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Posted on Dec 16, 2007 in Front Page Features, Tactics101

Tactics 101: 022 – Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield in Urban Operations Part 2

By Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland

“I want to emphasize the importance of focusing on the enemy when planning and conducting combat operations. First, you must know your enemy. Second, you must develop your plan keeping the enemy foremost in mind. Third, you must wargame your plan to enhance your ability to develop or adjust the plan once enemy contact is made”.
General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

Last month, we discussed the first steps of the IPB process as they relate to fighting in an urban environment. These two steps were 1) Define the Battlefield Environment and 2) Describe the Battlefield’s Effects. As in any environment, these two steps set the conditions for you to focus on the enemy. However, the urban environment adds two significant challenges to setting these conditions. First, the terrain is complex and can change after the landing of one artillery round. Second, the civil considerations within the urban environment make it the most complex of all environments. This is truly tough business!


After defining the battlefield environment and describing the battlefield’s effects; it is now time to take this understanding and utilize it to analyze the enemy. Once again, the urban environment adds to the challenge. Adding to the terrain and civil considerations challenges are the distinct possibility that you will face an enemy that fights in unconventional ways. Certainly, you may face conventional forces in an urban environment that you may know quite a bit about regarding tactics, equipment, and organization. However, you may very well find an enemy (or multiple enemies) who you know little of. Of course, the easy way out is to wring your hands and not attempt any additional IPB. As we all know, that is a recipe for failure! You must continue your meticulous IPB work (time permitting) and evaluate your foe and determine his possible courses of action.

To accomplish this, you must concentrate on the remaining two steps of the IPB process: Evaluate the Threat and Determine Threat Courses of Action. These two steps are the focus of this month’s article. As a reminder, from our previous article on these steps here is a quick snapshot on what we are trying to accomplish in each.

3) Evaluate the Threat. This is the step in which you truly dissect the enemy. You will look at various things including his doctrine, tactics, what equipment he possesses, his strengths and weaknesses, capabilities, tendencies etc…. For some enemies you fight, this may be a relatively easy task. However, for others this could be extremely difficult because little information may exist on your foe.

4) Determine Threat Courses of Action. In the final step, we take everyone we have done earlier and put it all together to develop feasible courses of action the enemy may execute. We do not tie ourselves down to one or two courses of action. We look at the realm of feasible possibilities that exist. Depending on our time, we can then go into detail on as many as we can.

Since we have previously discussed the above steps as they pertain to mainly conventional forces; we will focus this month on steps three and four as they relate to the other types of forces that inhabit the urban landscape.

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