UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!




Man made features on the urbanized battlefield influence offensive operations at each level of command. To the battlefield commander, a single built-up area may be the dominant terrain feature in his assigned zone of responsibility and may limit alternative courses of action and dictate the nature of combat to be waged. To the brigade and higher commanders, the elements of urban sprawl are factors to be evaluated throughout the decision process.

Units operating on urbanized terrain may conduct or participate in a movement to contact, an exploitation or pursuit, and hasty and deliberate attacks. Although urbanization affects all offensive operations, its greatest influence is felt during the attack.

This chapter summarizes Threat force doctrine for the defense of built-up areas, describes US planning considerations for urban offensive operations, and provides examples of how the offensive battle may be conducted.


This section describes why and where the enemy defends and examines those aspects of his defense that are different from our own. It covers the organization, planning, and conduct of the defense to include his use of the combined arms in the defense. The enemy recognizes the political and military importance of the urbanization phenomenon. Threat commanders realize the importance of not only defending built-up areas, but also of incorporating them into the overall defensive plan. The enemy always attempts to establish his defense well forward of an urban area in order to engage and defeat the attacker on the approaches to and flanks of the built-up area.

The enemy reverts to the conduct of defense within a built-up area only when:

  • Attacking forces break through defenses organized on the approaches and threaten the built-up area proper.

  • The built-up area has especially great political, strategic, or economic importance.

  • It is necessary to defend a built-up area which is a seaport or other critical communication/transportation complex.


The categories of built-up areas contained in Threat literature differ slightly from those described in chapter 1 and provide guidelines for the organization of his defense. Smaller towns and villages of rural areas are incorporated into his defense as strongpoints in accordance with standard defensive doctrine. It is only for those operations conducted in the more populated urban- areas that modified techniques are described. The following figure shows how the Threat classifies built-up areas by population and estimated perimeter.

Classification of Built-Up Areas


100,000 Large more than or more 25 kms

50,000 to Average 15 kms to 100,000 25 kms

less than Small less than 50,000 15 kms

In order to provide commanders sufficient room to maneuver, urban areas are normally included as part of a larger defensive zone. The tactics and weapon systems used are dependent on the characteristics of the central built-up area and the terrain adjacent to it. The key defensive concept is to draw the attacking force into preplanned kill zones and destroy them.

The task of defending an urban area is normally allocated to a motorized rifle division (MRD). The MRD deliberate defense is organized with a security zone and a main defensive belt. Mutua:ly supporting strongpoints are echeloned in depth. Natural and manmade obstacles, as well as the smaller built-up areas are incorporated in the defense to impede the advance of the attacking forces and to canalize them.

The figure on the following page iIlustrates the basic organization of the terrain when the defense of a built-up area is required. The specific frontages and depths of the defending forces are determined iby the complexity of the urban terrain, the enemy, and the forces and fire support available to the defender.

Security Zone

The role of the security zone is not changed on the urban battlefield. Forces are organized to halt or delay the attacker and cause him to deploy early. A motorized rifle division will normally employ its second-echelon motorized rifle regiment (MRR) in this zone which may extend up to 30 km forward of the main defensive belt. The task of deceiving the attacker as to the location of the main defenses is aided by the restrictive nature of the urban terrain and the presence of small built-up areas which may be integrated into the defensive scheme. The battle in the security zone is fought by motorized rifle companies reinforced with AT weapons, artillery, tanks, and engineers.

Main Defensive Belt

This zone, which may extend up to 15 km in depth, is the backbone of the defense. It is normally organized in two echelons with the built-up area located within the second echelon.

Forces in the first echelon will normally consist of two MRRs deployed across a zone 20 to 30 km wide. Each MRR will deploy security elements forward of this zone to slow and canalize the attack force. The mission of the first echelon is to defeat the attack forward of the built-up area. A strongpoint defense integrating urban features and frequent local counterattacks is employed to destroy or repulse the attacker. The first-echelon MRRs will have designated secondary positions on the flanks of and within the built-up areas.


Following withdrawal of forces from the security zone, the second echelon MRR will prepare defensive positions within the built-up area for itself and the first-echelon MRRs. The medium tank regiment will be retained under division control and deployed primarily on the flanks of the built-up area. Elements of this regiment will normally be used to reinforce the first-echelon MRR on the main avenue of approach.

If it is necessary to defend within the built-up area, only a small portion of the available force is used to hold its central area. The MRRs of the division establish their defensive positions on the approaches to the built-up area whenever possible. Since it is unlikely that lengthy preparation time for such operations will be available, the initial defense may be organized based on a detailed map study with only limited personal reconnaissance at the lower levels of command. The layout of the built-up area, the type of structures available, the time of the year, and the climate are important considerations in the planning of the defense.

The defensive battle in the main defensive belt is a combined arms battle fought by the motorized rifle battalion.


Motorized Rifle Battalion (MRB)

Enemy doctrine for the defense of built-up areas emphasizes the importance of the combined arms concept. Motorized rifle units provide the basic element of his urban combat force structure.

The enemy MRR is the most effective unit for combat in the built-up area because of its inherent mobility, armor protection, and rapid capability to adapt buildings and other structures for defense or as shelters against the effects of nuclear weapons. It coordinates closely with units from other arms, some of which will attach elements, and others of which will be placed in will be reinforced by other branches depending on the requirements and conditions expected in various parts of the built-up area.

As a rule the MRB defends as part of the larger, regimental-size unit. It may defend on a main or a secondary avenue of approach and/or be in the first or second echelon or in the reserve.

If the attack penetrates, the MRB must inflict maximum losses, stop further forward movement, and create favorable conditions for the second echelon or regimental reserve to counterattack.

A MRB on the main avenue of approach and in the first echelon:

  • Receives the main attack of attacking forces.

  • Inflicts decisive damage on the assaulting forces to prevent a breakthrough by tanks and infantry.

Figure 2-4. Secondary Avenue of Approach

The MRB in the first echelon covers a narrower front and receives greater reinforcements than one in the second echelon. It will be supported by most of the artillery of the next higher command.

A MRB in the second echelon or on a secondary avenue of approach:

  • Prevents flanking/rear maneuvers.

  • Holds defended sites and prevents further advances by an attacker that has penetrated the built-up area.

  • Conducts counterattacks to restore positions of the battalions in the first echelon.

MRB defenses are generally organized in two echelons to provide greater depth and reserves. Company strongpoints are prepared for perimeter defense and constitute the basis of the battalion defensive position. The reserve is located in a separate strong-point. Ambush locations are established in the gaps between strongpoints. Numerous firing positions for mortars, artillery, and antitank weapons are designated. The rear service area is selected to capitalize on the cover and concealment afforded by the builtup area. Dummy strongpoints are constructed to deceive the attacker. Positions for securing and defending entrances/exits to underground structures and routes of communications are established. Combat security positions are prepared in front of the defensive position of a first-echelon battalion.

The Reserve:

  • Reinforces/replaces battalions in the first echelon.

  • Covers breaches caused by enemy nuclear weapons.

  • Holds sites deep within the defensive positions whose retention is vital to the overall defense.

  • Extinguishes or contains fires that endanger friendly forces or limit their operations.

  • Conducts rear area security and defeats air-landed forces that are inserted in the rear.

Figure 2-5. Battalion Defensive Area

Within a built-up area, a company may defend with mutually supporting fires several buildings prepared for perimeter defense. Each platoon defends one or two buildings within a company strongpoint or a floor of a large building that is defended by a company.

Strongpoints constitute the basis of each defensive position. They are usually prepared in solidly constructed buildings located at intersections, entrances to public squares and parks, or adjacent to bridges, and with observation and prepared fields of fire appropriate to the weapons available. Fires are coordinated between strongpoints. They offer personnel protection against weapons of mass destruction. Communication trenches are prepared within strong-points. In addition, ambushes are set up in the gaps between positions, and wooden structures or other buildings which hinder fields of fire are razed.

Fire planning for infantry weapons requires a combination of flanking, interlocking, and layered fires of all types. Weapons are emplaced to provide fires on the approaches to a defensive area, on the flanks, and in the battalion rear. Fires are tied in with artificial and natural obstacles to cover open areas completely.

Particular attention is paid to antitank fire planning within the built-up area. The enemy recognizes that there will be limited opportunities to place effective fires on the tanks within the city; therefore, weapon positions are carefully selected. Ambushes are prepared along main avenues of armor advance.

