Introduction. Great concern has been expressed recently that the necessity to consider conduct of military operations on urbanized terrain (MOUT) is rapidly increasing. This is driven by the sociological projection that in the 1990's nearly three quarters of the world's population will be living in urban areas and within 500 kilometers of the sea. This strategic observation heralds obvious implications for the Marine Corps.
The rapidly increasing urbanization throughout the world has heightened the chances of military operations in the urban environment. This is simply because of the unprecedented gain in strategic significance of a city within a country whose principal income is derived from urban based manufacturing and trade. More often than not, these metropolitan centers are within striking distance of the sea, or are situated along the sea lines of communication (SLOCs). Early amphibious seizure of these port cities may readily aid overall United States objectives in the conduct of follow on operations, particularly for the introduction of maritime prepositioning forces (MPF). That these forces, to include Marine Air Ground Task Forces (MAGTFs), will fight in urban environments is a near certainty.
Most people consider North America highly urbanized with many towns and cities. However, other continents have more cities than North America with greater populations from 100,000 to 500,000 or more people. Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa have more large cities than North America. Operations in built-up areas are conducted to capitalize on the strategic and tactical advantages of the city, and to deny those advantages to the enemy. Often, the side that controls a city has a psychological advantage that is sometimes great enough to determine the outcome of larger conflicts.
Even in insurgencies, combat occurs in cities. In developing nations, control of only a few cities is often the key to control of national resources. Thus, urban guerrilla war is quickly replacing rural guerrilla war as the most common form of insurgency. The city riots of the 1960's and the guerrilla operations in Santo Domingo, Caracas, Belfast, San Salvador, and Beirut indicate the many situations that can result in combat operations in built-up areas.
Built-up areas also affect military operations because of the way they alter terrain. In the last 40 years, cities have spread out, losing their well defined boundaries as they extend into the country side. New road systems have opened areas to make them passable. Highways, canals, and railroads have been built to connect population centers. Industries have grown along those connectors creating "strip areas." Rural areas, although retaining much of their farm-like character, are connected to the towns by a network of secondary roads.
These trends have occurred in most parts of the world but are most dramatic in Western Europe. European cities tend to grow together to form one vast built-up area. Entire regions assume an unbroken built-up character, as is the case in the Ruhr and Rhein Main complex. Such growth patterns block and dominate the historic armor avenues of approach which decrease the amount of open maneuver area available to an attacker.
Extensive urbanization provides conditions that a defending force can exploit. Used with mobile forces on adjacent terrain, antitank forces defending from built-up areas can dominate avenues of approach, greatly improving the overall strength of the defense. Forces operating in such areas may have elements in open terrain, villages, towns, or small and large cities. Each of these areas calls for different tactics, task organization, fire support, and CSS.
1. Historical Analysis of MOUT. In 1987 the U.S. Army Human Engineering Laboratory produced a report titled, "Modern Experience in City Combat." A brief synopsis of this report provides insight into the nature of dominate factors affecting the course and outcome of combat in MOUT through a systematic examination of historical accounts of such activity. The research was based on 22 cases of urban conflict.
The results of this study suggest that the current doctrine is well founded in advising attacking American forces to avoid cities where it is feasible. The data also suggest that a well-conceived attack on urban terrain will be successful. Such an attack is not always overly expensive in casualties or resources, depending upon a number of factors, several of which are not under attacker control. What the city does consume in almost every case is time. Isolating and encircling a city, however, may prevent the prolonged battle for control of it from slowing the overall offensive. In cases where attackers enjoyed a 4:1 advantage or greater in personnel even major cities did not consume more than two weeks time on the average. It is not clear whether the attacker needs to allocate personnel at the rate of 4 (attacker): 1 (defender). The required size of the attacking forces is dependent on the quality of intelligence, degree of surprise, and degree of superior firepower (air, armor, artillery) the attacker can achieve versus the degree of sophistication with which the defender has prepared the city. Also important is whether the defender is alien from the local population, is wholly or partially cut off from external support, and has effective communication systems. Defense in a built-up area does not appear to be a better risk than defense on other terrain in terms of ultimately holding ground. However, defense of cities, especially large cities that an attacker cannot avoid, does appear to offer unique advantages to the defender. A well planned defense, even if cut off or lacking in air, armor, or artillery weapons, can consume inordinate amounts of the attacker's time. This time can permit the defender to reorganize, redeploy, or otherwise more effectively marshal resources in other areas.
The "odds" favoring an ultimate attacker victory do not materially increase once the attacker's force advantage exceeds 2:1. Further increasing the attacker's force advantage, however, lessens the amount of time needed to seize the city. In cases where the attacker enjoyed a 4:1 or greater force advantage, even battles for major cities did not consume an average of over two weeks.
