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Posted on Mar 28, 2008 in Tactics101, War College

Tactics 101: 025. Urban Operations: Truisms and Nuggets

By Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland

Attack Position – If available, you may designate an attack position for your lead units to assist in coordination and preparation. You will want to place an attack position inside or behind the last large structure prior to your line of departure.

Line of Departure (LD) – Your attack’s line of departure is normally designated on the near side of a street or rail line that runs perpendicular to the direction of attack.

Building Numbering System – Within the area of operations, you should assign numbers to buildings/structures. This will assist you in designating objectives and reporting. In the above graphic, buildings are numbered 1 through 25.

Objectives – In any environment in which you are attacking, you will assign unit objectives. The urban environment is no different. An objective could be a single building that must be seized for its value, or a building that is occupied by enemy forces, or even a group of buildings. If an objective extends into a street, you will only include the near side of the street in the objective area.


Phase Lines – As in any environment, phase lines in the urban environment are used to control the advance of units and to assist in reporting. It is critical that phase lines are aligned with easily identified terrain features. These could include streets, rivers running within the urban area, or even railroad lines. Place your phase lines on the near side of the street or river.

Boundaries – Boundaries are imperative for command and control and to assist in diminishing the potential for friendly fire incidents. In an urban area, you will normally establish boundaries within blocks. This will allow you to include the street within the boundary. Make sure both sides of a river or street are included in the boundary. This ensures everybody knows who owns the area.

Checkpoints – Emplace checkpoints at identifiable terrain to aid in reporting and controlling movement.

Contact Points – Emplace contact points at identifiable terrain to designate locations where units will make physical contact with one another.

Limit of Advance – Always assign limits of advance for your attacking forces. These should be easily recognized terrain features beyond which attacking forces are not allowed to cross.

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