Soldiers in Cities: Military Operations on Urban Terrain

Soldiers in Cities: Military Operations on Urban Terrain

Soldiers in Cities: Military Operations on Urban Terrain

Soldiers in Cities: Military Operations on Urban Terrain

Excerpt

Soldiers in Cities is required reading for military professionals and others interested in defense policy and issues. In the past half-century, the classic military conflict of armies maneuvering in the field has been replaced by conflicts that center on, rather than avoid, heavily populated areas. Modern military conflict more frequently is not just a fight to control villages or cities, but a variation on the timeless wish to control populations and the hearts of nations. The hardware and mass orientation of the levée en masse and industrial-age armies is being replaced by sophisticated terrorists, information warfare, and the politics of mass persuasion. This is reshaping the face of warfare.

America's own military history demonstrates the soldier's dilemma in fighting among populations. The U.S. Army's experience is extensive but often forgotten. First called on to defend settlements against Indian attacks, it later laid siege to or captured cities in Mexico and during the American Civil War. During World War II, the Army liberated or seized thousands of towns and hundreds of cities on the European continent. Fighting in or around village hamlets or cities was a frequent occurrence in Southeast Asia operations. Strangely, our doctrine and cultural focus have remained preoccupied with the classic “fight in the woods” or the seizure of high ground. Urban operations or operations among a foreign populace were always considered “possible” but were not formally incorporated into regular annual training for most combat units. That trend is ending.

The required change has been a long time coming. During the 1970s the classic defense issues of the European General Defense Plan became more and more affected by the “urban sprawl” that changed the face of Europe. As post-Cold War planners surveyed contingencies, it became apparent that the growing urbanization of man affected not just developed but also underdeveloped nations. True maneuver possibilities sought by our technology-rich Army remained only in deserts. The emerging future would be different. The battlefield would most likely be a populated area. Modern military forces may . . .

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