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Defensive operations on urbanized terrain are conducted in accordance with the fundamentals and principles contained in FM 100-5, Operations, and the How-to-Fight series of manuals. The general characteristics of the urban environment described in chapter 1 and appendix A influence the conduct of the defense at each command level.

This chapter supplements other doctrinal manuals by describing how the enemy may attack on urbanized terrain and how the defense is planned, organized, and conducted.


This section supplements the threat offensive doctrine sections of other How-to-Fight manuals by describing how the enemy may attack built-up areas on the urbanized battlefield. It also discusses his organization for combat and use of the combined arms team in this environment.

Threat force structure and offensive tactics incorporate the concepts of mass, maneuver, and speed. Daily offensive rates of advance of 60-100 kilometers are expected during nuclear operations, and 30-60 kilometers under conventional conditions. To achieve these significant rates, to maintain offensive momentum, and to avoid presenting lucrative targets for nuclear weapons, speed and bypass operations are emphasized in overcoming natural and manmade obstacles.

When it is necessary to attack a built-up area, the following basic concepts govern the deployment of forces at division level:

  • A surprise attack from the line of march, based on detailed advanced reconnaissance, is the preferred form of attack.

  • Deliberate attacks from positions in contact may be launched if initial operations fail to make progress.

  • Day and night attacks are used to maintain constant pressure on the defender.

  • Smoke, darkness, and limited visibility conditions are exploited to conceal movement.

  • Command and control is decentralized to the maximum extent possible.

  • The combined arms team is integrated at motorized rifle company level.

The decision to attack a city or town may be based on tactical, strategic, or political considerations; and it is normally made at army level or above. Threat forces may attack built-up areas to:

  • Secure political, industrial, logistical and communications facilities.

  • Destroy defending forces within a built-up area.

  • Gain passage through an urban area that cannot be bypassed.

The results of urbanization and its effects on offensive operations are recognized and planned for by Threat commanders. The following table shows how they classify built-up areas by using population and perimeter size. Their doctrine stresses that offensive formations attacking across highly developed regions may encounter at least one large built-up area every 40 to 60 kilometers, with one or two small built-up areas contained in every 200 to 300 square kilometers of battle area. The numerous small villages and clusters of structures that restrict and even block avenues of approach are treated as potential strong-points to be isolated and neutralized or destroyed by lower-level units.

    Classification of Built-Up Areas


100,000 Large more than or more 25 kms

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

less than less than 50,000 Small 15 kms


A surprise attack envisions a rapid, bold movement from the line of march by a strong advance detachment to secure an undefended or lightly defended built-up area. It seeks to avoid a costly, protracted street-by-street, house-to-house battle and permit attacking forces to continue beyond the area without reducing offensive momentum. The surprise attack seeks to preserve vital facilities such as bridges, railroads, airfields, key industrial complexes, and utilities.

The following figure illustrates how a motorized rifle division (MRD) might conduct a surprise attack with a reinforced M battalion (MRB) in the role of the advance detachment. The size of an advance detachment is determined by the size of the built-up area and expected resistance.

The advance detachment moves rapidly and attempts to avoid contact with defensive forces on the approaches to the objective. If little or no resistance is encountered, the advance detachment seizes the most important objectives (buildings) and key streets, splitting the area into isolated pockets of resistance, and destroys them piecemeal. Hasty defenses are organized to defeat counterattacks by the defending forces or to destroy defenders attempting to escape through the built-up area.

Airborne or helicopter-landed forces may support the advance detachment by sealing off flanks or the rear of the objective. These forces may also be employed as the advance detachment around or in the built-up area. An advance detachment operating outside the range of forward artillery receives intensified reconnaissance and close air support from high-performance aircraft and helicopter forces.

If the surprise attack fails, the advanced detachment is normally directed to seize a foothold in the outskirts or to seize an adjacent key terrain feature and wait for the main body to arrive.

Figure 3-3a Secure Key Objective

Figure 3-3b Seize A Foothold


A deliberate attack is conducted when the surprise attack has failed or when intelligence indicates a city is well defended. This attack involves larger forces, requires more detailed planning, and has a greater weight of artillery, mortar, and rocket fires than a surprise attack. The deliberate attack is characterized by:

  • Isolation of the objective.
  • Extensive reconnaissance.
  • Intense pre-assault bombardment.

  • Assaults to secure a foothold and key objectives.


Advanced reconnaissance activities include the study of large-scale maps, aerial photographs, and background intelligence reports. These data are updated by tactical intelligence from long-range reconnaissance patrols, agent reports, and electronic intelligence. Heliborne and airborne units may supplement ground reconnaissance and are normally targeted against specific key points in the urban area.

Reconnaissance functions are also frequently conducted by infiltrators disguised as refugees. Infiltrators or reconnaissance detachments may operate in the objective area for several days before an assault. Active reconnaissance may include the use of local residents to provide current essential information of the defender's activities. Raids by reconnaissance teams may be mounted for the purpose of capturing prisoners and documents. In some cases, raid/reconnaissance teams may be tasked to destroy selected critical facilities and defending forces prior to a deliberate attack.

Reconnaissance tasks include the determination of:

  • Defensive dispositions on approaches to objectives.

  • Covered positions leading to flanks or rear of the objective.

  • Location and strength of defensive strongpoints.

  • Main routes through the built-up area.

  • Key objectives (buildings) that dominate the area.

  • Underground passages that can be utilized by assaulting forces.

Figure 3-4. MRRs Isolating an Objective

* Command post, reserves, weapon positions, and supply locations.


The preceding figure depicts first-echelon regiments of a motorized rifle division (MRD) isolating an objective area in order to deny reinforcement/resupply of defenders and block escape routes. Occasionally, an intentional exit may be permitted to entice defenders into open terrain where they can be attacked. After isolating the area, second-echelon forces may conduct a siege operation while first-echelon forces break contact and continue their advance. If the attacker's timetable permits, siege operations are preferred to avoid a costly direct assault and destruction of facilities needed to support future operations.


The deliberate attack is normally preceded by howitzer, mortar, rocket, and air bombardment. The intensity of the preparation is determined by the strength of defensive forces, the type building construction, and the density of fires required to suppress observation and fires.

First priority of fires is allocated to the main attack to destroy AT weapon positions and strongpoints on the area's edge. Artillery attached to assaulting units normally does not participate in the bombardment, but is reserved for direct fire employment against strongpoints on the outskirts and for support within the built-up area.

Other goals of the bombardment are to destroy or disrupt:

  • Communications.

  • Heavy weapon positions.

  • Command posts.

  • Tall structures that permit observation.

  • Troop emplacements.

Threat forces fully appreciate that heavy bombardments may affect their mobility, but consider reduced mobility an acceptable tradeoff for destruction of defending forces. Incapacitating or nonpersistent lethal chemical fires may be employed during bombardment to inflict casualties and preclude destruction of key facilities.

Smoke will normally be employed during artillery preparations to suppress the defenders while threat forces negotiate obstacles on the approaches and within the built-up area.


Habitually, simultaneous attacks are made on the flanks and rear to capture specific objectives and to splinter defenses. Frontal assaults are avoided and will be conducted only when an objective cannot be isolated or flanked.

During or immediately after preparatory fires, engineers move forward under the cover of smoke and high explosives to neutralize barriers and breach minefields on routes into the city. First-echelon assault groups attack to secure a foothold 2-3 blocks in depth. After securing the initial foothold and rupturing the outer defenses, the first echelon may continue to attack, or the second echelon is passed through the foothold and attacks along designated routes from one objective to another.

The attack within the built-up area is characterized by bold, rapid movements to secure assigned objectives. Buildings along the route are not routinely searched or secured unless resistance is strong. Bypassed defenders are left for elimination by following echelons or the reserve. If the leading echelon is stopped or slowed, the following echelons or reserve may be committed around engaged forces and continue to the objective.

Figure 3-6 MRB Attack in Built-up Area

Figure 3-7. 2d Echelon Committed Around Engaged 1st Echelon

Detected weaknesses in the defense are exploited by aggressive mounted attacks. Infantry mounted on tanks, in BMPs, or trucks fire while moving rapidly along streets to assigned objectives. Tactical doctrine stresses the use of underground routes in the attack. Such routes that cannot be used are blocked or mined to prevent infiltration into the attacking force's rear.

