Urban Warfare Project

In the future, I can say with very high degrees of confidence, the American Army is probably going to be fighting in urban areas. We need to man, organize, train and equip the force for operations in urban areas, highly dense urban areas, and that’s a different construct. We’re not organized like that right now.

– Gen. Mark A. Milley, Chief of Staff of the Army

What We Learned Creating the Army’s First Urban Planners Course

What We Learned Creating the Army’s First Urban Planners Course

Ask the average division staff officer how many brigade combat teams it takes to seize a city of one hundred thousand people crammed into twenty-five square kilometers and you will likely get a blank stare or a wild guess. This reaction comes despite the realities of...

A Case Study of the 1968 Battle of Hue

A Case Study of the 1968 Battle of Hue

in January 1968, North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong forces launched the Tet Offensive, a series of coordinated attacks aimed at demonstrating to the governments in Washington and Saigon that continuing the war was futile. One of the offensives chief targets was the...

The Battle of Mosul: A Comprehensive Case Study

The Battle of Mosul: A Comprehensive Case Study

Earlier this summer, we published the first case study in a new series focused on important and instructive urban battles. It examined the World War II Battle of Stalingrad and identified a range of lessons that can be extracted from it. Our second case study, just...

Discovering Jerusalem’s Hidden Urban Warfare Lessons

Discovering Jerusalem’s Hidden Urban Warfare Lessons

In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by Ze’ev Orenstein. He is the director of international affairs at the City of David Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the history and physical environs of...

MWI Podcast: The Battle that Decided the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War

MWI Podcast: The Battle that Decided the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War

Observers watched the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War closely, searching for indicators of the character of warfare on tomorrow's battlefields. The lessons extracted have covered advanced technology and unmanned platforms, proxy dynamics, the ongoing relevance of armor, and...

Deep Futures and Urban Warfare

Deep Futures and Urban Warfare

In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by retired Colonel Kevin Felix. He served thirty years in the US Army as both a field artillery and foreign area officer. His last assignment in the Army was as the chief of the Future...

Urban Breaching

Urban Breaching

How is breaching—a tactical task engineers specialize in—uniquely challenged by the complexity of cities? And why is it important that US Army units have this specialized capability within their formations? This episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project Podcast tackles...

The Tyranny of Battle Drill 6

The Tyranny of Battle Drill 6

Earlier this year, a video of 10th Mountain Division soldiers conducting live-fire room-clearing training—the famous “Battle Drill 6”—went viral. In the video, the soldiers repeatedly “flagged” each other, pointing loaded weapons at fellow soldiers during the drill....

Launch Announcement: The Urban Warfare Project Case Study Series

Launch Announcement: The Urban Warfare Project Case Study Series

Mentioning the phrase “urban warfare” to anyone who thinks seriously about the subject of war will almost certainly bring a specific image to the listener’s mind. Whether a military member, a national security professional, a scholar, or a generalist with only a...

Policing a Major City

Policing a Major City

There are more than 180,000 US soldiers serving in more than 140 countries around the world. During the height of the war in Iraq, there were more than 170,000 deployed in just that country alone. Much of the work soldiers did in Iraq—and do in combat zones around the...

Sim City: Virtual Reality and the Urban Battlefield

Sim City: Virtual Reality and the Urban Battlefield

Training to win in the urban space is one of the greatest challenges for any military. Dismounted small units are the key force within the urban battlefield and how goes their large number of small actions goes the fight. For individual training the basics of close...

Rebuilding Fallujah

Rebuilding Fallujah

Editor’s note: This podcast episode was created in partnership with the One CA podcast and the Civil Affairs Association. In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by returning guest retired Colonel Leonard DeFrancisci....

Underground Warfare in Israel and Gaza

Underground Warfare in Israel and Gaza

In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by Dr. Daphne Richemond-Barak. She is an assistant professor at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy, and Strategy and heads the international law desk of the International Institute...

Italian Stalingrad: The Battle of Ortona

Italian Stalingrad: The Battle of Ortona

In this episode of the Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by Major Jayson Geroux. He is a member of the directing staff of the Tactics School at the Canadian Army's Combat Training Centre. Maj. Geroux is an urban warfare instructor and scholar who...

Civil Affairs and the Second Battle of Fallujah

Civil Affairs and the Second Battle of Fallujah

Editor’s note: This podcast episode was created in partnership with the One CA podcast and the Civil Affairs Association. In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by retired Colonel Leonard DeFrancisci. He served thirty-two years...

The Army’s Next-Generation Combat Vehicle

The Army’s Next-Generation Combat Vehicle

In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by Major General Ross Coffman. He is the director of Army Futures Command's Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team—one of eight cross-functional teams working toward the...

Urban Warfare at Echelons Above Brigade

Urban Warfare at Echelons Above Brigade

In three previous episodes of the Urban Warfare Project Podcast, host John Spencer spoke with the commanders of the operations groups of the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, California, the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Fort Polk, Louisiana,...

What does Army doctrine say about urban warfare?