  • Tanks are routinely attached to a MRB for employment in ambushes or to reinforce antitank defenses. They may operate as "roving guns" or be positioned in strongpoints; and, they may be used in ambushes where they are employed primarily against attacking tanks and along expected routes of the main attack.

  • Artillery carries out most of its missions by firing by direct lay. Artillery units are regularly attached to maneuver companies and platoons.

  • Mortars of all calibers, with their high-angle fires, ease of transportability, and high rate of fire, are considered to be highly effective in built-up areas.

  • Chemical defense elements may be attached to the MRB. They perform radiological and chemical reconnaissance in order to detect the effects of NBC weapons employed by the attacker and to determine the degree and limits of contamination.

  • Smoke agents are used extensively to conceal the maneuver of men and weapon systems between strongpoints, defensive areas, and separate buildings that do not have concealed or underground routes between them. Also they deny the attacker observation and aimed fires.

  • Nuclear weapons may be used against the attacker's nuclear delivery means and concentrations of forces on the approaches to the city, or against troops who attempt to encircle or bypass the built-up area, or against an attacker who has seized part or all of a built-up area if there are not other weapons available to destroy him.

  • Engineers attached to the MRB perform standard engineer tasks.

Party-Political Work.

The enemy views this as critical to fulfilling the assigned combat mission, the creation of a successful defense, and the regaining of the initiative. Political indoctrination is achieved by timely explanation to personnel of the mission and procedures for its accomplishment. Indoctrination of soldiers, NCOs, and officers in patriotism, courage, and ten:city in defending the built-up area is basic to the party-political efforts.

All fighting men are told that no one has the right to leave the defended location without a specific order to do so. Party members are distributed throughout the fighting units. There must be an "active member" in every separate group of fighting men. He conducts party-political indoctrination and provides the example in combat. Based on the commander's iuidance and decision, the Deputy Commander for Political Affairs plans the party-political support for the combat missions. The underlying assumptions to this plan are:

    • Every defended building must be a fortress inaccessible to the attacker.

    • The force which possesses the stronger moral qualities (e.g., coldness, endurance, and resourcefulness) and knows procedures for fighting in a city will win.


The enemy's defense of a built-up area is centrally controlled by the commander, preferably from a command observation post from which he can view the area and communicate with his forces. All available means of reconnaissance are used to determine where the attacker will strike and the location of his main effort. Once this is determined, maximum firepower is continually massed on the approaching attacker.

Dummy positions and alternate strongpoints are also used along the attacker's avenues of approach. Gaps created in the defense are immediately covered by massive fires of all types. During an attacker's artillery preparation, combat equipment and forces are kept in standby readiness in protected positions. When the preparation is lifted, the forces move forward and occupy primary defensive positions from which to repulse the attack.

Company strongpoints constitute the basic element of the built-up area defensive structure. Companies may also occupy a salient on an open flank or behind one of the companies in the first echelon.

Every effort is made during the defense to separate infantry from tanks so that tanks may be attacked and destroyed at short ranges by antitank weapons. Antitank ambushes are prepared at each level. Counterattacks are habitually launched to regain lost positions before the attacker has the opportunity to prepare hasty defenses.


This section describes urban offensive operations and provides detailed considerations to be applied by US commanders during planning. Readers must understand how the enemy defends and be familiar with US offensive planning as discussed in organizational How-to-Fight manuals.

The attack of a built-up area, regardless of its size and the level of command involved, should be considered only as the last resort, and only when major advantage accrues to the attacker through its seizure or control.

Attacks against built-up areas may be launched to:

  • Gain a Critical Objective. Selected built-up areas will be attacked to gain a critical objective or to deny an advantage to the enemy. The objective may be:

    • A vital bridge.
    • Transportation facilities that are required to sustain future combat operations.
    • Strategic industrial or vital communications facilities.

  • Rupture the Defense. The enemy will frequently prepare built-up areas as strongpoints to gain favorable defensive advantages. The elimination of selected strongpoints may be required in order to break through his defensive system.

  • Facilitate Future Operations. Built-up areas will frequently preclude bypass. Commanders will have to overcome those obstacles that restrict or control their avenues of approach in order to continue the attack.

  • Deal the enemy a decisive psychological blow.

    Attacks against built-up areas will be avoided when:

    • The area is not required to support future operations.
    • Bypassing is tactically feasible.
    • The built-up area has been declared an "open city" to preclude civilian casualties or to preserve cultural or historical facilities.
    • Sufficient combat forces are not available to seize and systematically clear the built-up area.

Offensive operations must be tailored to the urban environment based on a detailed analysis of each urban terrain setting, its types of built-up areas, and existing structural forms. The following general considerations apply to the four basic categories of built-up areas described in chapter 1.

Large Cities
(Population greater than 100,000)

The decision to attack a large city or major urban complex normally may be made at levels above corps, based primarily on political and strategic considerations. Such vast areas are difficult to defend or attack in their entirety. The battle will proceed from the attack of smaller built-up areas leading to the central complex and will involve major forces. It will evolve as a series of coordinated combat-in-cities actions fought at small-unit level. Elements of the attack force may be required to conduct the whole range of military operations: attack-defense-retrograde during the battle.

Towns and Small Cities

The decision to attack a town or small city will normally be made by corps or division commanders. The allocation of major forces and significant time are required to secure such objectives. Civilian casualties and significant collateral damage to structures usually accompany urban operations, requiring commanders to consider the political and psychological consequences before attacking. A hasty attack by heavy, mobile forces against weak points on the flanks or rear of the town or small city is preferred. Where well-established defenses exist, a deliberate attack may be required.

(3,000 or less)

Team and task force commanders operating over urbanized terrain will frequently encounter villages that inhibit speed and restrict maneuver along their avenues of approach. These small built-up areas may be prepared by the enemy as strongpoints and integrated into his defensive scheme. If it is necessary to destroy resistance within a particular village, division/brigade commanders must bring overwhelming force to bear on the strongpoint and suppress mutually supporting positions. Adequate forces must be employed to carry the assault quickly with the objective of securing the whole village in the confusion of the initial assault. House-to-house fighting may be required but is costly in casualties and time. Night attacks may be required to gain entry into the village if it is not possible to suppress or obscure the defenders' weapons, or if concealed routes to the village are not available.

Strip Areas

Defended strip developments must not be permitted to slow the momentum of team and task force attacks. Although their length and density vary, they are not easily bypassed, and therefore the alternative of not attacking seldom exists. Strip areas should normally be penetrated at their narrowest point by a fast-moving armor-heavy force supported by suppressive fires and smoke obscuration.

If the enemy does not withdraw after the penetration, these areas must be cleared by follow-on forces.

Figure 2-9. Strip area: Suppress, Obscure, Penetrate.


The six fundamentals of the offense, contained in FM 100-5, Operations, and associated with specific organizational tasks and techniques in the How-to-Fight series of manuals, are applicable to offensive operations on urbanized terrain. Commanders must understand urban characteristics, the advantages and disadvantages they offer, and how they impact on mobility and weapons effectiveness.

See the Battlefield

No environment other than jungles or woods provides the degree of concealment found on the urbanized battlefield. The limited depth the battalion and company commanders can see is further reduced. On natural terrain adjacent to built-up areas, observation seldom extends beyond the 1200m range. On the approaches to and within built-up areas, observation may be limited to one block, or one building, or one room. Reconnaissance elements, frequently operating on foot and using infiltration techniques, are more important than ever. Not only do they find the enemy, but they also provide valuable reaction time and maneuver space.

Masking effects of the terrain and concealment offered by built-up areas make it easier for the enemy to hide his command and control elements, as well as combat support and combat service support units. The effectiveness of ground surveillance, infrared, --and visual/optical target-acquisition devices is reduced. Aerial photos may provide great detail and display every abnormality or alteration to the terrain. They are blind, however, to what is located within individual buildings. Increased emphasis must be placed on electromagnetic devices and the use of long-range air and ground reconnaissance. The armored cavalry squadron is particularly well suited for the task of finding the enemy, identifying weakness, and providing detailed terrain information.

