Urban Operations in the Year 2020-NATO RTO TECHNICAL REPORT 71 (Extracts)


2.2    The Urban Environment
2.2.1  The Nature of the Urban Area
The urban environment is complex and diverse and ranges from sophisticated, metropolis-style superstructures within a well-developed infrastructure, to high and low density urban shantytowns with very poor infrastructure. It includes towns and cities that may themselves contain commercial, industrial and manufacturing areas, as well as a variety of communication and energy production facilities. The complexity of the current urban environment is perhaps best defined as the cumulative effect of a series of interconnected
layers of society and infrastructure. These comprise different sized groupings of cultural, ethnic and social groupings living in differing conditions and with many diverse views about their role in the community.
The commercial, industrial, administrative and residential areas may each need individual analysis. Indeed today’s urban environment represents the centres of industry, commerce and social activities and, because of the size and the presence of different groups within it, is the probable area where tensions and perhaps conflicts are most likely to arise in the future. They could also continue to be very attractive to terrorist groups.

Trends in the Urban Environment 2.2.2
Demographic trends indicate that populations are expanding, in some cases exponentially. Population growth leads inexorably to an increased urbanization as people move towards areas where jobs, some form of housing, basic resources and facilities are perceived to be available. However this may be a cause of tension where poverty, slums and poor living are a result of inadequate urban infrastructure.

The Study Group considered that this trend would increase in significance and may in future lead to unrest, civil disorder and security threats which will compel local authorities to respond.

2.2.3    Globalisation
Technical innovation and development particularly in the areas of communication and economic growth have improved significantly over the last decade. Extensive travel and the free flow of information around the world has brought the world into a much more inter-related community, and in doing so has exposed to international attention matters of local or national concern. National sovereignty issues are often highlighted in the international arena, sometimes in an awkward or unfavourable light.
There are undoubted benefits from this increased globalisation of world affairs but there are also unwanted side effects, which may confront traditional customs, religious values and the use of natural resources that could easily result in increased tensions, misunderstandings and possible conflict. Census figures also indicate that over half of the world’s population in 2020 will be living in urban areas, and thus the potential side effects of globalisation will probably be manifested initially in urban areas of the world.

2.2.4    Population Migration
In addition to the increasing population growth in the world there are noticeable sub- trends for populations, or large groups of people to move from less developed areas to more developed areas, predominantly urban,seeking economic and social improvement. Such migration can be the cause of national concern, increased tension and perhaps conflict, as resources become depleted, economic conditions and separate customs become intermingled and become the cause of resentment in the local and regional community.

2.2.5    Natural Resources
The trends described above will, in their separate ways, have a direct effect on the use or abuse of natural resources in the world. In an ideal world there would be enough natural resources to satisfy all requirements,including projected population growth. In reality, though, in many parts of the world, it is anticipated that unequal population pressures, together with existing mismanagement and corruption, will lead to the exhaustion of natural resources sooner rather than later. Lack of water, especially, could well cause tensions
and possible conflict particularly at the local level.

Technical industrial developments and improvements in the agrochemical industry may well mitigate these problems. However it is estimated that the lack or abuse of natural resources will continue to be a growing concern to nations which have large populations in urban areasand who need natural resources from elsewhere to sustain life and livelihood (agriculture and industry).

2.3  Military Considerations for the Urban Environment
The Study Group considers that the following military considerations will be significant when planning operations in urban areas. These also reflect the enduring factors and trends described in LO2020, and are slanted towards operations in urban areas.

2.3.1 The Nature of Conflict in Urban Areas
The fundamental character of conflict in urban areas will continue to present a serious physical and moral challenge for the soldier: a combination of extreme danger, rapidly changing circumstances and conditions of chaos and uncertainty, with severe physical demands placed on individuals. The capacity and mental outlook of a soldier to conduct aggressive close combat operations and to overcome the friction inherent in combat will remain paramount. The application of military force, particularly in urban areas, is likely to be influenced dramatically by current moral and social development. Changes could have their effect in making Rules of Engagement more complicated to apply and the timing of any application of military force more difficult to judge.

