The Four-Floor War – BLDGBLOG

“U.S. land forces will eventually find themselves locked in fights within huge, dense urban environments where skyscrapers tower over enormous shanty towns, and these troops need more realistic training to operate within these future megacities,” Brigadier General Julian Alford of the U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory explained earlier this month, as reported by Defense News.

Source: The Four-Floor War – BLDGBLOG

Perhaps the single greatest weakness of the 1980s AirLand Battle doctrine was its steadfast refusal to address Military Operations in Urbanized Terrain (MOUT).  A clash between the mechanized forces of NATO and the USSR would be swift moving, and, so the doctrine thought, fought outside the cities.

At both the tactical and operational level, the US Army was ill prepared for operations in cities.

That was something of a rude surprise as far back as Operation Just Cause, the US invasion of Panama in 1989, where troops found themselves having to devise their own doctrine, tactics, techniques and procedures to clear high rise office and apartment buildings in downtown Panama City.

The success of AirLand Battle doctrine in Desert Storm just two years later meant the Army could sweep the issues of urban warfare under the rug again for a few more years.

It wasn’t until after the disastrous fights in Mogadishu in 1998, and operations in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 that the Army decided it had to intellectually address how to fight in cities.

6 thoughts on “The Four-Floor War – BLDGBLOG”

  1. “One of the problems I’ve had when I start to talk about fighting in an urban area, people immediately go to a COIN [counter-insurgency] fight. I’m talking about a high-end, wide-open, peer-on-peer fight,” Alford said.

    Well, that’s easy. Bring in the Air Force and pound them to pieces. The Air Force does MOUT really well (Dresden, Hiroshima) in a “wide-open” fight.

  2. Biggest problem for MOUT (and carpet-bombing of urban centers, as the above mentioned) is the casualty-aversion of modern civilian leadership in the U.S. and Europe. I’m not talking casualty-aversion for our forces, I’m talking about an unwillingness to kill ANYBODY, including the enemy.

    The caveat being, of course, if the casualties can be hidden with the help of a friendly media culture (see: Obama’s drone war and Benghazi)…

    1. “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” – Henry VI
      Then we kill all of the SES and maybe the GOFOs will come around. In all likelihood you probably don’t need anyone above an O6 to fight a real war anyway.

    2. It is pointless to discuss (or plan, train, or equip for) “a high-end, wide-open, peer-on-peer fight” that does not involve massive casualties, on both sides, and massive collateral damage. That fight is not going to happen. Either TPTB will get over their “unwillingness to kill ANYBODY” on the first day of the war, or we will lose.

  3. My second year in command, I made the infantry companies both switch from precision Battle Drill 6 techniques focused on clearing rooms with minimal opposition back to older style fighting in fortified buildings while heavily opposed. Was completely outside their frame of reference. Also added Breach, Knock out Bunker and Clear Trench to their repertoire….

  4. There were some fairly tall buildings in Baghdad while I was there. Occasionally ground units took fire from them too. Interesting and at times challenging getting talked onto a particular window to engage with 30mm or even at times a Hellfire..

    We can solve any of these problems, the REAL question is, are the American people and their representatives willing to see the results of the answer.

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