Although the advantage of knowing the terrain lies initially with the defender, this advantage can be reduced through aggressive reconnaissance at each level of command. The same factors which provide concealment to the enemy also enable ground reconnaissance to be extended. Knowledge of how the enemy normally defends on urbanized terrain and the effects that the terrain has on his weapons and mobility guide the commander's efforts to see the battlefield.

Concentrate Overwhelming Combat Power

Mobility restrictions imposed by urbanized terrain make it difficult to concentrate ground maneuver forces quickly. Commanders must seek to achieve concentration on terrain which avoids built-up areas. When bypass is not possible and the attack of a built-up area is required, deception as well as mass becom:s critical.

Although the defender has the planning advantage, the same mobility restriction limits his ability to reinforce or shift forces. The urban terrain also offers the attacker enhanced concealment during maneuver.

Limited - objective attacks, which fix defenses or cause the enemy to dissipate forces by early reaction, contribute to concentration. Concentration should be provided for during the planning phase, by alloiating added combat support, particularly engineer and field artillery, to the main effort. During the attack, field and air defense artillery, as well as attack helicopters from corps and offensive air support, provide flexible, responsive elements of combat power which may be massed with less regard to mobility restrictions. OPSEC with its various subelements is critical on urban terrain which by its nature spreads defenses and makes it difficult for the defender to identify the attacker's main effort.

Suppress Enemy Defensive Fires

The urbanized battlefield provides the defender increased, readily available cover as well as concealment for weapon systems at all levels. Its obstacle characteristics may also increase the attacker's vulnerability by canalizing mounted maneuvers. At the same time, the terrain frequently offers the attacker concealment for dismounted maneuver and denies the defender long-range observation or fields of fire. The attacker is most vulnerable to enemy fires during the initial phase of securing a foothold in a built-up area. Defensive weapons, operating from the protection of structures that provide mutual support with prepared fields of fire, must be suppressed or destroyed.

At battalion and company level, there is an increased requirement for direct, rather than indirect, fire suppression. With reduced engagement ranges, this requirement may be satisfied in part by organic weapons. The use of field artillery in the direct fire role may be required to suppress gunners in hardened positions. Extensive use of smoke also may be required to conceal movement. The intensity of close combat and reduced direct fire ranges within built-up areas will require continuing suppressive fires and smoke obscuration. Increased dependence must be placed on the coordinated use of electronic support measures and electronic countermeasures to locate enemy emitters and to suppress and jam these acquisition and control devices. Where effective suppression by fires or electronic means cannot be accomplished, night/limited visibility operations may be required to reduce the defender's advantages.

Shock, Overwhelm, and Destroy the Enemy

Division lead elements must possess the combat power to attack as soon as a weakness is found or created. Enemy defenses well forward of built-up areas must be ruptured and penetrated if bypass is to be achieved. Commanders should seek to conduct a hasty attack, simultaneously enveloping the defender's flanks and rear. However, the size of a large urban complex or the extent of enemy defenses may deny the option of conducting a hasty attack. A deliberate attack breaking through a prepared defensive position is costly and usually results in heavy casualties and a protracted battle which forward-looking planning seeks to avoid.

Once the momentum of the attack has been gained, commanders must maintain that momentum until the defense has lost its cohesion. Enemy resistance is bypassed or destroyed by fires to preclude heavy casualties and loss of momentum. Stalled attacking forces maintain pressure by fires, while reserves bypass the resistance and continue the attack. The attacker must cause events to happen faster than the defender can react to them. The enemy must be denied the opportunity to consolidate defenses and must be destroyed or isolated before he can occupy built-up areas.

Attack the Enemy Rear

Enemy defenses will usually consist of strongpoints and obstacles arrayed laterally and in depth over the most likely avenues of approach. After disrupting the initial urban defenses, the attacker must secure critical objectives and seek to drive into the enemy rear to find and destroy his control headquarters, combat support, and combat service support units. The attack and isolation of forward defenses disrupt combat service support functions. It also demands that the defender employ his combat support elements, thus aiding the attacker in locating and destroying them. At battalion and company level, infantry forces, infiltrating by stealth or under conditions of limited visibility, should be employed to attack key command, control, and support installations. The division commander should consider utilizing airmobile assets and heavy reconnaissance elements to conduct rear area operations throughout the attack to find and destroy the enemy command and control facilities. The splintering of the defense, along with the disruption of command and control and destruction of support capabilities, will cause the defense to collapse.

Provide Continuous Mobile Support

Although urban battles are viewed predominantly as small-unit, combined arms actions, continuous combat support and combat service support are required. Tanks and artillery provide the infantry with destructive firepower to defeat prepared defenses. Combat engineers breach obstacles to enhance mobility. Field artillery, attack helicopters, and offensive air support disrupt the enemy command and control network and destroy his support units. Air defense artillery helps protect the entire force. Forward replenishment of supplies and contact maintenance teams help sustain momentum. Military police provide vital traffic control and area security in the division rear. Electronic warfare and intelligence units obtain information about the enemy needed by commanders. Communications units provide for its timely dissemination.

Chapters 4 and 5 provide details pertaining to combat and combat service support.


Attack planning on the urbanized battlefield follows the general process described in organizational How-to-Fight manuals. The following specific considerations take on added importance during the analysis of the situation and development of the commander's concept for the attack. The offensive may take the form of either a hasty or deliberate attack.

Hasty Attack

A hasty attack is conducted when the enemy has not established strong defensive positions and attacking forces can exploit maneuver to overwhelm the defense. Three tasks are essential to its success:

  • Locate a weak spot or gap in enemy defenses.
  • Fix forward enemy elements.
  • Rapidly move through or around the gap or weak spot to be exploited.

Because a hasty attack is conducted to capitalize on opportunities as they present themselves, commanders should not expect to execute these tasks in the same order on all occasions. For example, advanced elements of the task force may be engaged with forward enemy elements when it becomes apparent that a weak point exists in their defenses. In another instance, a reconnaissance force may discover the location of a gap and subsequently be ordered to seize it to prevent enemy reinforcement. In any case, however, speed is essential; for if momentum is lost, the hasty attack will fail.

An urban area is an obstacle to tactical maneuver, and in that respect the hasty attack in MOUT is conducted somewhat differently than in open terrain. The congestion and incomplete intelligence characteristic of urban fighting will frequently require the attack to move through, rather than around, the fixing force. Techniques of control and coordination become extremely important to prevent unnecessary congestion at the edge of the urban area. In addition, commanders must insure that only those troops and resources necessary are committed to the fixing force, with the balance of combat power committed to the main effort of the hasty attack.

On-order, follow-on missions should be assigned to forces making a hasty attack so that, once the attack objective is secured, the force is prepared to respond to any contingency.

Deliberate Attack

A deliberate attack is necessary when enemy defenses are extensively prepared, when the urban obstacle is extremely large or severely congested, or when the advantage of surprise has been lost. It may be divided into three basic phases: isolation, assault, and clearance. Although not necessarily sequential in their execution or totally interdependent, the use of these implied phases facilitates the identification of specific tasks to be accomplished, the allocation of resources, and the preparation of plans.

Phase I is designed to isolate the objective by controlling avenues of approach into and out of the built-up area. Armor-heavy forces, supported by ATGM and field artillery, are well-suited to the task of isolating the built-up area from reinforcement and resupply by securing dominating terrain and utilizing direct and indirect fires. This phase does not involve combat in cities, although some units may be required to eliminate defenses.

The battle to isolate a built-up area is fought on the natural terrain adjacent to it. Where the terrain precludes ground maneuver to isolate the objective, long-range surveillance and fires, attack helicopters, and offensive air support may be required. Failure to isolate the built-up area effectively before the assault begins, may require, in the long run, more casualties and time to secure the complex. The psychological impact that isolation causes on defending forces, coupled with the fact that the enemy must now decide if he wants to expend resources to reinforce or conduct a breakout, adds to the confusion of battle and makes complete isolation an important consideration.

Phase II consists of an assault to rupture the defenses and secure a foothold on the perimeter of the built-up area from which attacks to clear the area may be launched. An envelopment, assaulting defensive weaknesses on the flanks or rear of the built-up area, is preferred; however, a penetration may be required. The following basic actions are included in Phase II:

  • Fix the Defense. Balanced forces representative of the major organization are used to fix the enemy defense and draw his attention away from the main attack. Feints are highly effective as diversionary supporting attacks. The force should be provided adequate assets to portray convincingly the main attack and to continue the attack on order if the feint penetrates the defensive system. Other limited-objective or deception operations may be conducted to fix the enemy when sufficient assets to conduct a feint are not available. Additionally, the enemy can be fixed by fires.

