Managing Complexity During Military Urban Operations

Visualizing the Elephant

by Russell W. Glenn

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The complexity that characterizes modern urban operations combines with a perceived intolerance of military casualties to make actions in cities among the most difficult missions that U.S. armed forces will undertake. This study proposes a new planning approach that employs identification of critical points — the essential elements of the urban area’s physical and demographic terrain — along with the notion of density — the quantity of elements and activities within the urban space — to aid military personnel in their efforts to overcome the complexity. Integrating this approach with the traditional command estimate process should assist the planner in determining how best to allocate a command's ever-scarce resources.

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The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Army and conducted in RAND Arroyo Center.

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