Reimagining the Character of Urban Operations for the U.S. Army by Gian Peri Gentile, David E. Johnson, Lisa Saum-Manning, Raphael S. Cohen, Shara Williams, Carrie Lee, Michael Shurkin, Brenna Allen, Sarah Soliman, and James L. Doty III, RAND Corporation
Urban environments pose significant challenges for ground forces and have traditionally been avoided when at all possible, but increasing urbanization of the world's population seems to ensure that urban combat is in the Army's future. This report provides a historical analysis of the ways in which militaries have deployed light and mechanized infantry with armored forces during close urban combat, looking specifically at the U.S. Army in Mogadishu in 1993, the Russian Army in Grozny in 1994 and in 1999, the U.S. Army in Baghdad in 2003, the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army in Fallujah in 2004, and the U.S. Army in the Sadr City suburb of Baghdad in 2008. The authors assess the advantages and costs of this warfighting approach and identify lessons that can inform how the Army might confront similar foes in complex, urban environments in the future.
The authors find that urban combat operations have historically been among the most arduous challenges an army can face and that there are important gaps in the U.S. Army's capabilities to succeed in urban combat. The authors specifically discuss the critical role that effective intelligence plays in urban combat, and they offer broad recommendations on the implications of urban operations for Army warfighting challenges and for Army doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership, personnel, and facilities.