Urban warfare is not a new phenomenon. The U.S. Army saw urban combat in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and elsewhere. Starting with World War II, overall armed conflict began to occur around centers with a high population density. This new backdrop for conflict has caused a whole new set of challenges, especially in an era of public scrutiny. The “Army’s capacity to engage, fight, and win major urban combat operations will determine the success of future operational and strategic endeavors.”
The United States US Army Chief of Staff Studies Group has identified the megacity as a future challenge to the security environment. Due to their complexity, megacities present a vulnerable and challenging future operational environment. Currently, however, the US Army is incapable of operating within the megacity. The US Army must think and learn through leveraging partnerships, which enhance institutional understanding. Historical experiences and lessons learned should assist in refining concepts and capabilities needed for the megacity.
Because the operational environment (OE) requires Army forces to operate in urban areas, commanders must have accurate information on the complex human elements, infrastructure, and physical terrain that make up the urban environment. The limits on imagery and electronic reconnaissance and surveillance (R&S) capabilities place a premium on human-based visual reconnaissance. Reconnaissance troops and platoons must be trained to gather and analyze the necessary information and provide it to their commanders and higher headquarters. This chapter discusses definitions, training strategy, prerequisite training, individual task training, and collective task training designed to prepare reconnaissance units at troop level and below for operations in urban terrain.
With the continuing growth in the world’s urban areas and increasing population concentrations in urban areas, the probability that the US Army will conduct full spectrum operations in urban environments is ever more likely. As urbanization has changed the demographic landscape, potential enemies recognize the inherent danger and complexity of this environment to the attacker, and may view it as their best chance to negate the technological and firepower advantages of modernized opponents. Given the global population trends and the likely strategies and tactics of future threats, Army forces will likely conduct operations in, around, and over urban areas—not as a matter of fate, but as a deliberate choice linked to national security objectives and strategy. Stability operations––where keeping the social structure, economic structure, and political support institutions intact and functioning or having to almost simultaneously provide the services associated with those structures and institutions is the primary mission––may dominate urban operations. This requires specific and timely intelligence support, placing a tremendous demand on the Intelligence warfighting functions for operations, short-term planning, and long-term planning.