In the assault of an objective, Threat forces isolate the position by fire or by securing adjacent buildings. Isolation is stressed to prevent defenders from escaping to a rearward position and to deny reinforcement. Attached artillery and tanks are habitually used to suppress defensive fires and to breach walls to provide entrances for assaulting infantry. Assaulting infantry avoid advancing along streets where they would be exposed to effective defensive fire. They seek surprise by attacking the objective from the flank or rear. Routes to the objective may consist of available underground passages such as subways, tunnels, and sewers, or passages blasted through intervening building walls. Once the assault of an objective begins, supporting fires shift to upper stories and to adjacent buildings. Assaulting infantry aggressively clear, in sequence, ground floor, basement, stairways, and each ascending floor. Once secured, the position is immediately prepared to repel counterattacks.

Round-the-clock operations are stressed to maintain uninterrupted momentum of the attack and to reduce casualties. Night operations against built-up areas are conducted to:

  • Bypass outlying villages being used as battle positions.

  • Seize initial objectives on the edge of the built-up area when there is a requirement to attack across open ground.

  • Attack across open areas (broad streets, parks, between buildings).

  • Seize strongpoints that are heavily defended.

  • Reduce street obstacles that are well protected by mines and covered by fires.

  • Exploit successes of daylight operations by keeping pressure on the defense.

Reconnaissance units may attempt to infiltrate night objectives to achieve detailed information and to guide assault forces to their objectives. The difficulty of night navigation in restrictive terrain and in the proximity of opposing forces requires a simple maneuver plan with close, easily recognized objectives. Assault groups normally attack in one echelon with units deployed on line. Surprise is achieved by withholding fire support until after the infantry assault has been detected. Once the attack has been unmasked, artillery illuminates the objective. Attached tanks and artillery join assault forces and suppress defensive fires with direct fires.

When surprise cannot be achieved, night assaults may be preceded by direct artillery/tank fires against strongly defended buildings. Direct support artillery and mortars seal off the objective area to prevent defenders from withdrawing or being reinforced. Illumination is fired to guide forces, illuminate objectives, and to dazzle the defender's night vision devices.

After securing assigned objectives and eliminating significant defensive opposition, assault groups normally establish defensive positions beyond the built-up area and prepare to continue the attack. Detailed clearance operations are normally passed to following units or to security formations.


The size and composition of the force allocated to seize a built-up area is determined by the area's size, shape, type of buildings, street patterns, and strength of defending forces. Attacking forces are not evenly distributed around the built-up area, but are employed over the most favorable avenues of approach. Generalized attack zones for motorized rifle units are:

   Division         4 to 6 kilometers
   Regiment         2 to 3 kilometers
   Battalion        400 to 600 meters
   Company          200 to 300 meters

The figure below depicts the second-echelon motorized rifle regiments of a motorized rifle division conducting a deliberate attack. The 1st MRR, designated as the main attack force, is moving with three motorized rifle battalions (MRBs) in column. This formation is normally employed when defenses are organized in depth or when the city is configured in an elongated pattern.

The 2d MRR is organized with two MRBs in the first echelon, one MRB (-) in the second echelon, and a MR company as the reserve. Thi formation is normally employed when defenses are organized on the city's edge or when attacking a shallow built-up area.

Figure 3-9 Motorized Rifle Regiments Conducting the Deliberate Attack

Figure 3-10 . Attack of Built-up Area by Reinforced Motorized Rifl Battalion (Main Attack)

The basic unit in built-up area warfare is the reinforced MRB. The above figure illustrates a type first-echelon MRB (assault detachment) designated as the main attack force. The battalion is reinforced by attaching a tank company, a battery of SP artillery for direct fire, one company of engineers, and one NBC reconnaissance section. An additional artillery battalion is normally placed in direct support for indirect fire missions in the battalion's zone. Missions normally assigned to a MRB making the main attack in the first echelon include:

  • Seize intermediate objective(s) on city's edge.

  • Attack along primary (main) routes to secure deep objectives and key facilities in zone.

Second-echelon MRBs are also reinforced with tanks, artillery, and engineers. This arrangement provides for rapid replacement of the first echelon without time-consuming reassignment of units during the battle.

Missions normally assigned a second-echelon MRB include:

  • Reinforce first echelon.

  • Be prepared to assume first-echelon mission.

  • Provide replacements to first-echelon units which have lost combat effectiveness.

  • Reduce bypassed defense positions.

Reserve MRBs are prepared to:

  • Pass through either echelon and attack to take advantage of a defensive weakness.

  • Protect flank.

  • Conduct firefighting and debris clearance missions as required.

Motorized rifle companies (MRCs) may be designated as assault groups. MRCs conducting the main attack are normally reinforced with a tank platoon, an artillery battery, chemical and flamethrower units, and an engineer platoon. Frequently, MRB antitank gun platoons will be attached to the MRC making the main attack.

Attachments to the MR company are further attached to platoons, providing each platoon with at least one tank or artillery weapon and a share of engineers. These attachments allow decentralized/independent operations by platoons in seizing specific objectives. Frequently, these attachments may be made down to squad level.

Figure 3-11 Motorized Rifle Platoon Assaulting Strongpoint.


Tanks supporting MR companies may be employed as a platoon, in sections, or singly with an MR squad. Generally, a rifle squad provides close-in security for each tank, relying on the tank for protection and fire support. Tanks also support the attack by firing on suspected positions, smashing barricades, and engaging opposing armor.


The difficulty of centralized fire control and the decreased effectiveness of indirect fires within built-up areas is recognized. For these reasons, over 50 percent of the available artillery may be attached and employed in a direct fire role to create breaches in buildings, walls, and barricades. Within the built-up area, SP artillery weapons are frequently attached to infantry platoons/squads. The artillery commander normally collocates with the MRB commander.


Mortars cover avenues of enemy troop movements, such as street intersections and alleys. Mortar firing positions are placed behind walls or inside buildings close to their targets.


Engineers are attached to MR platoons and squads with the following missions:

  • Breach obstacles on approaches to the city.

  • Clear passages through rubble and barricades.

  • Destroy individual buildings.

  • Block or clear underground passages.

  • Clear or lay mines as required.

Division and Regimental Artillery

Massed fire from heavy batteries of the division and regimental artillery groups is used against large buildings, strong enemy fortified positions, and in a counterfire role. Other missions for these groups include interdiction and destruction of enemy supply installations, headquarters, and communication centers.


Threat doctrine stresses the following offensive fundamentals which should be considered when planning the defense of a built-up area.

Built-up areas not essential to overall success of offensive operations will be bypassed and isolated if possible. When an attack is required, Threat forces will attempt to secure key built-up areas by a surprise attack from the march before defenses have been established.

The deliberate attack is characterized by isolating the objective area, conducting an intense pre-assault air and artillery bombardment, and by multiple assaults on the flanks and rear of the area to be secured. Combined arms assault groups orient on securing objectives and will bypass and isolate centers of resistance. Detailed clearance of each building is normally assigned to follow-on units.

MR companies are reinforced with tanks, artillery, antitank guns, and engineers. MR companies are expected to operate independently. The majority of organic artillery is attached to assaulting units and employed in a direct fire role.

Underground systems are considered to be key avenues of approach. Tall structures that are likely observation posts are high-priority artillery targets.

The enemy will accept isolation of attacking units and heavy losses to secure assigned objectives and to maintain attack momentum.


This section describes US defensive doctrine for operations on urbanized terrain and provides detailed considerations to be applied by commanders during planning. Readers must be familiar with defensive planning as outlined in organizational How-to-Fight manuals and understand how the enemy attacks.


Commanders at each level must decide how best to integrate manmade features into their overall scheme. In some cases, commanders may be directed to defend a built-up area, a line of communications, or an industrial complex whose retention provides significant advantage within the framework of the defensive plan of a higher level commander. The decision to defend such an area may also be made because of specific tactical advantages accruing to the defender assigned responsibility for an area. In all cases, the elements of urban sprawl must be analyzed in conjunction with natural terrain in order to determine how to enhance weapons effectiveness to slow, block, canalize, and destroy the enemy.