  • Conduct the Assault. Mobility, shock action, and massed firepower are required to secure a foothold and rupture established defenses. During a penetration or envelopment, assault forces are task-organized with armor, infantry, and engineers to rupture the defense effectively. Overwatching direct fires, along with indirect suppression and obscuration, help the attacker secure a foothold in the built-up area. Once within the highly restrictive urban terrain, the role of the infantry becomes dominant.

Regardless of the form of maneuver used, mobility and suppression are required to maintain the momentum of the assault forces. Small-unit, combat-in-cities actions may be required to dislodge defenders and consolidate the foothold area.

Phase III is predominantly a clearance action which may consist of a systematic building-by-building, block-by-block advance through the entire area; or it may be a rapid advance through a lightly defended section to secure a critical objective, with a subsequent detailed clearance of the area by a follow-on unit. This phase is characterized by decentralized, small-unit actions, and it requires detailed planning to offset the difficulties of control.

Frequent commitment and reconstitution of reserves, particularly at TF/Co team level, is common during this phase since strongpoint defenses are repeatedly encountered. Reserves should parallel the composition of the main attack to facilitate commitment where necessary. The reserve must be mobile and prepared to react immediately to various contingencies.

During a hasty attack of a built-up area by units in contact or moving to contact, there may be no clear distinction between these phases. All actions may be accomplished by elements of covering or reconnaissance forces or by leading brigades with Phases I and II conducted concurrently and followed immediately by Phase III. If a hasty attack of a well-defended built-up area fails or is not possible, a deliberate attack sacrificing momentum and requiring detailed planning and the allocation of major resources will be necessary. During a deliberate attack, the phases will normally be accomplished sequentially.

Urban Information Requirements

In addition to knowing where the enemy is and in what strength, commanders must also know how he usually defends a built-up area and the approaches to it. Specific terrain information is required to maximize weapon effectiveness in this special environment and to minimize the effects of unfavorable terrain characteristics on maneuver and control. The following additional information is required:

  • Natural terrain adjacent to a built-up area that supports the enemy's defense, or that which will provide attacking forces with overwatching positions.

  • Cover and concealed routes to the built-up area and to objectives within the built-up area.

  • Critical objectives within the built-up area that provide decisive tactical advantages.

  • Tactical characteristics of the builtup area and its structures.

Information about the population will frequently assist in determining where to attack, what firepower restrictions may be imposed, and what areas within the urban complex must be avoided to minimize destruction of life-support facilities and civilian casualties.

Typical Attack Zones by Type Built-up Areas. (Meters)

   A       Portrayed are typical zone widths for elements of
150-200    a main attack in various types of built-up areas
           described briefly in Chapters 1.

B 200-300 The highly restrictive nature of the urban terrain reduces mobility, observation, and fields of fire, and complicates all command and control functions. These factors, coupled with the need to concentrate combat power, necessitate reducing the width of attack zones assigned to units.

C 300-400 Within an urban area, typical widths will be significantly less than those experienced on open terrain. During the attack, a company team will seldom be assigned a zone greater than one to two blocks in D width. This will vary based on enemy defense and type 300-500 of built-up area.

E Actual zone dimensions can only be determined by 400-600 detailed analysis of the urban terrain complex as described in appendix A.

Limited Visibility Operations

Limited visibility and night attacks are essential elements of the offense within an urbanized area. As described in other How-to-Fight manuals, such operations may be conducted to achieve surprise or exploit earlier success. On the urban battlefield, they are most frequently required to rupture strong defenses, minimize enemy mutual support, and maintain momentum. Difficulties with command and control, navigation, coordination of fires, and identification of friendly forces are compounded on urbanized terrain. Other problems are:

  • Restrictive terrain increases opportunities for elements of a unit to become lost or separated.

  • Limited avenues of approach, rubble and other obstacles decrease the chances for a large unit to achieve surprise.

At brigade and division level, limited visibility conditions are exploited to cover the movement of major units and supplies. Battalion task forces use limited visibility conditions to extend reconnaissance and infiltration or to attack occupied objectives. Typical night or limited visibility operations at unit levels within a built-up area include:

  • Attacks across an open area to seize a strongpoint or building.

  • Ambush patrols to engage infiltrators.

  • Raids or night combat patrols to achieve a limited objective.

  • Reconnaissance patrols to develop intelligence.

Control Measures

The coordination and control of forces and fires is greatly complicated by the restrictive nature of the urban environment. It is facilitated, however, by a detailed plan with explicit control measures for decentralized execution at the lowest level. The control measures most frequently used within a built-up area are:

  • Objectives. While dominant features that provide observation or physical control over access routes through or around the built-up area remain important, additional consideration must be given to its facilities and manmade objects. Communication networks, whether vehicular, rail, nautical, or telephonic/telegraphic, play an increasingly significant role.

    Initial objectives to gain a foothold are usually located on the outer edge of the built-up area; and, when occupied, they provide concealment and cover for the attacking forces. Team/company-size objectives are generally one to two blocks in depth. Their exact size is determined by the nature of the built-up area. An intermediate objective may be assigned by any commander when its seizure is essential to the accomplishment of the mission. When an enemy cannot be bypassed, the assignment of intermediate objectives will frequently be required. When feasible, final objectives are located on the exit side or beyond the built-up area.

  • Phase Lines. Phase lines are routinely employed to regulate the advance of attacking forces. They may also be used in lieu of objectives. Principal streets, rivers, and trolley and railroad lines which are easily identified are appropriate for use as phase lines.

  • Boundaries. At brigade level and below, boundaries are habitually used to control fires and designate areas of responsibility. They are normally established in alleys or within a block of buildings to insure that both sides of a street are included in the zone of one unit.

  • Checkpoints and Contact Points. Street corners, buildings, railway crossings, bridges, or other easily identifiable features may be designated as checkpoints or contact points. These points facilitate reporting locations and may identify specific points where the commander desires units to make physical contact.


Threat forces emphasize spoiling attacks and infiltration of the flanks and rear of attacking forces. Frequently the enemy will position individuals and small units in concealed locations to perform stay-behind missions. Built-up areas provide the defender excellent cover and concealment while limiting the attacker's observation. The requirement to maintain the continuity of the attack results in bypassing isolated pockets of resistance which further complicates security problems. It is necessary to increase overall security precautions for attacking forces while operating in highly restrictive areas. Also, it is essential to provide security forces to escort combat service support and combat support units and to monitor, patrol, and guard possible infiltration routes. Additionally, measures must be taken to guard against sabotage, guerrilla warfare, and intelligence-gathering by a hostile population.


Frequently, company teams, platoons, and squads will be isolated and will have to fight for extended periods with what resources they have. In order to reduce reaction time, maintain flexibility, and overcome communications difficulties, it may be necessary to attach combat support and combat service support elements to a task force, a team, and sometimes to platoons, thus permitting decentralized execution at the lowest level.


This section provides examples of how the offensive battle may be conducted on urbanized terrain. Each example is designed to illustrate specific tactical considerations from the perspective of differing command levels. The examples flow from the basic corps situation and should be studied in the sequence presented as part of the overall scheme of maneuver.


An attempted penetration of the 10th (US) Corps sector has been blunted well forward in the main battle area with heavy losses inflicted on the attacking first echelon units. Prisoners and captured documents indicate that the corps is opposed by a combined arms army consisting of four divisions.

Elements in contact, identified as units of two motorized rifle regiments, are preparing hasty defensive positions in depth. Aerial reconnaissance has detected defensive positions being prepared in a broad band 40 to 80 kilometers north of the present line of contact and the rearward movement of combat formations. Intelligence indicates that:

  • The two first-echelon divisions are at less than 80% effectiveness and are being withdrawn through the second echelon.

  • Elements of the second-echelon divisions are preparing a main defensive belt.

  • The stalled attack was a supporting attack for the enemy general offensive.


Corps Hasty Attack

The 10th (US) Corps commander has been directed to initiate offensive actions as soon as possible. His planning for the offense is directed at the basic requirement of rupturing the enemy's hastily prepared defensive belts. His plan must also provide for the passage of sufficient forces into the rear area to destroy the enemy and create an exploitable situation once the rupture has been accomplished.

