Urban Offensive Air Support: Is The United States Military
Prepared And Equipped?
SUBJECT AREA - Strategic Issues
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Executive Summary i
Illustrations and Tables ii
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION TO URBAN OFFENSIVE AIR SUPPORT 1
CHAPTER 2: MILITARY OPERATIONS IN URBAN TERRAIN (MOUT) 6
The Urban Terrain 7
The Nature of Urban Combat 13
CHAPTER 3: THE LAW OF WAR AND PUBLIC OPINION 19
Jus ad Bellum 20
Jus in Bello 20
The Media and Public Opinion 24
CHAPTER 4: URBAN OAS: EVOLUTION AND CASE STUDIES 27
World War I 28
Post-World War I 28
World War II 29
1914 to 1968 Summary 34
Case Study: Peace for Galilee 36
Case Study: Operation Desert Storm 43
Case Study: Operation Restore Hope 51
Case Study: The Russian Invasion of Grozny 59
CHAPTER 5: REQUIREMENTS FOR EFFECTIVE URBAN OAS 67
Air Superiority 68
Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) 68
Effective Targeting 69
Responsive Command, Control, and Communications 77
Effective Weapons 80
Capable Platforms and Sensors 92
Cooperative Weather 93
Proficient and Trained Participants 94
Enclosure 1: Overhead Imagery of Mogadishu 127
Enclosure 2: City Maps of Mogadishu (1:12,500 scale) 128
2A: Dense, Random Development 129
2B: Close, Orderly Development 130
2C: High-Rise Development 131
2D: Industrial and Transportation Area 132
Title: Urban Offensive Air Support: Is the United States Military Prepared and Equipped?
Author: Major Jon M. Davis USMC
Thesis: Will doctrine, training, and equipment shortfalls force fixture joint force
commanders to deny offensive air support (OAS) to their ground units in urban areas?
Background: While all trends point to the fact that the fixture military battlefield will be
urban, the United States is woefully ill-prepared to conduct it. According to current
doctrine, the United States military will attempt to avoid urban areas in the conduct of a land
campaign. This doctrine has been steadfast over the last 40 years, and has resulted in a
military machine that lacks the training, and equipment to conduct urban warfare effectively.
Unfortunately, our opponents have identified this deficiency and have recently exploited it
(Mogadishu) for their tactical and strategic advantage. Traditionally, OAS has been a key
component of our ground-combat fire-support. Our current weapons work very well in rural
environments but have limited applicability in urban environments. This deficiency
represents our critical vulnerability in conducting urban ground combat operations.
The keys to success in conducting urban OAS are effective weapons and delivery
platforms, integrated fixed and rotary-wing attack platforms, media education, and training.
The OAS platforms must have accurate navigation and a self-designation capability for
precision-guided munitions. The weapons for urban OAS must allow for accurate target
discrimination and low collateral-damage. Our current inventory is deficient in both fixed
and rotary-wing capabilities. The attack helicopter's shaped-charge warheads (TOW and
Hellfire) have a poor effect on targets in an urban environment. Our fixed-wing ordnance
has problems with discrimination and collateral damage. Currently the only ordnance
allowed by the rules of engagement (ROE) in urban close air support (CAS) scenarios are
weapons weighing 500 pounds or less. A potential problem for fixture efforts lies in the fact
that our procurement prods for fixture tactical fixed-wing precision munitions have a
minimum weight of 1,000 pounds. Both fixed and rotary-winged OAS platforms involved
in urban fire support require a low-yield, precision, blast-penetration weapon. The
integration of fixed and rotary wing OAS aircraft is essential in urban combat. If our
opponent can deny the low altitude regime to our attack helicopters, our fixed wing aircraft
must be able to fill in the void. Media education concerning our urban OAS capabilities,
limitations, and the law of war is essential to ensure that they project an accurate picture to
the American people. All of the services must initiate aggressive integrated fixed and rotary
wing urban OAS training programs. They can utilize existing DOD urban training areas and
possibly some bases that the Base Realignment and Closing (BRAC) Commission has
scheduled for closure. Additionally, training and readiness manuals must reflect these
requirements for both fixed and rotary wing OAS communities.
Recommendation: In order to conduct effective urban combat, the United States must
specifically focus its training, procurement, and doctrine on the conduct of Urban OAS.
This urban OAS must allow for discrimination, proportionality, and a positive media
ILLUSTRATIONS AND TABLES
Table 1A: Projected World Population Growth 1
Table 1B: Urban Population Density Projection for Year 2000 2
Table 1C: 20th Century Urban Combat 4
Illustration 2A: Street Diagram 11
Illustration 5A: Pioneer UAV 73
Illustration 5B: Predator UAV 75
Illustration 5C: RBS-17 Blast-Penetrator Hellfire 89
Introduction to Urban Offensive Air Support
Victory smiles upon those who anticipate the changes in the character of war, not
upon those who wait to adapt themselves after the changes occur.
- Giulio Douhet (1922)1
The arena for land combat is evolving. Historically, the preponderance of military
operations have occurred in rural landscapes. The future area of military operations is
now emerging. Accelerated by the fusion of two demographic phenomena, the battlefield
is shifting to urban, vice rural, terrain. First, the global population explosion (table 1A) is
experiencing a disproportionate rate of increase in the third world. By the year 2025, 80
percent of the world's population will reside in third world nations.2 Second, the inability
of the rural areas of these third world nations to support the population explosion has led
to massed migrations to urban areas. This migratory trend will increase the percentage
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of people living in urban areas to 50 percent of the world's total population.4 The
population explosion when combined with an equal explosion in urban population will
create cities in the third world that have a population density (Table 1B) 10 to 25 times
greater than Washington, D.C.5
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Compounding the urban density problem will be chronic shortages of food and
water that will increase the frequency of unrest. This unrest will manifest itself in urban
armed conflict and terror campaigns as recently witnessed in Somalia. As a result, we
must be able to conduct combat operations in urban environments.
Cities have become lucrative targets for groups desiring to create unrest and
destabilize governments. They target the urban areas because they many times represent
the economic, political, and cultural centers of national power. A successful campaign in
an urban environment allows instant access to the national center of gravity, the people.
Consequently, we are observing a greater emphasis from potential adversaries on urban
military operations. Militias and guerrillas operated effectively in Sidon, Tyre, Panama
City, Mogadishu, Sarajevo, and Grozny because they realize the importance of the city in
achieving their strategic goals. Additionally, insurgencies target urban areas because it
provides them with their sources of power; people, money, and social unrest.
The United States has fought in urban environments (table 1C) in virtually all of its
recent conflicts. Each of these urban combat operations were costly in resources and time.
As a result, the United States generated a system of warfighting that attacked and defeated
conventional armies in rural terrain, intentionally bypassing urban areas. This system
featured the application of massive firepower to overpower our opponents while
minimizing friendly casualties. A key ingredient to this system of warfighting has been use
of offensive air support (OAS). During the Second World War, extensive use of OAS
reduced enemy positions inside urban areas. Allied fighter-bombers destroyed cities and
villages with little regard for collateral damage or non-combatant casualties.7 The Second
World War was a total war, prosecuted by the military, and supported by the government
and the people of the United States. This support lessened the public's aversion to the
excessive force applied in Allied air attacks. Since 1945, the United
States participated only in limited wars. In these wars, the limited nature of the military
and political objectives also limited the people's acceptance of unlimited destruction.
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The United States military's aversion to urban combat stems from a combination of
many factors. Historically urban combat involves: high casualties, the loss of operational
tempo, negative press coverage, and negative public opinion. Urban combat plays to our
weakness and our opponent's strengths. The United States' conventional force is superior
in firepower, mobility, and logistics in a rural battlefield. The urban environment will
impose limits on our mobility and firepower, allowing the defender to control the tempo of
operations. By forcing a fight in an urban environment, our opponent's weaker
conventional force can level the playing field. The American people will demand low
casualties (both friendly and non-combatant), and low collateral damage. Desert Storm
demonstrated to the world how superior the United States is in conventional rural
warfare. General Aideed's military forces in Mogadishu exposed our weakness in urban
combat. It is for exactly these reasons that our opponents will force the future military
confrontations to occur on urban terrain. According to the 1994 Defense Science Board
study on Military Operations In Urban Terrain, "We can no longer choose to avoid urban
areas. Our missions will specifically focus on them."9 An operational dilemma confronts
the United States military. While all trends point to the fact that the future military
battlefield will be urban, we are woefully ill-prepared to conduct battle in it. Our weakest
link in current capability is in the ability to provide urban OAS. Some military leaders
believe that current technological and political limitations will make OAS in urban
environments too difficult. They maintain that future urban fights will have to be infantry
only fights. That position is unacceptable. If the future battlefield is an urban one, we
must prepare to support the ground forces with all of our combined-arms. In order to
conduct effective urban combat, the United States must specifically focus its training,
procurement, and doctrine on the conduct of urban OAS. This urban OAS must allow for
discrimination, proportionality, and a positive media representation.
The attack or defense of a built-up area should be undertaken only when
significant tactical or strategic advantage accrues through its seizure or control.
- U.S. Army Field Manual (FM) 90-10 MOUT.10
The purpose of this chapter is to describe the impact that urban terrain has on
combat operations. At the conclusion of this chapter, the reader will realize that the
dynamic nature of both the terrain, and the ground combat element's (GCE) fire support
requirements, lend themselves to air delivered fires.
The acronym MOUT (Military Operations in Urbanized Terrain) "classifies those
military actions planned and conducted on a terrain complex where manmade construction
impacts on the tactical options available to commanders."11 The United States' military
doctrine currently stresses the need to isolate or bypass urban environments in the conduct
of its tactical operations. Our potential opponents are aware of our lack of training,
equipment, and doctrine to accomplish urban combat operations. Third world powers may
view this lack of capability and will in this area as our Achilles heel. Our adversaries
recognize the need to operate in, and control, the cities since they represent the center of
political, economic and strategic power.12 In order to understand the unique requirements
for operational and tactical success in urbanized areas, we must first define the urban
The Urban Terrain
The 1994 Defense Science Board study on Military Operations in Urban Terrain,
defines a built-up area as a "concentration of structures, facilities and people that forms the
economic, political, and cultural center of a region."13 If not accustomed to looking at an
urban area as military terrain, it might look very confusing and disorderly. In fact, most
urban areas display quantifiable order. There are seven characteristics of urban terrain that
affect military operations:14
1. Density of structures and population
2. Building Construction
3. Street Patterns
4. Ports and waterways
5. Subterranean features
6. Function of urban area
7. Size of urban area
The density of the urban terrain is a major determinant in the selection of tactics
and fire support for a military operation for three reasons15. First, the urban terrain will
never allow the same potential for conventional maneuver and may render certain
firepower systems (i.e., armor, artillery) as inappropriate in their traditional roles. Second,
urban terrain density will limit the firepower support that we have traditionally enjoyed to
minimize collateral damage, non-combatant casualties, and loss of public support. Third,
density of the urban terrain will force the meeting engagement to occur at such close
ranges (25 to 100 meters) that supporting arms must be ultra-precise and yield controlled.
The urban terrain will display one of, or combinations of, the following structure densities:
dense random, close orderly block, dispersed residential, high-rise, or industrial and
Dense random development is typical of old inner city construction in third world
countries. The density of the structures brings with it the highest population density. The
narrow (7-15 meters), twisting, irregular streets limit the use of tanks, assault amphibian
vehicles (AAVs), and indirect fire artillery. Clear fields of fire and arming distance are
generally insufficient for the use of ground-based wire-guided missiles.17 Typical building
structure will include thick walls that will require penetrating weapons. These penetrating
weapons should not have excessive explosive content that would cause excessive
rubbling18, further reducing mobility. Limited explosive yields will also factor heavily in
trying to minimize the non-combatant casualties. The urban terrain will limit line of sight
communications, and favor the defender's use of ambush techniques. The random nature
of the terrain can lead to great confusion for the ground combat units and its fire-support
Close, orderly block development consists of mixed residential and commercial
type buildings common to central areas of cities and towns. The streets are generally
wider and form rectangular patterns with buildings frequently forming a continuous front
along a block.19 The orderly lay-out of the streets helps in reducing the confusion
associated with random development. The proximity of the buildings will limit: armor
mobility, ground-based precision guided munitions, and communications. Typical building
structure will include thick walls that will require penetrating weapons of limited yield as
required for the dense, random development structures.
Dispersed residential development consists of rowhouses, or single dwellings
where average street width between buildings is about 30 meters. Street patterns are
normally rectangular or curving in this type area.20 The proximity of the residential
buildings will limit fields of fire for precision guided munitions. Fire-support weapons
effect and requirements will vary due to the wide variety in construction quality. Due to
the constrained nature of this type development, fire-support planners will need to avoid
weapons that will generate excessive rubbling or fires. Even though the buildings are
close together, the relatively wide streets will afford a greater degree of mobility and
coordination than dense, random development. Recent combined-arms combat operations
in dispersed residential developments have occurred in Grozny, Chechnya.
High-rise development is "...typical of modem construction in larger cities or
towns. It consists of multi-storied apartments, separated large open areas and one story
buildings. Wide streets are laid out in rectangular patterns."21 Recent combined-arms
combat operations in Beirut and Grozny have occurred in high-rise development areas.
During Desert Storm, coalition aircraft and cruise missiles flew successful strategic strike
missions in such parts of Baghdad. Yet, the tactical use of conventional combined-arms
weapons is relatively inefficient when addressing defensive positions located inside
high-rise buildings. A precision, deep-target penetrator is necessary if a high-rise building
is itself a target, or contains embedded targets, requiring destruction. The Russian Air
Force recently demonstrated this capability against the Presidential Palace in Grozny.
Traditional conventional air and ground precision weapons that have a low-yield (i.e.,
Hellfire, cannon) will attrite the exposed armor targets and personnel in this environment.
Fields of fire will generally be relatively unrestricted for both sides, with the defenders
using the cover of buildings to employ anti-tank weapons. Collateral damage is a prime
concern in the high-rise development due to the high post-conflict reconstruction costs and
negative media exposure. Enemy air defenses positioned on the tops of tall buildings will
modify the required sanctuaries for attack aircraft in this type area.
"Industrial and transportation areas are usually found in the older sections of the
cities, on the fringes and in the new industrial areas beyond the suburbs. The buildings are
new, large, and functionally designed. Buildings are laid out unevenly with considerable
space between them and provide multiple vehicle routes."22 Strategic interdiction strikes
against targets in these areas may reduce an opponent's capacity to continue a conflict.
Coalition air forces conducted precision strikes against power plants and weapons of mass
destruction facilities during Desert Storm. These types of targets require precision,
high-yield weapons. Ground forces tasked with attacking enemy forces in this type of
urban terrain, will need precision, low-yield weapons for fire support. The low-yield
requirement is necessary for two reasons. First, the weapons must be low-yield to
minimize the rubbling of the objective area, allowing unrestricted friendly maneuver and
denying enemy forces additional refuge. Second, planners may need to minimize the
collateral damage to these industrial and infrastructure facilities to allow a rapid transition
to post-conflict normalization. The combat operations in the city of Grozny (before the 1
January 1995 invasion) have cost the Russians 400 billion rubles. To fix the damage from
combat operations it was going to cost 3.5 trillion rubles.23
Other factors that define the urban terrain are building construction, street patterns,
ports and waterways, subterranean features, function, and size. Building construction
plays an important role in the selection of ordnance. Newer construction tends to be
multi-story and have more windows and thinner walls. The explosive yield and
penetration requirements of ordnance will be different for these structures than the older
type. The older building construction tends to have thick walls constructed of wood,
stone, stucco, or brick. Again planners must balance the fire support weapon's explosive
yield and penetration requirements in relation to the requirement to kill targets inside
buildings with minimal collateral damage.
Street patterns will effect our ability to maneuver, coordinate fires, and exercise
command and control over a combined-arms urban operation. The street patterns may be
one of or any combination of six different types, radial, radial ring, rectangular, combined,
ray, and random.
