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Posted on Nov 10, 2007 in Front Page Features, Tactics101

Tactics 101: 021 – Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield in Urban Operations

By Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland

Step 2 – Urban Patterns

Urban Patterns.  Urban patterns address the general layout of the city.  Older cities radiate from a central site or may be formed along a series of ‘town squares’.  Newer cities follow a block layout while many cities have several embedded patterns that reflect the age of the area.  Understanding these patterns enable you to better determine how to isolate a particular.  We generally consider 4 types of urban patterns.  These are: satellite, network, linear, and segment.  After we determine these patterns, we then establish what effects the pattern will have on operations (the next step). Below you will find a sketch of each pattern followed by a definition of each.


Satellite Pattern.  This pattern consists of the central hub and dependent, dispersed smaller built-up areas with linear arrays along the connecting links. Most lines of communication (LOCs) within the urban area tend to gravitate towards the hub.


Network Pattern.  This is similar in appearance to the satellite pattern, but is much more complex.  The pattern represents the interlocking of the primary hubs to satellite patterns.  Formed primarily of towns and cities, its elements are more self-sufficient and less supportive of each other, although a dominant hub may exist.  Major LOCs within a network are more extensive than a satellite and may take on a rectangular rather than convergent form.  The natural terrain here may be more diverse than in a single satellite array.

Linear Pattern. This is normally a derivative of the satellite and network patterns.  The linear pattern usually occurs from the stringing of minor urban areas along a confined natural terrain corridor, such as an elongated valley, a body of water, or a man-made communications route. A linear pattern can be used to set a series of defensive positions.

Segment Pattern.  This pattern usually occurs when a dominant natural or manmade feature such as a river, canal, or major highway splits an urban area.  The segment patter may be considered as a subset of either the satellite or network patterns, or within a major hub. This pattern may influence the assignment of boundaries and other control measures.

Step 3 – Pattern Effects

After determining the patterns, we can now answer the so what.  Looking at the above sketches, you can see how each pattern can effect the maneuver of units. Thus, when maneuver is effected so is firepower.  We break these effects into the categories of blocking, funnel, and funnel-fan.

Blocking Effect – A particular pattern can,  because of congestion, limited road networks, and obstacles assist in blocking or severely degrading mounted or dismounted maneuver both in and out of the particular urban area.

Funnel Effect – As the name suggest a pattern can funnel or canalize a unit’s maneuver into a particular area.  Obviously, this effect hinders the ability of a commander to mass his forces.  Thus, he must be careful to not reinforce failure by continually sending forces into the funnel that the opposition is defending with major resources.

Funnel-Fan Effect.  This is the offshoot of the funnel effect.  This occurs when a pattern forces the funnel effect and then opens up so the unit can then once again spread out his forces.

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