In analyzing the terrain, the commander focused on those natural and manmade features that would affect the maneuver of brigade-size and larger units or provide tactical objectives. Of primary interest to him are major terrain compartments, communications networks, and built-up areas. Each of these features can impact on his tactical options.

As shown, the terrain complex in the corps zone consists of a rural-urban mix. On the eastern boundary, rolling foothills reach an elevation of 230 meters and limit access into the corps zone to one minor avenue of approach along a hard-surface road and secondary rail line. An unimproved dirt and gravel road net is available, but permits only limited north-south movement by tracked and wheeled vehicles. To the west, the Herz Mountains, which rise to elevations in excess of 600 meters, represent a major obstacle to lateral maneuver. Within this basin, the central complex consists of two basic compartments tied to land use and urban development.

Figure 2-18 10th (US) Corps Zone of Action

The eastern compartments encompass a growing commercial and light industrial complex with numerous villages and small towns. A network of secondary and improved hard-surface roads is available for the movement of heavy wheeled vehicles. Cross-country mobility is restricted. Visibility is limited by terrain, hedgerows, and woodlots to an average of 1200 - 1500 meters. Long-range observation may be obtained from isolated dominating hills.

The western compartment is an agricultural belt supplying both the local region and the northern industrial complexes. Scattered small villages predominate throughout the area. Cross-country mobility for tracked vehicles is excellent during this season; however, wheeled vehicle movement is restricted to the secondary rural roads.

These two distinct compartments come together along a major north-south rail and road network which joins the LIMSPACHPUR communications corridor at the town of LETZ and continues north into the region's principal industrial complex. Rural and secondary roadnets from both the east and the west converge on the small towns which stretch along this route. Light industrial complexes sit beside modern high-rise developments throughout the region.

LETZ, with a peacetime population of close to 40,000, is a major transportation hub and an obstacle to corps-level maneuver. It must be secured with major facilities intact in order to sustain the corps offensive to the north.

North of LETZ, the terrain assumes a more uniform nature with rolling farmland, interrupted by small villages and scattered stands of woods, giving way to a broad corridor through forested foothills. No dominant terrain features exist in this area other than the man-made lines of communication to the north. Cross-country mobility is excellent.

Based upon the corps commander's knowledge of the enemy and the analysis of the terrain, he derived the following conclusions:

Retention intact of both the LIMSPACH-PUTS rail line and the town of LETZ, with its transportation modes, is important to the enemy if he is to sustain his defense and resume the attack. In any case, it is highly probable that he will attempt to retain LETZ as long as possible and destroy its critical facilities only if necessary. To do this, the enemy will have to deny any major penetration bypassing the town to the north, as well as local isolation of the defenders in the builtup areas. The location of defensive works currently being constructed indicates that both the town and the rail line will be encompassed in the 2d echelon of his main defensive belt (MDB). The identification of two MRRs in the security zone indicates that up to two MRDs deployed laterally across the corps zone may be assigned responsibility for establishing the MDB. Given the enemy's normal tactics, LETZ will most likely be included entirely within the sector of one MRD, with a second MRD deployed westward toward the Herz Mountains. The development of a second defensive belt north of LETZ will require significant time and effort since no major terrain feature is available.

Commander's Actions

A review of the status of corps units shows that the armored cavalry squadron and elements of one division sustained significant losses during the conduct of the active defense. In addition, the equivalent of one attack helicopter company was rendered ineffective.

Although logistical support available to the corps remains adequate, no additional maneuver resources are available. The corps commander reallocated elements of the 32d Mech Division to his other units to replace losses and retained its remaining mech-heavy brigade under corps control.

The distribution of natural land forms and urban features within the corps zone favors conducting the major effort in the west. For this to succeed, sufficient force must be applied in the central and eastern regions to fix the defenses and maintain the ability to react to detected defensive weaknesses.

The concept formulated by the corps commander calls for a hasty attack from present positions with two divisions and a mechanized brigade abreast.

Figure 2-20 10th (US) Corps Scheme of Maneuver

The 23d Armored Division will conduct the main attack in the west, followed in zone by the 25th Armored Division. The 52d Mech Division will conduct a supporting attack on the east in a zone centered on LETZ and the major communication network. The 3d Brigade, 32d Mech Division, will follow in the zone of the 52d Div, and be prepared for attachment to the 52d Div or for commitment to the west or east. The 312 Sep Mech Brigade will attack along the eastern boundary.

Although the corps commander would prefer to envelop a weak defensive flank, his scheme of maneuver provides for a penetration to rupture the defenses if required.

His concept of the operation and scheme of maneuver match the operational capabilities of available forces to the terrain and their designated objectives while offering him the following alternatives:

    To attack a weakness if the enemy chooses to concentrate his defenses; and to concentrate forces for a penetration at the time and place of his choice if the enemy disperses his forces.

The corps commander is aware that speed and momentum are important considerations. To him LETZ is a critical objective. A successful penetration, if achieved, will enable him to bypass the town with armored units and may force the enemy to retire from LETZ without the use of follow-on forces. If the enemy does not withdraw, it will be necessary to clear the town-which could result in costly, time-consuming fighting. The 52d Mech Division is positioned to accomplish this task without interrupting the momentum of the main attack.


Division Hasty Attack

As part of the corps offensive, the 52d Mech Division is moving north, led by a reconnaissance force consisting of its armored cavalry squadron and a balanced task force from the reserve, supported by field artillery and engineers. The division's main body is deployed with two brigades abreast. The reserve brigade follows in the zone of the western brigade.

The division lead elements, which have been in contact with security forces from the 322d MRR, report increasing heavier resistance in the form of antitank fires from prepared company-size strongpoints and local counterattacks by tanks. Aerial reconnaissance confirms that a defensive network controlling avenues of approach into the town is being prepared within LETZ and on adjacent terrain. Although the movement of tank forces to the west has been reported by corps, all indications are that the enemy intends to defend LETZ.

Trafficability throughout the division zone is excellent for tracked vehicles. A network of secondary roads is available to support the wheeled vehicles of the division and its combat service support requirements.

Figure 2-21 52d Mechanized Division Movement to Contact

Commander's Actions

Based on his mission of securing LETZ, the division commander identified two specific tasks. The first was to isolate the town by securing terrain on its flanks and to its rear. If required, the isolation phase would be followed by an attack to secure key installations in LETZ and clear it of organized resistance. In light of the developing situation, the commander had decided to pass his lead brigades through the security forces and conduct a hasty attack against terrain objectives adjacent to LETZ. He directs:

  • The balanced 1st Brigade to secure hills 185 and 200 northwest of LETZ and the main highway leading north from town to block withdrawal from or reinforcement of the town.

  • The mech-heavy 2d Brigade to secure hill 221 and the wooded area east of LETZ to block withdrawal from or reinforcement of the town and to link up with the 1st Brigade to the north of LETZ.

  • The mech-heavy 3d Brigade to follow in the zone of the 1st Brigade and be prepared to secure hills 150 and 110 west of LETZ.

  • The ACS to protect the western flank against armor counterattacks.

  • The FSCOORD to reinforce the fires of the 1st and 2d Brigades DS artillery battalion with two battalions from the attached FA Brigade and to assign the priority for fires and attack helicopters to the 1st Brigade.

The division commander's concept provides that the attacking forces avoid the built-up area initially by targeting them against terrain features which control access to LETZ. It also positions his major elements for a subsequent attack of the built-up area if required. Even limited success in either brigade sector will enable the commander to support fully such an attack. He has retained his options as to when and where to penetrate the urban defenses, if required, and is well disposed to repel an enemy counterattack or prevent reinforcement.

Figure 2-22 52d Mechanized Division Attack of Letz

Options left to the enemy commander are considerably reduced. He does not know if LETZ will be attacked or bypassed. A stubborn defense on the terrain adjacent to the built-up area would make LETZ vulnerable to a rapid penetration. A concentration of forces within LETZ could enable the attacker to rupture his flank defenses and turn his rear. An attempted withdrawal, forfeiting the advantages of prepared defenses, could be costly if not precisely executed.