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Ports or waterways further help in defining urban terrain. Both attacker and
defender will covet these facilities in an urban conflict. The presence of ports and
waterways will assist the urban combat force in establishing easily recognizable control
features for both ground and air assets. They may assist mobility by using AAVs, but may
also create opportunities for defensive ambushes at choke points. The integrity of the port
facility will be important for an attacking force for lodgment and sustainment during an
assault phase of operations. The port's integrity is also important for post-conflict
normalization efforts. For these reasons, fire-support planners should exercise extreme
care in the selection of appropriate ordnance to support the military objectives.
Fire-support planning in urban terrain will many times need to include a city's
subterranean networks. Most conventional weapons will have difficulty with this type of
target because of the deep penetration requirements. Deep bunkers and command and
control facilities represent strategic type target sets whose destruction will require deep
target penetrators. Tactical target sets, requiring less penetration, may require tactical
blast-penetrator weapons such as the AGM-65E (Laser Maverick).
The function that the urban area serves may have a major effect on the amount of
force that the political leaders will allow the military force to expend. An urban area's
function may be political (such as being the seat of government), an industrial facility or
port, or it may be a religious or cultural center. An urban area's function may limit an
attacking military's fire-support options. During the battle for Hue City (Tet 1968),
artillery and close air support (CAS) "was not allowed out of fear that this historic and
symbolic city would be damaged beyond repair."25
Population and size classify an urban area into one of four general categories:
large cities, towns, villages, and strips. Large cities have populations in excess of 100,000
and can cover more than 100 square miles. Towns (small cities) have populations between
3,000 and 100,000 and are not a portion of a large city. Villages have a population of less
than 3,000 people surrounded by rural areas. Strip areas are the urbanized terrain along
roads that connect villages and towns.26 The military and political risks will increase in any
urban combat operation as the size and population of the urban area increases. Collateral
damage, non-combatant casualties, friendly infantry attrition, and negative media coverage
will directly correlate to the size of the urban area.
The Nature of Urban Combat
The traditional United States military strategy and doctrine call for avoiding urban
areas for many factors such as:
1. Intensive manpower requirements.
2. Slowing the tempo of maneuvering forces (i.e., an obstacle).
3. Level of difficulty in conducting operations in urban terrain.
4. Desire to minimize non-combatant casualties and damage to population centers.
5. Lack of detailed pre-conflict intelligence for urban centers.
6. Uncertainties regarding behaviors of indigenous population elements.
7. Impact of conflict upon the political, ethnic, religious, and economic elements.
8. Ability to control urban centers without entering (surround and quarantine).27
Western nations that currently field large conventional armies (United States,
Russia, United Kingdom, France) stress the need to avoid urban warfare because the urban
terrain is not conducive to maneuver. Additionally, urban terrain's man-made and natural
obstacles hinder mobility, command, control, communication, and most importantly,
Urban areas tend to favor the defender. The urban battles fought in Beirut,
Mogadishu, and Grozny attest to the fact that urban terrain provides the defender with a
force multiplier. Given the doctrinal aversion to urban combat, a competent defender will
do everything in his power to draw the fight into the city. Ramzan Maltsegov, a Chechan
fighter in Grozny, stated that; "We were very happy they [the Russians] came into the city,
because we cannot fight them in an open field."28 Once in urban terrain, the defender has a
much better opportunity to control the tempo of operations. The defender accomplishes
this by creating an operational and moral dilemma for the attacking force in terms of:
attrition, delay, discrimination, proportionality, and negative media coverage. If the third
world urban defender can control the clock until CNN shows up, his chances of winning a
political victory increase exponentially.
"The very nature of urban warfare requires decentralized control of assets due to
degraded communications, limited fields of fire, and reduced mobility."29 Decentralized
control allows small unit leaders and individual ground and aviation combat elements to
use their imagination, initiative and training to seize or defend a specific urban objective.
This is not to imply that integration of supporting arms is no longer critical. The
integration of supporting arms remains paramount in an urban environment. Battle plans
and orders need sufficient detail so that even small unit leaders understand the objective
and the intent of the commander. However, plans must be sufficiently flexible so that
subordinate leaders can quickly take the initiative under rapidly changing situations.
Major General Carl Ernst USA (JTF Somalia Commander) stated that "urban combat
operations require detailed planning. The planners will identify fire support needs through
analyzing the mission and its branches and sequels. The commander can approve the
fire-support assets for the operation based on the its potential requirements."30 This
pre-approval of the fire-support plan allows greater flexibility and subordinate initiative at
the tactical level.
Considerations such as collateral damage worries, ROE compliance, and
immobility may limit the utility of artillery fire-support in an urban environment. The
dynamic nature of urban terrain and its associated combat in conjunction with strict
gun-target-line restrictions (to minimize problems associated with long and short rounds)
requires a more flexible fire-support system. This is not to say that artillery systems have
no utility in an urban environment. Poor weather conditions or a degrading tactical
situation may require these fires.
The defender will use mutually supporting strong-points throughout his urban
defense in depth. He will attempt to break up the attacking unit's cohesion and isolate
individual elements for annihilation. The random layout, proximity, and robust
construction techniques of older third world cities will create a formidable defensive
position. This urban terrain many times will deny mutual support between attacking
One of the age old characteristics of urban combat is the presence of snipers.
According to the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron-One (MAWTS-1)
A trained sniper is not only an extremely lethal weapons system, but also an
effective psychological one. Properly employed snipers will disrupt command
and control, slow armored advance, and attrite assault support assets. Snipers
have the ability to infiltrate any part of an urban area with relative ease....During
the battle for Stalingrad, the 62nd Russian Army had 400 snipers who collectively
killed over 6000 Germans. During the battle for Seoul in 1950, over 30 percent
of the United Nations' casualties were caused by snipers.31
For offensive ground combat operations in urban terrain there are two types of
attack: deliberate and hasty. The operational commander will initiate a deliberate attack if
the attack of the urban area is unavoidable. The three phases of a deliberate attack are:
isolation of the battlefield, assault, and clearing.32
The isolation of the urban area will cut off or control the lines of communication
into the objective area. If possible, the objective will be to deny the urban defender any
logistics resupply; Additionally, we must isolate the urban battlefield to deny the urban
defender the ability to evacuate or introduce refugees. Aviation attack assets will play an
important role in this effort. The goal of the isolation phase is to isolate and fix the enemy
After the attacking force isolates the urban battlefield, a combined-arms assault
phase will commence. The nature of the urban terrain will probably require a dismounted
infantry attack to find and fix the defender. On-call supporting arms will provide a means
to destroy any strong-point if required. The defender will do everything in his power to
strip the infantry from the armor assets. It will be his goal to isolate the armor where he
can ambush and annihilate them. A coordinated attack is essential and air power will play
a key role. Fixed and rotary-wing attack assets armed with appropriate ordnance will be
major participants in supporting the GCE with fires.
The clearing operation is potentially the most costly in terms of attrition and public
support. This phase will involve initial detailed planning and coordination, followed by
decentralized, violent small unit actions. In the clearing operation, the GCE will
methodically clear small areas of the urban objective requiring timely and accurate fire
support. The CAS targets may be extremely close in this phase of the fighting. With our
current fixed-wing OAS weapons inventory, the GCE may need to pull back before calling
When the element of surprise offers substantial benefit to the GCE, the
commander may opt for a hasty attack. This does not release the participants from the
responsibility of having a solid combined-arms game-plan before commencing the attack.
It is in the hasty attack where a force's competency and training will show: good or bad.
In the hasty attack the attacking force will use pre-planned missions to get the air on
station over the objective area. OAS assets can assist with CAS if required. Additionally,
they can also provide armed-reconnaissance missions to attempt to isolate the objective
area and provide cuing to enemy or non-combatant activity entering the objective area.
The urban battlefield presents enormous problems for the attacking force. Current
doctrine stresses the need to avoid urban combat if at all possible. The United States
military has not rained or procured adequately for an urban combat environment.
Unfortunately, our opponents realize our weakness in this type of warfare and will
intentionally force an urban confrontation. The GCE may or may not require fire support
to achieve its objective in an urban environment. The commander is responsible to ensure
that the GCE has access to fire support if it needs it. The unique terrain associated with
an urban environment presents major problems for indirect fire-support, but is well suited
to attack aviation. If the GCE needs this type of fire-support, do we currently train and
equip our OAS force to provide it?
Even if the United States trains and equips its force to conduct urban OAS
operations, it must account for the additional strain on public opinion and support. A
negative media representation of the urban effort will quickly seed doubt in the mind's of
our allies and the American people. This negative media representation can dwarf the
tactical complexities associated with urban combat operations if the military does not
follow the precepts of just war theory.
The Law of War and Public Opinion
We have learned at considerable expense that when a nation endeavors to make
war nice, or accepts limitations on the use of force beyond those required by war
treaties, it does so at its own peril.
- COL Hays W. Parks (Retired USMC Lawyer)33
The purpose of this chapter is to identity the constraints imposed by the people of
the United States on the use of urban OAS. The law of war concerning the use of OAS in
urban warfare, is nebulous at best. Each nation has signed different conventions that
supposedly act as guides for conduct in war. Historically, it seems as though the more
powerful force will abide by the law of war as they see it, and the weaker force will
disregard the law of war in an attempt to survive. Instead of a long discourse on the
intricacies of the law of war, this chapter will define the limits on the use of air power in
urban areas in terms of the just war concepts of discrimination and proportionality.
Given these concepts, this chapter will attempt to derive requirements for an urban OAS
The law of war reflects an attempt by nations to establish certain minimum
standards of conduct that will protect innocent persons from intentional or incidental
injury to the greatest extent possible.34 The military use of air power has been subject to
legal regulation since the First Hague Peace Conference in 1899. In that conference,
European diplomats tried to limit the military attack potential of the hot air balloon. The
law of air warfare has evolved steadily since 1899 due to rapid changes in technology and
capability. Obedience to the laws of war will present immense challenges to urban
attacker and defender alike. The attacking force will use its advantage in air power to
impose its will on the defender. The defender will do everything in its power to deny the
advantage of air power to the attacker. Intentional violations of the law of war were
common in previous conflicts to achieve or deny victory. The foundations for our current
law of war reside in the just war principles of: jus ad bellum (justification for use of force)
and jus in bello (the restraints and limits on use of force).
Jus ad Bellum
The United States national leadership will decide whether the resort to armed
conflict is just. For the purposes of this paper, we will assume that the resort to arms is
just and that the national leadership is providing proper guidance to the military leaders in
the field. The national leadership is responsible to ensure that the resort to arms and the
force applied to achieve victory will serve the national interest and secure the future peace.
Jus in Belio
The major tenets of jus in bello theory are discrimination and proportionality.
These two concepts and their impact on public opinion will constitute the remainder of the
The just war concept of discrimination means that the belligerent parties will make
every effort to distinguish between military targets and civilian objects. The principle of
discrimination prohibits intentional air attacks on non-combatants or non-military objects.35
OAS efforts in urban terrain will need: accurate targeting, precision weapons, and realistic
training to discriminate successfully between military and civilian targets. On paper the
rules appear simple enough, but in war nothing is simple. In war (to include operations
other than war) the old fighter pilot's adage of "if you aren't cheating, you aren't trying"
seems to be the rule instead of the exception. In war, the weaker belligerent does not
want to lose and will do everything possible (including violating the law of war) to
magnify the difficulties associated with discrimination.
The first task in the effort to discriminate in urban combat is deciding who is a
combatant and who in a non-combatant. The Geneva Convention of 1949 states that
persons are civilians if they do not belong to any of the following categories:
1. Prisoners of war
2. Members of the armed forces
3. Members of militia and resistance movements
4. Inhabitants of a non-occupied country who take up arms on the approach of an
Additionally, any civilian or structure that produces services or warfighting equipment for
the fighting force is a valid military target. In conventional rural warfare discrimination
can be problematic. Once the fight enters the urban area, successful discrimination
becomes more difficult. If our opponent chooses to fight in the urban area as a guerrilla
or non-uniformed militia, discrimination is incredibly difficult. Targeting a militia
anti-tank team located in an rowhouse surrounded by non-combatant housing makes
discrimination much more difficult.
If the attacking force has difficulties in distinguishing between combatants and
non-combatants and military targets and civilian objects in an urban terrain, will it be able
to employ its fires? If the attacking force employs its fires and kills non-combatants, is it
culpable? The law of war accounts for this dilemma by placing the responsibility with the
defender to remove the non-combatants from its defensive area.
A party to a conflict which places its own civilians in positions of danger by
failing to carry out the separation of military activities from civilian activities
necessarily accepts, under international law, the results of otherwise lawful
attacks upon valid military objectives in their country.37
The history of urban warfare demonstrates that the defender will attempt to deny
the attacker the ability to employ offensive air support (OAS) by mixing his fighters
among the non-combatants and using civilian structures. While this practice is illegal
under the law of war, recent combat experiences show that the court of world opinion will
judge the attacker guilty of attacking civilians. Is current world opinion condemning the
Chechan fighters for using residential areas for anti-tank ambushes which result in massive
When the Israelis invaded Lebanon in 1982, the Palestine Liberation Organization
(PLO) military leadership immediately shifted its defensive positions into Lebanese towns
and villages. The PLO emplaced its artillery and anti-aircraft weapons on top of or next to
hospitals, schools, churches, or mosques.38 Additionally, the PLO moved equipment and
forces to the lower floors of high-rise apartment buildings, while forcing the civilian
tenants of those buildings to remain in the upper floors.39 The PLO did this for the
following reasons: to shield itself from attack, and to negate the firepower advantage
enjoyed by the Israelis. Additionally, if the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) failed to restrain
its fires, its tactics would turn world opinion against the operation because the IDF was
attacking civilian targets. As the PLO predicted, the international press denounced the
IAF urban air attacks even though it was the PLO that was violating the law of war.
Air defense activities may impact the ability of the attacker to discriminate. If the
defender launches a surface-to-air missile (SAM) at an attacking aircraft, the pilot will
have to take evasive action to defeat the threat. If during his defensive maneuvering he
has to jettison his bombs, they will very likely not hit the intended target. In this case the
defender is culpable for the non-combatant casualties and collateral damage created by the
jettisoned bombs because he denied the attacker the ability to discriminate. During the
Gulf War, Iraqi air defense systems hit, and disabled, a cruise missile. The stricken missile
veered off course and impacted a civilian structure. In this case, the Iraqis were
responsible for the errant impact according to the law of war.
The international media will very likely not report that the defenders were at fault
for an errant bomb, or cruise missile impact, caused by threat defenses. For this reason the
commander may have to establish additional restrictions (ROE) on his forces to minimize
the potential for this type of media manipulation. During the Gulf War, the joint force air
component commander (JFACC) decided to restrict the F-16s from strike missions near
Baghdad. The JFACC introduced this restriction out of the fear that a pilot may jettison
bombs indiscriminately while avoiding an Iraqi SAM.40 Even though the pilot's actions
would have been legal within the law of war, the mere fear of negative public opinion
generated by media reports negated the value of the F-16 contribution to the strategic
The concept of proportionality essentially means that the application of combat
power, and resulting destruction of life and property, should not be disproportionate to
the military or political advantage gained.41 Destroying an entire city block to kill a sniper
is disproportionate. The national and military leadership must balance this concept with
the tactical requirements for success. One of a commander's primary responsibilities is the
protection of his force. While a military commander should exercise care to minimize
collateral civilian casualties and damage, he must also provide the fire support his forces
need to be successful (with minimal friendly casualties).
The concept of proportionality applied to tactical urban combat situations implies
the need for weapons that contain just enough explosive yield to achieve the desired target
effect. Excessive explosive yield weapons may create excessive non-combatant casualties
and collateral damage. The United Nations (UN) is currently applying this concept in
urban CAS operations in Bosnia. The current ROE limits the CAS platforms to weapons
that have an explosive yield of 500 pounds or less.42 If the force commander used
higher-yield weapons when lower-yield weapons were more appropriate (and available),
then he could be violating the concept of proportionality.
The Media and Public Opinion
Post-war history suggests that the media will report the disproportionate
application of force regardless of the actions of the defenders. The media can sway public
opinion against the application of overwhelming force, as in the reported wanton slaughter
of retreating uniformed Iraqi forces on the Basra road. Media misrepresentation can
quickly sway public opinion against the use of force even if it is legal with the law of war.
