Tactics 101: 024 – The Attack of a Built Up Area
PHASES OF A DELIBERATE ATTACK
1. Recon the Objective – A commander must take the time available and conduct quality reconnaissance of the objective area. As in any environment, the key to obtaining quality reconnaissance and consequently quality actionable intelligence is utilizing redundant resources in the recon of the objective. As always, personal, eyes on reconnaissance is the first choice, but many times it is difficult to get recon forces into an objective area. If the objective is important enough there is the possibility of Special Forces conducting reconnaissance, but that is a critical asset. If physical reconnaissance is not possible, there are other sources. The first is human intelligence (HUMINT). This is obtaining information from the populace. Clearly this must come from a pretty trustworthy source and this trust is obtained over time. Unfortunately, you may not have the time to cultivate these sources. Additional resources are aerial imagery, photographs, and any archival information out there related to the infrastructure.
2. Maneuver to the Objective – After finalizing your plan based on your recon intelligence, it is time to maneuver to the objective. As in any environment, you must arrive there both mentally and physically ready to conduct operations. Of course, you want to ensure to maneuver as quickly as possible without risking the security of your unit. The maneuver of ground forces can involve many routes. This includes between buildings, along streets, below buildings, aerial insertion, waterborne infiltration, etc… The maneuver of armored vehicles does not afford as many possibilities. In both cases, forces must be cautious of enemy forces located anywhere along the numerous corridors urban terrain allows. An enemy ambush can come from anywhere, anytime.
3. Isolate the Objective – As we have mentioned several times in our articles regarding urban operations; the key to success is isolating the enemy within your objective. If you enable the enemy to continue to receive support (supplies, reinforcements, etc.) or the ability to withdraw; you have made your mission very difficult. In isolating the objective, the first thing a commander must determine is the specific terrain you need to actually isolate the objective. Once that is determined, you select the force needed to accomplish the mission. During the execution of this step, the key is clearly speed. If you enable the enemy to react, your chances of isolating the objective are dramatically limited. Consequently, you may execute this phase along with the next phase (Secure a Foothold), to hinder the enemy’s ability to react. Besides using ground soldiers to isolate the objective; you may utilize snipers, fixed or rotary wing air, or other indirect weapon systems. The ability of some of these assets can be greatly diminished by the urban terrain.
4. Secure a Foothold – In this phase, you are seizing the terrain near the objective area that you can use as the jump-off point before assaulting the objective. It is basically your assault position in doctrinal terms. Because of this, you want cover and concealment and terrain that support your future maneuver. Because this action may involve contact with some element of your opponent, you want to ensure you possess your combat multipliers (indirect fire, smoke, etc.).
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