Populations could well have a greater influence on future campaigns. This influence might start at the home base and could affect the sea, air and ground deployment corridors to the theatre of operations, from supportive (e.g. soldiers’ families, general public), dependent (e.g. refugees) to hostile (e.g. disaffected civilians in theatre and other pressure) groups. There will also be many official and unofficial agencies whose views will need to be considered and heeded where and when appropriate. The need to influence perceptions and public awareness reinforces the requirement for information to be handled in a systematic and coherent manner across the stages of an operation, including conflict and post-conflict activities. Information Operations are likely to undergo radical changes, but it is considered that these changes will probably have a direct and perhaps strategically decisive bearing on the conduct of future operations. These considerations will also have significant resource implications, which should be addressed now.

2.3.2 The Nature of the Enemy
In recent years ethnic, tribal, social and political issues have re-emerged and provide the basis for tension and conflict in many areas around the world. Several instances of these tensions and conflicts have occurred already and this is likely to continue in the period under review.
Many of these conflicts have not been of the View 1 type of scenario, although the two separate campaigns in Grozny were. The large majority of conflicts and sources of tension have followed more closely the View 2 scenario, or have resulted in some types of peacekeeping operations being conducted by either NATO or a coalition of other forces. The patterns of insurgency and counter insurgency around the world in the last few decades are that these have become urban in nature, and deliberately so in order to take advantage of the perceived weakness of counter insurgency forces to operate effectively in urban areas.

It has for many years been recognised that by using an asymmetric approach an insurgent can operate more freely and effectively in crowded urban areas to harass the forces of law and order with a much reduced risk to himself. Guerrillas, insurgents and other non-state groups have all taken advantage of the benefits (to them) of operating in such an environment and will no doubt continue to do so. Military commanders will have to recognise that organisations, groupings, command and controlarrangements and training will have to be reshaped, possibly in a radical manner, to deal effectively with these developments.

2.3.3  Future Technology
The principal technological trends include those characterised by the opportunities available through advances in information collection and handling, miniaturisation of components, longer operational reach and greater clarity in intelligence and precision munitions, robotics, and non-lethal weapons. Picking the technological “winners” – those most likely to overcome the inherent complexity of modern day conflict – was the purpose of the NATO “Land Operations in the Year 2020” (LO2020) Study. That study identified ten technologies on which to focus, many of which have relevance in an urban environment. Other technologies and innovations could, however, be available to friend or foe alike and could also be “potential winners” in conflict in urban areas.

2.4.2  Implications for Military Commanders
Operations in urban areas have always been difficult and hazardous for those involved and hitherto military commanders avoided such operations where this was possible. In the future these operations are likely to be unavoidable, difficult and complicated to conduct. The military commander will increasingly have to integrate military planning within an overall campaign plan prepared by national or international authorities and executed with multinational partners.

Linked to this will be the problems associated with Rules of Engagement (ROE) and complex chains of command, all of which should be taken into account before operations start. Added to the traditional military hazards of operating in urban areas, there will be the extra complications associated with large extended urban and sub-urban areas, high rise buildings and underground areas. This will be further complicated by crowd control issues, cultural and racial differences, movement of non-combatants, operating in a three dimensional environment and the prospect of collateral damage to the infrastructure. The consequences of not dealing with these hazards appropriately could be immense for allied forces and non-combatants alike.

The presence of significant numbers of non-combatants remains one of the defining characteristics of operations in an urban area. The military commander may have his freedom of action reduced by legal constraint. The attitude of the local populace, whether hostile, compliant or supportive, will be an important factor in planning an appropriately scaled and resourced force structure. The urban environment may both ease and amplify the operations and scrutiny of the media. Information operations will remain crucial. This will have implications on the organisation of HQs and staffs.

Implications for NATO
The complexity of the urban environment will be a major factor in future operations. For NATO to succeed it has to have the appropriate concepts, doctrine, organisation, training and materiel for the future operating environment.A general deduction from these implications is that NATO, as an Alliance, may have to examine its current decision-making arrangements closely to take account of these emerging environmental developments.

More complex judgements and decisions will have to be taken in what are likely to be fast moving military situations within a campaign complicated by concerns over casualties to allied forces, non-combatants and damage to critical infrastructure. Especially for contingencies that do not necessarily threaten NATO survival but require NATO military action, restrictive ROE may be imposed. For NATO civilian leaders, integration of the military campaign into overarching diplomatic, economic and informational lines of operation becomes paramount. This will necessarily involve deeper co-ordination with other international and regional organisations, non-governmental organisations and private volunteer groups.