It seems as if the media is not necessarily misrepresenting the facts in reporting military
strikes on civilian targets, but rather it may not know what the law of war is. The
following two examples highlight the media's lack of understanding of the law of war.
During Desert Storm the United States Air Force (USAF) conducted a strategic air
operation against command and control facilities to isolate the Iraqi leadership. The Al
Fidros bunker was a command and control facility built for the Iraqi military and
considered a perfectly legitimate military target. Unknown to the coalition targeteers, the
Iraqis were using the facility as a protective shelter for women and children. When USAF
F-111s destroyed the bunker "the consequences quickly went well beyond the tragic loss
of life claimed by Iraqi officials. Using the magnifying glass of television to project around
the world the horror of women and children maimed and killed by coalition bombs, the
Iraqi leadership immediately exploited the situation to attempt to constrain the air
campaign through political pressure."43 The Iraqi leadership was successful in that all
future strikes in Baghdad required Commander in Chief(CINC) approval, further
constraining the strategic bombing effort.
The January 4, 1995, Washington Post contained a front page story titled "Russian
Jets Focus on Civilian Targets."44 This article went on to describe a Russian air attack on
a market place that sold assault weapons to the Chechan fighters. It also described
another air attack that caused a car loaded with grenades and bullets to explode. The
media reported these targets as civilian. In fact, both these targets were valid military
The law of war represents those limitations imposed on the waging of war by
international law and national policy. The law of war should not impede effective military
operations. The purpose of the law of war is to ensure that the use of force and violence
is not excessive, disproportionate, purposeless, or unnecessary. It attempts to protect
combatants and non-combatants alike. A combat action may be absolutely legal in terms
of international law and national policy, but it may be disproportionate in the eyes of the
American public. Additionally, the national leadership may restrict legal combat power in
an attempt to foster world opinion or to achieve a better peace after conflict resolution.
The law of war, and the theories of discrimination and proportionality serve as a moral
compass for the national leadership and the military in the conduct of combat operations.
Urban Offensive Air Support: Evolution and Case Studies
From its baptism of fire in the First World War, attack aviation has evolved from a
strategic weapon (i.e., Gott Strafe England) to a weapon applied across the operational
spectrum. The study of 20th century conflict provides numerous examples of urban
ground combat involving the use of supporting attack aircraft. The purpose of this
chapter is to identify the recurring requirements and problem areas encountered in urban
OAS operations. To do this we will investigate some of the lessons learned from early
urban OAS efforts in World War I, the Spanish Civil War, World War II, Korea, and then
Vietnam. The problems encountered in the conduct of urban OAS in these conflicts
provide valuable insight into the nature of this type of combat. The second portion of the
chapter will deal with four urban OAS case studies reflecting recent developments in
tactics and technology. The case studies we will investigate are: Operation Peace for
Galilee, Desert Storm, Restore Hope, and the Russian invasion of Chechnya. These urban
OAS case studies all have three major characteristics in common: each involved military
conflicts with limited objectives, in each the defender violated the law of war in an attempt
to deny the attacker the use of OAS, and each involved instantaneous feedback from the
public through the mass-media. Throughout the chapter, I will attempt to extract lessons
learned that are applicable for future urban operations.
World War I
Then, on August 26 (1914), occurred the incident that shocked a naive world and
brought to brisk ferment the long simmering British dread of German dirigibles.
Antwerp, already badly damaged by an unremitting artillery siege, was bombed
from the air. Twelve civilians were killed, many more injured, and part of a
-The Great Air War45
The German Air Service targeted urban areas during the First World War to break
the will of its opponents. Kaiser Wilhelm directed that his air service only attack "docks,
shipyards, armories, and other prime military objectives." Unfortunately, the accuracy of
the weapons and delivery systems rendered this directive impossible. Although the urban
air attacks during the First World War were strategic strikes, they demonstrated the
problems associated with discrimination in air delivered weapons. The relatively untrained
aircrew when matched with bombs with poor ballistic accuracy made the discrimination
between military and civilian targets next to impossible.46
Post-World War I
Post-war theorists such as Giulio Douhet and Billy Mitchell wrote extensively on
the use of air power as a strategic weapon. Operational reality and fiscal constraints in the
post-war world brought forth another application of air power, tactical attack aviation.
Most notable in these efforts were the United States Marine Corps in the Banana Wars,
the Royal Air Force conducting air control in the Middle East, and the German Condor
Legion in the Spanish Civil War. Of these tactical efforts, only the Condor Legion's
involved extensive tactical air operations in urban environments.
The German Air Force conducted urban CAS operations during the battles of
Bilbao (1936) and Ebroin (1938). During these operations the Germans found that
coordinating their attacks was extremely difficult in an urban environment. Poor radios
limited air-to-ground communications, and the German pilots had difficulty in
discriminating between friend and foe. The Condor Legion made no attempt to achieve
proportionality in its air attacks, which created tremendous international outrage towards
the German effort. The Condor Legion did make progress in air-to-ground urban CAS
coordination in that it used panels, pyrotechnics, colored lights, and signaling mirrors to
assist the attack pilots in identifying targets and friendly positions.47 The German army
resorted to some of these techniques in Poland, France, and the Soviet Union during
World War II. More importantly, the Germans determined that OAS would be an integral
part of their future urban combat operations.
World War II
The Second World War involved extensive urban OAS. We will limit our
discussions to the urban OAS experiences in France (1944), Stalingrad (1942), Cassino
(1944), and Saipan (1944). The most extensive and notable urban OAS operations in the
Second World War occurred in the European Theater. The Second World War was a
total war, in which collateral damage and non-combatant casualties were secondary
concerns. Throughout this conflict, the Germans and the Allies developed innovative new
techniques in weapons delivery and control in urban environments. To counter these
advances, the defenders developed innovative tactics to deny the use of tactical air support
in these environments.
The Allies progressively improved their use of OAS throughout the European
campaign. The allies used fighter-bombers (P-47s, P-51s, and Typhoons) very effectively
in urban OAS during the Normandy break-out. Fighter-bombers would range in front of
advancing ground forces reporting enemy activity (armed reconnaissance) and attacking
them in coordination with ground controllers (CAS).48 The lack of concern for collateral
damage and non-combatant casualties reduced the requirement for precise target
discrimination and proportional weapons.49 This same lack of concern for proportionality
created tremendous problems for the advancing ground troops. The indiscriminate use of
high-explosive aviation ordnance rubbled the streets of the French towns delaying the
ground advance and creating excellent cover for German snipers. In this case, a more
proportional attack on the French towns may have assisted the ground advance.
The defending forces were also a source of innovation in urban operations. During
the battle for Stalingrad (1942-1943), the Soviets realized that the German forces relied
heavily on OAS for their urban assaults. To counter this, the Soviets generated new urban
ground combat tactics that forced the meeting engagements to occur at extremely close
ranges. These close range engagements cost the Soviets heavily in terms of casualties, but
the tactic denied the Germans the use of attack aviation out of fear that they would engage
their own troops. General Chuikov, the Soviet commander in Stalingrad stated:50
I came to the conclusion that the best method of fighting the Germans would be
close battle, applied day and night in different forms. We should get as close to
the enemy as possible so that his air force could not bomb our forward units....It
seemed to me that it was precisely here, in the fighting for the city, that it was
possible to force the enemy into close fighting and deprive him of his trump card
--his air force.
One of the most important lessons in urban OAS application occurred during the
assault on Cassino and Monte Cassino (6th century abbey and cultural landmark) during
February to May 1944. "Cassino was a well built city of strong stone buildings with the
four story abbey standing as a fortress above it."51 In this battle, air attack assets
conducted an extensive urban bombing raid that was uncoordinated with the ground
force's attack. The first attempt at taking Monte Cassino involved a massive air strike by
254 medium and heavy bombers dropping 576 tons of bombs on the abbey. At the
conclusion of the bombing, the ground forces were not ready to assault, nullifying the
effectiveness of the air support. The air strike reduced the abbey to a pile of rubble, but
the German defenders were able to move into the ruins and set up impregnable positions
among the shattered masonry.52 On March 15, the allies flew 1,000 bombing sorties
against the city of Cassino. When the bombers departed the area, the Allied troops began
their assault. The defenders made very good use of the "rubbled" terrain for fighting
positions and were able to beat back the allied attack, inflicting heavy casualties. The
rubble created by the bombing...
created a paradise for German snipers who grew overnight like weeds in different
parts of the rubble. The allies were clearly going to pay for their failure to
coordinate these air strikes with follow-up infantry forces.53
The Pacific theater operations rarely required urban OAS. One exception was the
assault on Saipan in 1944. Marine Corps attack aircraft attempted to provide urban CAS
with mixed results. After action reports noted that out of 76 attacks against urban targets,
only 17 were effective. The rugged construction of the urban targets highlighted the
deficiencies of the aviation ordnance in hard-target penetration. The Marines felt that
three factors reduced the effectiveness of the urban CAS: lack of precise targeting,
inappropriate ordnance, and poor weapons accuracy.54
The major lessons learned from World War II urban OAS concerned:
1. The need for proportionality in balancing the requirement to kill targets and to
minimize urban rubbling.
2. An urban defender can deny the attacker the use of OAS if the defender forces
the meeting engagement to take place inside the range that the pilot could
discriminate friend from foe.
3. Urban OAS requires ordnance appropriate for the urban target sets.
During the Korean War, major urban OAS operations took place in Seoul after the
Inchon landing. Prior to the ground assault, Marine attack aircraft conducted armed
reconnaissance and interdiction missions against North Korean Army targets in the city.
One of the results of these attacks was the rubbling of the urban terrain. According to
Colonel Robert Heinl (retired USMC historian):
As the infantry advanced on Seoul, deep air support strikes were conducted in,
and around, the city to attrite the enemy and prevent reinforcement. These strikes
contributed to the rubble in the city which hampered the infantry's advance in a
manner reminiscent of the Monte Cassino campaign of World War II.55
Marine Corsairs provided essential CAS to the assault troops once they entered Seoul.
Using tactics the Russians used during World War II, the North Korean defenders forced a
meeting engagement that was too close for the Marines to employ CAS. The rubbled
urban terrain provided excellent cover for snipers that accounted for 30 percent of the
casualties during the Seoul assault.56 The major lessons learned from the urban OAS effort
in Korea concerned proportional weapons that limited rubbling, and the need for pilots
and weapons that could discriminate friend from foe in very close meeting engagements.
The low-intensity conflict nature of the military objectives during the Vietnam War
limited the application of urban OAS. The major urban ground battle of the Vietnam War
occurred during Tet in 1968. The battle for Hue City started when two North Vietnamese
Army (NVA) battalions invaded and occupied the urban terrain on January 31, 1968. Hue
City consisted of old stone buildings and had a population of about 140,000 citizens. The
NVA "defensive positions were strongpoints several blocks apart. Each strongpoint was
normally a three story building surrounded by a courtyard with a stone fence."57 Since
Hue City was the historic capital of Vietnam, the military and political leadership of the
United States was reluctant to allow artillery and air support to the counter-attacking
Marines. As the tactical situation on the ground grew worse, the weather started to
deteriorate. Once the United States national leadership realized the gravity of the situation
and sanctioned the necessary fire-support, the weather and tactical situation limited the
opportunities for effective OAS. The Marines resorted to artillery and mortar support but
found that the city's vertical obstructions reduced the effectiveness of these types of
fire-support. Additionally, the artillery support rubbled the urban terrain, inhibiting
friendly maneuver and creating sanctuaries for enemy snipers. "By February 13th the city
was a shambles -- nearly every building in the populous area was shattered by rockets,
mortars, or artillery."58 The battle became one of small units fighting through the rubble
with organic infantry weapons. When the weather was good enough for OAS, the tactical
situation limited its utility. According to LtCol. E.C. Cheatham (CO 2Bn/5th Marines),
the NVA forced the meeting engagements at a range that was inside the CEP of the
fixed-wing aviation attack assets (250 feet). Additionally, the utility of attack helicopters
was minimal because the "NVA 12.7 machine guns probably would have defeated the
The major lesson confirmed concerning urban fire support from the Hue City battle
was that urban combat will reduce the capability of a force to employ its supporting arms.
Rubble stops tanks, and urban vertical structures mask artillery and mortar fire. The
weather, air defenses, target identification problems, poor communications, ordnance
inaccuracy, and fear of excessive collateral damage reduced the effectiveness of CAS. The
Marines still felt, even given these deficiencies, that the ground combat element (GCE)
needed CAS in an urban battle.60
1914 to 1968
With each new conflict in the 20th century, the belligerents found new ways to
employ air power in urban environments. Belligerents sometimes incorporated the lessons
learned from previous combat and other times had to re-learn the same lessons over again.
Analyses of urban OAS efforts from the Second World War through Hue City highlight
several recurring problem areas. First, excessive rubbling of the urban environment will
lead to problems for the attacking ground forces (Cassino, Stalingrad, Saipan, Seoul,
Hue). Second, the pilot and ordnance must be able to discriminate between opposing
forces (Stralingrad, Seoul, Hue). Third, the verticality of urban terrain will reduce the
effectiveness of indirect fire assets (artillery and mortars) but will not affect the air
delivered weapons. Lastly, in every conflict the weaker power forced the stronger power
to conduct urban combat operations even though its doctrine called for its avoidance.
These historical examples provide valuable insight into the problems encountered
by forces attempting to conduct urban OAS. World War I's, II's and Korea's belligerents
did not worry about the problems associated with excessive collateral damage and
non-combatant casualties. The United States military does not have that luxury anymore.
Therefore, more detailed analysis of urban combat where these factors were (or should
have been) key concerns is necessary.
For the purposes of this paper, I chose four examples of urban combat that utilized
attack aviation. Each OAS effort had to deal with collateral damage and non-combatant
restrictions for political and tactical reasons. In each example we will discuss:
1. The nature of the conflict and the associated urban terrain.
2. The requirements for effective OAS and how the attacking force met them.61
3. The results and lessons learned.
Peace for Galilee (1982)
The 1982 war in Lebanon pitted the Israeli military machine against the military
forces of Syria and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The Israeli goals in
Lebanon for this war were to:
1. Establish a 25 mile buffer-zone in southern Lebanon to eliminate the terrorist
haven for cross-border attacks.
2. Destroy the PLO as a military threat and political adversary.
3. Expel Syrian peacekeeping forces from Lebanon.
4. Stabilize the Lebanese political situation and promote an Israel friendly
5. Improve Israel's ability to control the West Bank.62
The fighting in Lebanon took one of two forms for the Israelis. The first form
was the wide open combined-arms armor battle that the Israelis had trained and equipped
for following the lessons learned from the 1973 War. The second form took place along
the coastal line of advance, including urban combat operations in Tyre, Sidon, and Beirut.
The Israelis had not trained or equipped for the urban combat they encountered along the
coastal line of advance. The political failure resulting from the protracted urban
operations in the West dwarfed the brilliant success against Syrian forces in the East. For
our discussions we will limit ourselves to the western operations, specifically the
operations in the cities of Tyre, Sidon, and Beirut.
The urban terrain in Tyre and Sidon consisted of well-constructed stone or
concrete structures in a dense random development typical of older third world villages.
Beirut was a historic trade and cultural center that contained a mixture of high-rise,
industrial, close-orderly block, and dense random development. "Destroying the PLO
meant occupying or dominating Beirut -- the political and military center of PLO strength
The assault along the west coast of Lebanon was an infantry fight. The coastal line
of advance contained urban areas that favored defensive anti-armor ambushes. The major
operational error committed by the Israelis was that they initially committed their armor
and APCs before the infantry troops in close urban terrain.64 The PLO ambushed the
Israeli APCs and tanks in urban areas such as Tyre and Sidon, inflicting heavy casualties.
Israeli Defense Force (IDF) infantry should have spearheaded the assault, calling for
armored support as required by the tactical situation.
Requirements for Effective OAS
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) established complete air superiority over the battlefield
early in the operation. IAF aircraft operated without prohibitive interference from Syrian
fighter aircraft throughout their urban OAS missions.
