Urban Battlefields

Lessons Learned from World War II to the Modern Era

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Urban Battlefields: Lessons Learned from World War II to the Modern Era offers a detailed study of the complexities of urban operations, demonstrating through historical conflicts their key features, the various weapons and tactics employed by both sides, and the factors that contributed to success or failure.

Urban operations are a relatively recent phenomenon and an increasingly prominent feature of today’s operational environment, typified by on-going fighting in Syria and Iraq. Here, Gregory Fremont-Barnes has enlisted ten experts to examine the key elements that characterize this particularly costly and difficult method of fighting by focusing on notable examples across the modern era. He covers their nineteenth-century roots, and follows with case studies ranging from major conventional formations to counterinsurgency and civil resistance.

The contributors analyze the distinct features of urban warfare, which separate it from fighting in open areas, particularly the three-dimensional nature of the operating environment. These include: the restricted fields of fire and view; the substantial advantages conferred on the defender as a result of concealed positions and ubiquitous cover; the often- abundant presence of subterranean features including cellars, tunnels, and drainage and sewer systems; and the recurrent problems imposed by snipers holding up the progress of troops many times their number. Further, the authors consider how the presence of civilians may influence the rules of engagement and also may provide an advantage to the defender.

Urban Battlefields illustrates why warfare in metropolises can be protracted and costly. It also illustrates why modest numbers of soldiers, militia, or insurgents with nothing more than shoulder-borne anti-tank weapons or ground-to-air missile systems, small arms, and improvised explosive devices can drastically reduce the effectiveness of much better disciplined, trained, and armed adversaries. Furthermore, it explains how those short-term advantages can be neutralized and ultimately overcome.

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Editorial Reviews

"Urban Battlefields is a great read that brings to the subject analysis of the most recent and important battlefields including operations in Raqqa and Gaza.  Much of what is covered in this anthology has not been done anywhere else. Definitely should be part of the library of all professionals interested in ground warfare in the 21st Century."—Louis A. DiMarco, PhD., Professor, US Army Command and Staff College
“An enlightening book on an understudied topic, urban warfare. Urban Battlefields details many of the most important battles, and their lessons, of modern wars. Urban warfare is the future of conflict and this book provides vital lessons for others to prepare for that future.”—John Spencer, Chair of Urban Warfare Studies, Modern War Institute at West Point
“Future battles are increasingly likely to be fought in urban areas. Urban Battlefields examines the extraordinary challenges of urban combat and offers an extensive list of lessons for all types of soldiers. A captivating read.”—Col. Liam Collins, PhD, USA (Ret.). author of Understanding Urban Warfare
"This outstanding overview of urban combat should be in every commander's rucksack and on every trainer's bookshelf. It is an indispensable guide to war in cities, today and into the future."—David Kilcullen, author of Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla