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The Indirect Approach: How US Military Forces Can Avoid the Pitfalls of Future Urban Warfare
CENTER FOR ARMY LESSONS LEARNED FORT LEAVENWORTH KS VIRTUAL RESEARCH LIBRARY
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Urban warfare, fighting in cities, war in complex terrain. To the casual observer, the words seem detached, almost pristine. However, the words are starkingly real to military professionals who have seen the images of great destruction and excessive casualties in cities such as Berlin, Stalingrad, Hue, and Beirut. Urban warfare, a subject that many military professionals would prefer to avoid, is still with us. Moreover, it may be the preferred approach of future opponents. Consider one of the key lessons that emerged from the Spring 1998 Army 2025 wargame conducted at the US Army War College. The enemy Red Force conducted a lightning assault to seize and control a web of complex terrain a large urban area. This enabled it to decapitate the political leadership and control critical lodgment areas. Designed to dismember coalition efforts and collapse American resolve, the Red Force dispersed its army within the cities and prepared to wage an attrition-based campaign. Since the National Command Authority was initially reluctant to turn to the military element of power, the friendly Blue Force was unable to prevent Red from occupying the urban areas. However, once Red moved into the urban areas, the political fallout to regain control of the lodgment area and reestablish a legitimate government left Blue with little choice but to wage an urban warfare campaign. Although successful, the cost was excessive in terms of battle casualties and time. In retrospect, the Blue approach was exactly the opposite from what should have been taken. Why Because by playing into the hands of the enemy, Blue illustrated one of the key issues for 2lst century warfare. How can the force of the future achieve success in complex terrain
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