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TOPIC: MOUT Considerations

DISCUSSION: Urban terrain provides high potential for fratricide because of the likelihood of close quarters (high weapons density), recognition problems, and unfamiliar secondary effects of weapons. GLINT tape effectiveness was severely reduced in built-up areas during Operation JUST CAUSE because of ambient light. However, there were examples of effective use at ranges under 100m. During Operation JUST CAUSE, soldiers employed several ineffective and dangerous techniques to breach various fences, walls, and barred doors. Soldiers used grenades, rifle fire, and even antitank weapons to breach these barriers. They should not be used.

LESSON(S): Schedule opportunities to practice live-fire demolition and breaching techniques in realistic situations with actual munitions.

TOPIC: Direct Fire During MOUT Operations

DISCUSSION: Direct fire support, even from just a block away, is very difficult to control. During Operation JUST CAUSE, mechanized forces providing fire support were told by a brigade that the light infantry force had cleared a tall hotel building only to the second floor. In fact, the infantry force had cleared to the tenth floor and was fighting a counter-sniper engagement. Seeing this fire and apparently some weapons protruding, the mechanized forces began to suppress. This drew return fire from the friendly light force.


  • All units must have routine techniques for conspicuously marking cleared rooms, floors, and buildings as they progress through an urban area.

  • Marking procedures must be automatic, practiced, and discernable at night. Soldiers must be able to understand these procedures with limited preparation time.

  • During MOUT operations, units should develop a numbering and marking system for all buildings and landmarks to simplify coordination of maneuver and supporting fires.

TOPIC: Use of Underground Sewer Systems

DISCUSSION: Many towns have sewage systems or underground passages for electric or telephone cables. Some cities also have underground railways or rivers. It is important for both attacker and defender to be aware of and assess the tactical value of such underground systems. If belligerents have difficulties crossing checkpoints, they may decide to go under it via the city's sewer system. This can be a way for belligerents to circumvent checkpoints, until the UN force obtains diagrams or maps of the sewer system.


  • Use engineers to emplace mines, booby traps, barbed wire, trip flares, or other obstacles to deter use of the sewer system.

  • If necessary, remove manhole covers, lower lights on wires, and maintain a 24-hour watch over the open holes. Use 20-minute shifts to maintain soldier alertness.

  • Be prepared to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance of underground facilities.

TOPIC: Clearing Multi-story Buildings

DISCUSSION: Doctrine dictates that multi-story buildings should be cleared from the top down. But in a built-up area of modern cities, rooftops often become death traps because of their exposure to nearby buildings that are taller. As units assemble on a roof prior to entering a building, they can become easy targets for a sniper firing from another building only a few feet away.


  • Treat rooftops as danger areas.

  • Maintain dispersion and cover while on rooftops. Designate weapon systems to provide covering and suppressive fire if needed.

  • Expect the possibility that one sniper might be luring soldiers into the sights of another sniper in a nearby building.

  • Don't let your counter-sniper drills lead you into another sniper's kill zone. Vary your counter-sniper tactics.

TOPIC: Communications

DISCUSSION: To avoid interference with the host-nation's communications, and to avoid suspicion that the UN force's communications are being used clandestinely, peacekeepers are only allowed to use frequencies allocated by the UN force communication officer. Because frequencies must be cleared with the host government, there is a security risk. Direct references to the identity of call signs and codes can compromise security. Any breach must be reported to the force headquarters. Most peacekeeping forces normally use fixed call signs and frequencies. Remember that this allows the belligerents to monitor and/or jam communications.

Each national contingent of the peacekeeping force is responsible for providing its own internal communications systems. Because these systems are for national use only, the nation's native language and radio procedures are used. Normally one nation will be tasked to furnish communications to the UN force headquarters and common communications equipment to all nations in the UN force for command and control.


  • Deploy with redundant communications assets and be prepared to provide communication packages to liaison personnel.

  • For peace enforcement operations, be prepared to employ normal U.S. secure communications to protect forces and to control combat operations.

TOPIC: Urban Communications

DISCUSSION: Operations in urban areas have demonstrated how easily VHF radios are screened and their ranges are reduced. As a consequence, radios must be carefully located to maximize their effectiveness. Retrans stations and remoting of antennas to high ground are methods to maximize VHF radios.


