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Armored Forces In Built-up Areas

This appendix supplements material presented in chapters 2 and 3 of this manual by providing fundamental considerations for the employment of armored forces in built-up areas.

Our forces, particulary armored forces, have been trained to avoid built-up areas whenever possible; however, because of the rapid expansion of urban areas, this option may no longer be feasible. Tank crews must expect to fight in built-up areas as an integral part of the combined arms team, providing their firepower and shock action to dislodge and destroy the enemy.

The characteristics of operations in built-up areas will normally preclude the employment of pure armor or armor-heavy task forces. The inner city, with its narrow and/or rubble-clogged streets, limits or severely canalizes armor movement. Further, armor operating independently can easily be forced to button up, thus reducing observation and heightening the prospect of ambush by close-range ATGM fires. Finally, the traverse of the main armament may be limited by structures (except the M551) and cannot be sufficiently depressed or elevated to fire into basements or upper stories of buildings.


In the defense of a built-up area, armor is employed with the security forces on approaches. Tanks will be employed to take maximum advantage of the long range of their main armament. In addition to their integration and employment with security forces, they may be positioned on the edge of the built-up area in mutually supporting positions with concealed routes of withdrawal. Tanks are normally retained under centralized control to provide flexibility in meeting armor threats on avenues of approach.

Upon withdrawal to the inner defense, tank fires are integrated with all other AT fires. Their positions must offer cover and concealment, be mutually supporting, and, ideally, have covered and concealed routes of movement between positions.

An important additional mission for tanks in the defense of built-up areas is their employment in overwatch of barricades and obstacles along the periphery of the built-up area and in depth. Since the defensive battle will be fought primarily from strongpoints dispersed in depth, armor offers a significant direct fire, heavy-weapon supporting capability for these strongpoints.

Control of tanks is generally retained at company team level, and only in exceptional cases are tanks attached to platoons. Finally, tanks are attached to infantry-heavy reserves to support counterattacks or other reserve missions.


Where the adjacent terrain permits, armor-heavy or balanced forces conduct envelopment and isolation of a built-up area. Armor-heavy forces are also suited for overrunning a small lightly defended built-up area. In the attack of a built-up area, tanks overwatch the infantry's initial assault until an entry into the area has been secured. Tanks must receive mutual support from infantry organic weapons to suppress enemy strongpoints and ATGMs while they move into position to fire their main armament.

Tanks support infantry by:

  • Providing shock action and firepower.

  • Neutralizing or suppressing enemy positions with smoke, high explosives, and automatic weapons fire as infantry closes with and destroys the enemy.

  • Smashing through street barricades or reducing barricades by fires.

  • Reducing or making untenable enemy strongpoints by fire.

  • Taking under fire other targets designated by the infantry.

  • Establishing roadblocks.

Infantry supports armor by:

  • Locating targets for engagement by tank weapons.

  • Suppressing and destroying AT weapons with mortars, automatic weapons, and grenades.

  • Assaulting positions and clearing buildings.

  • Providing local security for tanks at night or during other periods of reduced visibility.

06-21-1996; 14:58:59

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