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Posted on Jan 9, 2008 in Front Page Features, Tactics101

Tactics 101: 023 – Defense of a Built Up Area

By Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland

Significant Characteristics / Concerns

1. Ricochet effects in the city.
2. Collateral damage.
3. Civilians remaining in the city.
4. Who controls the water and electricity generating stations and how easily can power and water be turned off / on?
5. Military maps often do not provide sufficient detail of urban areas.
6. Possessing blueprints of major structures provides an advantage.
7. Within urban area, there may be a number of political, ethnic, cultural, and religious groups.
8. Urban areas quickly deteriorate without key services. The spread of disease becomes a problem, water sources are often contaminated.
9. Large open areas such as airports become key terrain, more easily secured.

In defense, emphasis is to prevent enemy from gaining a foothold, isolating and defeating platoons. When possible company team commanders should maintain platoon integrity. This may not be practical in certain situations. Again, it is best to employ tanks no lower than sections to provide mutual support. Satellite and UAV imagery can be transformed into sketches for soldiers to update and confirm. It is critical for forces to remain oriented during the confusion and chaos of urban combat.



Defending an urban area truly has some major advantages. These include: the opportunity to occupy defensive positions before the fighting begins, the ability to fortify fighting positions, the confidence of knowing the terrain you are fighting on, having time to rehearse your potential operations, and the time to prepare obstacles and then tie in your direct and indirect fires with them. As in any operation, it is up to you to make proper use of the advantages. We hope this article has brought to light these advantages and provided some techniques for your use


Our next article will focus on the other side – the attacker. We will look broadly at offensive operations in urban terrain and then narrow the focus at the tactics, techniques, and procedures used at the lower levels.

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