Despite the relationship between force ratio and combat duration, preparation of the city for defense can offset some of the defensive force ratio disadvantage. Careful planning and construction of defensive positions, kill zones, and obstacles can extend urban combat for several weeks in a major city. In fact most of the battles studied (2/3) were not characterized by force ratios of 4:1 or greater. Where two regular armies confronted each other, 86 percent of the cases were characterized by an attacker advantage of 3:1 or less. Defensive forces in large cities can put up stiff resistance under these circumstances without reinforcement, especially if the defense of the city has been prepared in advance.
Superiority in specific combat areas does not seem to be significantly related to a successful outcome. From the attacker's point of view, air and armor superiority appear to be of roughly equal weight, but have very different implications. Control of the air is important for the protection of attacking forces more than for the destructive power that can be unleashed through air attacks. A second important role of air power is to cut off the city from sources of supply, reinforcement, and evacuation. It appears that the psychological utility of bombing can be great depending upon the character of the defending forces and their perceptions and expectations. The psychological effects of aerial bombardment appear to increase to the degree the defenders are surprised by an unanticipated attack or are inexperienced or inadequately trained or organized. Air attack is further demoralizing to defenders who initially hold high expectations of victory.
The belief that armor has no role in city fighting is erroneous. These cases show that the role of attacking armor is important, particularly at the outer perimeter in operations to isolate a city. The defender may also use tanks on the outer perimeter to delay or prevent isolation. The defender, however, will place a greater emphasis on the antitank (AT) missile. Tanks and armored personnel carriers (APCs) have also proven vital to the attacker inside the city as long as they were protected by dismounted infantry. Many cases in World War II and the IDF experience in the 1982 battles in Lebanon illustrate very clearly that armor can be invaluable in cities. U.S. experience in Hue also demonstrates the prominent role armor can play.
Artillery, like armor, has two distinct roles: outside the built-up area to isolate or prevent isolation, and within the built-up area to provide direct fire support. New tactics and equipment emphasizing the use of self-propelled (SP) artillery in the direct fire role (not in itself a new tactic) undergrid the special value of artillery in cities. By contrast, indirect fire support is more problematical. It is apparent that indirect artillery must be concentrated in volume against a small target area to be truly effective. Even so, indirect artillery fire, like air attack, is significant for its psychological impact.
General or relatively unlimited wars are the only situations in which the attacker has extremely favorable advantages in MOUT. Conversely, if the attacker is subject to any major constraints, the defender has a good chance to win or at least prolong the battle and raise the cost for the attacker. This is true regardless of force balance factors. These constraints might include limiting friendly military casualties or minimizing civilian casualties and/or collateral destruction to:
- Avoid alienation of the local population
- Reduce the risk of adverse world or domestic opinion
- Preserve facilities for future use
Modern weaponry may affect the outcome of future urban combat. It appears that tanks, whose vulnerability in cities was evident even in World War II, are today more vulnerable to a wider range of better AT munitions. At the same time evolution and proliferation of new tank weapons and ammunition give armor more destructive firepower. There is also some evidence that the newest families of air-to-ground munitions may be giving the air arm a viable tactical role in MOUT, although it is premature to render any verdict yet. In an unlimited war environment, the attacker may have gained a slight edge, but in a limited war it appears the defender has gained.
2. The Threat in Urban Terrain. The November 1989 urban offensive by Salvadoran guerrillas of the FMLN (Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front) presented a unique opportunity for Marines to study the techniques of urban warfare that an opposing force is likely to use in a low intensity conflict. The FMLN, in preparing for this offensive, developed an excellent manual entitled "Instructions for Urban Combat," and several copies of it were captured. FMLN urban doctrine is heavily influenced by the experience of the Viet Cong during the Tet offensive of 1968 and by the Sandinista experience during the battle for Managua in 1979. In Vietnam, the insurgents show of force, even though they exterminated themselves in the process, signaled the beginning of defeat for the forces of the United States and Republic of Vietnam. In Managua, when Anastasio Somoza decided to use his air force and armor indiscriminately against guerrillas who were mixed in with the civilian population, the resulting casualties provoked the anger of the Nicaraguan people and led to his rapid overthrow. It is very likely that future U.S. opponents will employ similar urban combat doctrine. The following is a summary of the most interesting aspects of the "Instructions for Urban Combat" manual.
a. The mission of urban combat is one of stopping and destroying enemy units by firepower, obstacles, and explosives. This is done by defending an urban area. In doing so, small lightly-armed guerrilla units can eliminate large enemy units that have air, artillery, and armor support. Too, the longer the guerrilla forces manage to resist, the higher the political and military price the government forces will pay; this theoretically leads to the eventual collapse of the latter and a final guerrilla victory. The guerrillas resist by controlling routes of approach, setting up obstacles, establishing tight security integrating military and political objectives to annihilate enemy forces, keeping logistics and communication routes open, controlling built-up zones and areas where the enemy might bring in troops by helicopter, and neutralizing air support.
