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Posted on Oct 4, 2007 in Front Page Features, Tactics101

Tactics 101: 020 – Urban Operations

By Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland


• Consider using your guns in the direct fire mode if the situation dictates. There is nothing like a 155-mm round to alter the landscape!  A 155-mm round can penetrate 36 inches of concrete at ranges up to 2,200 meters.

• The key to success in fire support in the urban fight is responsiveness.  The side that is able to respond quicker to the needs of its’ maneuver units is at a tremendous advantage.

• Mortars are your weapon of choice due their responsiveness and ability to fire at high-angle.

• The mission of artillery does not change in urban operations.  However, you must take into account things such as: heights of buildings, dead space, masking, line of sight, collateral damage, arming ranges, types of munitions used, and positioning your systems.


• Rules of Engagement (ROE) can truly affect fire planning and execution.

• As with intelligence assets, the target acquisition assets ability to seek targets is diminished in the urban area.

• As you can imagine observation of fires and collecting battle damage assessment is a challenge in urban operations.

• To meet with the challenges of fire support in the urban environment, you may require more fire support systems.  This will assist in eliminating dead space and enables you to develop more sensor to shooter links which assists in responsiveness.


• If you have vulcans in your inventory, use them in the direct fire mode.  That sound of ‘rrrrrrr’ is music to the infantryman’s ears.

• Basic air defense operations are the same in urban operations as in any environment.

• You must secure your assets.

• Urban areas are lucrative targets for air.  Because of the shear amount of ‘stuff’ even non-precision weapons can cause damage.  Thus, you must plan and execute an integrated air defense system.

• Every building is an obstacle.

• The terrain below the ground is just as important as the ground level and air surface.

• You will normally task organize engineers down to the platoon level (i.e. a squad per infantry platoon).

• Engineers can find themselves conducting mobility and survivability operations for civilians.

• The use of engineers is essential in the transition phase.

• Engineers are key to establishing strongpoints.

• Utilize obstacles to protect exposed flanks (just as in any terrain).

• Well-trained/equipped engineers can make impossible dismounted movement possible.

 • Use military police to conduct battlefield circulation, area security, prisoner of war handling, and law and order


• Lift helicopters can be highly effective in delivering supplies and transporting casualties in areas where ground transportation is difficult.

• Logistics must be pushed forward in the urban fight not pulled.

• As in any other operation, position your log assets as close to the front as tactically feasible.

• The urban fight requires materials that are normally not required in other operations.  These include items such as grappling hooks, ladders, special tools etc….  You must plan for their use in advance and get them to the units who need them.

• The urban fight is usually defined by high ammunition consumption rates.  History says the rate can be up to four times more than normal in the first day of an urban fight.

• Fuel consumption is normally far less.  However, the old M-1 tank will roughly burn about the same amount whether it is creeping along in the city or flying in the desert.

• With engineer equipment at a premium in the urban fight; there must be a plan to fix broken equipment.  Those of you acquainted with engineer equipment know that it will break!  This is especially true in this demanding environment.

• Urban operations usually results in high casualty rates (both physical and mental).  Units must have plans to evacuate casualties and transport replacement Soldiers to the front.

• Physical exertion rates are high in the urban fight.  Units must push food and water to the front.

• Civilians on the battlefield can dramatically affect a units’ ability to conduct service support operations.

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