3.2  Scope
This chapter examines tenets of the manoeuvrist approach to operations and their applicability to urban operations. The Study Group approached this through the application of an emerging conceptual framework of Understand, Shape, Engage, Consolidate and Transition (USECT) that assists the design and development of a new operational framework for military tasks in urban areas. Major characteristics of this concept are that:
•        The manoeuvrist approach to operations is adopted.
•        The concept is pitched at the operational level.
•        The concept applies across the spectrum of conflict.

3.3  The Manoeuvrist Approach
The manoeuvrist approach is defined as an approach to operations in which shattering the enemy’s overall cohesion and will to fight is paramount. It calls for an attitude of mind in which doing the unexpected, using initiative and seeking originality is combined with a ruthless determination to succeed. The principles and thought process that underpin the manoeuvrist approach apply to all operations including Operations Other Than War (OOTW). This is because the successful application of the manoeuvrist approach inspires a particular attitude of mind and a method of analysis that is relevant to any circumstances involving the use of military force to resolve conflict.

The intent is to enable an operational commander to understand and shape the urban battlespace and engage targets with greater precision. NATO forces operating in the open can exploit sensor capabilities and firepower to good effect. In the future it is hoped that NATO will also achieve superiority in an urban environment by developing urban-specific capabilities to engage the enemy with precision and effect. This would be based on sound intelligence and consolidating their position effectively in order to pass authority for
the control of urban areas back to civilian authorities.

3.4 Conceptual Framework
Operations in urban areas demand a subtle blend of tempo, surprise, simultaneity and firepower that will differ in nature to high tempo operations in open terrain. A number of factors will influence this approach. There will be a need for selective destruction of certain targets and areas and this may mean close combat as an alternative to firepower if this is not effective. However, the more traditional street-by-street, house-by-house clearance method will require modification. Within close combat operations there will continue to be a need for stand-off attack to avoid closer combat.

However, there will always be a need for forces to have the ability to operate in very close proximity with an enemy who may be fighting on familiar ground. Manoeuvring to defeat enemy forces in urban terrain will be more difficult. The urban terrain channels and restricts movement, routes can be blocked and ambushes and defensive strong points can prevent movement in an unrestricted manner. While air platforms are vulnerable, an ability to move 3 dimensionally will be necessary in order to
achieve surprise and simultaneity, attacking an enemy at a time and place of one’s own choice with decisive results.

Conventional operations that aim to clear whole areas have become unrealistic and probably unnecessary. It should not be the aim to engage the enemy in a close fight wherever he is found but rather, for decisive effect, to target the source of the enemy’s strength. However, locating particular objectives becomes difficult when an enemy chooses not to defend specific points but to remain mobile and has an unconventional C2 structure and few logistic resources. At the operational level, the selection of objectives and targets should aim to disrupt, through a concentration of effects, not only an enemy’s physical resources but also his morale and fighting spirit.

Using the manoeuvrist approach as a foundation, a conceptual framework for planning and conducting urban operations can be constructed from the interrelated activities of USECT. Although outlined sequentially in this Chapter, these activities function together in an interdependent and simultaneous manner. USECT activities may be sequential or concurrent; they may often overlap.

The point where one stops and another begins is often difficult to define. In some cases, the use of all five may not be necessary. For example, in some urban areas a commander may conduct Understanding and Shaping activities so effectively that he may be able to shift directly to Transition activities and hand over the operation to follow-on forces or other organisations, whereas in an adjacent neighbourhood, forces may be fully engaged. This illustrates the complexity of urban operations and the vital need to understand in order to allow shaping, engaging or consolidating activity. This is reflected in the diagram below. [see original report]

3.5  The Use of USECT for Operations in Urban Areas
The manoeuvrist approach moves the focus from the traditionally predominant Engagement element –reflective of attrition – to the Understand element (usEct to Usect). By developing a better capability to Understand the urban battlespace, the enemy’s decisive points can be effectively targeted and the desired endstate achieved. The precepts for each of the five elements of USECT are summarised in this section.