b. The city is the best terrain for fighting, and that terrain can become a powerful fortress if the defenders take full advantage of it. With a few modifications urban areas can be turned into bunkers with excellent fields of fire and communication routes, while still protecting the guerrillas from enemy fire, observation, and aerial attacks.
c. The more built-up lower class residential areas offer better possibilities for urban operations because they always have bare spots through which to move that are covered by buildings. Many residential neighborhoods are connected to the rest of the city by only one or two main roads with foot paths leading from a road to the buildings. Since these lower class urban areas tend to spring up spontaneously rather than in a planned manner, the layout of the streets and buildings is haphazard and unpredictable. This offers several advantages to the defender and disadvantages to the attacker.
d. Because these same areas are populated by working class people, tools are usually available, and a large number of people will be sympathetic to the cause. Accordingly, the people can be put to work building fortifications and barricades. And because the areas are heavily populated, the armed forces will be deterred from applying their full firepower to root out the guerrillas. If they do apply it, the resulting civilian casualties can be used for propaganda purposes.
e. The first thing the defenders do to prepare the terrain is to build positions on the street corners, especially those with sidewalks. A hole can be broken in the sidewalk to make a trench, and then various materials such as bricks, dirt and cement can be piled around it. Such a position is good for rifles, RPG-2s or RPG-7s. Close to this corner position, a hole should be opened into the wall of a house that a soldier can move into for protection.
f. When a house is occupied, a defensive position is dug on the first floor, preferably next to a wall, and then fortified. A hole is knocked into a wall just big enough for observation and fire. Doors and windows can also be used, but they should be covered with bricks and other materials, leaving only the small hole.
g. Communications trenches should be dug in occupied houses so that they permit movement from one house to another, from one street to another, and from one block to another. These trenches should be about one and one-half feet wide by three and one-half feet deep so that one person can move through them freely. Large holes should be knocked in the walls to facilitate movement between houses. (Many houses are built side to side and back to back.) This allows a guerrilla to move without exposing himself to enemy fire or observation. If the enemy penetrates a guerrilla position in a building, the guerrilla force can retreat and then use these holes to move undetected and counterattack the enemy from a flank.
h. Roofs can be used for antitank weapons, observation, snipers, and heavy machine guns, and the upper floors for observation, machine guns, and snipers. Positions in the upper floors should be fortified with all available materials and should also have access to lower floors for refuge from aerial and indirect fire attacks. Overhead cover should be added to all positions to protect the occupants from mortar fire and bombs dropped by aircraft.
i. Mortars, because of their high angle of fire, do not have to be placed in high places, but they do need an observer in a high place who has a field of vision to the targets and either visual or radio contact with the mortars.
j. Barricades should be placed in all streets approaching the guerrilla position. Anything can be used for barricades such as cars, buses, logs, dirt and bricks, but these should be combined with mines and deep trenches to impede the movement of armored vehicles.
k. Minefields should be laid to stop not only vehicles but troops as well. Booby traps should be placed in the windows and doors of buildings, and mines should be placed in any open spaces where the enemy may try to land troops by helicopter.
l. The enemy has the capacity to launch night operations, and in urban terrain his approach may not be limited to the roads and open spaces but may be through a hole in a wall, an underground tunnel, or from roof to roof. To defeat enemy operations at night, defensive positions must be changed as soon as it is dark to fool the enemy as to their real locations. These new positions must be chosen so that critical points and routes of approach are still under guerrilla control. Any open sectors must be occupied or patrolled. Wherever possible, captured night vision devices must be used. Control of communication routes is maintained by early warning devices and forward listening and observation posts.
3. Offensive Operations. For U.S. forces, offensive operations in built-up areas are based on offensive doctrine and are modified to fit the characteristics of the area. At battalion level, the offense takes the form of either a hasty or deliberate attack. The hasty or deliberate attack is characterized by as much planning, reconnaissance, and coordination as time and the situation permit. A hasty attack is conducted when retaining momentum is crucial. It is feasible when the enemy has not fortified his positions, permitting the attacking force to overwhelm the defense without protracted combat. A deliberate attack is a fully synchronized operation that employs all available assets against the enemy defense. It is required when the enemy positions are well prepared, when the built-up area is large or severely congested, or when the element of surprise has been lost.
a. Three tasks are common to a hasty attack: find a weak point or gap in enemy defenses; fix forward enemy elements; and quickly move through or around the weak point or gap to key or decisive terrain. Those tasks cannot always be executed in the same order. Commanders must exploit opportunities as they appear. For example, leading units of a battalion may be engaged with forward enemy elements when it becomes apparent that a weak point exists in the defensive position. In another case, a reconnaissance force may discover a gap and then be ordered to seize the terrain controlling the gap to prevent enemy reinforcement. Speed is always essential. If momentum is lost, the hasty attack will fail.