Built-up areas, like forests, hills, or other terrain features, may be incorporated in the plan for the defense of an urban area in order to:

  • Control avenues of approach. Avenues of approach in urban areas are frequently interrupted by built-up areas scattered across the terrain. These built-up areas may provide a portion of the defensive grid for the combined arms team. In some cases, the location of a built-up area on the urban terrain complex may effectively deny bypass to major elements of an attacking force. At lower levels of command, this may favor the use of villages or small towns as strong-points. At the other extreme, major urban complexes may be so large that they cannot be totally avoided.

  • Act as a combat multiplier. Built-up areas are obstacles to a mechanized force. Passage through such areas can be blocked, canalizing enemy forces into open terrain interlaced with anti-armor fires and reinforced with mines and other obstacles. When urbanization significantly restricts mounted maneuver or when sufficient mechanized forces are unavailable, the integration of the elements of urban sprawl into the defense may provide a combat multiplier for the defender.

  • Conceal forces. Technological advances have significantly improved tactical imagery and sensor devices. However, when employed against built-up areas, their effectiveness is greatly reduced. In addition, urban features frequently offer cover and concealment to the defender with a minimum eXpenditure of preparation time. Such features may be suitable for use as battle positions within the overall defensive scheme.

  • Retain key transportation centers. The requirement to shift and concentrate major combat forces and supplies rapidly over an extended battle area may demand the retention of the hubs of main road and railroad networks.

  • Deny strategic/political objectives. Industrial or economic complexes may be incorporated in the defense for their strategic value, while political/cultural centers may provide psychological/national morale advantages.

Built-up areas will normally not be utilized as part of the urban defensive plan when:

  • Sufficient combat strength is not available for defense.

  • The built-up area does not support the overall defensive concept.

  • Terrain adjacent to the built-up area permits the enemy to bypass it.

  • Structures within the built-up area do not afford adequate protection for the defender.

  • The complex is dominated by adjacent terrain that offers an attacker significant observed fire advantages over the defender.

  • The built-up area is declared an "open city" for humanitarian and political reasons or to protect valuable structures.

Planners should seek to avoid combat within built-up areas while recognizing that this may not always be possible. They should also seek to integrate into the overall defensive scheme those built-up areas which provide the commander defensive advantages.


The fundamentals of the defense do not change on the urban battlefield. To apply them, commanders must understand the characteristics and components of urban sprawl, the advantages and disadvantages they offer, and how they impact on the capabilities of units and weapons during the conduct of the defense.

Understand the Enemy

The first part of this chapter supplements Threat data provided in other source documents by describing how the enemy may attack on urbanized terrain. When planning an urban defense, commanders at each level must place themselves in the enemy's position, view the battlefield from his perspective, and fit his concepts, formations, and weapons to the terrain. This estimate enables the defender to narrow the list of tactical options available to the attacker and identify his most probable courses of action. See the Battlefield.

Once the commander has organized the defense to counter the variety of attack options available to the enemy, he must aggressively seek to learn where the enemy is, how he is organized, which way he is going, and in what strength.

Although the characteristics of urbanized terrain may complicate the intelligence collection effort, the advantage lies initially with the defender. Commanders at all levels must know the terrain over which they will conduct the defense. Reconnaissance, surveillance, and target-acquisition resources must be applied as far forward as possible along likely avenues of approach to provide data to higher commanders.

Security forces operating from covered and concealed positions in depth complement electronic warfare support measures and tactical imagery activities by limiting the enemy's ground reconnaissance and infiltration capabilities.

On the urban battlefield, the attacker must forfeit, at least in part, the advantages of cover and concealment in order to move and mass; his routes of advance are limited and more clearly defined, enhancing the defender's target-surveillance capability; and he must use increased communications to coordinate the concentration of his forces, which reduces his ability to achieve surprise.

The defender must use his knowledge of the terrain and enemy to see the battlefield more accurately than the enemy, to prevent surprise, and to maximize reaction time for maneuver forces.

Concentrate at the Critical Times and Places

The ability of the defender to concentrate rapidly throughout the battle area may be limited by restrictive terrain. In order to maintain a favorable mobility differential over the attacker, the commander must use his knowledge of the terrain. Routes must be selected, reconnoitered, and prepared for the forward and lateral movement of forces to be concentrated. The obstacle value of the urban terrain complex must be reinforced to slow the attacker.

Detailed movement data and explicit traffic control plans are essential. Lines of communication which are dependent on bridges, overpasses, or tunnels should not be used unless suitable bypasses are available. Weather or land usage patterns, as well as other manmade features, may limit the mobility of armored and mechanized forces. Greater reliance must be placed on an initial positioning of forces which accepts risk zones along the least probable avenues of approach. These zones may be covered primarily by air or ground screening forces and fires. On urbanized terrain, it is more difficult to recover from an erroneous decision which concentrates maneuver elements too early or at the wrong place. In this maneuver-restrictive envirOnment, increased emphasis on the use of artillery and attack helicopters as the first increments of concentration is required. As the battle progresses, the commander's intimate knowledge of the terrain is used to maintain the mobility advantage.

Fight as a Combined Arms Team

A detailed analysis of the urban-terrain complex provides the basis for allocating and organizing available forces to accomplish the defensive mission. Cross-reinforcement of maneuver elements will normally be required in order to match unit capabilities to the terrain mix. In the more open portions of the urban environment, armored and mechanized forces may play the dominant role. As the density of manmade features increases, the employment of mechanized or dismounted infantry, supported by armor and engineers, becomes increasingly important. If it is necessary to fight within a built-up area, the role of infantry supported by other arms becomes dominant. Field and air defense artillery, air cavalry, and attack helicopters are employed throughout the battle area to maximize the combined arms team's effectiveness, multiply its combat power, and enhance its survivability.

Exploit the Advantages of the Defender

The already significant advantages of the defender become more pronounced on the urbanized battlefield. A common threat running through the discussion of the application of these fundamentals is the defender's familiarity with the terrain. Every action by the attacker is made more difficult because he must feel his way through this complex of manmade and natural terrain features. The defender can prepare the ground in advance, build and reinforce obstacles, and select firing positions and observation posts, many of which require improvement only. He can reconnoiter and improve routes between battle positions to shift forces and to supply them. Mutually supporting positions are often readily available. This pattern of favorable positions should enable the commander to strike the enemy repeatedly, slowing and disrupting him, inflicting losses, and making him vulnerable to multiple, violent, local counterattacks. In many areas, terrain restrictions may enable attacks by fire alone.


Defensive planning on the urbanized battlefield follows the process described in organizational How-to-Fight manuals. The basic roles of the covering force, main battle, and rear areas remain unchanged. The following specific considerations assume added importance.

Organization of the Battlefield.

On the urbanized battlefield, the defender fits his forces to the ground by utilizing the terrain to take maximum advantage of its natural and manmade features. Urban sprawl adds strength to the active defense by providing covered and concealed positions and restricting the attacker's mobility and observation.

Dismounted infantry can contribute to this defense by occupying battle positions or strongpoints around which the mobile battle is fought. In restrictive urban terrain, dismounted forces may be required in order to find the enemy, deny him the ability to close without being detected, and then fight the close-in battle.

If the retention of a built-up area is required, the defense may assume the characteristics of a position defense organized in depth and supported by strong mobile forces.

Covering Force Area (CFA). The urban area defense begins with mobile combined arms covering forces deployed well forward of the main battle area (MBA).. Company team and task force battle positions are organize in depth to control approaches to the main battle area, with emphasis placed on using natural and manmade features which offer cover and concealment or restrict opposing force maneuver. Small villages and strip areas may be incorporated in the defensive scheme in the same manner as other terrain features.

Increased engineer support is required to reinforce the obstacle nature of the terrain and maintain withdrawal and attack routes. Mixed caliber artillery contributes to deception in this environment where it is difficult for the enemy to see the battlefield and assists the CFA commander in maintaining the continuity of the defense from successive positions. The air defense artillery umbrella must extend over the CFA to deny the enemy the use of aerial observation and attack assets. Air cavalry and attack helicopters should be employed throughout the CFA, taking advantage of the terrain which limits detection by ground surveillance and screens aerial maneuver.

The transfer of the enemy by the covering force must not result in an easing of pressure or allow the enemy to gain momentum. Once detailed coordination has been accomplished, the restrictive nature of the urban terrain complex, its obstacles, and readily available defensive positions may facilitate the actual hand off.

