Saturday, 17 January 2009

War 101: Urban Combat

Article can be found here.

The article, written by Brian Murphy of the Associated Press, discusses the 'nasty' face of urban warfare (FIBUA - fighting in built-up areas), and I have to agree that this new face of war - with urban settings more and more becoming battlefields - will definitely increase the likelihood of increasing civilian casualties, as have been seen in the Gaza War. More than 1100 Palestinians have been killed (over half are civilians), compared to 13 Israeli casualties, 3 of them civilians.

Military strategists the world over are already analyzing how the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), which is superior to Hamas in almost every way, has handled the urban war that Hamas has sucked them into. One thing is clear: civilian casualties were horrific. Even neutral forces, like the United Nations and the Red Cross have suffered casualties (due to the IDF). It also did not help (or helped, depending on one's point of view) that the war was for the whole world to see, what with the media having live Internet feeds of the conflict.

I have also noticed something about the war that Murphy touched on: a vastly inferior group does not necessarily need to win a victory outright; if they can hold the superior group in an urban area and hit them where they are vulnerable (like alleys, streets, and tight squares), then chipping at the stronger opponent would likely wear out said opponent. While the IDF may want a total victory, they would need to combat the stealthy tactics that Hamas is employing (yes, hiding behind civilians, while cowardly, is a tactic).

It doesn't need hard imagination to see what a disaster urban fighting can be to a modern army. Just watch Blackhawk Down.


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