(1) Because the built-up area is itself an obstacle, a hasty attack in such an area is conducted differently than in open terrain. Incomplete intelligence and the concealment available in built-up areas may require the maneuver unit to move through, rather than around, the friendly unit fixing the enemy in place. Control and coordination become most important to reduce congestion at the edge of the area.
(2) Follow up on order missions or fragmentary orders may be given to a force making a hasty attack so it can react to a contingency once its objective is secured.
b. Normally, there are three steps in the deliberate attack of a built-up area: isolate the area (objective), secure a foothold, and clear the area. However, the deliberate attack must be preceded by thorough and aggressive reconnaissance to identify avenues of approach, obstacles, and strongpoints.
(1) STEP 1: Isolating the area involves seizing terrain that dominates the area so that the enemy cannot supply or reinforce its defenders. This step may be taken at the same time as the foothold and clearance steps. If isolating the area is the first step, there should be no pause before the following steps.
(2) STEP 2: Seizing a foothold involves seizing an intermediate objective that provides cover from enemy fire and a place for attacking troops to enter the built-up area. A foothold is normally one to two city blocks and is the intermediate objective of a company. As the company attacks to secure the foothold, it should be supported by suppressive fire and smoke.
(3) STEP 3: Clearing the area involves considering METT-T factors before determining to what extent the built-up area must be cleared. The commander may decide to clear only those parts necessary for the success of his mission if:
- An objective must be seized quickly
- Enemy resistance is light or fragmented
- The buildings in the area are of light construction with large areas between them. In that case, he would clear only those buildings along the approach to his objective, or only those buildings necessary for security.
c. On the other hand, a unit may have a mission to systematically clear an area of all enemy, or it may assume that mission in the face of strong, organized resistance or in areas having strongly built buildings close together. Therefore, one or two companies may attack on a narrow front against the enemy's weakest sector. They move slowly through the area clearing systematically from room to room and building to building. The other company supports the clearing units and is prepared to assume their mission.
4. Platoon Level Offense. Platoons seldom perform independent operations in combat in built-up areas. Because of the type of combat to be expected, they can become isolated and seem alone.
a. Attack of a building. The most common platoon offensive mission in a built-up area is the attack of a building. The platoon must kill the defenders and secure the building. The attack involves isolating the building to prevent the escape or reinforcement of its defenders (normally coordinated at company level); suppressing the defenders with tank, machine gun, and mortar fire; entering the building at the least defended point or through a hole breached by direct fire; and clearing the building. To clear it, troops normally go quickly to the top floor and clear from the top down. There must be close coordination between the assault and support elements of the platoon, using radios, telephones, arm and hand signals, or pyrotechnics.
b. If a platoon is attacking a building independently, it should be organized with an assault element, support element, and security element to cover its flanks and rear. The platoons support element is normally augmented with squads from the weapons platoon. If one platoon is attacking, supported by the rest of the company, security may be provided by the other platoons. The assault has three steps:
STEP 1: Isolate the building
STEP 2: Enter the building
STEP 3: Clear the building methodically room by room and floor by floor
The clearing is performed by the rifle squads, which pass successively through each other (leapfrogging) as rooms and floors are secured. Platoons that clear buildings should be reinforced with engineers to help with demolition (0351s need to man their weapon systems in MOUT).
c. Movement down a street. When moving in built-up areas, a platoon follows the same principles of movement as in other areas. However, some movement techniques must be modified to adjust to a built-up area. This discussion focuses on the movement down the street of the lead platoon of a rifle company, either mechanized or nonmechanized.
(1) The platoon members must be prepared to return fire immediately. They must also be alert for any signs of the enemy and report this information promptly.
(2) The speed of movement depends on the type of operation, terrain, and degree of enemy resistance. In outlying or lightly defended areas, a mechanized infantry platoon proceeds along the street mounted, but sends dismounted men forward to reconnoiter key points (crossroads, bridges etc.). In the center of a built-up area or in situations when there is heavy fighting, the platoon moves on foot with two squads leading one on each side of the road, using all cover. They move through buildings, if feasible, to avoid exposure on the streets. The squads give each other mutual support.
(3) Enemy action against the platoon might consist of an ambush on the street, enfilade fire down the streets, sniper fire from rooftops, or artillery or mortar fire.