Main Battle Area (MBA). The defending commander must be aware of the impact that urbanization of the terrain within the MBA will have on his ability to defend. Consideration should be given to the restrictive or compartmentalized areas caused by the urbanization process and to the advantages or disadvantages which the areas may offer the defender. It is possible that some of these areas may fall within risk areas which provide the enemy with covered and/or concealed infiltration routes into the MBA. In such cases, responsibility for risk areas must be clearly delineated between adjacent units. If the urban terrain includes villages, small towns, and strip areas, it might be advantageous to incorporate these features within company/team or task force battle positions. Such features can provide excellent cover and concealment to defending forces and are frequently mutually supportable.

As previously noted, it may become necessary to designate a built-up complex within the MBA as critical to the defense of the urban area. When this situation arises, it is imperative to initiate the defense of the urban area as far forward as possible to facilitate the defense of the built-up area and to avoid a protracted combat-in-cities battle.

The figure below portrays typical defensive sectors for company/team organizations assigned a defend mission in various types of built-up areas. With less restrictive missions, these typical widths may be extended. Final sector dimensions are defined based on a detailed analysis as described in appendix A.

Figure 3-17. Typical Company Team Defensive Sectors by Type Built-up Area

      A          300-500 Meters

B 400-600 Meters

C 500-800 Meters

D 500-900 Meters

E 700-1100 Meters

Commanders should consider the potential value of urban features as obstacles to attacking forces. Frequently urban areas sit astride, or otherwise dominate, high-speed avenues of approach into and through the MBA. If urban areas cannot be bypassed easily, they may reduce the momentum of the enemy's attack and his ability to maneuver. In these instances, the defending commander must be prepared to capitalize on the situation. Conversely, the defending commander must also appreciate the limitations which urban areas can place on his own ability to maneuver, particularly during active defense operations.

A primary concern to commanders defending a built-up area is to avoid becoming isolated by enemy forces. In planning the defense, the commander can normally make two assumptions concerning this matter. The first assumption is that although the built-up area may not occupy terrain which is dominant, it normally has dominant terrain adjacent to it on at least one side. The second assumption is that, doctrinally, the enemy will attempt to bypass and isolate a built-up area by securing the adjacent dominant terrain before the built-up area itself is directly attacked. Therefore, the defending commander must integrate surrounding dominant terrain into his defensive scheme in order to preclude being bypassed and isolated.

Should the defense of an urban area develop to the point that operations within the built-up area itself are required, the defending commander must consider the nature of the built-up area and the characteristics which are unique to fighting there. The nature of the built-up area includes such aspects as the size of the area, the type of construction used for buildings, the density of the buildings, and the street pattern or layout of the built-up area. These aspects may vary considerably from one part of the built-up area to another, but each will impact in some way on the manner in which the defense of the area is conducted.

Built-up areas generally degrade command and control by reducing the capability of direct observation of subordinate units and by interfering with radio communication. Zones of responsibility are compressed into relatively small areas with shorter unit frontages.

Maneuver room is restricted, placing a greater reliance on infantry-heavy forces. Fields of fire and observation are also reduced, leading to violent, independent small-unit actions at close quarters. The battle within a built-up area can be expected to be multidimensional. It may be fought simultaneously above the ground, on roof tops, in buildings, at street level, and below the ground in sewers and subway systems.

Rear Area. The functions and organization of the division rear area are not significantly changed in an urban environment. Within larger urban areas, mobility may be restricted by damage to and along lines of communication from air or artillery attacks. Detailed traffic control may be required to maintain the forward and rearward flow of combat service support elements. Additionally, the everpresent threat of attack by small elements infiltrating through the MBA or from air assault forces increases. Internal security and self-defense responsibilities expand because of the limited availability of and reduced mobility of reserves.

When the MBA defense is organized around brigade battle areas, security during logistical movements and for combat support units located outside these battle areas becomes increasingly critical. If brigade support areas are located behind battle areas, additional coordination may be required to establish priority for security and movement between the various brigade, division, and corps support elements.

Limited Visibility Operations

The defender on the urban battlefield must be prepared to counter enemy attacks launched at night or under other conditions of limited visibility. Within built-up areas, the attacker may use such conditions to attempt to extend his reconnaissance, infiltrate friendly positions, cross open areas, or secure limited objectives. To help defend against such operations, the following basic measures may be employed:

  • Shift defensive positions and crew-served weapons to alternate positions just before dark to reduce chances for surprise and to deceive the enemy as to their exact location. A squad or fire team can often be shifted to an adjacent building and provide the same cover on an avenue of approach.

  • Occupy or patrol open areas between units which are covered by observed fire during daylight.

  • Employ radar, remote sensors, and night observation devices on the best night avenues of approach. Use nuisance mines, noisemaking devices, tangle foot tactical wire, and LPs on secondary avenues of approach for early warning.

  • Place LPs for security outside of buildings being used as strongpoints or battle positions.

  • Plan illumination over the entire sector, integrating artillery/mortar flares, trip flares, and hand-projected flares.

Command and Control

Urban warfare places a heavy strain on the command and control apparatus. Command of subordinate units and the control of fires is complicated by restrictive terrain, the proximity of opposing forces, reduced communications capabilities, and the numerous small, isolated battles that may be fought simultaneously throughout the urban complex.

The primary control measures used are battle areas, battle positions, and sectors. Phase lines, checkpoints, and restrictive fire control measures may also be used to simplify reporting and control.

Timely and accurate situation reports are more critical to the commander in this environment. Distances between forces on the urban battlefield are reduced; an unreported breakthrough may splinter defensive cohesion and seriously jeopardize the entire defense. Commanders must constantly be informed of critical actions to enable rapid assessment and reaction. Commanders should be located well forward and within FM (secure) ranges of committed forces.

An in-depth, well-thought-out concept of defense provides the latitude for repositioning uncommitted units and quickly integrating them into the defense.

Achievement of an integrated, flexible, and responsible command and control system will require:

  • A detailed, but simple, centralized concept for conducting the defense. Subordinate units will be given restrictive missions and finite control measures where necessary.

  • Although told exactly what to do- how to accomplish assigned tasks will be left to subordinate units (decentralized execution).

  • Decentralized execution may require attachment of combat support and combat service support assets.

  • Commanders insure accomplishment of assigned tasks in an orderly fashion by establishing priorities and deadlines.


This section provides examples of how units from corps through battalion task force may defend on an urbanized battlefield. The urbanized terrain offers certain benefits and problems for the defender to consider in developing his defensive plan. A keen awareness of the urban environment and how it can affect the battle is stressed for all levels of command. In order to reduce the amount of repetitive general information, each special situation flows from the preceding material. Therefore, they should be read in sequence. General planning considerations and procedures described in detail in organizational How-to-Fight manuals are not repeated here.


Strategic intelligence sources indicate that enemy units are preparing to initiate offensive operations. All available information points to the fact that an attack crossing the international boundary on a wide front is imminent. The commander, 10th (US) Corps, along with other allied commanders has bee directed to implement standing defense plans immediately.

The mission of the lOth (US) Corps is to establish covering forces along the international boundary and defend in sector.

This Corps is a forward-deployed organization consisting of the following major combat units:

    23d Armored Division
    52d Mechanized Division
    203d Armored Cav Regt
    312th Mech Inf Bde (Sep)

The 10th (US) Corps is opposed by the 6th and 8th Combined Arms Armies. It is estimated that their combined first-echelon forces will consist of three motorized rifle and two tank divisions, with three motorized rifle and one tank division in the second echelon. The front's second echelon includes a tank army and mobilizing combined arms army element.

It is estimated that the enemy will attempt to penetrate the corps defenses on a narrow front once beyond the border region in order to pass second-echelon forces into the corps rear area. Although the enemy may be required to secure selected urban areas for use as logistical bases to support the offensive drive, it can be expected that first-echelon forces will attempt to bypass urban areas and leave the attack of those built-up areas to second-echelon forces.


Corps Defense Plan

During the development of the corps defense plan, specific consideration was given to land use patterns, major lines of communication, and physical terrain forms. Each of these elements impacts upon defensive operations, and, when properly utilized, may offer significant advantages by adding to the combat power of the defender.

The following figure portrays the primary terrain features and lines of communication within the corps sector. The border area consists of a 5-10 kilometer-deep band of heavily forested rolling foothills cut by narrow valleys. The main crossing points for motorized forces are along Route 4 and the four regional highways.