Brigade Hasty Attack

As the division attack continued against heavy resistance, the corps main attack in the west penetrated the enemy's main defensive belt. Rather than risk being encircled, enemy defenders are attempting to withdraw north from the town of Letz. Radio intercepts indicate that a reinforced motorized rifle battalion has been assigned the mission of covering the withdrawal of the main body and destroying key facilities within the town.

The division commander issued a frag order directing the 3d Brigade to conduct a hasty attack on Letz to secure the rail yards and be prepared to clear the town of enemy resistance. The division commander further advised that the rail yards should be secured quickly before the enemy has an opportunity to destroy them. The 1st and 2d Brigades are to continue their attacks, maintaining maximum pressure on enemy forces and completing the isolation of the town by linking up north of Letz.

Intelligence reports indicate that enemy forces are occupying prepared defensive positions on the outskirts of town and within the town itself. They are reported to be well equipped with medium and heavy antitank weapons. The main road leading into the town from the south is heavily mined.

3d Brigade lead elements, advancing steadily, secured their initial objective, hills 110 and 150. Prisoners taken by 3d Brigade elements confirm that the estimated reinforced motorized rifle battalion in Letz has the mission of covering the withdrawal of main body elements and destroying key installations within the town.

The limited map coverage of the town itself was supplemented by aerial photos of the central railway complex and major routes into and through the town. Data compiled from the interrogation of refugees helped round out a picture of the urban defensive network. A city map, obtained by corps from the territorial forces, provides locations of key municipal facilities.

Figure 2-23 Southwestern Letz

Commander's Actions

Based on available information about the town and its surroundings, the 3d Brigade commander believes that the best avenue of approach is from the west. The enemy forces appear to have oriented their defense to the south, and an attack from the west should strike the enemy on his flank. Terrain along the major rail and highway system leading into the town from the west provides sufficient room for the attacking forces to maneuver. Many of the buildings in the western and southwest sector of the town have a low profile, making them easy to smoke. The establishment of a foothold in the western sector of the town also opens the most direct route to the railroad yards.

Based on his assessment of the situation, the brigade commander outlined his general concept for the conduct of the operation.

"The Brigade has basically three tasks. We must establish a foothold in the town of Letz; we must then secure rail yards; and, finally, we must be prepared to clear the town of enemy resistance. The most critical task is to secure the rail yards as quickly as possible before enemy forces have an opportunity to destroy them. l recognize that the rail yards are situated deep within the town and that a foothold should first be established on the edge of the town. But because of the critical and time-sensitive nature of securing the rail yards, l want to insure that the momentum of our attack is maintained throughout both phases (establishing the foothold and securing the rail yards).

"Highway 85 appears to be the most direct route to the rail yards, and there appears to be sufficient maneuver room on both sides of the highway for it to serve as our main route of advance. Two mech-heavy task forces will make a coordinated attack on Letz and establish a foothold two-to- three blocks deep on the north and south sides of Highway 85. The task force in the southern zone should have responsibility for Highway 85 and for keeping it open. An alternate route of advance should be identified in the northern task force zone in the event that Highway 85 cannot be kept open. The third task force is to follow in the zone of the southern task force.

"At this point, l want to keep all options open to me. If little or no enemy resistance is encountered by either of the lead task forces in the foothold, then we will continue the attack to secure the rail yards, and the rear area task force will assume its position in the foothold. If the foothold is well-defended, the rear task force is to be punched through the foothold to secure the rail yards.

Figure 2-24 3d Brigade Attack of Letz

"Once the rail yards are secure, a systematic clearance of the town will be conducted and each task force will be assigned a zone to clear.

"S3, get with division and tell them that I want our DS engineer company attached to us for the duration of this operation, and l want an additional engineer company allocated to us. We also should have another artillery battalion to reinforce our DS battalion.

"I want to keep one mech platoon in bde reserve to serve as a reaction and security force. Request some aircraft so that we can air assault the platoon into the city if necessary. The platoon should be capable of making a rooftop landing."

The division, upon receiving the requests from the brigade S3, approved them and allocated the brigade six lift aircraft for the possible air assault.

Based on the brigade commander's general concept and guidance, there is no need to change the task organization, and the brigade remains task organized as follows:

                   TASK ORGANIZATION: 3D BRIGADE

TF 1-5 TF 1-82 TF 1-81 BDE CONTROL

1-5 Arm (-) 1-82 Mech (-) 1-81 Mech (-) 1/B/1-82 Mech A/1-81 Mech B/1-5 Arm A/1-5 Arm 1-42 FA (DS) B/1-82 Mech (-) 2/C/52 Engr D/52 Engr 3-35 FA (Reinf 1-42 FA) 1/C/52 Engr C/52 Engr (-) 2/B/23d CEWI C/1-441 ADA (Vulc)


Figure 2-26 Clearance Zones

TF 1-5 Armor

    * Attack at H-hour to secure objective EAGLE.
    * Be prepared to continue the attack to secure objective HAWK.
    * Be prepared to release one mech-heavy team to TF 1-82 and assist passage of TF 1-82 elements along route GREEN.
    * On order, conduct systematic clearance in zone.

TF 1-81 Mech

    * Attack at H-hour to secure objective FALCON.
    * Be prepared to continue the attack to secure objective HAWK.
    * Be prepared to release one mech-heavy team to TF 1-82 and assist passage of TF 1-82 elements along route BLUE.
    * On order, conduct systematic clearance in zone.

TF 1-82 Mech

    * Follow TF 1-81 in zone on route BLUE.
    * Be prepared to assume TF 1-81 position on objective FALCON or 1-5 position on objective EAGLE.
    * Be prepared to pass through lead elements and conduct attack to secure objective HAWK.
    * On order, conduct systematic clearance in zone.

The brigade commander provided the following specific guidance to his commanders and staff:

    "The key to the success of this attack is a rapid advance and close coordination. Report the crossing of each phase line and the securing of assigned objectives. Do not initiate a systematic clearance of the foothold areas until objective HAWK is secured.

    "At H-5, artillery is to engage known enemy positions with HE and provide smoke to cover the advance of attacking elements. Artillery fires will be lifted at the discretion of the lead task forces. Lead elements should attempt to close within 200 meters of enemy positions prior to lifting smoke in order to reduce the effectiveness of enemy antitank weapons. Caution will be exercised in the use of HE artillery to avoid unnecessary rubbling, particularly along routes of advance.

    "If necessary, the DS artillery battalion is prepared to provide, through coordination with the brigade FSO, up to two howitzer sections to assist in reducing strongpoints. The requesting task force must provide a guide and security for these sections if employed.

    "Nuclear weapons will not be used. Non-persistent irritating munitions may be used to assist in clearing buildings; however, artillery or mortar chemical rounds will not be used without prior approval from my CP.

    "Because of collateral damage restrictions, municipal buildings will not be fired upon unless developed and used by the enemy as defensive positions. Six tac air sorties have been allocated to the brigade for the attack. The aircraft are prepared to deliver precision munitions on call. Remember that collateral damage must be minimized.

    "Phase line Dragon is an initial limit of advance for TF 1-5 and TF 1-81.

    "Priority of fires will go to TF 1-81 initially, and upon passage of phase line Dragon, priority of fires will shift to the lead task force. Task forces are not to fire across common boundaries to the rear of phase line Dragon without prior coordination. Once lead elements have passed forward of phase line Dragon, the rear task forces may not engage targets forward of phase line Dragon without prior clearance.

    "One platoon from A Company, 1-82 Mech, will be retained under brigade control as a reaction and security force. The platoon will be prepared to conduct airmobile operations throughout the zone, and contingencies for the platoon will include rooftop landings. Task forces occupying positions in the foothold will be prepared to release a company team to reinforce the lead task force securing objective HAWK.

    "Brigade trains will remain in present locations and be prepared to move on 30 minute's notice. The maintenance collection point will displace along Highway 85 to the vicinity of phase line Lord once objective FALCON is secured. Brigade supply route is Highway 85.

    "Attack elements remain on listening silence prior to initial contact with enemy forces. TF 1-82 will monitor the command nets of TF 1-5 and TF 1-81. Once the foothold is secured, retransmission sites should be established in elevated positions to reduce FM communication difficulties anticipated within the built-up area on brigade command and control nets. Try to use wire communications within the town. Intact civilian communication systems may also be available to supplement tactical systems.

    "CEVs should be positioned well forward to gain maximum effectiveness from their blowdown capability against enemy strong-points. Engineers will also be positioned well forward to clear enemy mines and obstacles.

