Tactics 101: 024 – The Attack of a Built Up Area
Cordon and Attack
As discussed earlier, isolation is key in achieving success in urban operations. Perhaps, the one mission that epitomizes this concept is the cordon and attack. In this mission, a larger force establishes battle positions or defensive areas around the objective they are planning to attack. A unit will establish these battle positions in areas that control key terrain or avenues of approach into the objective area. This will assist the attacking force in ensuring the enemy in the objective area can not be aided by forces from the outside. In the graphical representation, you see a force establishing three company battle positions on the outside of OBJ EAGLE to cordon the area. With the area cordoned, a larger force is assigned the task of seizing the objective.
Fix and Bypass
The tactical situation may dictate that you bypass a built-up area, but you may have concerns that an enemy force could hinder your maneuver. This situation may call for a unit to conduct a fix and bypass mission. As the name suggests, a commander will utilize a small portion of his force to fix the enemy element he is concerned with and maneuver the rest of his force around the urban area. A fixing force has a couple of options when executing its’ part of the operation. The preferable option is positioning itself outside the built-up area and fixing the enemy with direct and indirect fires. The second, least preferred option is entering the area and fixing them from that position. This usually leads to some form of contact with the enemy which is not desired. However, the commander may be forced to enter the area to fix the enemy. The biggest risk in this mission is that the small fixing force could be cut-off and encircled by the enemy. The graphics below show 2 task forces bypassing the area while a task force fixes the enemy. Objective and attack axes are developed in case a force is needed to maneuver into the urban area.
Multiple Nodal Attack
Potentially, the most effective mission to conduct in an urban environment is the multiple nodal attack. Again, as the name suggests a unit is assigned the mission to attack various key objectives in a built-up area. These objectives are normally locations of key infrastructure. These attacks may be conducted either simultaneously or sequentially. During a multiple nodal attack, a larger unit (typically a brigade) will divide its forces and conduct several rapid attacks and then once the objective is seized establish hasty defensives. If executed properly, a multiple nodal attack will force the enemy to make difficult decisions in terms of which attacks to defend. A unit conducting a multiple nodal attack faces challenges in command and control, providing service support to subordinate units, and coming to the assistance of any unit that may have difficulties seizing their objective. The below graphic displays a brigade conducting a multiple nodal attack on five different objectives.
Cordon and Search
One of the most executed missions in current operations is the cordon and search (it has various off-shoots to it). We will spend a separate article in the future on this mission.
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