Figure 3-21 10th (US) Corps Defensive Sector

South of the foothills lies the broad, gently rolling Blue River Plains. No significant natural obstacles to maneuver exist except the Blue River itself which is ford-able at selected crossing sites. The defense in this area requires armor-heavy forces and must be conducted from battle positions arrayed in depth on the best available terrain.

In order to cross the Blue River and carry his attack to the south, the enemy will be required to displace and reposition combat support units, particularly field artillery and short-range air defense systems.

South of the Blue River, the countryside begins to climb toward the White and Thorn Mountains. The generally rolling, compartmented terrain favors the defender. In the west, the Alda Valley is a natural corridor leading through the hill country and into the upper Karf Plains.

Southwest of the valley and along the corps western boundary, the White Mountains are a major obstacle to maneuver above battalion level. In the east, the regional road net provides access through the Thorn Mountains to the southern plains area.

National Route 4, connecting Karf and Alda and continuing north through the Alda Valley to the border, is the principal line of communications in the corps sector.

The Blue River Plains, Upper Karf Plains, and the Ness Foothills encompass approximately 55 percent of the land area and are primarily agricultural regions with limited industrial development. Almost 30 percent of the corps area is forested, with wood production centered in the White and Thorn Mountain regions.

Approximately 10 percent of the land area in the corps sector is allocated to urban/industrial uses. Numerous small villages are found throughout the sector, with an average density of 8-9 villages per 100 square kilometers. This density increases to as high as 12 villages per 100 square kilometers along the central Blue River Plains, Alda Valley, and National Routes 4 and 6. The mountain regions and border area are sparsely settled.

Urban areas of particular interest to the corps commander are the two regional towns of Alda and Ness. In the west, Alda, with a population of approximately 80,000, sits astride the most likely high-speed avenue of approach into the corps sector. It includes large areas of urban sprawl radiating from the town along roadnets leading north and south and toward the foothills of the White and Thorn Mountains. Alda and its adjacent terrain constitute a significant obstacle which would be extremely difficult for major forces to bypass. Integrating the built-up area of Alda into the corps plan for defense in depth offers significant tactical advantage.

Ness, in the east, is slightly larger than Alda and represents another primary communications hub along an avenue of approach. However, its nonrestrictive adjacent terrain would easily enable an attacker to bypass the town with first-echelon forces. The last major obstacle to southerly movement in this area is located north of Ness in the Thorn Mountain passes. Based on these considerations, Ness is considered to be of minimal value to the corps defense.

To the south is Karf, a major urban complex with a total population well in excess of one million. Because of its large size and lack of readily exploitable resources, Harf is not considered to be an immediate tactical objective and would probably be bypassed.

The figure on the next page portrays the major avenues of approach identified during the analysis of terrain.

The corps commander's concept provides for the conduct of an active defense in sector with the covering force battle fought north of the Blue River by the on-line divisions. Although the Blue River is fordable at selected sites throughout its length, its steep banks and paralleling flood plains will restrict and slow attacking units. The excellent defensive terrain in the area will facilitate the handoff of the enemy to the brigades in the main battle area.

Figure 3-23 Major Avenues of Approach

To assist in the conduct of the covering force and main battle area operation, the following corps assets have been allocated to the forward divisions.

The figure on the next page depicts the basic organization of the terrain for the corps defensive battle.

The majority of the corps combat and combat support units are garrisoned within the corps sector. Preplanned initial position areas and movement routes of all units have been reconnoitered by key personnel at platoon level and above. Total movement and preparation time varies from less than 12 hours for forward maneuver elements to approximately 3 days for selected corps combat service support units. It is anticipated that all units will be in position and operational prior to the initiation of the attack.

The selection of battle positions and areas is based upon a detailed analysis of Threat capabilities, doctrine, and the terrain in the corps sector. Forces are fitted to the best available terrain in order to service the anticipated target array. In many cases, the cover, concealment, and fields of fire offered by small built-up areas provide significant tactical advantages in the development of the overall defensive network. The retention of such areas is not of significance to the corps. Alda, however, because of its location along the major line of communications in the corps sector and its relationship to adjacent dominating terrain, is critical to the corps defense and must be retained.

The basic goals embodied in the corps plan are to defeat attacking first-echelon armies as far forward as possible in the corps sector, to gain time for reinforcements to arrive, and to create favorable conditions for initiating offensive actions.


Division Defense Plan

The mission of the 23d Armored Division includes three basic tasks. The division must conduct covering force operations north of the Blue River, defend in sector, and retain the town of Alda. To assist the division, the corps commander allocated additional maneuver, field artillery, and engineer units to the division and placed an attack helicopter company OPCON to it.

As shown in the figure3-27, the sector of the 23d Armored Division consists of three basic geographic regions (i.e., the Blue River Plains area, the uplands of the White and Thorn Mountains, and the Upper Karf Plains). Superimposed upon and influencing the tactical characteristics of each of these subdivisions are urban terrain features. Division planning for the conduct of the defense must consider the entire terrain package before allocating forces for the accomplishment of its basic tasks.

Figure 3-25. 10th (US) Corps Defensive Battle

The Blue River Plains area is a broad agricultural belt bounded on the north and south by uplands and split into two segments by the Blue River, a natural obstacle.

In the north, a band of heavily forested, sparsely populated, rolling hills extends along the international border. This area is cut by numerous small valleys which provide avenues of approach leading into the plains. Maneuver by, formations larger than battalion size is restricted to the main communication routes where the national and regional highways cross the border.

While the terrain characteristics along the border favor the defender, this advantage is neutralized, at least in part, by the ability of the enemy to apply massive, preplanned fire support at any point and time under the protection of a fully coordinated air defense umbrella.

Between the border uplands and the Blue River, the gently rolling countryside offers only minor changes in relief with low ridge lines and isolated knolls rising 10-30 meters above the surrounding plains. Tributaries of the Blue River flow from north to south through shallow valleys cut into the plains.

Dotting this northern plains area are numerous small, relatively self- sufficient villages surrounded by garden plots, small, dense wood lots, and agricultural tracts divided by hedgerows and irrigation systems. The rural, fair-weather roadnet will support light vehicular traffic, and off-the-road mobility for mechanized forces is excellent throughout most of the year. Although multiple avenues of approach penetrate this entire network, maneuver formations may frequently be split or diverted by the requirement to bypass built-up areas.

Observation and fields of fire from these villages and low ridges throughout the area are excellent, and in many cases extend beyond 2000 meters. Single family dwellings ringing the rural villages frequently provide easily prepared fighting positions suitable for use during the flow of the active defense.

The density of built-up areas increases along the hard-surface, all- weather roadnet converging in the small regional towns. These roads, which will support heavy vehicular and mechanized traffic, can easily be cut by demolitions, thus reinforcing the obstacle value of the built-up areas.

The combination of natural terrain and manmade features in the northern plains area favors the employment of armor-heavy forces, fighting from battle positions arrayed laterally and in depth. The small built-up areas should be integrated where possible in the defense as obstacles to derive full value from the cover and concealment they afford.

South of the river, the plains rapidly give way to rolling hills and ridgelines dominating valleys that carry run-off from the mountains to the river. In this area, the central portion of the division sector is traversed by the Alda Valley, a broad, heavily wooded natural corridor which gradually narrows as it passes through the mountain area and onto the Upper Karf Plains. To the south and west of the valley, the foothills of the White Mountains severely restrict the mobility of mechanized forces. In the eastern portion of the sector, gently rolling foothills and small valleys form terrain compartments which complicate coordinated large-scale maneuver.

Throughout this southern portion of the plains area, built-up areas are concentrated along the major roadnets. When coupled with the canalizing effect of the increasingly restrictive terrain, this array of manmade features provides balanced forces the opportunity to confront the attacker repeatedly with obstacles and mutually supporting defensive positions in depth. In order to cross the Blue River, he will be required to displace his combat support and combat service support units from initial positions north of the border, thus increasing their vulnerability.

The largest commercial/industrial centers on the plains are located along the Blue River in the small towns that have grown at the sites where the national and regional roadnets cross. The river is the only major obstacle to maneuver on the plains. Its steep banks and associated flood plains limit tactical crossings to selected fording sites or to existing bridges unless extensive engineering effort is expended. Most fording sites are located in the vicinity of rural built-up areas.

