Honing the Keys to the City: Refining the United States Marine Corps Reconnaissance Force for Urban Ground Combat Operations

by Russell W. Glenn, Jamison Jo Medby, Scott Gerwehr, Frederick J. Gellert, Andrew O'Donnell


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U.S. forces have little live-fire experience with urban warfare, and much of that experience is dated (Hue, South Vietnam, in 1968 and Panama City, Panama, in 1989) or more suited as a negative example (Mogadishu, Somalia). This report seeks to identify current shortfalls in the area of urban ground combat reconnaissance and provide input to assist in the creation of urban combat reconnaissance tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP) for the U.S. Marine Corps. The authors discuss four distinct challenges: the constant adaptation demanded by the environment, the complexity of tactical ground reconnaissance in built-up areas, the extraordinary demands of urban operations on military personnel, and the unique demands of these operations on equipment and technology. The analysts' main purpose is to narrow the gap between the sum of these challenges and the doctrinal, training, and equipment solutions immediately or soon-to-be at hand.

Table of Contents

  • Summary PDF

  • Preface

    All Prefatory Materials PDF

  • Chapter One

    Introduction PDF

  • Chapter Two

    Shortfalls in USMC Urban Ground Combat Reconnaissance PDF

  • Chapter Three

    Urban Ground Combat Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures Considerations PDF

  • Chapter Four

    Conclusion PDF

  • Appendix PDF

  • Supplemental

    Supplementary Materials PDF

The research described in this report was sponsored by the United States Marine Corps. The research was conducted in RAND's National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.