Urban Warrior

Urban Warrior

Operation Urban Warrior is a United States Marine Corps (USMC) program created as an exercise meant to plan and test Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain (MOUT), and Urban warfare in general. It was developed in the mid 1990s by the U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory partly in response to growing problem on inner-city fighting, and especially made urgent following the incident in the October 3, 1993 Battle of Mogadishu.

Press materials from the Warfighting Lab in 1997 stated, "..the world is becoming increasingly urbanized and increasingly dangerous" and described a new fight zone called the "urban littoral' or coastal zone where most of the world's population will reside. "Parts of the urban littoral will contain all the classic ingredients for conflict. There will be social, cultural, religious and tribal strife between different groups. Many areas will have scarce resources, including the most basic ones like food and shelter as populations grow and resources shrink even further. The chances for conflict will naturally grow with it". (Marine Corps Warfighting Lab press release 17 October, 1997).

Some preferred to call it the "three block war". ("Navy Times" - MC edition, 27 October 1997). The concern that Marines would be made responsible for Humanitarian assistance, as evidenced by the wars in Bosnia-Herzegovina, was part of the original planning of the program. According to a 1997 Defense Monitor Brief, the Marines were facing the burden of excessive tempo of operations related to humanitarian concerns. OPTEMPO. The importance of getting the military out of humanitarian relief was expressed in the 1997 Center for Defense Information brief (DC -I.S.S.N. #0195 - 6450).

General information about the US Military's program on Urban Warfare

The program has been called one of the most important in the United States military. This is because, even though the U.S. is believed to have one of the best conventional military forces in the world, many of the more powerful weapons systems intended for use fighting in open places are useless in urban settings. This was the case in some forested regions of Europe, and in open deserts encountered during the Gulf Wars. Lines of approach through cities tend to be long and narrow, with sharp turns, civilians, street traffic and local commerce. This environment is one where heavy fighting vehicles like the M1 Abrams can neither maneuver well, nor avoid being seen from a long distance by potential hostiles, nor be certain that all ground surfaces will support vehicle weight.

Inhabitants may have any of a huge number of possible reactions, anger, resentment, disrespect and a strong potential for spontaneous protest, disorder, and uninitiated response. Those who are friendly may be desperate for assistance but afraid, increasing the risk of stampedes and other problems. Those who are hostile will be on their home ground, to have familiarity with the terrain, and decide to defend their home turf. Furthermore, those who use unconventional warfare will have found protection among inhabitants. To use options like airstrikes, artillery, and mortars against cities will have a high cost in missed targets and dead innocents. History records many military operations involving cities, of which a large number degenerated into torturous, kill everyone situations. Stalingrad and Saigon are two modern examples, but the extreme risk involved in attacking cities was well known even to ancient strategists, including Sun Tzu. "(See The Art of War)" but lost on the American military planners.

As the world's population becomes concentrated in cities, current and future fighting will likely to take place within them. This means that there will be an increase in the demand for infantrymen, on account of the fact that infantrymen are uniquely able to enter built-up areas, uproot and clear them, defend them, and even search the local residence. This is one reason why United States military leaders are making plans based on the reasonable assumption that the infantryman's role in combat operations will increase rather than decrease in the coming years. "(See Land Warrior)"

Urban Warrior is seen as having one primary purpose: to fight enemies in urban environments, part of Urban Warrior's purported purpose is to conduct and refine disaster relief and humanitarian assistance for use in the United States and abroad. Doing so supposedly involves gaining the support and trust of the local population by engaging in humanitarian efforts, a project the marine corps has more recently sought to distance itself from.

Some lessons learned from Urban Warrior were applied in the 2003 invasion of Iraq as well as to the occupation. Fighting in Najaf and Fallujah has once again made it clear that local irregular forces tend to have the advantage of home territory and plentiful local support. Religion, ideology, and culture may also play in the local insurgent's favor. Non-combatants often side with them because of nationalism, ethnic connections, general dislike or even hatred, of a foreign invading force. For example, this tendency became clear in Mogadishu, Somalia, when civilians chose to support the Habr Gidr militia as opposed to United Nations and U.S. forces, and in Fallujah, where most of the remaining civilians decided the invasion forces were less important than the insurgent defenders.

An experimental urban-camouflage battle dress uniform (BDU) was developed and used during the Urban Warrior MOUT exercises of 1999. The pattern, sometimes called T-pattern or T-block, consists of three gray tones arranged in a geometric pattern, intended as a 'pattern breaker' to make Marine troops harder to locate when in such environments. Like all modern U.S. BDUs, it is made of a lightweight rip-stop material. The pattern was never officially adopted, and it has since been replaced by the new MARPAT camouflage pattern.

Exercises in Chicago, May 1998

Eighty camouflaged marines from Camp LeJeune's first battalion, 8th Marine, toured the city to enhance knowledge of urban infrastructure, touring a gas plant, water facility, underground tunnels, a few bridges and police and fire stations.

Exercises in the San Francisco East Bay, March 1999

A four day military exercise was planned and executed in Oakland, California in March 1999. A combined force of 6000 Marines and 700 sailors took control of the grounds and buildings of the defunct Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland, California and a water force invaded the defunct Alameda Naval Air Station at Alameda Point on the second day as part of a national effort called Operation Sea Dragon. After original plans to use the San Francisco Presidio were rejected by the National Park Service [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/1999/02/09/ED38580.DTL&hw=Urban+Warrior&sn=008&sc=560] based on the size of the spectacle and its inherent environmental damage, and a trial run at the Naval Post Graduate School beach in Monterey, California [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9805E2D9133EF937A25750C0A96F958260] [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C07E3DF123EF930A25750C0A96F958260] , Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown and Alameda Mayor Ralph Appezzato welcomed the Marines to use Oakland, a nuclear-free zone city, and Alameda, as a proving ground for corp training on the suppression of urban populations in time of war. [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/1999/03/16/MN104233.DTL&hw=Urban+Warrior&sn=003&sc=756] The operations included hovercrafts, Harrier jets, Sea Knights, Sea Stallions, Cobra and Huey helicopters. Five Navy ships, including the aircraft carrier USS|Hornet|CV-12|6 and the "Bonhomme Richard" were brought in and opened for public view during the operations. Although the Warfighting Lab called it a humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and urban security exercise, little beyond military fighting was evidenced in the final operation. Further, though the Warfighting Lab claimed all activities would be open to the public, protesters were penned, harassed and arrested by local police for straying out of so-called "free speech zones" [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/e/a/1999/03/16/METRO22.dtl&hw=Urban+Warrior&sn=010&sc=532] .


: "Our enemies, having watched Desert Storm on CNN, know they cannot engage the United States with conventional methods. These potential foes view cities as a way to limit the technological advantages of our military. They know that cities, with their narrow streets, confusing layout and large number of civilian non-combatants, place limits on our technological superiority and especially our use of firepower. We have to develop technologies that allow us to win while minimizing collateral damage.": - Col. Mark Thiffault, Director, Joint Information Bureau, Urban Warrior

External links

* [http://www.geocities.com/urbanwarrior_northwest/film.html| "Urban Warrior", the movie]

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