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MILITARY OPERATIONS ON URBANIZED TERRAIN (MOUT)


VIGNETTE

The 1-508th Abn loaded its UH-60s at 0055 on D-day, confident in its ability to clear Ft. Amador of the PDF Military Police Company (5th Rifle Co) and protect the U.S. and Canal Commission dependents living there. It had trained for weeks on MOUT using plywood mockups and its own billets. The clearing, security, and covering teams knew their jobs as did the snipers, scouts, and antitank platoons who had critical supporting roles. Following an air assault into a hot LZ, the battalion (-) deployed and used its PSYOP teams to broadcast surrender demands. By dawn, the rifle companies were clearing PDF buildings, and snipers were engaging enemy marksman. Clearing teams worked through the heat of the day and secured Ft. Amador without a single U.S. casualty.

KEY POINTS

Almost every unit was involved in some type of MOUT operation. JUST CAUSE marked one of the few times that U.S. forces operated in a large, developed and heavily populated city since World War II. The challenges presented by city lights at night, civilian traffic, high-rise buildings, and the presence of non-combatants had not been replicated in training exercises or resources for their safeguarding and care.

LESSONS LEARNED

COMBAT ARMS

  • Noncombatants will be present in all contingency areas. Units will fight in close proximity to civilians.

  • Controlling refugees diverted combat power that would have been available for other missions.

  • Actively patrol neighborhoods as a means of gathering intelligence and establishing a presence among the people to maintain their support and protect them from the enemy or criminals.

  • Street lights in the city need to be part of METT-T considerations. In some cases, they can offset advantages gained with NVGs by washing out the view. Particular attention should be paid to traveling from lighted areas to dark areas wearing NVGs, vehicle routes at night, and static positions such as roadblocks. Examine shutting down or eliminating city street lights during night MOUT operations. Balance the tradeoff between force protection and maintaining law and order.

  • City lights, fires and background illumination will wash out the AN/PVS-7s and the M44 night sights on the M551. Tank crews had to use the day sights during night operations in MOUT.

  • Target reference points (TRPs) in MOUT are difficult to distinguish at night due to competing heat sources, tall buildings and limited visibility.

  • Fire converged sheaves or individual tubes to reduce collateral damage during MOUT.

  • Use visual signals to supplement radios and whistles for lifting/shifting fires in MOUT.

  • Sketch maps, individually numbering all buildings in the area, are a must for MOUT operations. Standard military maps do not provide the necessary detail.

  • Practice converting location on city maps to grid coordinates for calls for fire, aerial resupply and exact locations.
COMBAT SUPPORT

  • Use aviation scouts to assist in clearing buildings. Once a cordon is in place, scouts can observe enemy snipers, locate personnel fleeing, and vector ground units to intercept.

  • Units must cross train their sappers in explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) tasks since EOD personnel will not always be available.

  • The tactical commander must have control over all units in his AO when combined MP patrols are conducted through areas controlled by combat units. Commanders should consider adjusting tactical boundaries to coincide with the established police districts. This eases command control and helps restore civilian control for law and order.

  • Use common sense in selecting CP locations and placement of antennas. Look at buildings that will block line-of-sight transmissions and at high power civilian transmitters that will jam the signal. Antennas will have to be placed on the roofs of buildings, using sandbags to hold down the guy wires.

COMBAT SERVICE SUPPORT

  • Plan to use CSS assets to provide food, clothing, shelter, and medical attention to refugees.

  • Designate refugee evacuation routes away from combat operations. Use PSYOP assets to direct refugees to collection points.

Table of Contents, Volume II
Aviation Operations
Building Clearing



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