Israeli targeting efforts in Tyre, Sidon, and Beirut had difficulty throughout the
operation in separating PLO positions from the non-combatants. The Israelis dedicated
the majority of their UAV sorties (Tadiran Mastiff and IMI Scout65) in the East against the
higher threat Syrian forces. The IAF photo-reconnaissance assets were able to get
excellent imagery of the Syrian air defense and army locations, but they "lacked the
targeting and intelligence to precisely identify and characterize targets in urban
environments."66 The IAF was able to provide overhead imagery of the urban objective
areas to assist the ground commanders with navigation and coordination. Additionally,
even though the Israelis had infrared (IR), synthetic aperature radar (SAR), and
side-looking airborne radar (SLAR) sensors, they lacked the ability to integrate the
information for night targeting into the battlefield decision making system. As a result, the
IDF forces in the West fought blind in their protracted urban advance.
Target marking for CAS missions required unique solutions in an urban
environment. The Israeli forward air controllers (FACs) marked enemy targets with
colored smoke during day operations and spot-lights at night. Since collateral damage
was a concern for the CAS strikes, the aircraft carried a mix of live and inert ordnance.
The pilot first dropped a practice bomb. From the practice-bomb impact, the FAC
confirmed that the pilot had the right target and allowed the live ordnance delivery, or
provided a correction for the pilot.
The Israeli command and control system grew progressively more responsive as
the fight moved into Beirut. To limit command and control problems in urban
environments, the IDF placed wire lines in sewer and around telephone poles. It used
UAVs for radio relay, and placed flags on top of buildings to mark friendly positions.67
Intelligence elements of the battle staff coordinated the pre-planned CAS missions. The
ground units needing the support forwarded the immediate requests for CAS. In spite of
these techniques, the IDF complained about excessive response times for CAS.68
The intent of the ROE for OAS operations in Lebanon was to limit collateral
damage, non-combatant casualties, and international condemnation. The ROE the Israeli
pilots operated under in Lebanon's urban areas was:
1. The pilots had to have highly detailed urban target maps to distinguish
military objectives from civilian objects and other protected property.
2. Pilots and FACs had to positively verity all objects as military targets prior to
any attack. A FAC had to mark each target to verify it.
3. If the CAS aircraft lost its bomb-aiming equipment, the pilot had to abort the
4. Attack aircraft had to deliver a single bomb per attack, at the minimum
possible safe altitude, under visual conditions (no radar bombing).
5. The pilots were to make absolute maximum use of precision guided munitions
(PGMs)69 and bombs no bigger than the MK-82 (500 pounds) for CAS
The IDF divided Beirut into two sectors. The ROE limited IAF bombing
operations North of Corniche due to concern over collateral damage and civilian
casualties. The ROE South of Corniche required less discrimination from the IAF. High
casualties in Tyre and Sidon convinced the IDF that they did not want to conduct a house
to house fight in Beirut. Therefore, they isolated the portions of the city that they felt
were mainly PLO and gradually intensified the artillery, air, and naval gun-fire
The enemy air defenses that the IAF had to deal with over the urban target areas
were generally low-threat for fixed-wing aircraft and medium-threat for rotary-wing
aircraft. The PLO air-defense systems consisted of SA-7s, ZSU 23-4s, and other AAA
systems.71 The-fixed-wing aircraft could avoid the threat by remaining above a certain
minimum altitude and dispensing decoy flares during target attacks. The rotary-wing
aircraft could use IR jammers or decoy flares to deny the IR missile threat but needed to
avoid the threat area for the AAA.
The IAF employed both lethal and non-lethal weapons during Operation Peace for
Galilee. The non-combatants in Tyre, Sidon, and Beirut greatly outnumbered the PLO
fighters. One of the IDF's goals was to separate the civilians from the PLO fighters. To
accomplish this the first phase of each urban attack was a psychological operation aimed at
the non-combatants. Through leaflet drops and loud-speakers72 the IDF warned that the
IAF would bomb the area and that the non-combatants should vacate the area
immediately. The IDF encouraged people to leave the urban areas and left open multiple
The purpose of the lethal weapons the IAF had at its disposal was to fight the type
of conflict they experienced in the 1973 War. That conflict convinced the IDF that it
needed ordnance such as the AGM-65A Maverick, Cluster Bomb, Walleye Glide Bomb,
TOW, and HARM missile to attrite large, SAM-protected, armor forces in open terrain.
These weapons had very little applicability in Tyre, Sidon, and Beirut in 1982.
Throughout the conflict, ground forces used OAS when they could not bring tank
or artillery fire to bear on the enemy.74 The urban terrain provided the PLO fighters
excellent cover and concealment, hoping that it would force the IAF to limit its attacks in
order to minimize civilian casualties. The IAF had to resort to using MK-82 (general
purpose) bombs in urban operations for several reasons:
1. The IAF's AGM-65A TV Mavericks displayed poor accuracy and target effect
in urban environments. The TV seeker would break lock in urban clutter forcing
the missile to miss the target. The AGM-65A's shaped-charge warhead had
minimal effect on urban structures.
2. The shaped-charge kill mechanism of the cluster munition bomblet had a poor
effect on targets in urban areas. Additionally, the IDF was concerned that
unexploded cluster munition bomblets could cause friendly casualties during an
3. The IAF felt that the TOW was vulnerable to hostile countermeasures76 and
was only good against armor targets due to its shaped-charge warhead.
The anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) threat forced the IDF to keep the Merkava
tank out of heavy combat in Beirut, increasing the reliance on fixed-wing CAS. As a
result of these factors, the IAF used the MK-82 general purpose extensively in all urban
environments. This is a free-fall bomb and is only as precise as the delivery platform and
the targeting information.
The IAF and IDF experienced serious problems in executing combined
operations in urban and built-up areas where there were large numbers of
civilians. Throughout the war the IAF was called upon to attack small bands of
PLO or Syrian troops who were fighting in close proximity to IDF troops and
Lebanese civilians.... Accurate targeting and delivery were often impossible and
fratricide and civilian casualties resulted.... IAF pilots either hit civilian targets or
refused to drop their bombs because they had no way to distinguish ground
The IAF's lack of low-yield precision weapons generated higher non-combatant
casualties than necessary.78 Compounding the IDF's problem, the international media
reported large civilian casualties in IAF urban bombing raids. The negative publicity
generated by a large strike on August 12, 1982, caused the Israeli cabinet to rescind the
military's authority to conduct bombing operations without prior cabinet approval.79 This
further restricted the commander's tactical options in the field.
The IAF's attack platforms consisted of A-4 Skyhawks, C-2 Kfirs, F-4 Phantoms,
and AH-1 Cobras. These platforms could deliver air to ground ordnance during daylight
conditions with fair accuracy by 1982 standards. The IDF regular forces trained in
MOUT for 10 years prior to Peace for Galilee. They integrated infantry, armor, artillery,
and engineers, but failed to include OAS assets. When the ATGM threat reduced the
survivability and usefulness of the Merkava tank in urban environments, the IDF called on
CAS to fill the void. The Israeli pilots are some of the best in the world, but they had not
trained to the urban standard, and their ineffectiveness highlighted this deficiency.
The lessons learned by the IDF in Lebanon's urban OAS operations were:
1. Planning for urban operations requires great detail and will involve a combined
2. To be successful in future urban combat situations, aircrew training must adapt
at every level, from private to commander, to stress realism, operational
challenges, battlefield initiative and innovation.
3. The IDF relied excessively on firepower, at the expense of more
innovative solutions to tactical problems (i.e., large scale use of artillery barrages
in urban environments vice low-yield precision weapons).81
4. Low-precision weapons are not suitable in urban environments where
non-combatant discrimination is a priority.
5. Tactical urban operations deserve a priority in the allocation of overhead
RSTA assets. The high probability of tactical set-backs and ambushes require
overhead information at the tactical level.
6. Favorable media coverage is essential in urban operations. The military can
shape the effects of media coverage by steadfast ROE compliance, appropriate
weapons, and media education and training.
7. The military must employ its force in a proportional and discriminate manner
to retain the support of its people in a limited war.82
A major premise of Israeli strategic doctrine is that the effects of war are judged
by their impact not only on the battlefield, but on Israeli society.
Operation Desert Storm (199O-1991)
During Desert Storm ground combat operations in urban environments were
relatively rare. USMC AH-1Ws and AV-8Bs provided urban CAS during the Iraqi attack
at Khafji.83 Once the ground campaign started, the sparsely populated desert terrain
permitted a ground scheme of maneuver that did not have to deal with significant urban
combat. The terrain was perfect for the air-land battle that the NATO forces had been
training to for over ten years. Additionally, this air-land battle did not have to contend
with towns and trees as it did in a European scenario. What Desert Storm did provide was
an excellent example of precision urban interdiction by air power in the Iraqi capital,
Although, the strategic air strikes flown against Baghdad were not in direct
support of a ground assault, they must receive attention in this paper for the following
reason. The outstanding capabilities in accuracy displayed by the coalition air forces, and
then televised to the world, changed the level of expectation for future conflict. Our
future urban OAS missions must display the same level of discrimination that the public
witnessed during Desert Storm.
The United States and its coalition allies conducted combat operations to achieve
limited objectives in Desert Storm. The coalition goals were to expel Saddam Hussein's
military from Kuwait, to restore the Kuwaiti government, and to weaken the military
potential of the Iraqi armed forces. The objectives did not include the occupation of Iraq,
the devastation of the Iraqi people, or the destruction Iraq's future economic viability.
The coalition decided to employ strategic air strikes against targets inside Baghdad to
destroy the command and control capability of the Iraqi leadership. The coalition wanted
to "exploit air powers reach and lethality to achieve operational and strategic objectives...
by striking key elements of the enemy's society, will, or overall national power."84
Baghdad served as the political, cultural, and religious capital of Iraq. The urban
terrain in Baghdad contained a mix of development types. The older sections of Baghdad
contained dense random and close-orderly block development with the typical stone and
concrete construction. Iraq was a major oil producer and, as a result, Baghdad's urban
terrain included modern high-rise and industrial development. The majority of the
coalition targets were in areas of high-rise and industrial development.
Requirements for Effective OAS
In the opening days of the air offensive in Iraq, the coalition quickly established air
supremacy. As a result, the Iraqi fighter threat was insignificant after the third day of
operations. Coalition air assets carried out a comprehensive attack on the Iraqi integrated
air-defense system (IADS). Coalition air attacked command and control centers, early
warning radars, and SAM sites early in the campaign. Coalition attack and electronic
warfare (EW) aircraft continually suppressed the SAM sites throughout the campaign.
Non-stealth strike packages would include a SEAD capability with jammer aircraft (EA-6B
and EF-111) and HARM and ALARM (anti-radiation missiles) shooters. The primary
missile threats in the skies over Baghdad were the SA-2, SA-3, and SA-6 missile systems.
Iraqi AAA was always present, forcing attack aircraft to remain at high altitude in the
target area. Coalition aircraft suffered minimal attrition from SA-2s and SA-3s over
Baghdad and still managed to accomplish their mission.
The strategic nature of the targets in Baghdad tied the command and control and
targeting effort directly to the national leadership. The United States national leadership
did not micro-manage the air war as President Johnson did during the Vietnam War. The
national leadership did exercise control over the targeting effort in that President Bush
approved the strategic target list generated by coalition planners before the air war started.
Additionally, the national leadership participated in the formulation of the ROE that
ensured that the strategic attack effort would not damage the cohesion of the coalition or
The national leadership informally articulated five formal restraints to serve as
guidance for the conduct of the strategic strikes.
1. The planners should plan the air strikes so that they minimize Iraqi
2. The strategic strikes should not damage Iraqi cultural and religious structures.
3. The planners and pilots must limit the damage to the Iraqi economy and
capacity for post-war recovery.
4. The coalition planners must protect the lives of any hostages to the maximum
5. The coalition will not use nuclear weapons.85
The coalition air planners used this guidance in the formulation of their target list and
strike plans. The national command authority was able to review and approve the target
list before the air war started. This centralized control was essential for the success of the
strategic air effort. The Secretary of Defense (SecDef) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff(CJCS) received briefings on: attack missions, target categories, munition effects,
and estimated collateral damage.86
The targeting effort was able to use the extensive international data base
concerning Baghdad's urban terrain. Overhead satellite imagery, national and international
intelligence, and contractor construction reports helped planners to create an accurate
picture of the targets in Baghdad. While the targeting effort was on the overall a
resounding success, there was one notable exception. The attack against the Al Firdos
bunker, a valid military target, created an international embarrassment for the national
leadership. USAF penetration bombs destroyed the bunker that Iraqi military officers
were using to protect their wives and children from air attack. According to the law of
war, the Iraqi government was culpable for the deaths of these non-combatants. The Iraqi
government should not have allowed non-combatants to use a military facility and still
expected them to enjoy immunity as civilians. Legal or not, the attack still generated
negative public opinion towards the United States.
The strategic strikes conducted in Baghdad used a variety of the following
precision guided and precision delivered weapons:
1. Tactical Land Attack Missile (TLAM) cruise missiles (blast and non-lethal
2. Paveway II and III series of LGB (both GP and penetration warheads):
GBU-16 (1,000lb), GBU-10 (2000lb), GBU-24 (2,000lb), GBU-27 (2,000lb for
F-117), and the GBU-28 (4,700lb deep penetrator)88
3. Extended-Range Data-Link (ERDL) Walleye glide bombs
4. Stand-off Land Attack Missiles (SLAM)
5. MK-83 and MK-84 General purpose bombs.89
The precision strike capabilities offered by coalition weapons were exceptional. The 282
US Navy TLAM strikes (180 in the first two days) demonstrated a very credible capability
throughout the campaign to strike strategic targets with precision.90 Additionally,
coalition air forces used deep-penetrator LGBs with a high degree of success. Some
analysts believe that the strategic bombing effort in Baghdad had little effect on the Iraqi
war effort.91 What is certain, however, is that the coalition hit the targets it wanted to. At
a minimum, the nightly CNN videos of precision weapons slamming into key government
buildings in the Iraqi capital had a psychological impact on Saddam Hussein and his
Except for the TLAM strikes, the key to the-weapons' high precision was the high
capability of the manned delivery platforms. The LGBs required precise and steady laser
illumination for successful terminal guidance. Likewise, the Walleye and SLAM missiles
required highly capable delivery platforms to guide them successfully to the target.
Initially, strike aircraft such as F-15Es, F-16s, F/A-18s, A-6Es, and Tornados delivered
non-precision ordnance against targets on the city periphery as part of the strategic air
campaign. As the campaign progressed, senior Air Force officers decided that the risk of
collateral damage associated with employing systems without a laser self-designation
capability was too high.92 Additionally, the strategic target set required the use of deep-
target penetrators to achieve satisfactory results. As a result of this assessment, only the
F-117 and F-111 conducted strategic strikes in Baghdad.
Except for the TLAM cruise missile, inclement weather could interfere with the
precision guidance systems employed during Desert Storm. This interference could lead
to a significant miss distance, increasing the probability of non-combatant casualties and
excessive collateral damage. Inclement weather in the target area would force a mission
abort for these reasons.
The high standard of excellence demonstrated by the aircrew conducting the
strategic strikes confirmed the value of their extensive training. The most successful of
these were the F-117 aircrew that specifically trained to an urban scenario in peacetime.
Other attack communities will need to study the F-117 strategic urban strike training
programs and apply the appropriate techniques at the tactical and operational levels.
One training anomaly that could surface in future urban environments concerned
tactical PGM employment. Prior to the air campaign, the USAF attempted to identify the
numbers of F-16 sorties it would take to attrite Iraqi armor. The planners configured the
F-16s with AGM-65 Maverick missiles and fed this information into a planning computer.
The answer the planners received turned out to be inaccurate because, although the F-16
could carry the AGM-65, the pilots did not routinely train with it. As a result, the F-16
pilots had great difficulties in tactical Maverick employment and eventually resorted to
dropping MK-80 series general purpose bombs. During the conflict the F-16s flew only
130 Maverick missions, compared to 8,700 missions dropping "dumb bombs."93 The US
Marine Corps experience with PGMs was nearly identical to the USAF F-16s. The
Marine Corps AV-8Bs and F/A-18s could both carry variants of the Maverick missile, but
lack of pre-war training led to poor employment in combat. All attack aviators must know
the limitations of, and train with, the PGMs their platforms can carry to be effective in an
urban environment. Currently, the USMC fixed-wing squadrons expend less than 60
percent of their Maverick and GBU-10/16 annual training allocation.94
The national leadership, military planning, and tactical execution demonstrated
during the air attacks in Baghdad were exceptional. International viewers were able to
witness the successful employment of precision guided munitions throughout the air war.