3.5.1  Understand (U)
The need to ‘understand’ will continue throughout any operation. It is critical to creating and maintaining an advantage in the tempo of any operation. An enemy may choose to operate in an urban environment to diminish the effect of NATO’s military capabilities and resources. While armed forces will have a range of technical equipments, weapons and other platforms to assist the acquisition of intelligence and information, the major overriding factor in the conduct of operations in urban areas is the population itself. NATO forces need to ensure that, wherever possible, it has the diplomatic,economic, social and cultural means to understand and influence the situation in urban areas.

The requirement to understand the battle space includes evaluation of physical terrain, buildings, cultural centres and critical infrastructure such as utilities, transportation systems and hospitals. Threat analysis extends beyond conventional enemy forces to criminal gangs, vigilantes or insurgents operating among, and indistinguishable from the local population. The situation may be complicated by the presence of international non-military governmental departments. Intelligence Preparation of the Battlespace (IPB) remains a valid tool but it is more complicated by the human factors present. Fighting in urban areas requires a great deal of specialised training and suitable equipment coupled with experience and confidence, which may not always be available.

When preparing the Estimate a commander will need to evaluate all relevant forces, groupings, cultural and religious factors and to identify critical nodal points in the urban area not all of which are physical. Finding the enemy within the urban area is particularly difficult and is without guaranteed communications, yet a commander requires reliable information to maintain a proper awareness of the situation in order to manoeuvre troops with safety and to target systems with precision.

The establishment of the intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) systems is therefore fundamental to understanding. This should include the use of air and space sensors coupled with HUMINT sources and Special Operations Forces.Ground reconnaissance will also be required to complement this activity and probe areas where airborne and other remote sensors are unable to penetrate. At the same time civil-military links with suitable groups, agencies and institutions such as religious and
community leaders, local government officials, public utilities personnel and local emergency services organisations will be important. A CIMIC plan to deal with non-combatants, refugees, displaced persons and injured civilians will be a fundamental part of the military campaign plan without necessarily compromising military security and freedom of action.

Shape (S) 3.5.2
The term ‘Shaping’ includes all actions taken to set favourable conditions for the subsequent phases of Engagement, Consolidation and Transition activities.
One aspect of Shaping is the strategic movement of forces into theatre and their positioning forces for operations. Depending on the situation and objectives to be achieved, forcible entry may be required. Shaping also includes actions to maximise mobility, force protection and establishing air and maritime superiority. At the same time, establishing refugee camps or sanctuaries for non-combatants, providing safe passage for them, and arranging emergency services, which as shaping activities at the highest level may be the early focus of tactical military activity. Information operations are an essential contributor to shaping.

Enabling capabilities such as combat service support, are also part of shaping operations.Shaping will involve activity to isolate portions of the battle space. Isolation has both an external aspect (i.e.of cutting off outside support), and an internal aspect (i.e. of cutting off mutual support). Isolating the adversary may also preclude his withdrawal. The physical isolation of a large urban area could have serious implications for the identification and control of the movement of personnel, equipment and non-combatants. Isolating an urban area in terms of information is also a very desirable part of the shaping process.

A military commander should have the capability to achieve and sustain some form of information superiority over adversaries. Information passing into and out of the urban area may well be able to be managed in such a way as to cut off or prevent adversary communications, and establishing influence over indigenous radio,television and other media sources. As with all military operations, the Information Operations aspect of a campaign is to be integrated fully with other lines of operation such as civil affairs and psychological operations. Additionally, it has to be co-ordinated with national and perhaps international agencies so that all actions remain consistent with the overall strategic aim. The presence of international media and charitable organisations could make this task more difficult. Nevertheless, if efforts are properly co-ordinated, their application can multiply any advantage.

At the operational level, shaping a campaign often requires the seizure, disruption, control or destruction of critical nodes (power grids, communication centres, etc) which have been previously identified during the IPB process in line with the requirements of International law. This may involve controlling key terrain, critical infrastructure and cultural centres unhinging an adversary’s decision cycle process, cutting or controlling inter-city and intra-city mobility links and communications, deliberately triggering an adversarial response or positioning forces to accomplish yet further phases of the operation.

