The U.S. Army and Marines Corps are adopting new plans to fight in an urban environment, where some 70 percent of the world’s population is expected to live in the coming decades.
Urban warfare is some of the most difficult and deadly, but commanders and planners say it is no longer feasible to destroy a city in order to “save it.”
That’s because there are new issues and concerns about the safety and well-being of non-combatants, as well as the preservation of infrastructure, which is inherently expensive and time-consuming to rebuild.
An outline of the new thinking, posted online, explains that military commanders will be the ones who decide “if it is necessary and possible to conduct urban operations … early in the planning [of] a major operation.”
“They consider the location and intent of the threat force; critical infrastructure or capabilities that are operationally or strategically valuable; the geographic location of an urban area; and the area’s political, economic, or cultural significance,” the outline notes.
Further, the guidelines explained, “Humanitarian concerns require control of an urban area or necessitate operations within it. Commanders conduct urban operations because they provide a tactical, political, or economic advantage, or not doing so threatens the larger campaign.
Avoiding collateral damage will become a higher priority — both buildings and lives.
“Collateral damage influences world and domestic opinion of military operations and thus directly affects ongoing operations resulting in headquarters holding commanders to a higher degree of restraint and precision in their operations. Collateral damage also influences the post conflict physical environment and attitudes of the population. Negative impressions of the civilian population caused by collateral damage can take generations to overcome,” say the new standards.
The goal if defeating an enemy, however, remain the same. [source]