The White and Thorn Mountain ranges rise to elevations in excess of 300 meters, separating the northern division sector from the Upper Karf Plains. Heavily forested mountains form another natural obstacle.

Figure 3-27 23d Armored Division Defensive Sector

They are sparsely populated with isolated communities supporting the forest industry. Few hard-surface, all-weather roads exist, and off-the- road trafficability for any type of vehicle is poor. The small villages block and further restrict maneuver by sitting astride the intersections of the inferior roadnets and natural terrain corridors.

The Upper Karf area consists of a broad irregular plain cut and interlaced by streams and small valleys. Local relief is extremely varied with isolated hills standing up to 75 meters above adjacent flatlands. Primarily an agricultural area, it offers excellent cross-country mobility. Its rural roadnet converges on small towns which are tied together by the regional highway system. Like the Blue River Plains, this area favors the employment of tank-heavy forces.

The following figure portrays the major avenues of approach leading to the Upper Karf Plains.

Figure 3-28 Major Avenues of Approach

During his analysis of the urban characteristics of the terrain, the division commander focuses his attention primarily on the regional towns along the main avenues of approach in the sector. Unlike the smaller villages, which may play an important role as obstacles and fighting positions during the flow of the battle but seldom warrant retention, the larger built-up areas may provide significant advantages to the defender. If the enemy cannot bypass and must fight through these towns, his momentum will suffer. Such delay will contribute to the overall mission of gaining time for reinforcements to arrive and will increase target servicing time on columns backed up by these bottlenecks.

The location of the town in relation to the adjacent terrain and probable enemy avenues of approach, its size, physical layout, the structural characteristics of its buildings, its commercial and industrial assets, and its population are basic considerations involved in this analysis.

Bergdorf and Oberdorf, on the principal crossing sites over Blue River, and Reft, located north of ALDA on Route 4, warrant special consideration.

Forces defending either of the river towns could effectively control the railroad and highway bridge networks during the withdrawal of the covering force and deny these crossings to enemy lead elements once the bridges are destroyed.

The terrain in the vicinity of Bergdorf favors an initial defense along the river with the integration of the town in a battle position. The newer industrial and commercial area on the north bank of the river is a significant obstacle suitable for defense by mechanized forces. In spite of the current stay-in-place policy, some civilians will have to be evacuated from likely areas of intense combat. National authorities in each town will be required to designate prepared shelters for such contingencies.

Oberdorf in the eastern portion of the sector offers few advantages to the defender.

Smaller than Bergdorf, its newer construction has spread north and south from the river along the regional roadnet. Agricultural processing plants and storage areas north of the river provide some concealment, but little or no cover. The older town center sits astride crossings over the river, limiting maneuver and fields of fire. The town can easily be bypassed and isolated by using other fording sites along the river. The best defensive terrain controlling crossing sites in this area is located on the foothills south of the river.

Reft is located south of Bergdorf where the valley begins to narrow for its climb through the Alda Gap. It is nestled in the low foothills controlling the major avenue of approach along Route 4. If the division is to retain ALDA without getting involved in a major city battle, the attack must be stopped in the vicinity of Reft and its associated terrain complex.

The figure below portrays the organization of the terrain for the defense.

Figure 3-29 23d Armored Division Defensive Battle

The division commander's concept calls for the conduct of covering force operations north of the Blue River under division control. Forces allocated to the covering force battle include the 1-203d Armd Cav Sqdn, TF 2-135, and the divisional Cav Sqdn, all of which are garrisoned in the border area. In addition, the 2d and 3d Brigades are tasked to provide one armor-heavy task force to the covering force. Fire support is provided by the three battalions of the 71st FA Brigade, the divisional general support FA battalion, and a Vulcan battery. Engineer support is provided by the 502d Engineer Battalion augmented by one divisional engineer company.

It is anticipated that the hand off of enemy elements to the brigades in the main battle area will take place in the vicinity of RL Red.

Each brigade has been assigned battle areas fitted to the terrain along the primary avenues of approach in the division sector.

Maneuver elements allocated to the brigades for the conduct of the defense include:

           1st Bde          2d Bde              3d Bde
           1 Mech Bn        2 Mech Bn           2 Mech Bn
           1 Armor Bn       3 Armor Bn          2 Armor Bn

Upon completion of covering force operations, the corps maneuver elements will be positioned under brigade control in positions that add depth to the defense. This will insure that forces are in place to block routes converging on Alda as the brigades shift south into the excellent defensive terrain along the valley corridor and foothold regions.

The division commander emphasized the following factors:

"The priority for engineering effort will be to countermobility operations in the 2d Brigade sector with obstacles established in depth and covered by long-range fires and ATGM. The obstacle value of the Blue River must be reinforced. Its bridges should be retained as long as possible, but destroyed as the fight shifts into the MBA. Major obstacles can also be created along National Route 4, which is heavily dependent on elevated spans and its tunnel network, and along roadnets passing through built-up areas.

"The numerous small built-up areas throughout the sector are obstacles which offer easily prepared defensive positions controlling much of the trafficable terrain. They can frequently be incorporated in battle positions or used as bases of fire to support limited objective, low-level counterattacks.

"South of RL Green, the nature of the terrain and increased urbanization will tend to compartmentalize the attacker and cause him either to mass and slow his advance or to break up his formations along minor avenues of approach. In the 2d Brigade area, Reft and its adjacent terrain represent a major obstacle which must be retained as long as possible.

"If it is necessary to fight to retain Ada, success will depend mainly on our ability to control the dominating terrain adjacent to the town. It is anticipated that the enemy will attempt to bypass Alda on the west along the narrow corridor between the town and foothills. Any attempt to pass through Alda itself would destroy the momentum of his first-echelon forces. The positioning of the corps reserve and the nature of the terrain in the 3d Brigade sector make it doubtful that he could effect a bypass east of Alda.

    "Refugee control and infiltration may be major problems in the Alda area. PSYOP teams and territorial forces operating in the Division planning for the defense provides sufficient forces and control measures for the accomplishment of each major task. The defense is continuous in nature and conducted in depth throughout the sector. town will be under the operational control of the 2d Brigade to insure that their planning provides for the organization of civilian control areas corresponding to the tactical defense sectors."


Brigade Defense Plan

The defensive mission of the 2d Brigade, 23d Armored Division, includes several tasks. The brigade must provide one tank-heavy task force to the covering force, assist elements of the covering force in a rearward passage of lines in the vicinity of RL Red, defend in its assigned battle area, and retain the city of Alda.

Intelligence sources indicate that Alda is an initial enemy objective and that the enemy must secure the city to serve as a logistics base in support of further operations.

Urbanization within the brigade battle area is moderately dense and consists of numerous small villages, strip areas, and towns in addition to the city of Alda. New growth, in the form of light industrial centers and modem residential areas, can be found in most of the villages and small towns. The city of Alda includes large new areas built on its outskirts. Several of these built-up areas, when considered in conjunction with other terrain features in the valley, will have an impact on military operations.

Six of the small towns are prominent enough to be considered of some importance to the defense. The brigade commander and his staff evaluated them based on two primary criteria. The first is the obstacle effect which they may have against enemy forces. The second criterion is based on how well they lend themselves to being defended.

Bergdorf. Sits astride the most likely high-speed avenue of approach leading into the brigade area and controls bridges over the Blue River. Dominant terrain features on the east and west sides of the town and south of the river enhance the defense of the town. The town cannot be easily bypassed.

Aal. Sits astride the second most likely avenue of approach into the brigade area. It controls bridges over the Blue River; however, surrounding terrain does not lend itself to the defense of Aal proper. Good defensive terrain which controls routes out of Aal are located to the south and southwest of the town.

Kant. Sits astride the most dangerous avenue of approach. It can be bypassed without great difficulty unless significant engineer effort is dedicated to the emplacement of countermobility obstacles.

Reft. Sits astride the most dangerous avenue of approach. Terrain on east and west side of Reft precludes easy bypass and enhances the defensive potential of the area.

Lerl. Sits astride the most dangerous avenue of approach but can be easily bypassed.

Barg. Sits astride a less threatening avenue of approach and offers some defensive value.

In order to avoid a protracted battle within Alda, brigade planning for the defense seeks to defeat the attack as far forward in its assigned battle area as possible.

