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[casi] Iraq: Counter-insurgency #2


2) Military Operations on Urban Terrain [MOUT] Operations



Posted on Sun, Nov. 16, 2003


We modern Americans are a people with a short attention span and a desire
for instant gratification. Fast food. Instant coffee. One-hour photo shops.
The Persian Gulf War, fought by the first George Bush, lasted 100 hours, and
then we went home. The Iraq war, fought by his son, lasted 19 days.

But what's followed the end of the blitzkrieg in which a splendid force
captured Baghdad and toppled dictator Saddam Hussein in less than three
weeks is a guerrilla war, and the sinking feeling that we're in for a long,
hard, bloody slog in Iraq.
There will be no instant gratification there, maybe no gratification at all.

Our forces must defeat a shadowy band of hired killers, disgruntled former
Republican Guard soldiers, Baath Party die-hards and foreign Muslim holy
warriors drawn to a place where they can kill Americans. Our enemy, on the
other hand, has only to survive and wait for public opinion to turn against
the war.

Consider this early and prescient analysis by Vietnamese Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap
of the future course of his guerrilla war with the French 50-some years ago:

"The enemy will pass slowly from the offensive to the defensive. The
blitzkrieg will transform itself into a war of long duration. Thus the enemy
will be caught in a dilemma: He has to drag out the war in order to win it
and does not possess, on the other hand, the psychological and political
means to fight a long-drawn-out war."

It worked for Giap against the French, and it worked for him again against
the Americans. Patience and a willingness to accept heavy casualties are the
guerrillas' two biggest weapons.

The clock is running on Iraq. Public opinion polls show that approval
ratings for President Bush's handling of Iraq are sagging. The war and its
cost are favorite debate topics for the large field of Democrats jousting
for the right to run against Bush next year.
With the passage of the president's requested $87 billion appropriation to
prosecute the war and rebuild the Iraqi infrastructure, the cost of this
adventure is nearing $200 billion in less than one year.

There's another bill being paid. This week, the number of Americans killed
in Iraq is nearing 400. Not very much, you say? Ask the widows, widowers and
children, the mothers and fathers, the brothers and sisters of those young
men and women how much it hurts. Visit the overcrowded Army and Veterans
Administration hospitals tending to some of the 2,280 soldiers who've been
wounded in Iraq.

American military commanders are working hard to adapt to the guerrilla
tactics, and they say they're having success, even though for unfathomable
reasons the successes are not publicized.

The military is killing five or six Iraqi guerrillas for each American who
dies, according to one knowledgeable Army general. The Americans are finding
and disarming, or prematurely exploding, an estimated 70 percent of the
homemade radio- and command-detonated explosive devices the guerrillas plant
along the routes of American convoys and patrols.

As clever as some of the triggering devices are -- cell phones,
garage-door-opener transmitters, even toy racing car controls -- there are
solutions. We Americans do technology pretty well, and the gear to counter
these devices is being deployed swiftly.
The Army is preparing for a huge rotation of its forces in Iraq and
Afghanistan early next spring. The 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas;
the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii; and the 1st Infantry Division (Big Red
One) in Germany are all adapting and changing their mix of weapons and
tactics in preparation.

The heavy divisions will leave most of their M1A2 tanks at home. They're
training in what the Army calls MOUT -- military operations on urban

What isn't clear is whether the Iraqi people, the guerrillas and the
American public will wait for them to take the field in four or five months
and test their new tactics of agility and lethality.

Joseph L. Galloway is the senior military correspondent for Knight Ridder


Military Operations on Urban Terrain [MOUT] Operations

Restore Hope Somalia
Doctrine for Joint Urban Operations Joint Publication 3-06 - 16 September
FM 90-10: Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain (MOUT)
FM 90-10-1: An Infantryman's Guide to Combat in Built-up Areas
FM 3-06.1: Aviation Urban Operations
FM 3-06.11: Combined Arms Operations in Urban Terrain
Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain (MOUT) Marine Corps Warfighting
Publication (MCWP) 3-35.3 - Published 04-98 [7,842 KB PDF]

Urban Operations: An Historical Casebook Combat Studies Institute, Command &
General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas - 2 Oct 2002

