21 November 2011

Urban warfare, use the terrain

Urban warfare is not just "Close Quarters Battle" and "Enter and Clear a Room" that many people seem to think.  That 14.5 inch M4gery with a red dot on top?  Fine for that sort of thing, but if you wanted a 300 meter gun why not just get an AK?

Urban terrain has very long fields of fire along roads, from rooftops to street level, from storm drains to hill tops.  Would you put a machine gun on a rooftop or on street level?  If you said "rooftop" I'm not saying that you are wrong, only that you have now limited yourself to plunging fire.  There may in fact be very good reasons for putting a machine gun on a roof top, but there are equally good reasons for street level.

As our Jewish Resistance Fighters in alternative 1960 Germany are finding out, terrain is your best asset when you can't win in a stand up fight.

Joseph, the leader of our resistance band has found some military manuals listing the characteristics of the offense and the defense.  The German Army has for centuries tried to break down warfare into an exact science.  But Joseph has some insight of his own, and realizes something very important.  The purpose behind military lists isn't to get you to follow the list, it is to get you to THINK about the effects you want to achieve with the assets you have available.  If you have a few rifles and a fair sized town it is different than a backpack full of RPG's and a road running through a canyon.  Joseph begins to take stock of his assets, and of the complex urban terrain that has hid his little band for the last month.

Urban terrain has sewers, tunnels, basements, and sometimes even buildings tall enough to BASE jump off of (as seen in any good heist movie).

Next time you are in a city, stop, look around.  How far can you see in any given direction?  Can you use those lines of sight to set up a snipers firing solution to those distances?  The longest shots in Iraq were not taken in the desert, they were taken in cities.  Cities are challenging terrain for an occupying force, and they are a rats nest haven for an insurgent.  Joseph can walk freely in the city most days, he doesn't look "Jewish" and is known as a hard working handyman.  It is common to see him with his toolbox fixing pipes or replacing an electrical outlet.

Joseph uses his mind like a weapon, analyzing everything around him.  How long does it take to get from Avenue A to Intersection Z?  Where are the police stations, and how often do they patrol?

Joseph is using the "human terrain" to blend in and mask his reconnaissance efforts.  And Joseph is planning to use the physical terrain to his advantage in setting up a long range ambush in an area of the city that isn't his safe house.  By making the Nazi's crack down on a neighborhood that contains no hidden Jews he thinks he can win sympathy for his cause.

Use the terrain, it is like the force, it surrounds us.  If you can't shoot 600 meters you need to learn how, and you need to start thinking in terms of angles of intersections, how to coordinate multiple teams from multiple angles.  Imagine four teams stationed 500 meters from the center of a major intersection.  With accurate fire, how much terrain do they now dominate?  A simple land line phone system and a conference call could let them act as scouts for each other.

And what would the Nazi response be to such an act, a squad of Stormtroopers laying dead in a pool of their own blood?  Would they crack down on that area?  Would they increase restrictions on civil liberties?  Would they alienate the populace?


Brock Townsend said...

Another excellent piece and posted.

Arctic Patriot said...

I noticed when I was an NCO training in MOUT a disturbing tendancy by many to disregard urban terrain. Too often MOUT was seen as a brute force affair rather than one requiring terrain analysis, utilization, and finesse. The only difference between th Alaksn mountains and new york city is the type and density of terrain features. Oh yeah. And bears. ;-)


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RauĆ°bjorn said...

@Arctic Patriot
You say that like we don't have bears in town here. In Alaska the only difference between Mountains and city are the prevalence of Starbucks.

pdxr13 said...

Urban terrain is 3-D, for anyone living or fighting there. Understand who the enemy is and what the objective is. Sensors everywhere, all the time.

If the objective is what the Germans did to Warsaw before retreating, the little peeps have to scurry from one wrecked burning building to the next as blocks become uninhabitable. If the objective is to "own" the relatively intact city and use the population to make wealth, they won't use the big fist of artillery or bombers indiscriminately. This is where an insurgent can make things slow and expensive.

The big militaries of the world will have to carefully pick their battles for probability of "actual success" meaning surrender or destruction of enemy in the future, lest their budgets be run dry before the next appropriation. Chemical weapons will come back as "fumigation" is added to legal tactics to cheaply clear a city. Yeah, right. Not until the Dollar goes to zero and a major mission is controlling the tribal (not the Treaty Indians) areas of the US SW.

Why are we dragging our feet destroying the last of our chemical weapon stockpiles if we will never use them, or they have no future military purpose? I think that they should be repackaged/re-manufactured for long term storage, like any valuable military asset, not destroyed.

All the insurgent has to do is survive. Everything beyond this is victory, sooner or later.


GardenSERF said...

Most American shooters have never taken a shot at 500 yards and even fewer ever hit anything. This is due to a lack of opportunity to actually practice at those distances. With the right training on a single afternoon or two, such things become easily possible.