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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

3) Use Weapons Suited to Urban Terrain. Weapons that are highly effective in a desert fight are probably not the best choice in an urban fight. Weapon systems that are suited to urban fighting include:
• Grenades
• Sniper Rifles
• Automatic and Rifle-Mounted Grenade Launchers
• RPGs
• Mortars
• Machine Guns
• CS Gas
• Flamethrowers and other Incendiary and Blast weapons
• Mines and Booby Traps
• Weapons with no Minimum Depression and Maximum Elevation (enables you to engage targets at all the surfaces within the urban battlefield)
• Weapons with Little or No Backblast

4) Use all Surfaces within the Urban Battlefield. As we discussed last article, the urban battlefield is fought on many dimensions. These include: urban airspace, supersurface (tops of buildings), intrasurface (interior of buildings), surface, and subsurface (below ground). You must utilize all surfaces to be successful in the urban fight.


5) Keep Formations Small and Flexible. Mass is difficult to achieve in an urban environment and perhaps not as critical to success as in other fighting environments. Groups formed around the squad level are highly effective in urban terrain. Of course, these formations must be trained, equipped, and led by competent small unit leaders.

6) Focus Attacks on Enemy Weakest Areas. These attacks include combat service support units and locations, headquarters locations, and convoys.

7) Keep Them Guessing. As in any type of warfare you can not be predictable. Ambushes and raids at various times are the norm in this area.

8) Take Advantage of Opponent’s Imposed Restrictions and Rules of Engagement. As we all know, not everyone plays by the same rules. If one side knows its opponent is following a rules of engagement or has imposed restrictions on what it will do; then it may very well take advantage of this fact.

Gather Intelligence and Begin to Analyze

With the above principles and general tactics in mind, you must now begin to focus on your specific enemy (enemies). To answer the categories below, you must focus your assets to gather the information. Use all assets at your disposal! In the urban environment, there are countless intelligence gatherers. Below are the categories you will want to know as much as possible with some questions you want answered:

● Identification – As we discussed earlier, it is always helpful (!) to know who you are fighting against! However, in the urban fight this is usually easier said
than done. In identifying the threat there are many questions to answer. What are the goals of the threat, both militarily and politically? Are they affiliated
with anyone? Where does their support come from? Do they have a political ideology?
• Disposition – Now that we know who we are fighting; we need to know where they are located. This includes headquarters elements, sub units and key assets. Will the local populace hide them?
• Composition – Do they have an organization? If so, what is the structure? Is it a rigid or flexible organization? Can you develop an order of battle?
• Strength – At what strength are they currently? At what strength can they potentially get up to? Obviously, this is difficult stuff to determine and the enemy will do their best to hide their numbers.
• Personalities – Who are the key leaders of the enemy? Are they a pure military organization with military leaders? Do they have religious leaders? Do they receive orders from political leaders? Were the political leaders elected or not elected? Do they have tribal leaders? Do they have a criminal element? All of these are important and have a great effect on the enemy’s operations.
• Training – Are they a trained force or simply a bunch of individuals who have not trained together? What individual and collective skills are they trained on? At what levels have they trained together? How long have they been training? Who trained them? How difficult was the training?
• Morale – Is the enemy motivated? Are they fighting for a cause they believe in? What can cause their morale to drop? What can cause their morale to rise? Who are they loyal to?
• Weapons – What do they have on hand? What can they obtain? Do they have new equipment or is it older modified equipment? Do they have spare parts?
• Capabilities – What are their strengths? How can they hurt you? What makes them the most dangerous?
• Vulnerabilities – What are their weaknesses? What can’t they do? What can we exploit?
• Doctrine – Do they possess a fighting doctrine? Did they develop it themselves or is it another forces doctrine?
• Tactics – What are their current tactics? What tactics have they used in the past? Do they promote initiative at the lower levels? What do they prefer to do?

[continued on next page]

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