(4) For protection from these dangers, the platoon should move through buildings, along walls, use tanks, AAVs, or LAVs for fire support and station men on the roofs or upper stairs for overwatch, and search for defenders in all three dimensions.
(5) The platoon should move in two elements: a maneuver element (one squad on narrow streets, two squads on wide streets) that moves forward, scouts danger areas, and closes with the enemy; and an overwatch element that moves behind the maneuver element, secures the flanks and rear, and provides fire support. These two elements, or parts of them, can exchange roles.
d. Counterattacks. A platoon may be given the mission of counterattacking for one or two reasons: to recapture a defensive position or a key point, destroying or ejecting an enemy foothold; or to stop an enemy attack by striking his flank, forcing him to stop and adopt a hasty defense.
(1) Platoon counterattacks are planned at company level to meet probable enemy penetration. They must be well coordinated and violently executed. Preferably, counterattacks should be directed at an enemy flank and must be supported with direct and indirect fire.
(2) In outlying areas, where the terrain is relatively open, a mechanized infantry platoon accompanied by tanks can approach the counterattack objective mounted for speed. The tanks destroy the enemy's vehicles and heavy weapons while the infantry dismounts to clear the objective. (Platoons without attached AAVs or LAVs can counterattack similarly by riding initially on the tanks.) In central or more congested areas the tanks progress deliberately, from point to point, providing close support to dismounted troops. Counterattacks require the following:
(a) An analysis of the probable avenues of enemy approach
(b) Reconnaissance and rehearsal along each counterattack route and of each proposed overwatch position
(c) Construction of obstacles and fighting positions to canalize or block the enemy
(d) Gaps or lanes through these obstacles if the counterattacks are to be quick enough to affect the action
(e) Rapid and aggressive execution (Leaders must set the example.)
(f) Flexibility to react to unforeseen circumstances
5. Defensive Operations
a. For large units operating in built-up areas the defense is organized into three areas: the covering force area, main battle area, and rear area. A battalion defending in built-up areas may have missions in any one of these areas, depending on the mission of the regiment or division.
b. The defensive battle begins with a combined arms covering force deployed well forward. The covering force uses all available forces to destroy enemy forces and to slow their momentum. Artillery, tac air, and attack helicopters are employed to fight the covering force battle. Covering forces contribute to the defense by:
(1) Alerting the defense to strength, location, and general direction of the enemy's main and supporting attacks.
(2) Delaying enemy first-echelon detachments.
(3) Initiating early engagement of enemy forces.
(4) Deceiving the enemy as to the true location of the main defense force.
c. The withdrawal of the covering force must not result in an easing of pressure on the enemy. The built-up area environment may complicate the handoff of the battle from the covering force to the main battle area force; but, it is important that this transition be accomplished smoothly to prevent the enemy from gaining momentum.
d. The decisive battle is fought in the main battle area. Depending on the threat, the battalion commander may deploy companies on the forward edges of the city or in battle positions in depth. In either case, the defense is made stronger by tying forces who are defending on adjacent terrain on the flanks into the defensive scheme. The battalion commander normally employs a security force to the front to provide early warning and to assist in the handover of the covering force battle.
e. The size and location of battle positions within the battalion's sector depends mainly on the type of enemy encountered and the ability to move between positions to block threatened areas. It may be desirable to place CAT teams, secured by infantry, on the forward edges while the main defense is deployed in depth.
f. A force assigned battle positions on the forward edge of a city or town should:
(1) Provide early warning of the enemy's advance.
(2) Engage the enemy at long range.
(3) Deceive the enemy as to the true location of the defense.
g. When enemy forces enter and maneuver to seize initial objectives, the defender should employ all available fires to destroy and suppress the direct fire weapons that support the ground attack. Tanks and IFVs should be engaged as soon as they come within the effective range of intramural weapons.
h. As the enemy attack develops, the actions of small unit leaders assume increased importance. Squad leaders and platoon commanders are often responsible for fighting independent battles. Thus, it is important that each subordinate understand his commander's concept of the defense.
i. The rear area is behind the MBA. It is the area from which supply and maintenance support is sent forward. The rear area must be protected since the facilities in it are not organized as combat elements and are critical to the overall defense.
j. The proliferation of night vision technologies has enhanced the ability of almost any future enemy to routinely conduct night attacks in order to maintain their daylight momentum. Companies should employ the following measures to defend against night attacks:
(1) Defensive positions and crew-served weapons should be shifted just before dark to deceive the enemy as to their exact location. (A squad or fire team can often be shifted to an adjacent building and cover the same avenue of approach.)
(2) Unoccupied areas between units, which can be covered by observed fire during daylight may have to be occupied or patrolled at night.
(3) Nuisance mines, noise-making devices, tanglefoot tactical wire and OPs should be positioned on secondary avenues of approach for early warning.