    "The brigade TAC CP will be located initially in the proximity of TF 1-81 CP. TF 1-82 will establish a jump TOC with the brigade headquarters to insure close coordination. TF liaison personnel will collocate with the brigade main CP initially."


Task Force Attack to Secure Foothold

Task force 1-81 has just closed on hill 110 against light enemy resistance. Only a few casualties have been sustained. The task force commander has been alerted to conduct a hasty attack against the town of Letz to establish a foothold. He has, in turn, alerted his company team commanders. His present task organization consists of three mech-heavy company teams.

Enemy forces within Letz in the TF 1-81 zone are estimated to consist of reinforced platoon or a company minus. Intelligence reports indicate that defenders are well armed with antitank weapons. The types of antitank weapons which the enemy has available are believed to include wire-guided missiles, RPG-7s, SPG-9s, and possibly T12s. Their wire-guided missiles require a minimum of 500 meters for the enemy gunners to gain control of the missiles once they have been fired. Friendly forces should expect the enemy to employ the antitank weapons from inside buildings and from other well-concealed positions. The defenders are also reported to have tanks which they will use in the defense.

The terrain between TF 1-81 and the outskirts of town is slightly rolling. There is sufficient relief in the terrain to provide some cover and concealment from positions in the town; and lightly wooded areas will provide some additional concealment from direct observation.

Once the initial penetration of the town is made, attacking forces will be able to take advantage of the cover and concealment provided by buildings. The area within the TF zone in the town is primarily residential. Many houses have yards and gardens. The houses are spaced far enough apart to allow for sufficient maneuver room for attacking elements throughout most of the zone. The civilian population has reportedly moved out of the area into the central part of the city.

Commander's Actions

The task force commander makes an assessment of the situation and briefs his staff on his general concept of the operation:

"Our tasks are to conduct a rapid advance from our present positions to the town of Letz, penetrate the enemy defenses of the town in zone, and secure objective FALCON. At this point we must be prepared either to continue the attack to secure objective HAWK or to assist TF 1-82 with a passage of lines along route BLUE. After HAWK has been secured, we will then begin a systematic clearance of our assigned zone.

"During the initial assault, a mech-heavy company team will attack along route BLUE and a mech company minus will attack along a parallel axis to the south of route BLUE. An armor-heavy company team will provide overwatching direct fire support until advancing elements have closed on the initial enemy positions. The armor-heavy team will then follow along route BLUE with the mission of keeping route BLUE open. The scout platoon will screen the TF's southern flank during the attack and while in position in the foothold.

"If we are ordered to continue the attack to secure objective HAWK, we will proceed on a narrow front along route BLUE with the pure mech company minus, the mech-heavy team, and the tank-heavy team, in that order. If substantial resistance is encountered to the point that the lead elements become decisively engaged, follow-on elements will deploy laterally and maintain the momentum of the attack on alternate attack routes, if necessary, bypassing enemy pockets of resistance."

Based on the task force commander's concept and guidance, the following task organization is developed, requiring only minor changes.

                 TASK ORGANIZATION: TF 1-81 MECH


B/1-81 Mech C/1-81 Mech (-) A/1-5 Armor (-) Scout Platoon 2/A/1-5 Arm 2/D/52 Engr 3/C/1-81 Mech Redeye Section (-) 1/D/52 Engr 1 TOW Section 1 Redeye Team Hv Mtr Plt 1 TOW Section 1 Redeye Team D/52 Engr (-) 1 Redeye Team

Command and Control

In order to insure effective command and control during the conduct of the operation, the following control measures are utilized:

  • Unit boundaries are established within the foothold area.

  • An additional phase line is included (PL Jack) to insure that all major streets running laterally within the task force zone are readily identifiable for reporting procedures.

  • Buildings are assigned letter and number identifiers. Letters used do not correspond to units involved in the attack for security reasons. Numbers used are sequentially away from the attacker to facilitate progress reports during the attack.

Figure 2-29 TF 1-81 Mech Task Organization

Figure 2-30 No Title

  • An additional route of advance, route YELLOW, is established.

  • Routes of advance are identified.

  • Company/team objectives are assigned.

The following missions are assigned:

Team B:

    * Attack along route BLUE to secure objective OAK.
    * Be prepared to assist passage of elements from TF 1-82.
    * Be prepared to continue the attack to objective HAWK.

C Company:

    * Attack along route YELLOW to secure objective MAPLE.
    * Be prepared to continue the attack of objective HAWK.

Team Tank:

    * Initially, provide overwatching direct fires in support of the attack until lead elements reach the town and direct the lifting of fires.
    * On order, follow Team B along route BLUE.
    * Be prepared to assist passage of TF 1-82 elements.

Scout Platoon:

    * Screen southern flank.

The task force commander provided the following guidance to his commanders and staff:

    "Our mission is to conduct a rapid advance on the town of Letz and secure objectives OAK and MAPLE. During the advance, expect all elements to make maximum use of available cover and concealment, and, at the same time, the advance must be conducted swiftly to reduce exposure time to enemy defenders.

    "Although maximum use of smoke will assist in covering our advance on the town, it should be expected that dust signatures from tracked vehicles and exhaust signatures from some of the tanks, together with the noise factor, will alert the enemy once the attack is under way. It is, therefore, of greatest importance, once the attack is started, that elements advance on the town as rapidly as possible.

    "Artillery forward observers should call for fires on known or suspected enemy positions and should make maximum use of smoke to cover the advance until lead elements have closed to within a minimum of 500 meters from enemy positions. Smoke should then be shifted and maintained at no more than 500 meters ahead of lead elements as they advance toward their objectives.

    Although civilians are not supposed to be in the area, care must be exercised when engaging targets. Yet, there should be no hesitation when engaging known or suspected enemy positions. Once an area has been cleared of enemy forces, however, I expect absolute respect for the integrity of civilians and their property.

    "Priority of fires will go to team Bravo. FOs will be cautioned about unnecessary rubbling, especially along routes of advance. If TF 1-82 is passed through us, no targets will be engaged forward of our positions without prior coordination, once their lead elements have passed ours. Direct coordination is authorized.

    "Our trains will remain at their present location until the foothold is well established, at which time they will displace forward along route YELLOW.

    "Listening silence will be maintained until initial contact with enemy forces is made. I want our signal people to establish a retransmission site in an elevated position within the foothold area as soon as possible. Maximum use will be made of wire once we are within the town. We may later be able to use the civilian communications system to supplement our own.

    "My CP will follow Team Bravo. Our liaison officer will collocate with brigade."


Task Force Secures Critical Objective

Task force 1-82 had just closed on its initial objective in the vicinity of hill 150 when the TF commander received the order from brigade for the attack on the town of Letz. In analyzing his mission, he determined that he would be required to follow TF 1-81 into the foothold area and that he would then have to be prepared to assume positions in the foothold or pass through the foothold to secure objective HAWK.

Commander's Actions

Based on the general situation (see situation 4) and after analyzing courses of action available to him, the TF commander developed the following general concept which he outlined to his staff:

    "Our mission is to follow TF 1-81 and be prepared to assume positions in the foothold or to pass through the foothold to secure objective HAWK. I want the task force organized for maximum speed and flexibility. In the event that we are ordered to maintain positions in the foothold, I want the order and manner in which we will deploy clearly defined. If we are ordered to pass through the foothold, the momentum and flexibility of the attack must be maintained. Enemy pockets of resistance are to be bypassed. We can police them up after objective HAWK has been secured. I want to insure that alternate routes of advance to objective HAWK are identified."

    "S3, check with brigade and see if we can move along two avenues of advance into the foothold: along route BLUE behind IF 1-81, and along route GREEN behind TF 1-5. This would put us in a better position to respond to the various contingencies that we must plan for. If we can use two routes of advance, want a pure mech company on route BLUE followed by a mech-heavy team and a tank-heavy team on route GREEN. Have the scout platoon screen forward along both routes and maintain contact with the brigade lead task forces."

