Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Urban operations

Urban Warfare: Its History and Its Future (PDF)

"The urban environment, considered in military terms, is a unique environment, both in terms of its essential character and its behavior. Faced with the complexities of this environment, military analysts have resorted to explaining cities as a 'system of systems,' as if cities were only the product of architectural designs and engineers' drawings. Those would not be cities but monuments. The first, most elementary, feature of any urban environment is that it is a place where people have collected more or less permanently. It is therefore to the human qualities of the urban environment the military planner must first look if he hopes to understand how armies can function in such a place.

"When a military force acts in an urban environment, its essential humanness guarantees that the environment acts in return; that is, the relationship between a force and a city is dynamic. The dynamic interaction between cities and the military forces operating in them redefines and reshapes those forces over time. Because of its dynamic quality, the urban environment works as an important 'third force,' uniquely influencing the behavior of all sides engaged.

Attacking the Heart and Guts: Urban Operations Through the Ages (PDF)

"One of the most important reasons for attacking a city was to capture the enemy's political, economic, or cultural center, thereby destroying his morale, his ability to sustain a war, and his capability to govern. In other words, the city was attacked because it was the enemy’s center of gravity.

"Twenty-first century cities are much larger than cities were just a hundred years ago. Cities are not as homogeneous as they once were. Modern-day buildings within cities are generally much more resilient than those of previous ages. In effect, rather than being a single fortified entity, modern cities have the potential of being developed by a defender into dozens or hundreds of individual mutually supporting miniature fortresses.

"Modern urban operations also require a unique understanding of the physical and human aspects of the urban center. Commanders and their staffs must understand the intricate infrastructure of the modern city, just as the general commanding a besieging army had to understand the design of a fortress city. In addition, even more so than historical commanders whose societies were less sensitive and media aware than modern Western culture, modern commanders must have a thorough understanding of, and a plan to deal with, the urban population."

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