The national leadership reviewed and approved the target lists and the general ROE,
allowing the military commanders in the field the ability to execute their missions as they
saw fit. While many debate the overall utility of Desert Storm's strategic air campaign, no
one disputes the accuracy of the weapons employed. This is not to say that there were no
shortcomings. A Rand Corporation study highlighted several cases of weather aborts, lack
of deep target penetration, and collateral damage from malfunctioning LGBs and cruise
missiles hit by AAA.95 Additionally, the American public and international viewers were
able to see on television the discrimination that the coalition was able to achieve in their
urban air attacks. They will definitely expect that same level of discrimination in the
The major lessons learned from the urban strike efforts in Baghdad were:
1. Sound and reasonable ROE are crucial to successful urban strike operations.
2. RSTA efforts must be continuous. Targets identified pre-conflict require
pre-strike validation (Al Fidros bunker).
3. The media and international critics may not agree on the legitimacy of a target
if non-combatants become casualties (Al Fidros bunker).
4. The military should educate the media on measures taken to reduce
non-combatant casualties and collateral damage.
5. Non-precision weapons have little utility in urban environments.
6. Delivery platforms incapable of night-targeting and self-designation will have
little utility in urban environments.
7. Due to the success witnessed in Desert Storm, the international press and
public expect perfection in all urban precision strikes from now on.
An attack pilot who recently participated in urban CAS operations in Bosnia highlighted
the increased emphasis that the public and media place on precision bombing when he
stated; "This is a trial-by-television situation, and we cannot afford to make mistakes when
dropping live ordnance."96
Operation Restore Hope (1992-1993)
If we go into the vicinity of the Bakara Market there's no question we'll win the
gunfight. But we might lose the war.
- Major General William Garrison USA (Commander
of Task Force Ranger - September 1993)97
The United States' military operations in Mogadishu, Somalia ranged from
humanitarian assistance to high tempo urban combat. In 1992, a combination of intense
Ban fighting and famine created a condition where thousands of Somali citizens were
starving to death. The world humanitarian agencies provided food and medical assistance,
but the clans attacked the relief workers and pirated the food shipments before
distribution. The United Nations asked member nations to provide military forces order to
enforce the peace, protect the relief workers, and to ensure the security of the food
distribution.98 In response to this request, President Bush ordered United States military
forces to Somalia in December of 1992.
Multiple and redundant fire support assets protected the initial deployment of
Marines. Marine planners were not sure what the Somali clans might do and therefore
planned for the worst. Other than small clashes, the initial operations went very smoothly
until the United Nations took command of the humanitarian operation. One of the Somali
militia leaders, Mohammed Farah Aideed, considered the U.N. action a threat to his power
and began intensified combat operations against the U.N. forces. On June 5, 1993,
Aideed's Somali National Alliance (SNA) militia ambushed and killed twenty-four
Pakistani peacekeepers in downtown Mogadishu. Then on 8 August a
command-detonated land-mine killed four United States military policemen, prompting
President Clinton to order the deployment of Army Special Forces to Mogadishu to
capture Aideed.99 It was during this phase of military operations that the urban combat in
Mogadishu became most intense.100
The urban terrain in Mogadishu was typical of older third-world construction and
layout. The city had a normal population of 500,000 that swelled to 1,500,000 with
refugees. The city was a hybrid of industrial development near the port facility, and dense
random structures throughout the rest of the city. Buildings were rarely more than three
stories high, and street layout was mostly rectangular-block, with very narrow streets.101
The Joint Task Force's (JTF) mission was to protect the troops, support U.N.
operations, and to ensure that the lines of communication remain open and secure. During
the course of the operation, the JTF in Somalia included fire support assets such as
M1A1C tanks, M2A2/M3A1 armored personnel carriers, 155 mm artillery with
Copperhead (laser guided) ammunition, AC-130 gunships, AH-1 gunships, and OH-58
reconnaissance helicopters, AV-8Bs and a Carrier Battle Group (CVBG) equipped with
A-6Es, F/A-18s, and F-14s.102 If engaged, the force was to employ overwhelming,
precision combat power while attempting to minimize or avoid casualties.103
The urban combat in Mogadishu that developed in the summer of 1993 was mostly
an infantry fight taking place in the dense, randomly developed portion of town.
Mogadishu's urban terrain favored the defender, providing ample opportunities for ambush
followed by disengagement. Additionally, the urban area denied the attacker his
traditional means of mobility and firepower support. Ground combat operations ranged
from small arms exchanges to the Task Force Ranger combined-arms battle on 3 and 4
October 1993 that lasted 15 hours.
Requirements for Effective OAS
With no fighter threat to contend with, air superiority over Mogadishu was never a
factor. Additionally, inclement weather never hindered OAS operations during Restore
Hope. Overhead imagery from satellites and manned platforms provided the JTF with
excellent information on the urban terrain (Mogadishu - Enclosure 1). The JTF used this
imagery to update the 1:12,500 scale city maps (Mogadishu city map - Enclosures 2A-D).
The lack of buildings taller than three stories rendered the GPS information more accurate.
While the JTF had up to date representations of the urban terrain, its targeting effort
required much more than that. The nature of the conflict, and the urban terrain, called for
a reactive targeting process that exceeded the JTF capabilities. The decentralized nature
of the urban military operations required that the overhead imagery be provided real-time
to the tactical user. Whether conducting an escort operation or a complex raid, the fluidity
of the situation required low-level access to imagery. The 10th Mountain Division
after-action report stated that there was a strong need for real-time imagery that had an
on-site processing capability (possibly on assault unit helicopters). Highly technical RSTA
capabilities are important in operations other than war (OOTW) efforts but require equal
efforts in developing human intelligence (HUMINT). In Mogadishu a robust HUMINT
collection effort aided the targeting effort very successfully.
However, opponent countermeasures hindered the technical targeting efforts of the
JTF. The SNA's tactical commander, General Giumale received his military training from
the Soviets and Italians. He knew that, if his forces used electronic means to disseminate
information, then the Americans would be able to target his command and control
network. To counter this capability, he resorted to written orders and used messengers to
pass information. Additionally, Giumale gave the SNA mission type orders and a solid
commander's intent that allowed them to concentrate forces quickly for a decisive
The command and control system facilitated the decentralized operations that the
JTF forces conducted. The ROE served to protect the force and ensure that any force
applied was appropriate for the situation. The ROE for military operations in Somalia
included the following dictums:
1. US Forces have the right to use force to defend themselves against attacks or
the threat of attack.
2. US Forces may return hostile fire effectively and promptly to stop a hostile act.
3. When attacked by unarmed hostile elements, mobs and/or rioters, U.S. forces,
should use the minimum force necessary under the circumstances and
proportional to the threat.
4. Remember: - The United States is not at war.
- Use minimum force to carry out the mission.
- Always be prepared to act in self-defense.104
The SNA also possessed a robust command and control capability. The SNA
divided south Mogadishu into eighteen military sectors, each with a duty officer on alert.
When an alert officer in one sector discovered JTF military activity, he alerted the others
indicating the position and vector of the threat.105 This crude system allowed the SNA to
minimize the chance for JTF surprise attacks and to mass forces if required.
Helicopter gunships were the primary delivery platforms for the OAS weapons
employed by the JTF. This ordnance included Hellfire and TOW anti-armor missiles, 2.75
inch rockets, 20 mm cannon, 5.56 mini-gun ammunition, and .50 caliber sniper
ammunition. When available, the AC-130s used guns and cannons very successfully in
night attacks. Problems with accuracy and discrimination forced the JTF commanders to
deny the use of 2.75 inch rockets in urban environments.106 The Hellfire and TOW
weapons worked well against vehicles in the open but had disappointing results when
employed against targets inside buildings. The majority of the target buildings had
concrete and wood construction, and provided good defensive positions. The
shaped-charge warheads created holes in the walls of the buildings but did not have the
desired effect on the target. "Five minutes after firing a TOW at the target building, the
snipers were back up and firing."107 Additionally, the lack of target damage evidence made
post-strike assessment more difficult. In one mission, attack helicopters employed over 70
TOW missiles against a building because they could not validate the destruction of the
The only air defenses the JTF aircraft had to contend with were small-arms fire and
rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). The hasty nature of the JTF offensive efforts made
SEAD efforts more difficult. Snipers and helicopter mini-guns could effectively deal with
SNA RPG gunners as long as they could detect them. The Task Force Ranger raid on
October 3, 1993, however, turned into a disaster after SNA forces were able to shoot
down two helicopters and damage two others by employing their RPGs in a barrage-fire
mode. It is virtually impossible to deny an opponent the ability to use these weapons
systems against low flying rotary-wing assets. The loss of the four support helicopters
denied the engaged ground forces desperately needed CAS. Unfortunately, the JIF had
sent the AC-130s back to the United States before the raid and did not request back-up
fixed-wing CAS assets. In any case, the raid was to be a daytime raid that would have
ruled out the use of the AC-130s for survivability reasons even if they were available. The
entire CAS plan revolved around the attack helicopters. The threat the SNA RPG gunners
posed would have been negligible to high-performance fixed-wing attack aircraft.
Concerning the utility of fixed-wing OAS in Mogadishu, LtCol John Keenan
USMC (Executive Officer of the 7th Marines during Restore Hope) felt that fixed-wing
platforms would have to have a precision guidance capability to be effective. He felt that
the explosive yield could not exceed that of a 500 pound bomb in order to meet
proportionality and collateral damage criteria. Additionally, the "tactical commander does
not want you to use a 2,000 pound bomb because the ruin will make good defensive
positions for the bad guys."109 LtCol Keenan stated that there is definitely a requirement
for fixed-wing OAS in urban environments because the threat to helicopters may prohibit
or limit their use in direct fire support missions. In response, following the Task Force
Ranger battle on 3 October 1993, the JTF trained extensively with carrier based A-6Es
armed with 500 pound LGBs.110
The JTF also used non-lethal, air delivered weapons during Restore Hope. JTF
aircraft dropped leaflets and conducted PSYOPS operations. AV-8Bs, A-6s, and F/A-18s
conducted high speed, low level runs over Mogadishu to intimidate the rival factions.
Additionally, BGen Emil Bedard USMC (CO of RLT 7) stated that the JTF developed a
plan to drop a non-fuzed (non-explosive) laser guided bomb into the SNA headquarters to
demonstrate our targeting efficiency and destruction capability.111
The platforms and sensors employed by the United States in Somalia varied in
their capability to precisely locate and engage urban targets. The USAF Special Forces
and the U.S. Army 160th Task Force operated the most advanced platforms. The AC-130
could provide accurate targeting and fires in a night, low-threat environment. The JTF did
not use the AC-130 in the daytime due to survivability concerns. The Task Force OH-58
helicopters were able to identify targets at long range through the use of long-range optics.
The AH-6s and MH-60s had excellent night targeting systems and laser designators
allowing day and night precision weapons employment.
None of the OAS assets operated by the JTF forces possessed an all-weather
attack capability. The OAS platforms that the USMC operated in Somalia were AH-1W
attack helicopters, UH-1N utility helicopters and AV-8Bs. The AH-1Ws did use cannon
and TOW effectively on targets in the open but, at the time of the initial assault, did not
have the night targeting system (FLIR and laser designator) installed. The UH-1Ns could
carry a mini-gun and 2.75 inch rockets (which due to accuracy problems saw little use).
The AV-8Bs, armed with 25mm cannon, conducted daytime long-range reconnaissance
and convoy escort missions along food supply routes but never fired any weapons.112 The
JTF did not use naval carrier aviation in urban attack missions.
The Rangers, the 160th Task Force, AC-130s, and the USMC helicopters trained
in urban combat situations prior to actual operations in Mogadishu. The combat
experience in Mogadishu highlighted the need for even more training by United States
forces. Other than the AC-130, the fixed-wing attack assets were untrained and
ill-equipped for urban OAS operations in a LIC environment.
The lessons learned by the military forces involved in urban combat operations
during Restore Hope were:
1. Hellfire and TOW were ineffective when used against hardened urban
2. Small arms and other ground attack weapons (RPGs) can create prohibitive
interference for attack helicopter missions in urban operations.
3. Even though OOTW evolutions involve limited military objectives, the
commander's primary duty is the protection of his force. The commander must
ensure that adequate firepower is available, the participants trained in its use, and
the ROE allow for its application if the conditions warrant.
4. The ROE will not allow the employment of current fixed-wing ordnance
weighing more than 500 pounds in an urban CAS evolution. The public and the
press will want to know why the military used a 2,000 pound bomb when a 500
pound bomb was available.
5. All aviation ordnance employed in an urban environment must be
precision guided (bombs and missiles) or directed (guns).
6. The tactical ground commanders need access to real-time, all-weather overhead
imagery during the course of their operations.
7. The possible threat to rotary-wing assets requires that fixed-wing attack assets
be able to conduct CAS in an urban environment. To do this, they must be
equipped (laser designator and night targeting system), armed (low-yield
precision weapons), and trained in urban CAS operations.
8. "The inability of supporting arms to effectively engage some urban targets may
also have a demoralizing effect."113
The Russian Invasion of Grozny (1994)
Incompetence mixed with brutality is a pitiful combination.
- Strategic Studies Institute's opinion of
Russia's Invasion of Chechnya (1995)"114
Chechyna, located in the Caucasus, declared its independence from Russia in 1991.
Five failed Russian-sponsored coups115 and three years of negotiations prompted Boris
Yeltsin to order the invasion of Chechnya. In November 1994, one month before the
Russian invasion of Chechnya, Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev declared that,
"one regiment of paratroops would need just two hours to solve the whole issue."116
When the Russian military commenced their invasion of Chechnya, it believed that a
demonstration of overwhelming combat power would force the Chechans to capitulate
quickly. Unfortunately for the Russian forces, two factors combined to deny a quick,
painless victory. First, the Russian military failed to apply any of the appropriate lessons
learned from its urban combat experiences in Aghanistan. Second, the Chechan defenders
used the same urban defensive techniques that the Soviet army used in Stalingrad
(1942-1943) to exact a heavy military and political toll on the invaders. They sucked the
mechanized Russian invasion forces into protracted urban combat for which the Russians
were ill-equipped, ill-prepared, and totally ill-trained.
As of this writing (April 1995) the fighting in Chechnya is still underway. The
press coverage of Russia's first television war is providing an opportunity to examine
Russian urban combat techniques, specifically the use of attack aviation, and to question
just what we would have done in the same situation.
In appearance Grozny is a typical northern European city, with high-rise, industrial,
close-orderly block, dispersed-residential, and dense-random development. Grozny serves
as the political and cultural center of Chechnya and has a population of 400,000117.
According to LtGen Bernard Trainor USMC (Retired), the tactics the Russians
used in their assault on Grozny were atrocious. The Russians committed their tanks and
APCs ahead of the infantry to spearhead their assault. The Chechan fighters armed with
Russian made anti-tank missiles promptly destroyed the tanks and APCs in urban
ambushes. The Russians did not coordinate the use of attack aviation to assist infantry
assault, and they have been indiscriminate in the application of fires. The prohibitive threat
created by the anti-tank weapons and the lack of coordination between infantry and CAS
has led to over 5,000 Russian casualties in Grozny's streets. Additionally, the Russians
have lost over 350 tanks and APCs in the urban ambushes.118
To make sense of what the Russians are trying to do in Grozny, we should look to
what they tried in Afghanistan. Except for the Soviets' use of chemical weapons and high
altitude heavy bomber strikes against suspected Mujahideen villages, their tactics are
almost identical in Grozny. During the initial phase of fighting in Afghanistan, the
Russians committed armor units into urban areas without infantry or air support. The
Mujahideen quickly destroyed them. The Soviets responded to the armored failure with a
policy of "massive firepower and large scale air attacks to minimize Soviet casualties, and
on attacks on the Afghan people to compensate for an inability to target and destroy the
Mujahideen."119 This is essentially the policy they employed in Grozny with one notable
change. This change is the presence of the international media reporting Russian tactics
and failures for the world and the Russian people to witness. This is not the sort of fight
the Russians expected.
