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The Urban Guerrilla

Section I. General

B-1. Effects of the urban environment.

a. Cities and towns are vulnerable to urban guerrilla violence because they are the focus of economic and political power. In many cases, public utilities and services can be disrupted. Thus, the government may appear to have lost control of the situation.

b. The concentration of a large number of people in a relatively small area provides cover for the guerrilla. However, the insurgent may find support only in certain areas of a town or city. In any event, the urban guerrilla lives in a community that is friendly to him or, as a minimum, is too frightened to withhold its support or inform on him. He has a close relationship with leaders and other guerrillas, and may have a communication system using women and children who also provide cover for other activities.

c. The urban guerrilla can operate more boldly than his rural counterpart as reflected by his tactics: the sniper complements the more conventional ambush and often replaces it; explosive devices may be used either as instruments against the community or more selectively against individuals or groups.

d. The availability of large numbers of people ensures that crowds can be assembled and demonstrations manipulated with comparative ease. The presence of women and children restricts counterguerrilla force reactions, and a clumsy reaction may ensure a major incident that provides the guerrilla with propaganda. Publicity is easily achieved in an urban area because no major incident can be concealed from the local population even if it is not widely reported by the news media. Terrorist successes may be exploited to discredit the ability of the police, counterguerrilla force, and civil government to provide protection and control the guerrillas.

e. The urban guerrilla cannot, like his rural counterpart, establish bases and recruit large military units. He is an individual, a member of a relatively small group, relying on the cover afforded by the people of the city and on terror to avoid betrayal. Individuals and small groups are effective in an urban environment because it is easier for them to avoid capture; if captured, however, the terrorist may be able to expose only two or three persons to government or counterguerrilla forces.

B-2. Guerrilla tactics.

a. The urban guerrilla works alone or in small cells, and his tactics are different from those of his rural counterpart.

b. They include:

(1) Disrupting industry and public services by strikes and sabotage.

(2) Generating widespread disturbances designed to stretch the resources of the counterguerrilla force.

(3) Creating incidents or massing crowds in order to lure the counterguerrilla force into a trap.

(4) Provoking the counterguerrilla force in the hope that it may overreact and provide hostile propaganda.

(5) Fomenting interfactional strife.

(6) Sniping at roadblocks, outposts, and sentries.

(7) Attacking vehicles and buildings with rockets and mortars.

(8) Planting explosive devices, either against specific targets or indiscriminately, to cause confusion and destruction, and to lower public morale.

(9) Ambushing patrols and firing on helicopters.

Section II. Techniques to Counter the Urban Guerrilla

B-3. Urban counterguerrilla operations.

a. Operations against urban guerrillas may vary from a passive policy designed to curtail terrorist activities so that community life can continue (under certain constraints), to an active policy which involves the counterguerrilla force seeking out and capturing or killing the enemy. The level of intensity at which operations are conducted will be determined by the civil government.

b. Fighting the urban guerrilla is generally a police mission. However, the military counterguerrilla force commander maybe required to assist the police in this mission or even take it over. The techniques used are similar to the ones used in rural areas. Before operations are conducted, information must be obtained about the enemy, his environment, and operations (Appendix H). The techniques include:

(1) Installation of base defense (Appendix E).

(2) Roadblocks and checkpoints (Chapter 3).

(3) Crowd dispersal (FM 19-15).

(4) Cordon-and-search operations (Chapter 3).

(5) Patrols (Chapter 3 and Appendix D).

B-4. Minimum force.

The principles remain the same, but in an urban environment the principle of minimum force becomes more important and is directly related to the rules of engagement. There is greater danger of injuring or killing innocent civilians in heavily populated centers. Since there are seldom large groups of guerrillas in cities, there are no base camps, only safe houses. Opportunities for deliberate attacks rarely occur. Just as fighting guerrillas in a rural environment, killing or capturing the urban guerrilla is not a mission that is quickly accomplished.

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