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

America’s Mumbai

It will take months, possibly years, to fully understand how the senseless attack in Las Vegas will change American society. Hotels are considering metal detectors, X-ray screening of guest luggage, and mandatory room checks. Some are even questioning whether open-air...

Destroying Cities to Save Them

Mosul is destroyed. Many of the estimated 875,000 residents displaced by the fighting can’t return home because their houses are among the piles of rubble left behind. Mosul joins cities like Stalingrad, Hue, Grozny, and more recently, Aleppo and Raqqa—all destroyed...

MWI Podcast: The Future Urban Battlefield, with Dr. Russell Glenn

In this episode of the Modern War Institute podcast, MWI editorial director John Amble speaks to Dr. Russell Glenn, a senior adviser for plans and policy to the deputy chief of staff, G-2, of the Army's Training and Doctrine Command. Dr. Glenn has spent nearly...

The City Is the Battlefield of the Future

The battle for Mosul represents the future of warfare—and it wasn’t pretty for America’s allies. A ragtag army of a few thousand Islamic State fighters managed to hold the city for months against some 100,000 U.S.-backed Iraqi security forces. The ISIS fighters...

Fixing the Way the Army Trains for Urban Warfare

As Iraqi forces liberate Mosul, now is a good time to reflect on what lessons this recent round of urban combat means for the United States. After defeating ISIS’s mobile defenses of car bombs and suicide vests in Mosul’s suburbs, Iraqi forces attacked into prepared...

Three “Warhacks” for Urban Combat

The Army does not have a school for learning how to operate in dense urban terrain. Beyond simply training soldiers for such a complex setting, one of the reasons the Army should establish such a school is to create a laboratory for innovation. Units in an urban...

Urban Warfare in 140 Characters — Top Tweets

We've published a number of articles on the unique characteristics of military operations in dense urban terrain. We also recently launched the Urban Warfare Project, which will continue to develop as a dynamic home for even more content we have in store. In...

Urban Warfare, in 140 Characters

The world is urbanizing, and doing so quickly. By 2030, 60 percent of the global population will live in cities. At the same time, the US military remains committed to maintaining the capability to conduct an immensely wide range of operations—from humanitarian...

So You Think the Army Can Avoid Fighting in Megacities

“The Army will never need to fight in a megacity.” Over the past few months, MWI has published several articles exploring combat in megacities and examining the Army’s preparation for such an operating environment. The response these articles have produced has brought...

The Army Needs an Urban Warfare School and it Needs it Soon

Train as you fight. It’s the first of the Army’s ten principles of training, meant to ensure that the Army will develop and execute tough, realistic training. As long as we train as we fight, no soldier should confront a situation or an environment for the first time...

Concrete Barriers: A False Counterinsurgency Idol

In 2013, David Kilcullen, an advisor to Gen. David Petraeus during the Iraq War, was asked how the US military reduced violence in Baghdad by 95 percent. “We did it by killing the city,” he responded. “We shut the city down. We brought in more than 100 kilometers of...

What an Army Megacities Unit Would Look Like

A few weeks ago, I published the article “It’s Time to Create a Megacities Combat Unit.” This article received both criticism and support. Some of the supportive messages suggested that I take the next step and offer an organizational solution. If trends in both...

How is Mosul Being Liberated?

MWI’s Maj. John Spencer was interviewed for this episode of the BBC program The Inquiry, which examines the ongoing battle for Mosul and the challenges of urban warfare.

Task Force Gotham, Part II

The conclusion of a two-part story about the first operational deployment of a purpose-built Army unit designed specifically to fight in megacities.

It’s Time to Create a Megacities Combat Unit

Global population growth and migration trends make it increasingly likely that the US Army will find itself fighting in megacities in the future. In order to be prepared for the challenges this will pose, the Army should create a unit manned, equipped, and trained entirely for this purpose.