(4) OP's preplanned indirect fires, patrol, and anti-intrusion devices should be utilized to prevent infiltration.
(5) Artificial illumination should be planned.
(6) Indirect fire weapons, grenade launchers, and hand grenades should be used when defenses are probed to avoid disclosure of defensive positions.
k. Defenders should move to daylight positions before the BMNT. During attacks in fog, rain, or snowstorms, many of the techniques described for night defense apply. Commanders must rely heavily on OPs and patrolling in these situations.
6. Platoon Level Defense
a. One of the most common defensive tasks a platoon will be given is the strongpoint defense of a building, part of a building, or a group of small buildings. The platoon's defense is normally integrated into the company's mission (defense of a traffic circle and so forth). The platoon must keep the enemy from gaining a foothold in the building(s). It makes the best use of its weapons and supporting fires, organizes all around defense, and counterattacks or calls for company counterattack to eject an enemy that has a foothold. The platoon commander analyzes his defensive sector to recommended to the company commander the best use of obstacles and supporting fires.
b. The platoon should be organized into a series of firing positions located to cover avenues of approach, to cover obstacles, and provide mutual support. Snipers may be located on the upper floors of the buildings. Unengaged elements should be ready to counterattack, fight fires, or reinforce other elements of the platoon. Depending on the length of the mission, the platoon should stockpile the following:
(1) Pioneer equipment (axes, shovels, hammers)
(2) Barrier material (barbed wire, sandbags, etc.)
(3) Munitions (especially grenades)
(4) Food and water
(5) Medical supplies
(6) Firefighting equipment
c. The terrain common to built-up areas is well suited to an infantry's defense against armored forces. Armored forces try to avoid built-up areas (if they're smart) but may be forced to pass through them. Well-trained infantry can inflict heavy casualties on such armored forces. Built-up areas have certain characteristics that favor infantry antimech operations:
(1) Rubble in the streets can be used to block enemy vehicles, conceal mines, and cover and conceal defending infantry.
(2) The streets restrict armor maneuver, fields of fire, and communications, thereby reducing the enemy's ability to reinforce.
(3) Buildings provide cover and concealment for defending infantry.
(4) Rooftops, alleys, and upper floors provide good firing positions.
(5) Sewers, storm drains, and subways provide underground routes for infantry forces.
d. Antiarmor operations in built-up areas involve the following planning steps:
(1) STEP 1: Choose a good engagement area. Enemy tanks should be engaged where most restricted in their ability to support each other. The best way for infantrymen to engage tanks is one at a time, so they can destroy one tank without being vulnerable to the fires of another. Typical locations include narrow streets, turns in the road, "T" intersections, bridges, tunnels, split-level roads, and rubbled areas. Less obvious locations can also be used by using demolitions or mines to create obstacles.
(2) STEP 2: Select good weapons positions. The best weapons positions are places where the tank is most vulnerable and the infantry is most protected. A tank's ability to see and fire is limited, especially to the rear and flanks. To the infantry force, the best place to fire a tank is from the flanks and rear at ground level or from an elevated position in a building. The best place to engage a tank from the flank is over the second road wheel at close range. This can be accomplished using a corner so that the tank cannot traverse the turret to counterattack. For a safe engagement from an elevated position, infantrymen should allow the tank to approach to a range of three times the elevation of the weapon. To engage at a longer range is to risk counterfire, since the weapon's position will not be in the tank's overhead dead space. However, overhead fire at the rear or flank of the tank is even more effective. Alternate and supplementary positions should be selected for all around security and to increase flexibility.
(3) STEP 3: Coordinate target engagement. Tanks are must vulnerable when buttoned up. The first task of the tank killing force is to force the tanks to button up, using mortar or sniper fire. The next task is to coordinate the fires of the antitank weapons so that is there is more than one target in the engagement area and all targets are engaged at the same time.
e. At a planned signal, like the detonation of a mine, all targets are engaged at the same time. If targets cannot be engaged at the same time, they are engaged in the order of the most dangerous first. Although tanks usually present the greatest threat, APCs are also dangerous because their infantry can dismount and destroy friendly intramural positions. If the friendly force is not secured by several infantrymen, priority of engagement might be given to enemy APCs. Rubble and mines should reduce target mobility to present more targets to engage.