3.5.3 Engage (E)
The Shaping activities described above set the conditions for the engagement of adversarial forces. For the commander, engagement activities are those that directly address decisive points on the line of operations aimed at the adversary’s centre of gravity (see Fig 3-2). These will be those actions taken by the commander against a hostile force, a political situation, or natural or humanitarian predicament that will most directlyaccomplish his mission.

At this point, the commander brings all available capabilities to bear in order to accomplish operational objectives. Engagement can range from large-scale combat operations in war to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in military operations other than war. In all cases where an enemy is confronted, recognition of his centres of gravity and identification of his decisive points will be critical to the success of one’s own operations.

Integration and synchronisation of forces coupled with a clear knowledge of rules of engagement are critical when employing weapons in urban areas. Precision effects are required to deny the adversary the protection that could be gained from the urban environment. These engagements have to provide reasonable certainty of
achieving the desired effect on the adversary – but with reduced risk of injury to non-combatants, collateral damage, or fratricide.

However, there are limitations on the effects of firepower (limited ranges, narrow fields of fire and the use of building materials) that may make it necessary to engage the enemy in close combat. A commander should allow for these contingencies in planning, bearing in mind that the aim is not just to seize and hold positions inside an urban area, but to apply strength against the enemy’s weakness using tempo as a controlling mechanism to shatter his organisational command and cohesion completely.

3.5.4  Consolidate (C)
The focus of consolidation is on protecting what has been gained and retaining the initiative to continue to disorganise the adversary. Consolidation thus requires an ongoing process of organising and strengthening an advantage in tempo (spatial, psychological, informational) over the adversary. Consolidation also requires activities geared at mopping up adversarial forces that have been bypassed and processing prisoners. Civil affairs, public affairs and psychological operations activities will continue to be especially critical in this phase of the operation, as will engineering efforts which could range from demolition, repairs, clearing routes, bridge construction and water supply.

During this stage of operations an adversary faced by conventional defeat may resort to terrorist activities to frustrate consolidation. A military commander will need to consider this possibility and make contingencies for this in the early stages of planning. At this stage also it is important to expand on the use of liaison and co-operation with local authorities and other agencies and there will be major challenges associated with infrastructure collapse, humanitarian assistance, and the movement of non-combatants. A commander has to address such tasks and possibly the problems associated with the effects of a weapon of mass destruction or an outbreak of disease.

3.5.5  Transition (T)
The strategic objective for a military commander in urban areas is to transfer control of the urban area to the local civilian authorities or perhaps an international organisation. At this stage military forces would be gradually re-deployed while the work of the civil administration continues. The resettlement of displaced civilians and the reconstitution of national military forces if appropriate are central to a transition process. Essential to this task is that of maintaining the rule of law. To ensure safety and security, military forces may have to conduct training with indigenous or multinational law enforcement organisations. The rate of military redeployment will depend on how quickly those organisations establish an effective presence.

An exit strategy is usually thought of in terms of military redeployment. However until the local authorities have established a relatively safe and secure environment, law enforcement units, a judicial presence, and a recognised and functioning governmental office with oversight of civilian reconstruction efforts, NATO capabilities (both military and non-military) will continue to be required. The evidence gained so far is that this is usually far longer than first anticipated and that NATO does not have a specific strategy/doctrine for this phase.

3.6  Application of the USECT Framework
The USECT framework is designed to assist the operational commander in a complex urban environment. It provides the basis for coherence and unity of purpose between subordinate components, and co-operation with non-military organisations. However, as an operational tool, it may not necessarily translate vertically down to tactical activity in every case. It is possible for instance, to see tactical units to be engaged, for example in a close battle, in order to achieve a shaping or consolidation task for the operational commander.

3.7  Conclusions
The aim of the manoeuvrist approach to operations in urban areas, as described in this Chapter, is to achieve objectives with fewer casualties, less collateral damage to urban infrastructure, and reduced harm to the non-combatant population. The interrelated military and non-military activities described in the USECT process form the framework to achieve the aim. This general approach will enable NATO forces to function more effectively in the uncertain and often chaotic operations of an urban environment.
Current NATO doctrine features the manoeuvrist approach to operations. It does not address in sufficient detail the complexities associated with the full spectrum of operations in urban areas. USECT provides a framework within which a commander can apply the manoeuvrist approach more effectively to urban operations.

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