Requirements for Effective OAS
The Russian Air Force never encountered any interference from Chechan fighter
aircraft during the invasion, and therefore air superiority was not a factor. Russian
targeting has relied extensively on HUMINT and national intelligence agency archives
concerning Grozny and the government of General Dzhokar Dudayev. At the tactical
level, forward observers and reconnaissance troops observe their sectors of responsibility
and request air or artillery strikes. The success of the Russian targeting effort is highly
suspect due to the indiscriminate application of fires in the city (including non-combatant
residential areas). As one Chechan reported, "The planes send in cluster bombs, and other
bombs in a checkerboard pattern. But they can never find our positions, so they are forced
to bomb bazaars and cars and highways."120 At the tactical level there seemed to be no
real-time overhead tactical imagery support for ground forces. The Chechans consistently
lure the Russian ground forces into urban "fire sacks" with little warning of the impending
The Russian command and control during the urban operations in Grozny were
totally dysfunctional at both the strategic and operational levels. The military initially
publicly refused to participate in combat operations in Chechnya. Once they commenced
military operations, they refused to obey Yeltsin's command to stop bombing Grozny.
The Russian military appears to be operating under a ROE that cannot serve the national
interest or facilitate post-conflict political resolution. At the tactical level, the assault
troops conducted uncoordinated attacks punctuated by Chechan ambushes that inflicted
heavy casualties. A Chechan fighter described the failed 31 December attack on Grozny,
where the "Russian troops were sent into the city without adequate maps, battle plans or
the means to communicate with reinforcements or superiors."121 The lack of integration
between air attack assets and ground troops negated the possibility of any effective CAS
during these ambushes.
In Grozny, the Russians applied urban OAS tactics that they learned in
Afghanistan. The Soviet Air Force lost 1,500 to 2,000 aircraft (mostly helicopters) in
Afghanistan to the Stinger IR (infra-red) SAM. This threat drove the Soviets to avoid
using attack helicopters in an IR SAM threat area. It shifted the attack mission
responsibility to the fixed-wing attack aircraft who used a medium-altitude sanctuary and
IR counter-measures during their attacks. The accuracy of their urban OAS fires in
Afghanistan never concerned the Soviets because they never integrated their fixed-wing
fires with urban ground offensives and probably did not care about non-combatant
casualties. Additionally, Afghanistan combat operations were off-limits to the Russian
media. The public outrage may have been tremendous if reporters televised the Russian
losses and collateral damage in Afghanistan. The combination of high-altitude attacks and
non-precision weapons led to a large CEP for their urban attacks, killing non-combatants
and creating tremendous collateral damage. The economic problems the Russian military
experienced after the end of the Afghanistan War hindered the procurement of many
PGMs. The Russian Air Force assumed that the Chechans had IR SAMs and applied the
tactics in Grozny that they learned in Afghanistan. As of this date, the Soviets have lost at
least one fixed-wing and numerous rotary-wing attack aircraft during the fighting in
As with the US forces in Mogadishu, the Russian Air Force primarily employed
weapons designed to counter NATO forces in a high-intensity land battle to the urban
targets in Grozny. Some of these weapons were useful in an urban environment but, for
tactical and political reasons, many were not. The Russians used two deep-target
penetrators (possibly KAB-1500L-Pr) in their successful attack122 against the Presidential
palace. The list of weapons that the Russians employed with less than satisfactory results
included: 1,100 pound (500 kilogram) general purpose bombs, 57 and 80mm unguided
rockets, cluster munitions, Green Parrot anti-personnel mines, FAE (fuel air explosive),
and AT-6 missiles. The Russian Air Force employed the general purpose bombs in a
wholly indiscriminate manner, creating excessive non-combatant casualties and collateral
damage. First, the rubbling created by these weapons have given the Chechans additional
cover for snipers and defensive positions. Second, the negative press the Russians
received as a result of the indiscriminate nature of their bombing attacks brought
additional pressure on the national leadership to control the military operation in
Chechnya. Third, the massive infrastructure damage caused by these non-precision,
high-yield bombs will cost the Russian government over 3.5 trillion Rubles ($800 million
dollars U.S.)123to rebuild Grozny post-conflict.
The public outrage over the bombing forced Boris Yeltsin to prohibit the Air Force
from using unguided bombs in Grozny, so it shifted to unguided rockets.124 The
inaccuracies of the observed 57 and 80mm rocket attacks had the same effect on the
non-combatants and the media. The international and Russian media instantly picked up
on the absurdity of the Russian response, further eroding confidence in military
The Russians learned in Afghanistan that cluster munitions and mines in urban
areas made little tactical sense, and very possibly, would incite non-combatants to become
combatants. The Russians got the same results with air delivered cluster munitions and
mines in Grozny. The Chechans are fighting in prepared defensive positions and the
cluster munitions and mines do not seem to have any effect on these positions, but have
produced casualties among the non-combatants. As expected, the press denounced the
Russians for using cluster munitions and mines in Grozny.
The platforms the Russians are using in Grozny are the same ones they used in the
Afghanistan War. The primary OAS platforms are the Su-25 Frogfoot, the Su-17 Fitter,
and to a lesser extent the Mi-24 Hind. The Su-25 is capable of employing precision
weapons, but there is little evidence that the Russians have.
A major factor in the conduct of OAS in Grozny is the weather. The fight for
Grozny is taking place during the winter season that typically brings low ceilings and fog.
Many reports of Russian air strikes mention that the attack aircraft appeared out of the
clouds just before weapon release or that the ground observers could only hear the jet
through overcast skies before the ordnance impacted. Weather conditions such as those
will make it very difficult to employ unguided as well as precision weapons. If the attack
pilot had to descend below the clouds to employ weapons, he entered the IR SAM
engagement envelope, reducing his effectiveness and accuracy. Additionally, like the
United States, the Russians do not have a weapon that they can accurately deploy through
The training of the Russian military as a whole is highly suspect, but the Russian
Air Force training is notably bad. Economic problems have forced a cutback in flight
hours for training that evidently led to a reduced level of competency in normal ground
attack operations. Add in the complexities associated with urban OAS conducted in bad
weather, and the chance for success decreases exponentially.
The major lessons learned from the Russian's urban combat operations in Chechnya
are still unfolding. As of this point, the key lessons learned are:
1. To be successful in a ground assault of a city, you must integrate OAS fires
with your scheme of maneuver. Additionally, tanks and APCs should never fight
autonomously. The infantry should lead the attack supported by armor and air.
2. Ground forces need real-time overhead imagery at the tactical level to avoid
urban ambushes and to facilitate maneuver.
3. Urban combat operations will test the national leadership and will to the
maximum. To be successful the military force must have clear operational
objectives and ROE to guide their operations.
4. Winning the tactical and media battles for the moral high ground requires the
use of precision-guided, low-yield weapons. Indiscriminate application of
massed fires will create over-whelmingly negative public opinion.
5. An all-weather urban OAS capability is essential for future operations. The
enemy may take advantage of our weakness in all-weather discriminate attack
capability to deny the ground force OAS fires.
6. Urban combat, including OAS operations, requires the highest standard of
training to be successful.
The examples we investigated provided a few recurring themes throughout. The
GCE will need OAS fires if the urban defender decides to decisively engage them. The
defender can deny OAS to the attacker if he forces the fight inside the range that the OAS
platform can discriminate. Additionally, if the only OAS platform is attack helicopters, the
defender's use of low-technology air defense weapons can easily deny OAS for the
attacker. The OAS assets need to be able to discriminate between friend and foe. Once
the pilot discriminates, he must be able to deliver a weapon that achieves an appropriate
amount of damage to kill the target but minimize the collateral damage. If the OAS effort
does not discriminate and its weapons are inappropriate for an urban environment, the
resulting casualties and collateral damage will undermine the public's support. The case
studies provide valuable insight into the problems associated with urban OAS. The study
of these conflicts also identifies the potential solutions. Chapter five will identify the
solutions to the historical problem areas in urban OAS.
Requirements for Effective Urban OAS
The next war is not going to be won by the side that possesses the better technical
array of systems, but by the side that best knows how to integrate them into its
overall conduct of war.
-The Future Battlefield and the Arab-Israeli Conflict125
Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron (MAWTS-1) maintains that in
order to conduct effective offensive air support (OAS) planners must satisfy the following
1. Air superiority
2. Effective targeting
3. Responsive command and control
4. Suppression of enemy air defenses
5. Effective weapons
6. Capable platforms and sensors
7. Cooperative weather
8. Proficient and trained participants
Attack aviators may conduct OAS operations without these requirements being
satisfied, but the ordnance delivered may be less effective and unwarranted aircraft
attrition may result. For OAS operations in urbanized terrain, these requirements become
even more important. Military operations in urban terrain require a combined-arms
approach to ensure tactical and operational success. OAS will be an integral part of the
combined-arms team in future urban operations. It is imperative that planners tailor the
OAS to the unique requirements imposed by the nature of urban terrain. This chapter will
identify the requirements of effective OAS in urban terrain and our current capabilities and
weaknesses to provide this support.
Historically, OAS operations conducted without air superiority resulted in poor
weapons accuracy and unnecessary attack aircraft attrition. Unlike the other requirements
for effective urban OAS, the current doctrine and weapons systems available provide more
than adequate capability to create air superiority. This requirement poses no unique
problems in an urban environment. For the purposes of this study, we will assume that the
United States will maintain the ability to establish air superiority over the urban
environment prior to the initiation of OAS operations.
Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD)
Effective OAS requires an operating sanctuary to allow the attack aviators the
ability to employ their weapons accurately and reduce aircraft attrition. The proliferation
of hand-held man-portable SAMs poses the greatest threat to attack aircraft in the urban
environment. Seventy-one percent of fixed-wing losses during operation Desert Storm
resulted from infrared (IR) SAMS and AAA as compared to 16 percent for radar directed
SAMS.127 While all attack aircraft will employ self-protection measures, they may still
require SEAD to increase their effectiveness. Urban combat operations pose some unique
requirements to traditional SEAD operations concerning collateral damage. Traditionally,
the GCE supplies SEAD for CAS, and the air combat element (ACE) provides it for deep
air support (DAS) operations (with the ACE supplying ECM for both efforts with the
EA-6B). The GCE will use direct-fire (tank) or indirect-fire (artillery or mortars) to create
an operating sanctuary for CAS aircraft. In an urban environment, the direct fire weapons
may not have a clear field of fire due to vertical obstructions. The ROE may not permit
indirect-fire weapons use due to a lack of precision, lack of gun-target-line (GTL)
flexibility, or collateral damage (proportionality) concerns. The GCE will rely on OAS to
provide its fire support in an urban environment.
Rooftop snipers or attack aircraft providing imbedded suppression128 with low
collateral damage weapons (cannon, low explosive yield PGMs, non-lethal techniques,
etc.) may be the best assets to provide SEAD in an urban environment. The strategic
strike nature of urban interdiction missions lends itself to ACE-delivered fires or support
systems to create an operating sanctuary for the attack platforms (aircraft or cruise
The requirements for SEAD will vary depending on the threat and the platform
types available to the Joint Task Force (JTF). We can minimize the effect of enemy air
defenses through the integration of our fixed and rotary-wing attack assets in the urban
environment. If the opponent chooses to defend against one type of platform
(rotary-wing), we can utilize the other (fixed-wing).
Targeting in an urban environment presents multiple new problems for military
forces. The nature of urban terrain requires extensive pre-operation intelligence collection
efforts and a highly flexible and capable reactive targeting capability once the operation is
underway. The reactive targeting effort in support of ground combat operations will be
the most difficult. Effective targeting in an urban environment requires: an aggressive
multi-dimensional reconnaissance-surveillance-and target acquisition (RSTA) effort, an
ability to rapidly fuse and process information to intelligence, and a rapid dissemination of
information and intelligence for decentralized operations.
In order to target effectively, the RSTA effort must have accurate maps and
imagery. Additionally, it must be able to provide timely information and intelligence
through the integration of human intelligence (HUMIT), signals intelligence (SIGINT),
magnetic and acoustic signature intelligence (MASINT), ground sensors, unmanned aerial
vehicles (UAVs), satellite imagery, and manned airborne platforms. The decentralized
nature of urban tactical operations will challenge traditional intelligence systems. Many
times the tactical commanders need immediate access to information (i.e., UAV or Reef
Point imagery) before intelligence elements use and process it.129
The terrain in the urban environment makes the intelligence preparation of the
battlefield (IPB) for urban operations more difficult. This constantly changing urban
landscape may render newly published city maps totally inaccurate. Part of the intelligence
preparation for an urban operation is to ensure that all members of the combined-arms
team possess accurate and current maps and overhead imagery of the urban area of
operations. Overhead imagery from satellites or UAVs can augment large scale (1:12,500
and 1:15,000) city maps. This overhead imagery can update city maps, and refine the
targeting game-plan by supplying a global positioning system (GPS) registered urban
template. The Tactical Aviation Mission Planning System (TAMPS/version 6.3) will take
overhead imagery, and ortho-rectify it.130 Then given several known positions, it will
provide a registered GPS map or image of the urban environment. TAMPS operators can
electronically disseminate this image to provide a common operations reference for ground
and air elements. Once a common GPS accurate image is available, mission planners can
further define the urban environment by establishing target reference points (TRPs) on
significant buildings or features to aid in reactive targeting efforts. In the United States,
efforts are underway to create urban databases complete with overhead imagery for
possible future contingencies.
Many of the targeting requirements in urban environments require highly technical
and automated systems. High-tech systems require integration with, and enhancement by,
the human element. Reconnaissance elements, special forces (SOF), tactical air control
parties (TACPs), and HUMINT sources enhance the overall targeting effort. Other
government (i.e., CIA, DIA, FBI, NSA) and non-government organizations (NGOs) may
assist the intelligence collection (deliberate targeting) effort by contributing information
from their extensive intelligence resources.
TACPs and airborne forward air controllers [FAC(A)s] can provide invaluable
targeting assistance for the OAS effort. Traditional methods of "getting the pilot's eyes on
the target" will not be appropriate or useful in an urban environment (i.e., "From the mark
[155mm white phosphorous] South 100."). Laser spots, Talk-ons, and colored smoke to
identify friendly positions will have more utility than artillery or mortar marks. The
verticality of the urban terrain can inhibit accurate employment or may mask the impact of
artillery and mortar marks. The Israelis used a technique in Lebanon where they armed the
OAS platforms with MK-76 inert practice bombs (25 pound) and "live" MK-82 bombs.
The pilot would take the mission brief from the FAC and would then drop a practice
bomb. The FAC would confirm that the pilot had the correct target in sight, then he
would allow the attack aircraft to drop the live ordnance. Additionally, the Israelis used
rooftop panels and communication relays to aid in air to ground radio connectivity.131
Unattended ground sensors (UGS), if employed and deployed properly, should
allow adequate reaction time to target the enemy before he can influence the ground
combat element. Future technologies will include mini television cameras, passage
monitors, microphones, and seismic devices to provide target cuing.132 These sensors
require integration into the overall collection effort.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) offer tremendous possibilities for urban
operations. The use of UAVs will enhance interdiction, armed reconnaissance, and close
air support (CAS) operations in urban environments. For the interdiction and armed
reconnaissance efforts our current employment doctrine will suffice. UAVs can search
named areas of interest and target areas of interest to cue armed reconnaissance efforts. In
strike operations, UAVs can observe and validate interdiction targets before strike assets
launch and provide post-strike bomb damage assessments. UAV imagery can validate
ROE compliance and military efforts to minimize collateral damage for the media. More
than our current limited platform capability, our current doctrine and mindset limit our
ability to assist urban CAS operations with UAV imagery. The Marine Corps currently
operates the Pioneer UAV. The Pioneer normally operates at three to five thousand feet,
produces optical or infrared (IR) imagery, and has a time-on-station of approximately 3 to
4 hours. The Pioneer does not have an all-weather capability, neither can it see through
battlefield obscurants. However, the remote receiving station (RRS) allows the reception
of real-time imagery from the UAV cameras.133 The decentralized nature of urban ground
combat operations makes it desirable that the tactical commanders have access to UAV
imagery to make tactical decisions. Marine Corps units have already experimented with
placing a RRS in a command and control, or FAC(A), UH-1N. This imagery requires
further dissemination to the tactical ground commanders and their FACs. Currently, only
one RRS is available per Pioneer unit.