ATTACKING AND CLEARING BUILDINGS
At the platoon and squad level, the major offensive task for combat in a built-up area is attacking and clearing a building, which involves the following:
- Suppressing defensive fires
- Advancing infantry assault forces
- Assaulting the building
- Reorganizing the assault force Regardless of a structure's characteristics or the type of built-up area, there are four interrelated requirements for attacking a defended building: fire support, movement, assault, and reorganization. Proper application and integration of these requirements reduces casualties and hastens accomplishment of the mission. The application is determined by the type of building to be attacked and the nature of the surrounding built-up area. For example, medium-size towns have numerous open spaces. Larger cities have high-rise apartments and industrial and transportation areas that are separated by parking areas or parks. Increased fire support is required to suppress and obscure enemy gunners covering the open terrain and spaces between buildings. Conversely, the centers of small and medium-size towns, with twisting alleys and country roads or adjoining buildings, provide numerous covered routes that can decrease fire support requirements.
1. Fire Support. Fire support and other assistance to advance the assault force are provided by a support force. This assistance includes:
- Suppressing and obscuring enemy gunners within the objective building(s) and adjacent structures
- Isolating the objective building(s) with direct or indirect fires to prevent enemy withdrawal, reinforcement, or counterattack
- Breaching walls enroute to and in the objective structure
- Destroying enemy positions with direct fire weapons
- Securing cleared portions of the objective
- Providing replacements for the assault force
- Providing resupply of ammunition and explosives
- Evacuating casualties and prisoners
The support force could consist of only one fireteam, or in situations requiring a larger assault force, a platoon or company reinforced with tanks, engineers, and self-propelled artillery.
Upon seizure of objective buildings, the assault force reorganizes and may be required to provide supporting fires for a subsequent assault. Each weapon is assigned a target or area to cover. Individual small arms weapons place fires on likely enemy positions: loopholes, windows, and roof areas. Snipers are best employed placing accurate fire through loopholes or engaging long range targets.
SMAWS are employed to breach walls, doors, barricades, and window barriers on the ground level of structures. Tank main guns and LAV 25mm chain guns engage first floor targets and can also breach walls for attacking infantry. Tank and AAV machine guns engage suspected positions on upper floors and in adjacent structures. In addition to destroying or weakening structures, tank main gun projectiles cause casualties by explosive effects and by hurling debris throughout the interior of structures.
Artillery and mortars use time fuzes to initially clear exposed personnel, weapons, observation posts, and radio sites from rooftops. They then use delayed fuze action to cause casualties among the defenders inside the structure by high-explosive shrapnel and falling debris. Artillery can also be used in the direct fire mode.
2. Movement. The assault force (squad/platoon/company) minimizes enemy defensive fires during movement by:
- Using covered routes
- Moving only after defensive fires have been suppressed
- Moving at night or during periods of reduced visibility
- Selecting routes that will not mask friendly suppressive fires
- Crossing open areas (streets, space between buildings) quickly under the concealment of smoke and suppression provided by support forces
- Moving on rooftops that are not covered by enemy direct fires
In lightly defended areas, the requirement for speed may dictate moving through the streets and alleys without clearing all buildings. Thus, the maneuver element should employ infantry to lead the column, closely followed and supported by mech assets.
When dismounted, rifle elements move along each side of the street, with leading squads keeping almost abreast of the lead tanks. When not accompanied by armor, squads move single file along one side of the street under cover of fires from supporting weapons. They are dispersed and move along quickly. Each man is detailed to observe and cover certain area such as second floor windows on the opposite side of the street.
3. Assault and Clearing. The assault force, regardless of size, must quickly and violently execute its assault and subsequent clearing operations. Once momentum has been gained, it is maintained to prevent the enemy from organizing a more determined resistance on other floors or in other rooms. It is important that small unit leaders keep the assault force moving, yet not allow the operation to become too disorganized. An assault in a built-up area involves the elementary skills of close combat. Marines must:
- Be trained in the LINE techniques needed to defeat the enemy in a face-to-face encounter
- Keep themselves in excellent physical condition
- Have confidence in their abilities
The composition of the assault force varies depending upon the situation; however, the considerations for equipping the force remain the same. The assault force should consist of several fireteams carrying only a fighting load of equipment and as much ammunition, especially grenades, as possible. The fireteams use maneuver techniques (outlined in your BOC handout and in the USMC Battle Drill Guide) to clear room by room. If the squad is understrength or suffers casualties, priority is given to keeping the assault force up to strength at the expense of the support force.
Entry at the top and fighting downward is the preferred method of clearing a building. Clearing a building is easier from an upper story since gravity and building construction become assets to the assault force when throwing hand grenades and moving from floor to floor. This method is only feasible, however, when access to an upper floor or rooftop can be gained from the windows or roofs of adjoining, secured buildings; or, when enemy air defense weapons can be suppressed and troops transported to the rooftops by helicopter. Marines can fastrope onto the roof or dismount as the helicopter hovers a few feet above the roof. Troops then breach the roof or common walls with explosives and use ropes to enter the lower floors. Stairs are guarded by friendly security elements when not in use.
