Honing the Keys to the City: Refining the United States Marine Corps Reconnaissance Force for Urban Ground Combat Operations

Honing the Keys to the City: Refining the United States Marine Corps Reconnaissance Force for Urban Ground Combat Operations

Honing the Keys to the City: Refining the United States Marine Corps Reconnaissance Force for Urban Ground Combat Operations

Honing the Keys to the City: Refining the United States Marine Corps Reconnaissance Force for Urban Ground Combat Operations

Excerpt

The penalty for undertaking urban combat operations without first performing reconnaissance has historically proven very costly on more than one occasion. Yet reconnaissance is considerably more difficult in villages, towns, and cities than in open terrain. The many buildings and other structures can provide cover and concealment for large numbers of a foe's vehicles, personnel, and supplies. Unlike when these assets are hidden in more open ground under foliage or camouflage nets, overhead systems often cannot penetrate the concealment in urban areas. The acquisition of trustworthy and timely combat intelligence must therefore rely on units trained and equipped to conduct ground combat reconnaissance. Urban areas also present special challenges to these men. Undetected movement is difficult in an environment dense with noncombatants and, possibly, enemy. Noise ricochets off hard surfaces so that even a minor slip can compromise a unit's location. Structures and infrastructure block or otherwise disrupt communications. The sum of challenges is considerably greater than the doctrinal, training, and equipment solutions immediately at hand. The purpose of this study is to narrow that unfortunate gap.

This research was sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL) and was conducted in the International Security and Defense Policy Center of RAND's National Defense Research Institute (NDRI). NDRI is a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Secretary of Defense and Joint Staff. This report will be of interest to individuals in the governmental and commercial sector whose responsibilities include doctrine, policy design, funding, planning, preparation, or the development of tech-

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