The task force S3 asks brigade if routes of advance, other than route BLUE, can be used by TF 1-82 elements moving into the foothold area and also beyond the foothold area toward objective HAWK. Brigade approves the use of route GREEN, but wants to be kept closely informed as to which routes are being used by which elements during the conduct of the operation. Based on task force commander's general concept of operation and guidance, the task force is organized as follows:

                        TASK ORGANIZATION


A/1-82 Mech C/1-82 Mech (-) B/1-5 Armor (-) Scout Platoon 1/2/C/52 Engr 2/2/C/52 Engr 1/C/1-82 Mech 2/C/52 Engr (-) 1 TOW Section 1/B/1-5 Armor Redeye Section (-) 1 Redeye Tm 1 TOW Section Hv Mtr Plt 1 Redeye Tm

Figure 2-32 Control Measures

Control Measures

Control measures are established forward of phase line Dragon to provide better command and control for securing objective HAWK.

An additional phase line, PL Knight, is established; an on-order company/team boundary is established between PL Dragon and PL Duke; and buildings to and around objective HAWK are numbered. Primary routes of advance, BLUE and GREEN, are supplemented by alternate routes of advance, YELLOW and WHITE, to objective HAWK.

Figure 2-33 Routes of Advance

Company/team objectives are identified in the rail yard area and include buildings which are adjacent to and which dominate the rail yards. Objective boundaries will serve as fire coordination lines.

Figure 2-33 Company/Team Objectives

Task force elements are assigned specific missions:

A/1-82 Mech:

    * Follow TF 1-81 Mech into foothold along route BLUE
    * Be prepared to assume positions in foothold.
    * Be prepared to pass through TF 1-81 and attack along route BLUE to secure objective WIND.
    * On order, conduct systematic clearance in zone.

Team Tank:

    * Follow A/1-82 Mech into the foothold along route BLUE.
    * Be prepared to assume positions in foothold.
    * Be prepared to follow A/1-82 along route BLUE to secure objective TACK.
    * On order, conduct systematic clearance in zone.


    * Follow TF 1-5 into foothold along route GREEN.
    * Be prepared to assume positions in foothold.
    * Be prepared to pass through TF 1-5 and attack along route GREEN to secure objective SAIL.
    * On order, conduct systematic clearance in zone.

Scout Platoon:

    * Screen forward of the TF along routes GREEN and BLUE.
    * Be prepared to screen northern or southern flank of foothold area.

The two lead task forces of the brigade have successfully secured the foothold but only after defeating stiff enemy resistance. Enemy forces are now in the process of falling back to alternate defensive positions deeper within the city, but have left forces in contact to try to contain the foothold.

The brigade commander issued FRAG orders for TF 1-5 and TF 1-81 to hold their positions in the foothold and to assist passage of TF 1-82 elements. He orders TF 1-82 to pass through the lead task forces and continue the attack to secure objective HAWK. The priority of fires is shifted to TF 1-82. He reminds the commanders of TF 1-5 and TF 1-81 that, upon passage of TF 1-82 lead elements, no targets are to be engaged forward of phase line DRAGON without prior coordination with TF 1-82. He tells the brigade 53 to have the reserve platoon prepared to load the aircraft for an air assault into the town on 2-minute notice.

Commander's Actions

The commander TF 1-82 issues FRAG orders to his company/team commanders to pass through the lead task forces in the foothold area and continue the attack along designated routes of advance to secure assigned objectives in and around the rail yards. All elements are to report progress by phase lines and are to report any changes in routes of advance. The scout platoon is to screen the southern flank.

As the task force continues the attack, lead elements find that enemy forces have rubbled buildings along route GREEN and that the route is impassable to tracked vehicles. When the commander of team CHARLIE is advised of this situation, he swings out to route WHITE and continues the advance.

As A/1-82 Mech lead elements near the rail yards, they come under increasingly heavy enemy fire. Enemy defenders are occupying the hotel and city hall to the southeast of the rail yards. The hotel is approximately 10 stories high, and the enemy defenders are able to control the surrounding area by fire from inside the hotel, effectively halting the advance of A/1-82. The commander of A/1-82 reports his situation to the task force commander who, in turn, requests from brigade that the reserve platoon be air assaulted to the top of the hotel building. The brigade commander concurs and authorizes the commitment of the brigade reserve platoon.

The commander of ALPHA/1-82 is advised of the air assault and is told to get into position to lay down a heavy base of fire against the hotel as the first aircraft approaches the building. ALPHA/1-82 elements assume covered and concealed positions to the west and southwest of the hotel and lay down a heavy base of fire with their organic weapons. As the first aircraft lands on top of the building, enemy return fire from the building starts to diminish and ALPHA/1-82 elements assault the building on the ground. Enemy forces within the building readily surrender. Task force elements then proceed to secure their assigned objectives.


Systematic Clearance of Built-Up Area

The 3d Brigade notifies division headquarters that the rail yards are secure and that a systematic clearance of the town will begin shortly. The brigade S3 asks the division G3 if any additional units will be available to the 3d Brigade to assist with clearing operations. The division G3 replies that 1st and 2d Brigade elements have just been able to link up to the north of Lets, and they will not be available for clearing operations in the town. The division G3 also advises the 3d Brigade that a civil affairs team and the personnel from the division G5 office will be reporting to the 3d Brigade CP to advise the brigade commander on matters pertaining to the civilian population and the local civilian government.

Intelligence reports indicate that several pockets of enemy resistance remain even though enemy forces are attempting to withdraw completely from the town. It is not expected that they have sufficient force to attempt a breakthrough operation. Civilians in the area have reported that enemy forces have planted mines and boobytraps throughout the area. Generally speaking, the civilian population has been extremely cooperative with friendly forces, but they have expressed considerable concern about the destruction within the town resulting from military operations and have requested that every effort be made to avoid further destruction.

The brigade commander assigns each task force a sector of the town to clear.

Figure 2-35 Task Force Clearance Zones

The brigade commander calls his task force commanders together to brief them on how the clearing operations are to be conducted.

    "A brigade prisoner of war facility will be established in the vicinity of the rail yards and manned by the military police. All prisoners of war are to be immediately evacuated to the facility.

    "The safety of civilians in the area is of great concern to me. During the conduct of the clearing operations, indiscriminate and random firing is to be avoided. The integrity of civilians and their property is to be respected.

    "Indirect fires are not to be utilized during the clearing operations unless permission to do so is granted by my CP. Heavy direct fire weapons should only be used as a last resort. Tear agents may be used against known or suspected enemy positions.

    "It can be reasonably expected that mines, booby traps, and unexpended munitions will be encountered by our troops. They should constantly be alert for these hazards. When feasible, these items are to be marked and bypassed, initially. If they cannot be bypassed, engineers will assist in disposing of them. Caution your troops about the hazards of booby traps and unexpended munitions.

    "Your troops should expect enemy soldiers on the roofs of buildings, at ground level, and below ground level in sewer systems and underground garages. They cannot afford to assume that the enemy is not there.

    "I will retain the platoon I now have in reserve to serve as a security/reaction force throughout the zone. My CP will be located in the vicinity of the rail yards. I expect my CP to be kept closely informed concerning your progress during the clearing operations."

The Company Team Battle

This section has provided examples of how units from corps through battalion task force may attack on the urbanized battlefield. It focused on the factors the commander must consider in developing his offensive plan in this environment. Details pertaining to the conduct of the company team battle within the built-up areas of the urbanized battlefield are provided in the appendices to this manual.


Know the characteristics of urbanized terrain and the advantages and disadvantages it offers both the attacker and the defender.

Bypass built-up areas when possible in order to maintain attack momentum and lessen casualties.

Attack a built-up area only as the last resort, and only when major advantage accrues through its seizure or control.

Attack where the enemy is weak--hit his flanks and rear simultaneously.

Rapid, detailed planning by participating commanders is required to allow decentralized execution and limit command and control problems during the battle.

Employ the combined arms team to provide a mutual shielding of vulnerabilities.

Dissipate the enemy's strength by causing him to react to demonstrations, feints, or ruses.

Concentrate overwhelming combat power to force a quick and violent disruption of the defenses, envelop the built-up area, and move rapidly to the enemy's rear.

Maneuver over approaches to a built-up area must be obscured by smoke and protected by overwatching fires.

Where possible, reduce strongpoints with fires only, keep moving, and secure them with follow-on forces.

Cut lines of communications and defeat the enemy through isolation.

Attack at night to gain surprise or to take objectives whose assault during daylight would be too costly.

Once momentum has been gained, the attack must be continuous until defenses have been splintered.

06-14-1996; 15:08:51

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list