Tomorrow's Warfare: Urban Operations in the 21st Century

Urban Operations in the  21st CenturyMilitary analysts and the GAO have recently expressed concerns about the preparedness of the U.S. military to fight in the teeming streets of what may become the increasingly unavoidable battlefield of the future: the foreign city.  On March 22-23, 2000, RAND's Arroyo Urban Operations team hosted an educational conference on "Capital Preservation: Preparing for Urban Operations in the 21st Century."

Over 100 participants from the four U.S. military services, the Department of Defense, the armies of New Zealand, Great Britain, Korea, Germany, Canada, Italy and Russia, and delegates from Israel joined RAND staff to listen to high-ranking military officials from around the world discuss their experiences and lessons learned from past urban operations.

Photo of General Kulikov

General Kulikov discusses Grozny at the conference

Here are some highlights:

  • General of the Russian Army and recently elected Duma representative Anatoliy Sergeevich Kulikov relayed the Russian Army's experiences in "The First Battle of Grozny". General of the Army Kulikov commanded all forces in Chechnya from February to July 1995 and was instrumental in restoring public order in Grozny in February and March 1995.  Arthur L. Speyer, III from the Marine Corps Intelligence Agency elaborated on the topic of Grozny with his presentation "The Two Sides of Grozny".
  • Lt. Col. Philip J. Gibbons, Chief of Staff for planning and deployment, Headquarters Land Command of the New Zealand Army, spoke about "The Urban Area During Stability Missions-Case Study: East Timor". Lt. Col Gibbons recently served as a member of New Zealand's peacekeeping force in East Timor.
  • Another case study, the violent ambush suffered by the Rangers and Delta Force in Mogadishu in 1993, was discussed by retired Lt. Col. John M. Allison, former Ambassador to Somalia Robert B. Oakley, retired U.S. Army MG Carl F. Ernst, SFC Matthew P. Eversmann from the U.S. Army, and Major Scott D. Campbell from the U.S. Marine Corps. LTC Allison served as the G-3 Operations Officer for the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force during the 1992 Los Angeles riots and deployed to Somalia in December of 1992 to serve as a G-3 planner, operations officer and force protection specialist. He explained force protection procedures used in Mogadishu.

    Ambassador Oakley, a key participant in the first phase of military intervention, expounded upon "The Strategic Level". Major General Carl Ernst, the Commander of Joint Task Force (JTF) Somalia at the time of the battle, lectured on "The Operational Level" and translating strategy to military action. Matt Eversmann, currently the Operations Sergeant at USAG, Carlisle Barracks, previously served as a squad leader in the 3/75 Ranger Regiment and was in the thick of the bloody firefight that left 18 dead. He described "The Tactical Level". Major Scott D. Campbell explained "The Tactical Level II: The Offensive and Defensive Use of Urban Snipers".  U.S. Army LTC John Holcomb, Director of the Joint Trauma Training Center in Houston, Texas, treated casualties in Mogadishu. He spoke about the important role of medical support in urban operations.

  • Military leaders who recently served in Bosnia-Herzegovina discussed lessons learned during the Serbo-Croatian war and the Kosovo crisis. Retired COL Greg Fontenot and COL James K. Greer from the U.S. Army discussed stability operations and riots in foreign cities. Brigadier Jonathan B.A. Bailey from the British Army described "The British Experience in Kosovo" and how urban conflict affected negotiations between NATO, the Serbians, and the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army). Brigadier General David L. Grange, a former Division Commander in Bosnia, discussed "Training for Urban Operations".
  • Speakers who elaborated on methods of applying case study lessons to future urban operations tactics, techniques and procedures included COL Gary W. Anderson from the U.A. Marine Corps Warfighting Lab ("Applying the Lessons Learned-Take I [Project Metropolis]), and CSM Michael T. Hall and SFC Michael T. Kennedy from the U.S. Army ("Applying the Lessons Learned-Take 2"). Dr. James N. Miller, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Requirements, Plans and Counterproliferation Policy, provided the concluding remarks.

If you are interested in attending future Urban Operations conferences at RAND, please note that space tends to be limited.   Plans for future conferences will be announced on the National Security site sometime around the end of 2000.