Click here to view image
The lack of UAV imagery reception capability poses a critical deficiency for lower
echelon field commanders in urban environments. If our doctrine locates the sole RRS to
facilitate centralized command, it will deny overhead imagery to the forward combat units.
Desert Storm highlighted several limitations associated with the Pioneer UAV;
1. Pioneer did not have the range and endurance required for all ground
2. At night, an inadequate forward looking infrared (FLIR) cooling system
reduced mission endurance.
3. Lack of precision navigation and geo-location capabilities prevented provision
for precise information for the targeting of weapons.
4. Imagery dissemination from the ground control station (GCS) to the using units
was not satisfactory.
5. The operators felt that the RRS was deficient in both operating range and
Several joint development programs are addressing the limitations in sensor
coverage and time on station for our UAVs. The Department of Defense Joint UAV
Program has identified four operational categories of UAVs: close range, short range,
medium range, and endurance.136 The Joint Tactical UAV program is addressing the close
range and short range requirements. The Endurance program is addressing the medium
range and endurance UAV requirements.137
The Defense Science Board stated that the UAVs required for MOUT would need
to have sensors that included imaging IR, optical television, moving target indicator (MTI)
radar, and synthetic aperture radar (SAR). Currently, the program that has shown the
greatest promise to deliver this sensor capability for application to urban combat
operations is the Predator UAV.138 In 1994, the Joint UAV Project concluded that:
The Predator program was initiated because recent military operations have
demonstrated a tactical commander's need to locate, identify and target in near
real time small, mobile threats such as persons, small vehicles (Somali
"technicals"), artillery/SAMs (Yugoslavia/Iraq) and theater ballistic missiles
(SCUDS). Due to a combination of competing collection requirements, political
constraints (manned overflights of foreign territories) and technical issues e.g.,
limited loiter time), existing national, theater and tactical reconnaissance systems
have not been able to satisfy the military commander's requirement for tracking
these types of small, mobile targets.139
The Predator system can deliver exceptional RSTA capabilities to the tactical commander
in an urban environment. A time-on-station in excess of 24 hours, accurate and
unclassified multi-spectral imagery, and all weather operations will revolutionize urban
Click here to view image
operations. Unfortunately, the new generation UAV employment doctrine optimizes
centralized control where urban operations require decentralized control and execution.
An urban combat operation will realize these advances at the tactical level only if the
command element shares the information real-time with the ground combat units executing
In addition to UAV imagery, satellite imagery is an integral part of the RSTA
effort. Before deploying to the area of operations, planners can update city maps using
satellite imagery. Targeteers will load overhead imagery into the JTF's mission planning
systems to create ground and air common targeting aids. The major drawbacks of satellite
imagery are its security classification (which leads to restricted dissemination) and the
lag-time for dynamic re-tasking141. The lag time for dynamic re-tasking limits current
satellite technology to a pre-mission collection effort. According to General Walter
Boomer USMC (Marine Expeditionary Force commander), Desert Storm demonstrated
some limitations of satellite systems. "The satellites were overworked and failed to meet
the expectations of the lower level commanders."142 An aggressive RSTA effort will
attempt to integrate the UAV and satellite imagery to cover these deficiencies.
In regard to manned RSTA, the P-3 Reef Point143 and AC-130 Spectre systems
offer excellent capabilities in low-intensity conflict (LIC) and OOTW operations. The
advantage of these systems is their time-on-station and dynamic re-tasking ability. The
RSTA contributions afforded by manned high-performance platforms are currently
minimal. The F-14 Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS) is the only fielded
system, but it requires the aircraft to land before downloading and processing imagery.
Intelligence analysts can detect targets from TARPS missions within 3 hours of landing,144
but this is not going to help for CAS missions. Desert Storm exposed the weaknesses of
current manned systems in fast-moving, fluid, warfare since the imagery was only available
after the aircraft had returned and the film processed. The Marine Corps is currently
awaiting the Advanced Tactical Air Reconnaissance System (ATARS) for our F/A-18Ds.
The ATARS will provide low and medium-altitude electro-optic sensors and an infrared
line-scanner to support imagery requirements. Thus equipped, the F/A-18D will have the
capability to provide real and near-real time reconnaissance via data-link to a ground
receiving station.145 The F/A-18D ATARS is due to the fleet in 1997.
The RSTA effort for future urban operations must provide the mechanism to
reduce battlefield uncertainties. The goals of the future urban RSTA effort should be:
1. To provide a robust processing, production, and delivery capability equal to the
collection capability to attain a seamless flow of imagery.
2. To utilize a worldwide communications network with a digital imagery
3. To utilize a balanced and integrated mix of collection assets.
4. To focus on electronic dissemination to the lowest echelon.
5. To provide an enhanced order of battlefield intelligence.
6. To provide advanced near real-time information.
7. To utilize advanced sensors for automatic detection, recognition, classification,
and accurate target location.
8. To acquire computers that process, analyze, sort and disseminate intelligence
and targeting information automatically.146
Responsive Command, Control and Communications (C3)
For attack aircraft to provide effective OAS fires, they require integration with a
command and control system that is responsive to the needs of the GCE. The dynamic
decentralized nature of urban ground combat operations requires decentralized control and
execution. This is due to several factors unique to urban terrain:
1. Weapons employment and target acquisition ranges are greatly reduced by
2. Urban features increase the difficulty of maintaining effective communications.
3. Operating from, within, or through urban areas isolates and separates units.
4. Urban terrain reduces mobility, inhibiting GCE mutual support.
5. In combination, the general characteristics of urban warfare make it more
difficult to apply basic tactical fundamentals and maintain control. Military
operations on urbanized terrain require detailed planning that provides for
decentralized control and execution.147
Of all the requirements for effective OAS, responsive C3 may prove to be the most
difficult to attain. This is true even though the solution is at hand and requires no real
technological breakthroughs or additional procurement. To decentralize control and
execution, simply requires that the commanders of military forces engaged in urban
operations allow those forces to apply combat power as the tactical situation requires.
During the battle for Stalingrad in World War II, General Chuikov, the Russian 62nd
Army Commander, noted that "...fighting in a city...is much more involved than fighting in
the field. Here the big chiefs have practically no influence on the officers and squad
leaders commanding units and sub-units."148 This type of warfare requires a highly trained
and disciplined military force and reasonable Rules of Engagement (ROE). Although, the
impact of the media and public opinion weigh heavily on the commander's mind in urban
operations, his primary task besides mission accomplishment is the protection of his force.
Will television scenes of extensive collateral damage or civilian casualties effect his
decision making process and his willingness to delegate fire-support responsibility? As the
intensity of expected combat operations reduce from major regional contingency (MRC)
to lesser regional contingency (LRC), the temptation to centralize control intensifies. The
lowered expectation of high-tempo combat action may temper the commander's normally
aggressive fire-support plan. The danger in this phenomenon is that an expectation of
low-tempo combat operations can rapidly change to a situation that desperately needs fire
support. The tactical unit may not be able to communicate with the command element but
very definitely may require combined-arms support to accomplish its mission or extricate
itself from an urban ambush. The tactical commander must be able to coordinate his
fight, with the firepower he deems appropriate.
For urban OAS to be effective, requires a robust and redundant command and
control system. As in all military operations, the commander's intent will drive all
subordinate efforts. In-depth analysis of past urban combat indicates that control and
communication will break down. Commanders must plan for this in urban combat
operations. To compensate, our pre-operation planning must be much more detailed than
rural operations. At the tactical level of war the GCE will be the primary warfighting unit
in urban attacks, with aviation serving as a supporting arm. The commander should view
the limitations imposed by urban terrain in communications, organic fire support, and
mobility from the ground combat element's perspective. The planners should include
integrated supporting arms to cover all fire support needs and possible contingencies
within the limits imposed by the ROE and considerations of proportionality. A detailed
and centralized fire-support plan will allow the necessary decentralized control and
execution in urban operations. During Desert Storm, LtGen Walter Boomer USMC had
the following thoughts on decentralized operations:
Why is it that decentralized efforts repeatedly paid higher dividends than
synchronized? The broad, overarching reason is that at the squad, platoon, and
company levels, Marines knew what was going on. Synchronizing headquarters
Urban terrain presents severe problems in maintaining communications.
Man-made structures create problems in urban environments by inhibiting the line-of-sight
radio communication by absorbing and reflecting transmitted signals.150 While these
problems will force a higher degree of decentralization, the combat force should make
every attempt to minimize them. The use of aircraft (DASC[A], TAC[A], FAC[A], attack
aircraft)151, UAVs, and rooftop communicators can minimize our ground based
line-of-sight communication limitations in urban environments. The plan for urban
operations should include these techniques as requirements for mission success and
allocate resources accordingly.
The commander's intent must drive the command, control, and communications
(C3) system to effectively support the OAS effort. The C3 system must be flexible enough
to support the inevitable decentralized nature of the ground combat. Additionally, it must
foster subordinate unit initiative through the formulation of reasonable ROE. The ROE
should accommodate the force necessary to achieve the mission and reflect the
commander's overarching responsibility to protect his force with the means he has
We cannot destroy or significantly damage the infrastructure of a foreign urban
center in pursuit of mission attainment and expect the population to remain
friendly to either U.S. forces or those we support. Neither can we
indiscriminately use force in imprecise ways that cause unnecessary
- Defense Science Board Report on MOUT152
We are procuring weapons for the worst case versus the most likely.
- LtCol John Keenan USMC (XO 7th Marines Mogadishu)153
In order for OAS to be effective, planners must match the weapons that the attack
aircraft deliver to the targets they are attacking. Additionally, they must ensure that these
weapons produce effects commensurate with the commander's intent. For example,
attacking a runway with anti-tank cluster munitions is an ignorant waste of assets and
time. Of all the requirements for effective OAS, the weapons we currently possess and
our future procurement programs may identify our major limitation in an urban
The aviation ordnance requirements for urban combat operations vary greatly with
those for conventional rural operations. Planners for urban OAS operations must consider
proportionality, low collateral damage (for political, economic, and tactical reasons),
non-combatant casualties (discrimination), and ultra-precision for level of effort weapons.
The OAS mission profile and ROE will determine the requirements for aviation ordnance.
The USAF fixed-wing aviation ordnance and the USN Tactical Land Attack
Missile (TLAM) cruise missile capabilities demonstrated in the Desert Storm strategic
strikes in Baghdad were excellent. Deep-penetration bombs (such as the GBU-28, a 4,700
pound precision bomb capable of penetrating 20 feet of concrete or 85 feet of earth prior
to detonation154) in conjunction with TLAMs (equipped with Block III titanium
penetration warheads155) will provide a credible strategic strike capability for U.S. military
forces when collateral damage is not a factor. The introduction of the 1,000 and 2,000
pound Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) will enhance our capability to conduct
strategic strikes in urban environments. The JDAM guides to the target via GPS, steering
in the bomb to achieve a circular probability of error (CEP)156 less than 40 feet. The bomb
will have either a conventional blast and fragmentation warhead (MK-83 or MK-84) or a
deep-penetrator warhead (BLU-109 or BLU-110). On the whole, our future interdiction
and strategic strike weapons programs are quite adequate.
Armed Reconnaissance and CAS
The armed reconnaissance and CAS mission profiles represent where our current
and projected aviation weapons are inadequate. The requirements for armed
reconnaissance and CAS weapons must focus on: rapid employment, the target set,
minimum collateral damage, minimum rubbling, the ability to employ in proximity to
ground forces, and high precision. The target set in urban tactical operations will include
troops in the open, armored vehicles, and enemy forces using the urban terrain (buildings)
as firing positions. A minimum collateral damage capability is essential to protect
non-combatants, preserve whatever local and international support might exist, and to
reduce the cost of rebuilding the urban area upon conflict termination. Minimum rubbling
is an important requirement any time that the operation involves a post-strike GCE
advance through the impact area. If OAS destroys the urban area (as in Stalingrad 1942,
Cassino 1944, Seoul 1950, or Grozny 1995), it will create obstacles for friendly infantry
and sanctuaries for enemy snipers. Moreover, the nature of urban ground combat will
require the ability to employ air delivered weapons in very close proximity to friendly
forces. To solve both problems, procurement programs for OAS weapons with urban
tactical applications must key on minimized explosive yields and ultra-precision delivery.
The aviation weapons we currently possess for fixed-wing armed reconnaissance
and CAS missions in urban environments are:
1. The MK-80 series bomb (MK-82 500 pound, MK-83 1,000 pound, MK-84
2. The Paveway Laser Guided Bomb systems (GBU-12 500 pound, GBU-16
1,000 pound, and GBU-10 2,000 pound.
3. The AGM-65 Maverick series [AGM-65A(TV-Anti armor), AGM-65B/D
(IR-Anti armor), AGM-65E(Laser-Blast Penetrator), AGM-65F/G(IR-Blast-
4. The 2.75 and 5.00 inch rocket series.
5. Anti-armor and Anti-personnel cluster munitions.
6. 20mm/25mm/ 30mm/40mm/ and 105mm cannon.
Out of this ordnance list we will remove the following ordnance from consideration for
the following reasons:
1. The urban OAS platforms will not use the MK-80 series bombs because they
are not precision guided weapons. GPS-equipped platforms will increase the
delivery accuracy but not to the degree required for urban operations
2. The urban OAS effort will not use the GBU-16 and GBU-10 Paveway LGB
due to excessive explosive yield as compared to the GBU-12 (500 pound).
Currently the 500 pound bomb is the largest yield that ROE allows in current
urban CAS operations.
3. The 2.75 and 5.00 inch rockets have a nominal dispersion of 12 to 14
milliradians rendering them too inaccurate for discriminate urban employment.
4. MK-20 and CBU-87/89 series cluster munitions will have relatively little
applicability in urban environments, and any unexploded rounds will pose a
severe restriction for follow on friendly ground combat operations.
5. The OAS effort will not employ MK-77 fire-bombs because they are relatively
inaccurate and may start uncontrollable fires in urban environments where wood
is a primary construction material. Additionally, the increased smoke will
hamper overhead observation and follow on smart weapon employment by
increasing atmospheric interference.
These exclusions leave the OAS planner with the GBU-12 (500 pound) LGB, the
AGM-65 Maverick series, and (air delivered) cannon for fixed-wing ordnance. The
GBU-12 LGB requires reflected laser energy to guide with precision to the target. If
delivered correctly, the GBU-12 should provide a hit within a CEP of 10 feet. Desert
Storm operations validated the accuracy and utility of LGBs, but they are not foolproof.
If smoke, clouds, or countermeasures breaks the laser line of sight to the target, the bomb
may not hit the intended target. During Desert Storm a Royal Air Force (RAF) Tornado
dropped three Paveway (GBU-16) LGBs on a bridge. A cloud broke the laser line of sight
and two of the bombs hit the river next to the bridge but the third bomb impacted in a
residential area causing non-combatant casualties.158
The AGM-65 Maverick series of weapon has either TV, IR, or Laser guidance
systems and one of two different type warheads. The AGM-65A, B and D series have
shaped-charge warheads designed to kill armored vehicles and tanks. The shape-charge
warhead will cause minimal collateral damage but has a relatively limited application
against troops in the open or hardened structures. If either of these weapons breaks lock,
the weapon will detonate on whatever it hits. The AGM-65A guides on optical contrast
and the AGM-65B/D guide on reflected IR energy.
The AGM-65F and G guide on a target's reflected IR energy and have a 300 pound
blast-penetrator warhead. The weapon's fuze allows for instantaneous or one of two delay
settings that allow for penetration of up to four feet of reinforced concrete before warhead
detonation. For the IR Maverick to guide successfully, the target must reflect enough IR
energy to maintain a seeker-head lock-on. If at any time the seeker breaks lock during
employment, the missile will detonate on whatever it hits.