What does Army doctrine say about urban warfare?

In this episode of MWI's Urban Warfare Project podcast, John Spencer is joined by Col. Rich Creed, the director of the Army’s Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. A graduate of the School of Advanced Military Studies, he has commanded Army...

Square Peg, Round Hole: Maneuver Warfare and the Urban Battlefield

Square Peg, Round Hole: Maneuver Warfare and the Urban Battlefield

In a recent article, author Paul Barnes argued against assertions made by Professor Anthony King of the University of Warwick a few months ago in an episode of the Royal United Services Institute’s Western Way of War podcast. During the conversation, Dr. King stated...

The Battle of Marawi

The Battle of Marawi

In this episode of the Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by Dr. Charles Knight. He is a senior lecturer in terrorism, asymmetric conflict, and urban operations at Charles Sturt University and a senior researcher at the University of New South...

The Future of Urban Warfare Training

The Future of Urban Warfare Training

In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by Rob Taylor. He is the company director of 4GD, a UK-based organization that specializes in developing unique close-combat training facilities—what the company calls "SmartFacilities"—and...

The Battle of Ramadi, 2006–2007

The Battle of Ramadi, 2006–2007

In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project Podcast, Dr. Louis DiMarco, a professor of military history at the US Army Command and General Staff College, presents a short lecture on the 2006 Battle of Ramadi, Iraq—one of the most significant urban battles of the...

Beneath the Streets

Beneath the Streets

In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by Dr. Daphne Richemond-Barak. She is an assistant professor at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy, and Strategy and heads the international law desk of the International Institute...

The Eight Rules of Urban Warfare and Why We Must Work to Change Them

The Eight Rules of Urban Warfare and Why We Must Work to Change Them

From October 16, 2016 to January 4, 2017, US-backed Iraqi security forces conducted a full-scale city attack to liberate Mosul from the Islamic State. The operation was the largest conventional land battle since the attack on Baghdad during the US-led invasion in 2003...

The Second Battle of Fallujah and the Future of Urban Warfare

The Second Battle of Fallujah and the Future of Urban Warfare

In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by Lt. Gen. James Rainey. He currently serves as the commander of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In 2004, he was the battalion commander of 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry...

All I Want for Christmas is an Urban Warfare Capability Set

All I Want for Christmas is an Urban Warfare Capability Set

Two years ago, the Modern War Institute's John Spencer wrote an article titled "A Soldier's Urban Warfare Christmas Wish List." As the chair of urban warfare studies at MWI, he had spent a lot of time thinking about tasks soldiers would be required to perform in urban...

The Twelve Days of Urban Warfare Christmas

The Twelve Days of Urban Warfare Christmas

In 2018, I created a soldier's urban warfare Christmas list. I limited myself to items that could (mostly) fit under a tree. I have learned since then—or maybe I have just become greedy. Either way, this year I want twelve days of Christmas, with a gift each day that...

Seeing Through Walls

Seeing Through Walls

In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by Alex Giles. He is the chief commercial officer for ICENI Labs, a UK-based science and technology research firm with the mission to develop and deploy cutting-edge solutions for a safer...

Why Is Urban Warfare So Challenging?

Why Is Urban Warfare So Challenging?

This episode takes a slight departure from the format typical of the Urban Warfare Project Podcast. John Spencer is the podcast's regular host, but in this episode MWI editorial director John Amble, takes that role and Spencer joins as the guest. With more than twenty...

Explosive Ordnance Disposal and the City

Explosive Ordnance Disposal and the City

In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by Master Sgt. Michael Kidd. He is an experienced leader in Army EOD—explosive ordnance disposal—with over sixteen years of service. The job that EOD personnel do is vital, and Master Sgt....

Urban Warfare and Military Ethics

Urban Warfare and Military Ethics

In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by Dr. Deane Baker, an associate professor and co-convener of the Future Operations Research Group in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences in the University of New South Wales,...

Defending the City of Ubungsdorf

Defending the City of Ubungsdorf

In two previous episodes of the Urban Warfare Project Podcast, host John Spencer spoke with the commanders of the Operations Group of the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, California and the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Fort Polk, Louisiana....

A Roundtable Discussion with Three Leading Experts on Urban Warfare

A Roundtable Discussion with Three Leading Experts on Urban Warfare

This is a special episode of the Urban Warfare Project Podcast. The Association of the United States Army hosts a podcasts called Army Matters, which often brings together a select group of thought leaders to discuss a topic of pressing interest to the Army. One...

Russia’s Urban Warfare Tech

Russia’s Urban Warfare Tech

In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by Samuel Bendett. He is an analyst with the Center for Naval Analyses where he is a member of the Russia Studies Program. He is also an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Center for a New...

Smart Cities and the Military

Smart Cities and the Military

In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by Dr. Sokwoo Rhee. He is the Associate Director of Cyber-Physical Systems Innovation at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, part of the US Department of Commerce. He is...

