or worse.

For example, in some ways, technological developments in this field have seriously benefited irregular forces. These were used in combination with other weapons.


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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. In response, Iraqi units were forced to construct ditches and other barriers around themselves and throughout the city to slow and control the threat. When forced to halt, instead of simply setting out pickets and heavy weapons pointed in the direction of potential attack, the bulldozer would be used to dig a ditch and berm enclosure, thus providing a good measure of defense against truck and car bombs.

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. The disadvantages, though, are significant: For one thing, it cannot work without wrecking whatever civilian infrastructure is present, such as sewers, water mains, utility cables, and road surfaces.

Conducting such an operation in an urban setting, when garnering and maintaining the good will of the local population is a main objective, is very challenging. Some potential solutions are already emerging in military engineering conferences and in the marketing brochures of firms selling defensive barriers and counter-mobility systems, the latter very often focused on changes to urban infrastructure for domestic counter-terrorism purposes.

What the above illustrates is that changes in civilian technologies — including robotics and microelectronics, miniaturization of batteries, and communications — enabled a nonstate actor, the Islamic State, to acquire one of the primary advantages of airpower i.

It has also required regular forces to develop their own new techniques for utilizing new technologies, allowing them to operate in smaller teams in a more dispersed manner. Similarly, in a workshop on conflict in urban environments which we attended in Britain, a London-based company showcased a civilian technology that it had developed for creating precise 3D-renderings of urban infrastructure using laser-scanning, which allowed them to be experienced in virtual reality.

The military applications of this for planning, simulation, and training are significant, if it can be made robust enough for the field, and if the scanning devices are light enough to be deployed on an unmanned aerial vehicle. The first question the senior officer in the room asked was how close to real time these simulations could be delivered. The apprehensions that animated both senior officers noted above are consistent with those that pertain in any environment.

Commanders want to have intimate knowledge of the terrain, including where their own forces are or will be, where their enemy is and may be going, and what their intentions are such as they can be gleaned. Additionally, they want this information in a form that they can, quite literally, walk through with their subordinate commanders during the planning phase of an operation — and for all of this to happen more swiftly and accurately than for the opponent. Peniakoff would have asked for the same thing, as would have Wellington, or Marlborough, or any of the great captains of history all the way back to Alexander the Great.

Developments in C2ISR seem to be making that more possible in the city than previously thought. Clearly, when forces are operating in relatively small numbers in a dispersed manner in a city in upheaval, there will be concerns about the security of supply chains. Technology may have some useful answers here also, which are worth discussing in a bit more detail. The main thrust of this effort is to alleviate a civilian problem, specifically the traffic jams that plague life and commerce in big cities, through the development of a new class of air vehicles that will bypass congestion by flying over it.

If the head of the U. The essential point here is that many of the perceived problems of urban warfare are, in fact, self-imposed. They emerge from a constraint on the way military force is used together with the growing capability for real-time, friendly-force tracking, which reduces the risk of soldiers accidentally attacking their own side. Yet, constraining soldiers too tightly also reduces their ability to maximize their chances of victory against a determined enemy. The solution is to ruthlessly and efficiently apply the maneuvrist approach at the tactical level. Senior commanders must become comfortable with formulating a plan and then trusting in the skill of their most junior subordinates to see that plan succeed.

Commanders at all levels must see the urban battlefield as a series of disparate and lightly connected nodes of activity. Each small team would be given the freedoms and the resources to allow it to overwhelm the adversary through superior skill, tactics, and equipment. Boldness, simultaneity, coordinated action, and the like are principles of combat that have long been taught and applauded in every other tactical environment.

Why not the city? The reticence on the part of Western armies to accept an approach that is distinctly less oriented toward positive control, where local commanders are freer to maneuver more boldly and aggressively, accepting a higher degree of political risk, is based on admirable concerns.

JP 3-06 Doctrine for Joint Urban Ops

Senior commanders are uncomfortable with what could be seen as abandoning the individual soldier to a fight that pits him against his adversary. In this approach, the commander would have to effectively wash his hands of the ability to affect the outcome once the soldier has made contact with the enemy. Its potential benefits, however, are numerous. For starters, it produces less actual — as opposed to perceived — risk to the soldier because a fractured and retreating enemy is less able to coordinate resistance than one that is continually given time and space in which to reorganize and to evolve new tactics.

It is a methodology that maximizes the strengths of a well-trained and equipped force and minimizes the time spent fighting in places where people actually live in dense concentrations. The assumption that this would be the case is a disappointing and self-defeating foundation from which to make military decisions and shows a disturbing lack of trust down the chain of command. 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.

There is little here that should offend or frighten modern commanders. The urban environment is a challenging setting in which to fight — as are all environments. Undoubtedly, the key constraint is the potential intermingling of civilians and civilian infrastructure with combat operations.


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Yet, civilians may be evacuated, limiting their exposure to harm, and it is sometimes possible to fight in a way that mitigates collateral damage, even when civilians are present throughout the battle. Unequivocally, significant political consequences may follow from a soldier pulling the trigger. 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. Military operations invariably have an impact on the urban landscape — even small arms can be devastating to structures — and there is no straightforward, correct answer to whether and to what extent it is acceptable to damage a city in pursuit of a political objective.

It depends on many factors — military necessity and justness of cause, in particular — and the answer may vary even within the same conflict. Allied generals faced very different political strictures on tactics at the end of the campaign than they did at the beginning. Groningen and Aachen — and even Berlin, Stalingrad, Hiroshima, and Carthage for that matter — were all back in business soon after being blasted to smithereens in warfighting that verged on the exterminatory.

Sometimes, nature may destroy a city, but man, despite his best efforts, does not.