The Maverick missile with the most applicability for urban operations is the
AGM-65E (laser guidance). It contains a 300 pound blast-penetrator warhead and has the
same fuzing options as the AGM-65F/G. If the target is correctly laser designated the
AGM-65E has a CEP of less than 4 feet. The target must be laser designated throughout
the missile employment for a successful hit. If at any time something interrupts the laser
line of sight, or the FAC turns off the designator, the AGM-65E will de-arm the warhead
and send a climb-up signal to the missile. The AGM-65E is the only PGM in the U.S.
inventory to embody this feature. The AGM-65E has applicability to virtually all urban
target sets, unless the ROE rules out even a 300 pound warhead.
All fixed-wing CAS assets have on board cannons varying from 20mm to 105mm
in caliber. While the cannon rounds are not precision guided, they can attack infantry or
air defense weapons with minimal collateral damage. The dispersion of these weapons
rarely exceeds 5 milliradians.
The aviation weapons we currently possess for rotary-wing armed reconnaissance
and CAS missions are:
1. The BGM-71 TOW.
2. The AGM-114 Hellfire.
3. The 2.75 and 5.00 inch rockets.
4. 20mm and 30mm cannon, 7.62 and .50 caliber ball ammunition.
Out of this list we will remove the 2.75 and 5.00 inch rockets from consideration for the
same reasons that we removed them from the fixed-wing list. In 1993, LtGen. Wilhelm
USMC denied the U.S. Marine forces in Mogadishu permission to use unguided rockets as
a result of helicopter 2.75 inch rocket attacks in Mogadishu that killed noncombatants.159
Additionally, rocket warheads can take anywhere from 330 to 3,500 feet to deploy or arm,
and these distances may not be available in urban terrain.160 Rocket proponents argue that
the rotary-wing attack aircraft will employ the rockets at a shorter slant range than the
fixed-wing aircraft, reducing the effect of the large dispersion. But even at the shorter
ranges, discrimination can be a problem.
The BGM-71 TOW is a combat proven anti-armor weapon. It is wire guided and
has a shaped-charge warhead. "Due to the numerous structural obstacles, the urban
setting may require special considerations when employing the wire guided TOW
missile....The TOW missile requires a minimum distance of 500 meters (1700 feet) to
properly capture."161 The shaped-charge warhead will destroy exposed armor targets but
will have little applicability against troops or buildings. This limitation stems from the fact
that the hot-jet kill mechanism "tends to deviate and lose energy rapidly beyond 1 to 2
meters (3 to 7 feet), causing little, if any, damage to the inside of the target."162 In
Mogadishu (1993), U.S. Army forces shot 72 TOW missiles at one urban structure with
relatively little effect on target. The Army forces stated that they would start receiving
effective fire from the target building within 5 minutes of each TOW strike. Additionally,
the small entry hole and lack of blast effect hampered post-strike bomb damage assessment
The AGM-114 (Hellfire) that the U.S. forces utilize guides on laser energy and
also employs a shape charge kill mechanism. The Hellfire will fly an up and over
trajectory and is a very efficient tank and APC killer. For exposed armor targets, the
Hellfire will be a primary OAS weapon in urban environments. However, the Hellfire
warhead is subject to the same target set limitations as the TOW.
The rotary-wing cannon and gun ammunition offer the same utility as the
fixed-wing cannon ordnance. While not precision guided, the rotary-wing cannon and gun
fire can provide accurate and low-collateral damage fires to suppress air defenses or attrite
infantry. The rotary-wing attack aircraft's time on station, large ammunition magazines,
and low collateral damage makes the cannon one of their most effective urban combat
weapons. The attack helicopter offers an exceptional capability up to the point that the
opponents challenge their presence with rudimentary air defense weapons (i.e., Task Force
The conception of a weapon starts with the definition of a target, and trends in
weapons development parallel the changes in the target.
- International Defense Review164
The major fixed-wing weapon procurement programs currently underway are the
JDAM and the Joint Stand-off Weapon (JSOW).165 The JDAM has a 1,000 and 2,000
pound variant and utilizes GPS guidance to the target. The military decided to trade the
accuracies associated with Mavericks (3 feet) and LGBs (10 feet) for an all-weather
capability with the JDAM series of weapon (30-40 feet). The JSOW (Joint Stand-off
Weapon) has 3 proposed variants:
1. JSOW Baseline: contains 145 BLU-97 shaped-charge anti-tank submunitions.
2. BLU-108: contains 24 "Skeet" Sensor Fuzed Weapons optimized for
3. JSOW-Unitary: contains a 500 pound warhead with a multi-spectral seeker and
a JDAM GPS guidance kit.
Of the JSOW series of weapon, only the Unitary variant will have applicability in an
urban environment. The JSOW-Unitary will cost approximately $400,000 a copy166 which
might limit its use to a strategic strike, vice CAS, role. At present no procurement efforts
are underway to provide the operating forces with low-yield OAS weapons that
fixed-wing attack aircraft can use in urban environments.
The major rotary-wing procurement program currently underway is the Joint
Advanced Weapons System (JAWS), designed to replace the Hellfire and TOW. This
weapon will utilize a shaped-charge kill mechanism. The canceled Advanced Rocket
System (ARS)167 would have provided a hyper-velocity rocket capability to the attack
helicopter and fixed-wing force that may have provided the target effects required in an
urban environment. Additionally, the Rockwell Corporation built 1,000 RBS-17 Hellfire
missiles for the Swedish Navy. This Hellfire contains a 20 pound blast-fragmentation
warhead that could address some of the limitations associated with the shaped-charge
Hellfire and TOW.168 Additionally, it could minimize the collateral damage associated with
fixed-wing ordnance but has attracted little attention from the U.S. military.
Click here to view image
In war the best policy is to take a state intact, to ruin it is inferior to this.
OAS operations in support of urban operations may require the application of
non-lethal weapons. This is especially true in operations other than war (OOTW).
Non-lethal weapons are "discriminate weapons explicitly designed and employed so as to
incapacitate personnel or material, while minimizing facilities and damage to property and
the environment"171 Non-lethal weapon categories include; optical (flash), kinetics,
acoustics, chemicals (anti-personnel), pyrotechnic stun, electric stun, entanglements, radio
frequency (EMP), and psycho-technology.172
Non-lethal weapons will become more prevalent in the not too distant future.
They offer the following advantages:
1. The combat force can work under less restrictive ROE with non-lethal
2. Non-lethal weapons aid in discrimination problems such as dealing with a few
hostiles hiding in a crowd of non-combatants.
3. Non-lethal weapons can confuse an enemy with new effects against which he is
4. Non-lethal weapons allow the force to minimize casualties to our own troops,
to non-combatants, and to combatants.
5. Non-lethal weapons can neutralize equipment such that repair is more difficult
that it would have been under a "lethal" attack.173
The capability to employ non-lethal weapons should allow for the employment of several
different kinds of techniques to deny our opponents the ability to develop field expedient
countertactics. Additionally, the intent to employ lethal weapons should accompany the
non-lethal weapons as part of a combined-arms approach to the urban area. For non-lethal
weapons to contribute to the mission, it is essential that the opponents believe that the
force will employ lethal weapons. If the opposing force discovers that all we have to offer
is non-lethal sticky foam or doughnut guns, our weapons will lose their deterrent effect.
We can no longer choose to avoid urban areas. Our missions must specifically
focus on them.
- 1994 Defense Science Board report on MOUT174
From the above analysis, it is clear that we currently optimize our attack helicopter
weapons for anti-armor operations. Additionally, our fixed-wing ordnance programs are
increasing the explosive yield beyond the point that current ROE allows in urban CAS
operations. The frequency of military operations in urban environments is notably on the
rise, but our ability to provide urban OAS at the tactical and operational level of war is
declining. Why is this the case? The United States military has prepared and procured to
fight the Warsaw Pact and its surrogates for the last 45 years. At the same time we stated
our doctrinal intention to avoid or bypass urban areas during combat operations. Ground
combat operations took place in mostly "rural" environments during Desert Storm. The
relative lack of tactical urban combat operations served to mask our deficiencies in
appropriate urban OAS weapons. All the United States military services have initiated
weapons procurement programs that stress the need for high-yield, precision,
deep-penetration weapons. The United States Navy and Marine Corps JDAM program
calls for a 2,000 pound JDAM of which a full 50 percent will be deep- penetration
weapons175. The Marine Corps argued for the inclusion of a 500 pound JDAM, but the
U.S. Navy and Air Force felt that it had minimal utility against the target sets they felt
were important. The aviation ordnance deficiencies identified from our tactical combat
experience in Somalia is not receiving anywhere near the attention of the strategic strike
deficiencies identified during Desert Storm. The 1994 Defense Science Board (DSB)
study on military operations in built-up areas (MOBA)176 concluded that:
1. Urban combat operations require high precision, terminally guided munitions
(i.e., Copperhead, Hellfire, Maverick, LGBs). OAS weapons programs should
modify these weapons for reduced collateral damage by decreasing the explosive
content, or by replacing the explosive with non-lethal mechanisms such as
2. Due to the characteristically short MOBA engagement ranges (<1000m),
precision-guided small-warhead weapons would have significant utility in cities.
Further work should be encouraged on ultra-precise delivery systems to provide
high lethality and low unwanted damage.177
Unfortunately, our current CAS weapons inventory is deficient in its applicability to
urban target sets, and our current procurement programs are further limiting our
capabilities. We might as well ask, as did the book, The Technology Trap: Science and
Do the new technologies improve the versatility of the military machine....New
weapons systems can be more flexible or more specialized....Worst of all,
weapons can be designed around a specific contingency or scenario which today
may appear likely, but in the future, or in the event of war, may come to seem
Capable Platforms and Sensors
To provide effective OAS, the weapons delivery platform must have adequate
sensors to deliver weapons to a high degree of accuracy. At a minimum the platforms
1. Navigation systems augmented by GPS accuracy.
2. The ability to deliver precision munitions.
3. The ability to change ordnance fuze settings from the cockpit.
4. A night attack capability.
5. A self-designation capability for weapon guidance and targeting.
The United States military services currently possess the finest OAS platforms in the
world. Navigation accuracy is paramount for an effective urban OAS platform. If the
FAC gives the pilot a perfect GPS target coordinate, but the attack platform is only
capable of inertial navigation system (INS) accuracy, mission effectiveness may decrease.
If the attack platform is incapable of delivering precision munitions, the ROE may not
allow its use in urban OAS operations. The dynamic nature of the target set involved in
urban OAS requires that the pilot be able to change the weapon's fuze setting. This
allows the pilot to vary the degree of target penetration before warhead detonation. All
urban OAS platforms must have a night-attack system to aid in targeting and
discrimination. Finally, all urban OAS platforms should have a laser self-designation
capability. Desert Storm demonstrated the utility of having a laser self-designation
capability. In an urban environment the OAS platform may utilize a laser spot from
another asset, but the verticality and restricted attack directions in an urban OAS attack,
adds to the complexity. Currently, the F-15E, F-16, F/A-18, AH-64, MH-60, AH-6, and
the AH-1W have a self-designation capability. Currently, the AV-8B, A-10, and F-14 do
not have a laser self-designation capability, limiting their utility in an urban OAS
For OAS operations to be truly effective, the weather in the target area must be
good. With our current weapons systems and platform technology, bad weather is going
to adversely effect weapons accuracy and delivery platform survivability. Currently, our
most precise precision weapons are our laser weapons, yet bad weather severely affects
them. Water vapor or moisture from clouds will reduce the range at which the laser
seekers will receive enough energy to command a lock-on. If a Hellfire or Laser
Maverick enters a cloud on an up-and-over profile, it will break lock and fail to guide to
the target. Additionally, the Paveway LGB requires minimum ceilings of 3,500 feet to
ensure precise guidance to the laser designated target. The twenty-four hour weather
patterns in the target area will affect IR guided weapons. Anything that can change the IR
reflectivity of the target in relation to the background will affect IR weapon and sensor
The JDAM series of weapons will provide an all weather capability, but it will not
be available in anything smaller than a 1,000 pound unit. Industry representatives claim
that through software changes to our GPS satellites, they can improve the JDAM's
accuracy to a CEP of approximately 11 feet.180
Proficient and Trained Participants
Good training recognizes only one standard -- the combat standard -- and is
derived from mission analysis and contingency plans solely focused on preparing
for combat through tough, realistic, performance-oriented tasks....Bad training
gives no consideration to the next conflict, but only occupies space on the training
schedule, and follows whatever standard happens to be convenient at the time.
- 1Lt Clarence Briggs USA (Operation Just Cause)181
OAS requires highly trained and proficient participants. These participants
include the attack aviators and the rest of the combined-arms team. CAS missions are
some of the most demanding mission profiles in any military endeavor. Add the
complexities of a decentralized urban combat situation, and the need for realistic training
and proficient team members becomes even more important. The current standard of
training for urban OAS is poor. The U.S. Army and Marine Corps attack helicopters train
to a fair standard in urban OAS, but they do not integrate their training with fixed-wing
attack aircraft. A peace-time integrated fixed and rotary-wing urban OAS training
program might have been decisive in Somalia. Task Force Ranger would have been able
to use fixed-wing OAS support in their ground combat in Mogadishu once the threat
condition became too intense for helicopters. The proliferation of low altitude air-defense
systems mandates that planners include fixed-wing OAS as an essential element of the
future urban battlefield. Currently, fixed-wing urban OAS training is non-existent. The
US Navy complex at Fallon, Nevada has an urban target on its range, but it does not offer
a representation of most types of urban development, nor the integration requirements for
ground combat training. More importantly, the U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18 and AV-8B
Training and Readiness manuals have no sorties dedicated to urban OAS operations. The
fixed-wing pilots never train to this standard. How can we expect them to conduct it
when the GCE mission calls for it?
In order to be proficient in urban OAS operations, the Service Chiefs need to
insist on developing training programs and facilities that will allow their units to apply
combined-arms techniques in a realistic environment. According to the Defense Science
Board, the following training requirements are necessary to train to this task:
1.Training small unit leaders and individuals on tactical flexibility, decentralized
C3, improved use of intelligence for tactical and small unit benefit, and
2.Training on restrictive ROE.
3. Training to prevent fratricide, especially target engagement by supporting arms
4. Increased and improved urban live fire training facilities.
5. Virual reality training aids and systems.
6. Increased training with reduced collateral damage, precision weapons.
7. Boilerplate ROE for lethal and non-lethal force to which forces can train, and
can serve as a foundation for future urban ROE.
8. Unit peacetime training requirements for target identification and terminal
control in urban environments.182
In an urban OAS effort the planners and participants must satisfy these eight
requirements for the OAS to be effective. Before we can implement any hardware
changes, a change in mindset is necessary. The military leadership must acknowledge the
need to conduct this type of fire support. Once the military leadership accepts the need,
and gives it the priority it deserves, the mission will mandate the required hardware and
The increased frequency of urban ground combat represents the genesis of a
revolution in warfare, matched in importance by its requirements for offensive air support
(OAS). The recent combat operations in Tyre, Sidon, Beirut, Mogadishu, and Grozny
highlights the weakness of conventional armies in urban environments. The restrictive
nature of urban terrain rules out many of the traditional rural fire-support assets.
However, urban terrain does not restrict the fire-support attack aircraft can provide.
Unfortunately, United States military attack aviation does not adequately train or equip to
conduct effective urban OAS. More importantly, the military's traditional aversion to
urban combat operations has led to a total absence of doctrine for urban OAS that could
drive procurement and training. World trends towards a new urban battlefield must force
a change in United States military priorities.
The solution to our weakness in urban OAS lies in doctrine, equipment and
training. The lack of urban OAS doctrine will be the easiest portion to rectify. The 1994
Defense Science Board Study on MOUT recommended that the Joint Chiefs of Staff
designate the U.S. Atlantic Command (USACOM) to be in charge of MOUT as a system.
The designation of MOUT as a system is the first crucial step in correcting our urban
OAS deficiencies. If the military accepts that it must be able to conduct efficient combat
operations in an urban environment, then the OAS equipment and training requirements
will be self-evident.
Urban ground combat involves meeting engagements that occur at very close