Urban Policing 101

Urban Policing 101

There are more than 180,000 US soldiers serving in more than 140 countries around the world. During the height of the war in Iraq, there were more than 170,000 deployed in just that country alone. Much of the work soldiers did in Iraq—and do in combat zones around the...

Multi-Domain Operations at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center

Multi-Domain Operations at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center

In previous episodes of the Urban Warfare Project Podcast, host John Spencer has spoken to leaders from the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, and the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, about the urban operations training units...

Understanding Global Cities

Understanding Global Cities

In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project podcast, John Spencer is joined by Dr. Saskia Sassen. She is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University and member of its Committee on Global Thought, which she chaired until 2015. She is the author...

Attacking the City of Dara Lam

Attacking the City of Dara Lam

In a previous episode of the Urban Warfare Project Podcast, host John Spencer spoke to three guests from the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California about the urban operations training units undergo during rotations there. This episode features a...

A Talk With The US Army’s Underground Warfare Expert

A Talk With The US Army’s Underground Warfare Expert

In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by retired Sgt. Maj. Joe Vega. He works for the US Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group and is one of the most knowledgeable and experienced experts in underground warfare. He has been working...

A Senior Enlisted Perspective on Combat in Megacities

A Senior Enlisted Perspective on Combat in Megacities

In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Hendrex. When the conversation was recorded, he was serving as command sergeant major of the 3rd Infantry Division. He has since become command sergeant major of...

Attacking the City of Razish

Attacking the City of Razish

In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by three guests. Col. Michael Simmering is the commander of the Operations Group at the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, California. Lt. Col. Andrew Steadman, the senior...

Fighting ISIS in the City

Fighting ISIS in the City

In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by Maj. Gen. Roger Noble. An officer in the Australian Army, in 2016 he served as the deputy commanding general of the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command – Operation Inherent...

Is Urban Combat the Great Equalizer?

Is Urban Combat the Great Equalizer?

In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project podcast, John Spencer is joined by Col. Douglas Winton, chair of the Department of Military Strategy, Planning, and Operations at the US Army War College. In their conversation, Col. Winton discusses the topic of his PhD...

Feral Cities, Pandemics, and the Military

Feral Cities, Pandemics, and the Military

In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project podcast, John Spencer is joined by Dr. Richard Norton. He is a professor of national security affairs at the US Naval War College and a retired US Navy commander. While in the Navy, he served extensively at sea on...

When War Goes Underground

When War Goes Underground

This episode of the Urban Warfare Project podcast is unique—mostly because it isn't specifically about urban warfare. In fact, the episode's guest, retired Sgt. 1st Class William Rothrock, shares three stories from his deployments to Afghanistan, and all of them...

Preparing the Military for the Complexity of Megacities

Preparing the Military for the Complexity of Megacities

In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project podcast, John Spencer is joined by retired Col. Patrick Mahaney. He is the cofounder and director of the National Center for Urban Operations. A career Special Forces officer, he retired from the US Army after thirty-two...

The Battle of Sadr City, March–May 2008

The Battle of Sadr City, March–May 2008

In the fourth episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project podcast, John Spencer is joined by retired Lt. Col. Rob MacMillan. In 2008, Lt. Col. MacMillan was serving as the battalion operations officer of 1-68 Armor in 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. The...

The City Is Not Neutral: Why Urban Warfare Is So Hard

The City Is Not Neutral: Why Urban Warfare Is So Hard

“Contrary to what is often supposed, urban warfare is not more difficult than other types of warfare.” That’s what a recent article published in the Texas National Security Review argues. The authors believe, in fact, that urban environments are “neutral,” not to be...

Protecting Civilians in Urban Combat

Protecting Civilians in Urban Combat

In the third episode of MWI’s new Urban Warfare Project podcast, John Spencer is joined by Sahr Muhammedally. She works at the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC), a nongovernmental organization that seeks to convince parties to armed conflicts to recognize the...

Gangs of Baghdad

Gangs of Baghdad

I passed a checkpoint manned by a group of young men armed with assault rifles. But they weren’t like the Iraqi soldiers at other checkpoints. They didn’t really wear uniforms, their bearing was distinctly un-military, and they looked mean. These guys are shady, I...

Army Doctrine and the Urban Battlefield

Army Doctrine and the Urban Battlefield

In the second episode of MWI's new Urban Warfare Project podcast, John Spencer is joined by Col. Rich Creed, the director of the Army’s Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. A graduate of the School of Advanced Military Studies, he has...

Announcing the Urban Warfare Project Podcast

Announcing the Urban Warfare Project Podcast

As the world becomes more urban, we need to be prepared for cities to become battlefields. That's why we launched the Urban Warfare Project in 2017—to explore the unique challenges that military forces face when forces to operate in dense urban terrain. Today we're...

MWI Video: Fighting Terrorism in the City

MWI Video: Fighting Terrorism in the City

Several times each semester, the Modern War Institute convenes what it calls War Councils—interdisciplinary panels that explore an issue related to modern war from a variety of perspectives. These War Councils provide cadets and faculty the opportunity to engage with...