Urban warfare in the sense of fierce battles fought within cities hasn't always been an important part of war. The siege was a major part of medieval warfare, but cities tended to surrender before the fighting reached the streets, normally after the walls had been breached. During the Napoleonic period the emphasis was on the battlefield victory, almost always fought in a largely rural environment. The Western Front of the First World War passed through plenty of towns, but no major cities. Even the famous battles of Ypres and Verdun, fought for control of an urban area, really took place outside the respective cities. This changed during the Second World War, and a series of cities and towns across the world became the scenes of vicious fighting. Since then the urban environment has become an increasingly important battlefield. This book looks at nine varied examples of urban warfare, starting with Stalingrad and ending with Ramadi in 2006-7.
The battles covered here fall into two broad categories. In the first the urban environment is simply a battlefield, and the challenges are those provided by the built environment. This covers conflicts such as Stalingrad or Inchon and Seoul. In these cases defeat of the enemy military is the main focus of both sides, and the civilian population form a backdrop to the fighting. In the second, which covers almost all of the more recent examples, the enemy are insurgents (or freedom fighters, depending on your point of view), fighting against a conventional military force. Here there has to be a political as well as a military victory, with the two normally marching hand-in-hand. As the British discovered in Northern Ireland and the Americans discovered in Ramadi, the only way to stop a terrorist campaign in an urban area is to undermine its political support, but that also requires a major commitment to providing security for the civilian population.
This is an interesting look at an area of warfare that may well become increasingly important in any future conflicts, tracing the way it has developed since the battles of the Second World War.
1 - Urban Warfare, Past and Future
2 - An Operational Debacle - Stalingrad, 1942
3 - American Urban Warfare - Aachen, 1944
4 - Urban Warfare from the Sea - Inchon and Seoul, 1950
5 - Complex Urban Warfare - The Battle for Hue, 1968
6 - War in the Casbah - The Battle of Algiers, 1956-57
7 - The Long Urban War - Operation Banner, 1969-2007
8 - Urban Death Trap - The Russian Army in Grozny, 1995
9 - Invading the Urban Sanctuary - Operation Defensive Shield and the Battle for Jenin, 2002
10 - Systematic Urban Warfare - 'Ready First' in Ramadi, 2006-07
11 - Urban Combat in the 21st century
Author: Louis A. DiMarco