Sharp Corners: Urban Operations at Century's End Dr. Roger J. Spiller, US
Army Combat Studies Institute (CSI), April 2001
Close Combat in the Urban Environment Center for Army Lessons Learned,
February 20, 2001
Urban Combat Operations CALL Newsletter No. 99-16

"Urban Offensive Air Support: Is the United States Military Prepared and
Equipped?" by Major Jon M. Davis, United States Marine Corps. Marine Corps
University Command and Staff College [1995]

Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain (MOUT) Center for Army Lessons
The Urban Operations Journal

Military Operations on Urban Terrain [MOUT] are not new to the US Army.
Throughout its history the Army has fought an enemy on urban terrain. What
is new is that urban areas and urban populations have grown significantly
during the late twentieth century and have begun to exert a much greater
influence on military operations. The worldwide shift from a rural to an
urban society and the requirement to transition from combat to stability and
support operations and vice-versa have affected the US Army's doctrine.
It is estimated that by the year 2010, seventy-five percent of the world's
population will live in urban areas. The increased population and
accelerated growth of cities have made the problems of combat in built-up
areas an urgent requirement for the US Army. Urban areas are expected to be
the future battlefield and combat in urban areas cannot be avoided.

The acronym MOUT (Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain) is defined as
all military actions that are planned and conducted on a terrain complex
where man-made construction affects the tactical options available to the

Urban combat operations may be conducted in order to capitalize on the
strategic or tactical advantages which possession or control of a particular
urban area gives or to deny these advantages to the enemy. Major urban areas
represent the power and wealth of a particular country in the form of
industrial bases, transportation complexes, economic institutions, and
political and cultural centers. The denial or capture of these centers may
yield decisive psychological advantages that frequently determine the
success or failure of the larger conflict. Villages and small towns will
often be caught up in the battle because of their proximity to major avenues
of approach or because they are astride lines of communications that are
vital to sustaining ground combat operations.
These operations are conducted to defeat an enemy that may be mixed in with
civilians. Therefore, the rules of engagement (ROE) and use of combat power
are more restrictive than in other conditions of combat.

Military thinkers and planners have long been aware of the pitfalls of
fighting in urban areas. As early as circa 500 B.C., Sun Tzu advised that
"the worst policy is to attack cities," and that advice has been echoed in
military writings and doctrine to this day. However, despite that sensible
advice, wars have been fought in cities repeatedly throughout the centuries,
from the sack of Troy to the battles of Grozny.

The Battle for Hue, although only one of over one hundred different attacks
of the Tet Offensive of 1968, had a negative impact on the will of both the
American people and their political leadership. Hue marked a revolution in
the coverage of war by modern mass media. It was the first time Americans
could and watch an ongoing battle from their living room on the evening
news. Hue was a television bonanza for almost a month. When North Vietnamese
leadership directed that Hue be held for at least seven days, it was clearly
not their intent to win a tactical battle, but to strike at the strategic
center of gravity-in this case, the will of the American people. Although
the battle for Hue was a tactical victory for the U.S., the North Vietnamese
had achieved their strategic goal of making the American public question the
costs associated with the war.

The battles for the city of Grozny during the Russian intervention in the
Republic of Chechnya represent a recent and critically important example of
large scale operations in urban combat. Combat in Grozny was characterized
by a large, technologically sophisticated military force (Russian) engaging
and ultimately being defeated by a small, relatively primitive irregular
force (Chechen). The recapture of Grozny was a significant loss for the
Russians, precipitating a general cease-fire and the withdrawal of Russian
forces from the Republic. Grozny provides a number of fresh insights, and
reinforcement of time honored tenets of urban warfare, across the scope of
activities germane to modern urban combat. Poor small unit leadership,
particularly at the NCO level, was a primary cause of Russian tactical
failures in Grozny. Overall, poor Russian combat performance could be traced
to a lack of training in fundamental military skills. The Russian infantry,
at all levels, was inadequately trained for night operations, and lacked
night vision equipment. The Chechens negated Russian supporting fires by
"hugging" Russian units. The use of excessive, unrestrained firepower, and a
complete lack of regard for collateral damage, finally enabled the Russians
to gain control of Grozny.
The US Army's Field Manual 90-10, Military Operations in Urbanized Terrain,
was last issued in 1979, though a revision of FM 90-10 is under way. This
Army doctrine on combat operations in urban areas is outdated. The political
realities of urban combat have resulted in the use of terms that tend to
place limitations on the conduct of these operations. The manpower resources
needed to conduct urban combat is a problem for the US Army. Under the
current downsizing agenda, the Army does not have the soldiers to do the job
on a scale of the Russian experience at Grozny and meet its two regional war
mission. Training in villages will not prepare the Army for combat in the
large metropolitan areas. US forces currently do not have the special
weapons needed and lack the quantities of weapons necessary for urban
operations. The weapons historically needed to do the job are in many cases
either not in the inventory or not available for training in the urban
environment. Quantity of supplies is another issue that the Army must be
prepared to address in the urban combat situation. Previous evidence shows
that urban combat uses an inordinate amount of supplies, from ammunition to
bandages. Munitions now in the inventory are not suitable for urban combat.
In past wars the types of ammunition in the inventory worked for all
possibilities. Specialty communications equipment is now only available to
special units. This communications equipment is needed now for regular
infantry for training and potential combat operations. Realistic NBC hazards
are not incorporated into urban combat training.

US forces lack focus in the movement to the objective, resulting in
significant casualties. Units lack focus in the use of combined arms
tactics, techniques and procedures for armor, aviation, and close air
support for urban combat. Uncoordinated maneuver and over-watch are more
common in the urban environment. Marksmanship at all levels is poor, with
the exception of Special Operations Units. Units have problems with
allocation of resources and positioning of fire support assets in the urban
fight. Units do a poor job using restrictive rule of engagement in dealing
with collateral damage and associated urban combat effects. Units are not
effective in the use of counter battery fires. Units did a poor job in the
use of precision munitions. There is a poor allocation of air defense
artillery assets to support the urban fight overall. Attack aviation
vulnerability in battle positions is not taken into consideration in the
operations order planning. Focusing the correct air defense asset at the
proper place and time in the battle is poor.

US forces currently do not effectively locate their command and control
nodes. Leaders at all levels have problems with rules of engagement and
proportionality. Sniper teams are not properly planned for or considered
eyes on the objective. Wargaming and course of action development for urban
combat needs work; this must be more precise. The intelligence preparation
of the battlefield (IPB) is not specific enough for the urban battle. The
use of psychological operations and civil affairs operations are not planned
well enough. Identification of decision points and setting conditions for
success are not emphasized. Little thought is given to intelligence
collection or care of civilians on the battlefield. The operations order
does not properly allocate engineer resources for urban fight. Units are not
effective in suppress, obscure, secure, and reduce (SOSR) at all levels.
Engineers are attrited prior to the objective. Lack of eyes on the objective
prevent obstacle identification. Re-supply and casualty evacuation are not
conducted well. Urban specific supply items: ladders, knee and elbow pads,
ropes with grappling hooks, as well as specialty weapons and ammunition need
to be made available. Speed, not haste, should be the norm in urban

Due to political change, advances in technology, and the Army's role in
maintaining world order, MOUT now takes on new dimensions that previously
did not exist. Friendly and enemy doctrine reflect the fact that more
attention must be given to urban combat. Expanding urban development affects
military operations as the terrain is altered. The makeup and distribution
of smaller built-up areas as part of an urban complex make the isolation of
enemy fires occupying one or more of these smaller enclaves increasingly

Although the current doctrine still applies, the increasing focus on
operations short of war, urban terrorism, and civil disorder emphasizes that
combat in built-up areas is unavoidable. These new conditions affect how
units will fight or accomplish their assigned missions. MOUT is expected to
be the future battlefield in Europe and Asia with brigade- and higher-level
commanders focusing on these operations.

Tactical doctrine stresses that urban combat operations are conducted only
when required and that built-up areas are isolated and bypassed rather than
risking a costly, time-consuming operation in this difficult environment.
Adherence to these precepts, though valid, is becoming increasingly
difficult as urban sprawl changes the face of the battlefield.

Commanders must treat the elements of urban sprawl as terrain and know how
this terrain affects the capabilities of their units and weapons. They must
understand the advantages and disadvantages urbanization offers and its
effects on tactical operations. The brigade will be the primary headquarters
around which units will be task-organized to perform UO. Companies,
platoons, and squads will seldom conduct UO independently, but will most
probably conduct assigned missions as part of a battalion task force urban

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