  • Use the upper end of the VHF band and high power switches on radios to improve communications.

  • Commanders must be prepared to encounter difficulty in establishing and maintaining communication. They must set limited objectives, covering a small area, and plan for the frequent relocating of rebroadcast stations to ensure communications.

  • Use ground and heliborne retrans stations to maintain communications.

  • If time and the battle situation allow, maximum use should be made of the civilian telephone system, if it is operational.

  • Electronic warfare may play a major part in the urban environment.

TOPIC: Use of Weapons in Urban Environment

DISCUSSION: Within the confines of house-to-house fighting, all infantry weapons are of value if correctly used. However, a knowledge of house construction is necessary to avoid endangering oneself, fellow soldiers, or innocent bystanders. For example, attempting to fire through the ceiling of a room to neutralize the occupants of the floor above or below may be disastrous if the house has concrete floors. Similarly, to throw a fragmentation grenade into a room with wooden or plaster walls is equally self defeating. Soldiers in peace operations should avoid unnecessary noncombatant casualties and damage to property. If the situation is not life threatening, negotiation, persuasion, and show of force should be used before violence is applied.


  • The sniper rifle can best be used to pick off belligerent leaders or key individuals and to keep armored vehicles buttoned up. Also it can be used effectively in a counter-sniper role.

  • Machine guns are the main supporting weapon in urban fighting. Approximately 100 rounds of 7.62mm can create a hole one foot in diameter in a brick wall 20 inches thick. Another 300 rounds can enlarge the hole to two feet by shifting the point of aim and firing in a spiral method.

  • The 60mm mortar is effective in providing smoke and can be fired low angle against the sides of buildings to achieve a shorter range than would otherwise be possible. The HE round is invaluable for firing over buildings and reaching dug-in belligerents in gardens and similar types of enclosed cover.

  • The grenade is a basic tool for house and room clearance. The destructive effect is determined by the type of construction in the structure. Grenade launchers are also extremely valuable in urban areas because of the variety of rounds available.

  • The LAW and AT-4 antitank weapons have a primary purpose of disabling or killing lightly armored vehicles. They can be fired through windows or doors to eliminate snipers. HEAT rounds are unsuitable for making entry holes through brick or concrete walls.

  • Claymore mines are well suited for protective obstacles not only above ground but also on rooftops and in underground facilities such as sewers and subways. They cannot breach wire obstacles such as chain-link fence.

TOPIC: Converting an Urban Structure into a Strongpoint

DISCUSSION: Belligerents are likely to convert houses or buildings into a strongpoint. A platoon-size strongpoint will comprise one or two sturdy buildings, with basements or semi-basements. These are usually located at crossroads, on street corners, or overlooking a bridge or open ground such as parks and squares. The aim is to maximize fields of fire and to provide multi-tiered layers of fire. The basic building blocks of a strongpoint defense are:


  • Adapt the building for multi-layered fire. Most weapons, including antitank and medium machine guns, will be on the ground floor and in the semi-basement. Snipers and automatic riflemen (with grenades and RPGs) will fire from upper stories. Attics can be used for mortar positions and for air defense weapons (heavy machine guns and hand-held SAMSs).

  • Doors and windows are blocked with sandbags, bricks or earth-filled furniture. Firing is done from openings created in the sandbags or cut through walls. False openings are created to draw fire; real ones are covered by suitably painted plywood when not in use.

  • Floors and firing positions are reinforced to reduce the effects of collapse as a result of shell fire. Floors are covered with up to 1.5 meters of earth or two layers of sandbags.

  • Stairways are removed to complicate enemy clearing. Internal movement between floors is done by using ladders. Outside fire escapes should be blocked with wire or booby traps.

  • To reduce the effect of flame attack, combustible materials are removed or covered with earth. Shields can be placed in front of openings. Underground shelters should have 15-20 centimeter-high walls of earth in front of their entrances to stop napalm.

  • Basements, storerooms, medical points, and command posts are made into shelters against bombardment. Every underground facility must have at least two exits. The exits should go in different directions, with at least one in the form of a covered connecting passage whose exit is beyond the possible distance of collapsing rubble (i.e., two thirds the height of the nearest building).

  • Ground floor exits are given blast-proof protection and lead to a communications trench.

Chapter X: Convoys
Chapter XII: Heavy/Light Considerations

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias