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

A Soldier’s Urban Warfare Christmas Wish List

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2017.   There are no urban warfare units in the US Army—not a single unit designed, organized, or equipped specifically for the challenges of operating in cities. There are no research centers dedicated...

MWI Podcast: War Goes to the City, with David Kilcullen

This episode of the MWI Podcast is a very special one. In it, you'll  get to hear the very first episode of the newest podcast series we're launching at MWI. Over the past couple years, we have deliberately spent a lot of time and energy on the particular set of...

Why Militaries Must Destroy Cities to Save Them

“It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.” That’s how a US Army major during the Vietnam war described the decision to use massive amounts of firepower, to include aerial bombs and artillery, while attacking approximately 2,500 Viet Cong who were besieging...

America’s Mumbai

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on October 17, 2017.   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...

Getting Beyond Door Kicking: Four Tasks for Urban Warriors

Ask any group of infantry soldiers what they train to prepare for urban operations and the answer will usually be: Battle Drill 6, “Enter and Clear a Room.” Battle Drill 6 is one of the fourteen drills, defined by doctrine, that infantry platoons and squads are...

Crowd-Sourcing the Character of Urban Warfare, v2.0

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...

Prepare the Army for Future Urban Battlefield

In 2001, when U.S.-backed Afghan fighters forced the Taliban out of Kabul, the capture of the city was largely a symbolic victory. In many ways, the more meaningful fight would rage in Afghanistan’s rural areas, scattered with villages from the ruggedly mountainous...

War Books: Preparing for Urban Warfare

Editor's note: Each week, we ask a practitioner, scholar, or observer of war to list the top books that have influenced the way they think about war and strategy.   We all watch global trends with the hope of predicting the future. The military rightfully makes...

How Drone Swarms Could Change Urban Warfare

For the first time since the Korean War, the U.S. military has to worry about enemy bombs dropping on them in combat. This threat doesn’t come from multibillion-dollar next-generation aircraft dropping precision-guided bombs on open battlefields. Instead, it comes...

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.