Urban warfare

A US Army M113 in Panama in 1989

Urban warfare is combat conducted in urban areas such as towns and cities. Urban combat is very different from combat in the open at both the operational and tactical level. Complicating factors in urban warfare include the presence of civilians and the complexity of the urban terrain. Urban combat operations may be conducted in order to capitalize on the strategic or tactical advantages with which possession or control of a particular urban area gives or to deny these advantages to the enemy.[1]

Fighting in urban areas negates the advantages that one side may have over the other in armour, heavy artillery, or air support. Ambushes laid down by small groups of soldiers with handheld anti-tank weapons can effectively destroy entire columns of modern armour (as in the First Battle of Grozny), while artillery and air support can be severely reduced if the 'superior' party wants to limit civilian casualties as much as possible, but the defending party does not (or even uses civilians as human shields).

Some civilians may be difficult to distinguish from combatants such as armed militias and gangs, and particularly individuals who are simply trying to protect their homes from attackers. Tactics are complicated by a three-dimensional environment, limited fields of view and fire because of buildings, enhanced concealment and cover for defenders, below-ground infrastructure, and the ease of placement of booby traps and snipers.[citation needed]

Military terminology

JGSDF soldiers practice MOUT tactics in the Ojojibara Maneuver Area of Sendai, Japan during an exercise in 2004.

The United States Armed Forces term for urban warfare is UO, an abbreviation for urban operations. The previously used U.S. military term MOUT, an abbreviation for military operations in urban terrain, has been replaced by UO, although the term MOUT Site is still in use.

The British armed forces terms are OBUA (operations in built-up areas), FIBUA (fighting in built-up areas), or sometimes (colloquially) FISH (fighting in someone's house),[2] or FISH and CHIPS (fighting in someone's house and causing havoc in people's streets).[3]

The term FOFO (fighting in fortified objectives) refers to clearing enemy personnel from narrow and entrenched places like bunkers, trenches and strongholds; the dismantling of mines and wires; and the securing of footholds in enemy areas.[4]

Israel Defense Forces calls urban warfare לש"ב (pronounced LASHAB), a Hebrew acronym for warfare on urban terrain. LASHAB in the IDF includes large-scale tactics (such as utilization of heavy armoured personnel carriers, armoured bulldozers, UAVs for intelligence, etc.), CQB training for fighting forces (how a small team of infantry soldiers should fight in close and built spaces). IDF's LASHAB was developed mainly in recent decades, after the 1982 Lebanon War included urban warfare in Beirut and Lebanese villages, and was further developed during the Second Intifada (2000–2005) in which IDF soldiers entered and fought in Palestinian cities, villages and refugee camps. The IDF has a special large and advanced facility for training soldiers and units in urban warfare.[citation needed]