Terrain forward of the brigade battle area is primarily an open and rolling agricultural zone. In the northern portion of the battle area, the Blue River runs across the brigade battle area, with bridges located at the towns of Bergdorf and Aal. The river is fordable with difficulty between these towns except at a developed crossing site midway between them. To the west of Bergdorf and to the east of Aal, the river banks are too steep to provide suitable crossing sites. The low hill masses along the south side of the river provide excellent observation and long-range fields of fire to the north. Avenues of approach in this portion of the battle area are limited to the corridors passing through these hills.

South of this area, the Alda Valley narrows and becomes increasingly restrictive as it climbs toward Alda and the pass through the southern mountains. Trafficability throughout the brigade battle area is fair-to-good along primary and secondary all-weather roads. There are also several loose-surface roads throughout the area which can support limited numbers of tracked vehicles except during periods of excessive precipitation.

The brigade commander is primarily concerned with those avenues of approach which can support at least an enemy battalion-size force. The following figure depicts the most likely avenues of approach forward of and within the brigade battle area identified during the analysis of the terrain.

The most threatening avenue of approach into the area passes through Bergdorf along Route 4. The second most likely avenue of approach is through Aal. Forces along this route can turn to the southwest toward Kant or continue south along the high ground of the valley

Figure 3-32. Major Avenues of Approach.

shoulder. Once committed to this southerly route, any subsequent change in direction would be extremely difficult. A minor avenue of approach also passes along the western foothills leading to Alda. South of Barg this route becomes highly restrictive for armor and for maneuver above company level.

Having analyzed his mission, the enemy, the terrain, and the courses of action available to him, the brigade commander briefs his staff on his general concept for the defense within the assigned battle area.

"The Blue River which runs across our area is a natural obstacle to attacking enemy forces and will serve as a good point for the covering force to complete its handoff of the battle to the main battle area forces. The town of Bergdorf sits astride the major high-speed avenue of approach into the Alda Valley and also controls bridges over the Blue River.

"For these reasons we should make maximum use of Bergdorf in our defensive planning. I also want to insure that other built-up areas which enhance our defensive capabilities are used to our fullest advantage. Those towns and villages which are astride likely avenues of approach and serve as obstacles to enemy forces must be fully developed to slow or halt the advancing enemy elements. They must be denied the opportunity to gain momentum south of the initial defensive positions.

"The terrain forces the main avenues of approach to converge in the vicinity of the town of Kant. Countermobility obstacles will be required in the town and east of it. Field artillery, attack helicopter, and close air support will play an important role in this area. If this is properly planned and coordinated, we will gain additional time to service targets. We should make every effort to halt the enemy advance forward of Reft. If we permit the enemy to penetrate beyond this point, we will have an extremely difficult time retaining Alda.

"In planning this operation I want to establish a battalion-size battle area in the northeast section of our brigade battle area. The task force assigned to this battle area will have the responsibility of preventing an enemy penetration through its assigned area. Task force battle positions should be established along the Blue River, keying on the primary avenue of approach through Bergdorf and covering potential crossing sites on the river. Insure that optimum use is made of dominant terrain along the south side of the river.

"Additional task force battle positions are to be planned and prepared in depth throughout our battle area where they can most effectively influence the battle. One task force reinforced with engineers will occupy a battle area encompassing the town of Reft with the mission of retaining the town and halting the enemy advance north of that town. If the enemy is successful in penetrating to that point, I want at least two other task force positions prepared to support the defense in and around Reft. Task force battle positions and task force sectors within the city of Alda must also be identified early to insure that civil affairs, national authority, and ground tactical planning are fully coordinated. Even with a stay-in-place policy, evacuation of personnel from the northern and western portions may be necessary.

"Upon completion of the covering force battle, our task force and TF

2-135 will pass to our control. We will also pick up additional engineer

assets in the form of the 5O2d Engr Bn (Corps) (-), reinforcing fires from two battalions of the 71st FA Bde, and OPCON of an attack helicopter company.

"Position the attack helicopter company in an assembly area in the vicinity of Bergdorf with priority for employment to the TF in that area. Upon passage of RL Green, priority will shift to the TF defending the Reft area. Priority for fire support will pass in the same manner."

"Our TAC CP will locate well forward with an initial position in the vicinity of Bergdorf."

Figure 3-34a 2d Brigade Task Organization

Figure 3-34 2d Brigade Defensive Battle

Missions assigned for the defensive battle with the brigade battle area are as follows:

1-11 Armor:

* Occupy and define BP 1. * Prepare the bridges over the Blue River in Bergdorf for destruction. * Prepare BP 4. * Reconnoiter BP 6, 9, and 12.

1-12 Armor:

* Upon release from the covering force defend BP 5. * Prepare BP 10. * Reconnoiter BP 12.

1-13 Armor:

* Occupy and defend BA Rose. * Prepare the bridges over the Blue River in Aal for destruction. * Be prepared to occupy BPs 10 and 13.

1-92 Mech:

* Occupy and defend BP 2. * Prepare BP 8. * Reconnoiter BP 13.

1-93 Mech:

* Occupy and defend BA Gold. * Prepare BP 11.

2-135 Mech:

* Upon release from the covering force occupy and defend BP 3. * Prepare BP 7. * Reconnoiter BP 6, 9, and 11.

A/115 AH:

* Upon release from the covering force occupy an assembly area vicinity of BP 3 with priority of employment to TF 1-11. * Be prepared to occupy an assembly area vicinity of BA Gold. * Upon passage RL Green, priority of employment will be to TF 1-93.


Battalion Task Force Defense Plan

Task force 1-93 has been assigned the mission of defending from Battle Area Gold and retaining the small town of Reft. As the order was issued, the 2d Brigade commander emphasized the importance of BA Gold to the overall brigade defensive plan once south of RL Green.

"Your battle area contains the best defensive terrain along the valley approach to Alda. Its rolling, wooded nature provides repeated opportunities to confront the attacker from planned defensive positions. In most cases, concealed routes will be available to assist in repositioning forces in depth. The retention of Reft is essential. If we can stop the enemy on the favorable terrain north of the town, we can avoid a protracted and costly battle for Ada and the pass to the southern plains area."

"To strengthen the overall defense, I will position task forces in BPs 7 and 8. If the attacker tries to redirect his efforts to the east to avoid you, he will be confronted not only by defenders in BP 8 but also by the forces in BA Rose. If he shifts to the west, forces in BP 7 and the rugged terrain along the western slopes will effectively stop him. Either move will expose a vulnerable flank to you."

"Once we are south of RL Green, you will have priority for fire support and for the employment of the attack helicopter company OPCON to the brigade.

"I want to destroy enough attacking forces north of the town to allow for the initiation of limited counterattacks. Be prepared to receive the attachment of a tank-heavy company team from TF 1-12 for such use in your battle area. I don't feel it is necessary to develop a strong-point in the town since the terrain on its flanks can be readily tied into the built-up area defenses. Make sure the forces in the town organize positions in depth. They must be prepared to defeat mounted or dismounted attacks and hold the town with only limited reinforcement initially."

Task force 1-93 consists of two mechanized companies and one tank company. In addition to the priorities for fires established by the brigade commander, an engineer company and a Vulcan platoon are attached for the defense. The task force maneuver units will be uncommitted prior to the enemy's crossing of RL Green. The initial defensive battle fought along the Blue River will provide adequate time for the organization of the task force battle area.

Task force planning for the defense is based on a detailed analysis of the terrain and personal reconnaissance of the area by key personnel. As indicated, the terrain in

Figure 3-36 2d Brigade Defensive South of PL Green

the northern portion of BA Gold is a gently-rolling, wooded valley paralleling the communications network. Successive platoon and company positions are available in depth throughout this area.

Closer to Reft, wooded hills lead eastward to the shoulder of the Alda Valley. A mixture of small wood lots, orchards, and open fields used for grazing and garden crops are pieced together in a patchwork pattern. Fair-weather, loose-surface roads lace the area and allow for the maneuver or repositioning of light wheeled or tracked vehicles. The repeated pattern of open fields and tree lines provides excellent fields of fire from concealed positions for anti-tank and direct fire weapons.

The western portion of the battle area contains a long, low hill mass overlooking Route 4 and the valley approaches from the north. Lightly wooded along their base, the hills rise to form a gentle rolling ridge leading from Reft and Route 4 to the west.

