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Don't Go Downtown without Us: The Role of Aerospace Power in Joint Urban Operations

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Journal article

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For many people, the term urban operations brings to mind the specters of Mogadishu, Hue City, and Stalingrad, where vicious, house-to-house infantry fighting was the order of the day. However, it is a mistake to view all urban operations through this bloody lens. Such operations fall all along the spectrum of military operations -- from humanitarian relief to peace support to major theater war. Aerospace power can play a major role in helping the joint force achieve its objectives with less risk in many scenarios across this operational continuum. From a historical perspective, urban operations are not a new phenomenon for the Air Force or our sister services. Joint aerospace power in various forms has contributed significantly to successfully executed urban operations in many recent conflicts and contingencies. Most urban operations will include five components. Arguably the most important component of our concept of operations, battle-space analysis encompasses preparing intelligence concerning the battle space and maintaining operational-level situational awareness during all phases of the campaign. The second component in a joint urban operation, isolation involves physically and psychologically separating an adversary from his urban support base, limiting his mobility and communication, and negating his ability to acquire useful intelligence on friendly operations. The decisive-engagement component involves gaining the initiative by applying friendly strengths against the key nodes, systems, and choke points identified during the JFCs battle-space analysis. The third component is sustainment. Prerequisites for its success are continuous, real-time analysis of the battle space operational effects achieved against key nodes and systems and adversary responses. The final component of our operational concept refers to a variety of long-term, peace-shaping operations that ultimately mark the termination of urban violence or armed conflict.

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  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Unconventional Warfare

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