Although the top-to-bottom method is preferred for clearing a building, assaulting the bottom floor and clearing upward is a common method in all areas except where buildings form continuous fronts. In this situation, the assault force attempts to close on the flank(s) or rear of the building. The assault team clears each room on the ground floor and then, moving up, begins a systematic clearance of the remaining floors. Preferably, entry is gained through walls breached by explosives or gunfire. Assault teams avoid windows and doors since they are usually covered by fire or are boobytrapped. If tanks are attached to the company, they can create an entry point with main gunfire.
Just before the rush of the assault force, suppressive fires should be increased on the objective by the support force and continued until masked by the advancing assault force. Once masked, fires are shifted to upper windows and continued until the assault force has entered the building. At that time, fires are shifted to adjacent buildings to prevent enemy withdrawal or reinforcement.
Assault parties quickly close on the building. Before entry through a breached wall, a hand grenade is cooked off (pin pulled, safety lever released, and held for two seconds before being thrown) and vigorously thrown inside. Immediately after the explosion, assault parties enter and spray the interior concentrating on areas of the room that are possible enemy positions.
Once inside the building, the priority tasks are to cover the staircase leading to upper floors and the basement, and to seize rooms that overlook approaches to the building. These actions are required to isolate enemy forces within the building and to prevent reinforcement from the outside. The assault parties clear each ground floor room and then the basement.
If the assault force is preparing to clear a building from the top floor down, they should gain entrance through a common wall or roof of an adjoining building. The force can use demolitions or tools to breach the wall and gain entrance to the top floor. Access to lower floors and rooms may be gained by breaching holes in the floor or using stairs that have been cleared.
When using the top-to-bottom method of clearing, security requirements remain the same as for other methods. After the floor is breached to gain access to a lower floor, a grenade is allowed to cook off and is dropped to the lower room. A Marine then sprays the room and drops through the mousehole.
Marines must avoid clearing rooms the same way each time by varying techniques so that the enemy cannot prepare for the assault. As rooms are cleared, doors should be left open and a predetermined mark (cloth, tape, spray paint) placed on the doorjamb or over the door.
The most common type of buildings that must be cleared are brick buildings, brick houses, box wall buildings, heavy-clad framed buildings, framed buildings, and light-clad framed buildings. The best way to enter a brick building is to blow a breaching hole in the side with a SMAW rocket or tank firing HEAT ammunition. If those are not an option, a door or window in the rear of the building usually provides better cover and concealment for entry than one in the front. If there is enough cover and concealment, the assault force should enter the rear of the building at an upper level using a fire escape or grappling hook.
To clear from building to building, the best method is to move from rooftop to rooftop since the roofs of brick buildings are usually easy to breach. The walls between buildings are at least three bricks thick (total of six between buildings) and require large quantities of demolition to breach. Walls are normally easier to breach on the upper floor than lower floor, since the walls are thinner on upper floors. If rooftops are covered by fire and if there are not enough demolitions to breach walls between buildings, clearing from rear to rear is safer than clearing from front to front.
Brick houses have similar floor plans on each floor; therefore, ground floors are cleared the same way as upper floors.
Box wall buildings often have reinforced concrete walls that are difficult to breach due to the reinforcing bars. Therefore, the best way to enter is to blow down a door or blow in a side window. The floor plans of these buildings are predictable; clearing rooms are usually off one main hallway. Interior walls are also constructed of reinforced concrete and are difficult to breach. The stairways at the ends of the building must be secured during clearing.
Heavy-clad framed buildings are relatively easy to breach, because a tank, SMAW, or AT-4 can breach a hole in the cladding. Their floor plans are oriented around a stairway or elevator, which must be secured during clearing. The interior walls of these buildings can be breached, although they may require demolitions.
On light-clad framed buildings the clearing tasks are usually the same: secure the central stairway and clear in a circular pattern. Walls are easier to breach since they are usually thin enough to be breached with an axe.
4. Reorganization. Reorganization of the assault force in a cleared building must be quick to repel enemy counterattacks and to prevent the enemy from infiltrating back into the cleared building. After securing a floor (bottom, middle, or top), selected members of the assault force are assigned to cover potential enemy counterattack routes to the building. Those sentinels alert the assault force and place a heavy volume of fire on enemy forces approaching the building. They guard:
- Enemy mouseholes between adjacent buildings
- Covered routes to the building
- Underground routes into the basement
- Approaches over adjoining roofs
As the remainder of the assault force completes search requirements, they are assigned defensive positions. After the building has been cleared, the following actions are taken:
- Resupplying and redistributing ammunition
- Marking the building to indicate to friendly forces that the building has been cleared
- Assuming an overwatch mission and supporting the assault of another building
- Treating and evacuating wounded personnel
- Developing a defensive position if the building is to be occupied for any period
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