Cover: Heavy Matter

Heavy Matter

Urban Operations' Density of Challenges

Published 2000

by Russell W. Glenn


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This study proposes a new way of viewing urban operations, among the most complex challenges facing America's armed forces. Viewing urban operations in light of relevant densities, regardless of whether combat, stability, or support missions predominate, offers a viable means of approaching an otherwise most imposing puzzle. Doing so provides a vehicle to better understand how to conceptualize issues of pertinence,the tasks and missions that will address those issues, and the specific ways of employing elements of national power in the service of strategic objectives. Following an overview of density's potential influence on military operations, the author proposes and discusses five approaches to dealing with its challenges: Matching density with density, effectively reducing densities, maintaining selected densities, addressing density asymmetrically, and capitalizing on urban densities. He concludes with an analysis of density and its implications for information operations conducted in built-up areas.

The research described in this report was performed under the auspices of RAND's National Security Research Division and RAND's Arroyo Center division.

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