Reft is a small industrial and agricultural center that has almost doubled in size over the past decade. Its current peacetime population is approximately 10,500. The town's depth along a north-south axis is approximately 2500 meters. Its width in the central region is slightly more than one kilometer.

Figure 3-37 The Town of Reft

The old part of the town has retained its village characteristics with narrow winding streets and closely packed buildings. The newer growth extends in all directions from the central core. To the west, there is an industrial complex consisting of small factories and low warehouses. A fuel storage facility occupies the area between the rail lines and the new Route 4. The major highway system bypasses Reft on the west, with interchanges located north and south of the town. Ringing the remaining portion of the town is a new residential area with individual and multiple family dwellings laid out in a rectangular pattern. The few high-rise buildings in the town are located along its northern fringe.

In planning for the defense of this critical area, the task force commander stressed the following basic factors.

  • The town is a major obstacle. Its growth over the past years has effectively blocked the narrow terrain corridor leading to the south and the Alda Pass through the White/Thorn Mountain complex.

  • The terrain adjacent to the town is well suited for the organization of a strong defense supporting that established within the built-up area.

  • The configuration of the Alda Valley forces the main avenues of approach to converge north of the town.

  • The town cannot be easily bypassed.

  • Forces within the task force battle area can be redeployed along preselected routes.

  • Any attempt to penetrate the defense of the built-up area will be costly in manpower as well as time and will cause the attack to lose momentum.

Based on his analysis of the overall situation, the task force commander outlined his basic concept for the defense of the battle area:

"The terrain consists of three basic compartments which merge on the outskirts of the town along the central valley. Long-range fields of fire are available from the low hills which overlook the valley floor from the east and the west, and to a lesser degree from the town itself. I want a mech-heavy team weighted with the preponderance of our TOWs defending in the western portion of the valley. A balanced team with a couple of additional TOW sections should be able to take care of more restrictive eastern portions of the area. The remaining mech company, reinforced with a tank platoon, should be assigned responsibility for the town and its approaches."

The commander task organized his forces as follows:



A/1-93 Mech (-) B/1-93 Mech A/1-13 Armor (-) Scout Plt 1-A/1-13 Armor 2/A/1-13 Armor 3-A/1-93 Mech Hvy Mort Plt 4 TOW Sec 2-D/23 Engr 2 TOW 2 GSR TM 1 REMS TM

Redeye Tm Redeye Tm Redeye Tm Redeye Sec (-) D/23d Engr (-)

The following depicts the basic organization of BA Gold.

Team A will be deployed in the west with its tank platoons operating along the valley corridor west of Route 4. Forward positions will be located to insure maximum coverage of the valley approaches with other positions in depth.

Team B will defend forward of and, if necessary, in the town of Reft.

Team Tank will defend in the east on the restrictive terrain which blocks the minor routes bypassing the town and favors a defense with mobile direct-fire weapons and light antitank weapons positioned in depth.

The scout platoon will screen the risk area between BA Gold and task force battle position 8. South of RL Nail, the platoon will be prepared to occupy positions along the east flank or assemble in the vicinity of Reft as the TF reserve.

Figure TF 1-93 Defense of BA Gold

The task force commander provided the following specific guidance:

"Priority for engineer effort will be given to the development of obstacles to support our long-range ATGMs and tanks. Close-in obstacles, defensive wire, and mines are the responsibility of each platoon with technical advice from the engineers, if required. The brigade engineers will emplace countermo bility obstacles along the valley north of the battle-area. I want these closely coordinated to insure they support our initial positions."

"Within the battle area, each weapon position must be selected to take advantage of natural obstacles. Where none exists, obstacles must be developed in order to slow the enemy and provide maximum target servicing time. I want high-speed avenues of approach interrupted at frequent intervals where the obstacles can be integrated with mines or natural obstacles and covered by long-range fires. Prepare the Route 4 overpass north of town for destruction on order.

"Position the ground surveillance radars and remote sensors to give as much advanced warning as possible and to serve as eyes for our indirect fire weapons if the attacker uses smoke to cover his advance.

"Develop a fire plan which integrates the fires of team and task force mortars with field artillery. Priority of fires will be to the scout platoon initially. Plan suppressive fires and smoke throughout the defensive area to increase the effectiveness of our direct fire systems. On order, shift the priority of fires to Team B. If the battle draws into the town, use artillery on the flanks and concentrate on the use of our organic mortars in Reft.

"Upon the brigade's passage of RL Green, priority for the employment of its attack helicopter company and fire support will pass to us. Coordinate with the helicopter company as soon as possible. It can occupy assembly area 7, southwest of BP 6. I am most concerned with the areas immediately north of our TOW fans for each battle position.

"Plan close air support missions at likely points of concentration beyond our range and look specifically at the requirement for precision-guided munitions at key points within Reft.

"Coordination of the fires of our organic antitank weapons and tank fires must be accomplished at each level. This requires not only the careful selection of positions for each weapon, but also designation of specific areas of responsibility for each weapon.

The figure below portrays the task force plan for the organization of the defense in the critical southern portion of Battle Area Gold. Within Reft, the task force commander has established a clearly defined defensive sector for Team B. Teams A and

Figure 3-40 TF 1-93 Defense South of PL Hamme

Tank will defend from battle positions selected to defeat enemy attempts to bypass the town. South of RL Hammer units may become decisively engaged as the attack threatens the outskirts of the built-up area. RL Blue will be used to coordinate the positioning of forces within and on the flanks of Reft for the defense of the town. During this phase of the battle, the scout platoon will be positioned west of the town and along the Route 4 communications line as the task force reserve. Planning also provides for the initiation of local counterattacks from the west by elements of Team A or by a tank-heavy team from TF 1-12, if attached.

The figure below depicts the basic organization of Reft for the defense. Control measures, to include report lines and platoon sectors, are used to control the battle. In addition, key buildings and principal thoroughfares will be assigned numeric designations.

Figure 3-41 Team B Defense of Reft

The task force commander provided the following additional guidance:

"Team B may experience some FM communications problems, particularly if they withdraw toward the central section of the town. In any case, I want maximum use made of wire during this portion of the defense. Use radio as a backup, and only if absolutely necessary.

"At the northern limits of Reft, the open terrain and dispersed buildings allow for the deployment of dismounted infantry supported by their carriers, tanks, and TOWs. If we are forced to fight in the central part of the town, its narrow streets and densely packed buildings may limit our ability to maneuver or position the carriers. In this case, consideration should be given to dismounting weapons in order to emplace them where they can best support ground operations.

"Although there is no requirement to strongpoint the town, have Team B prestock rations, water, and ammunition in prepared platoon positions in depth throughout the town to minimize resupply requirements during the critical initial stages of the battle. Also, have them collect as much firefighting equipment as possible to include sand in fortified positions.

"Rubble, particularly in the older part of town, may prevent resupply or medical evacuation by vehicle. Be prepared to provide manpack loads to platoon positions and to use litters for the initial evacuation of casualties from fighting positions to platoon medical collection points.

"Locate the TAC CP with Team A initially where we can best see and control the action. It will displace to Reft only if effective communications cannot be maintained with Team B.

"I want to plug up this corridor as long as possible so that we can slow the enemy attack at every opportunity and hit him again and again with all our organic weapons plus field artillery, attack helicopters, and close air support.

The Company Team Battle

This section has provided examples of how units from corps through battalion task force may defend on the urbanized battlefield. It focused on the terrain aspects of urban sprawl and the advantages and disadvantages the commander must consider in developing his defensive 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.


    Include small built-up areas as obstacles in the defensive scheme when significant advantage accrues to the defender.

    Avoid combat within built-up areas when feasible.

    Establish defenses as far forward of a built-up area as possible if its retention is required.

    Integrate adjacent terrain into the defense of a built-up area.

    Use security forces operating in depth to limit enemy ground reconnaissance and infiltration.

    Provide a detailed, but simple, centralized concept for the defense.

    Use restrictive missions and detailed control measures to facilitate decentralized execution.

    Provide priorities and deadlines for the accomplishment of assigned tasks.

    Attach combat support and combat service support units to the lowest level possible.

    Employ the combined arms team to maximize individual unit capabilities.

    Use the defender's knowledge of the terrain.

06-18-1996; 16:11:46

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