I have studied and studied modern wars for some time now, and every time, or at least since the last time I did my thesis on the urban operations, It appears to me that, our age and future combats, will be the struggle for the cities; those who poses these will posses the victory; as it was initially those who possessed the command of the sea (Mahan), or later, the command of air (Douhet) were the victors.
For sometime now, urban operations have proved to be highly complex and dynamic, untameable, and always did seem to be in favour of the ‘foot soldiers’, swarm of ‘urban guerrillas’, or special units, who will conduct fierce and costly hit and run tactics on the massive dinosauric armies of machineries and heavy platforms, whose aerial capabilities appear useless at best.
For, me, the importance of urban combats/ops, and the need to command the cities/streets, can be traced to the very ancient roots of warfare, but here, all one can suffice to say, during the age of urbanisation, in the late nineteenth century, urban operations began to hone its significance in revolutionising modern warfare, and it is this, rather the evolutionary nature of firepower, weapon systems, technologies, tactics and so forth, presented by the so-called RMA school of though, that, Revolution in Military Affairs, is the single significant point of present revolution in combat.
Revolutio0n in Military Affairs, as never been based on the arms or structure, and doctrines of fighting armed forces, as these always contain within it, nuggets of predecessorial traces, even the ‘greyish’ of the moment, as the Napoleonic Ways of warfare, we can trace the thinking down the lines to the Romans, and not so far, to European many past-recent wars. However, sociological changes, are a major precipitant of real societial ways of warfighting, from the peasants who dislodge the mounted knights, to the pikemen of swiss agri-societies, to forts against the enemies, amphibian nature of the Scandanavian warriors classes of Vikings etc, and so forth. Its sociological, though, not to discredit other factors, that play major, and almost dominant influence in the rethinking of the war doctrines and approaches. Today, or since the WWII, the cities are the key to winning the modern wars.
Stalingrad, Baghdad, Grozny, Mogadishu and so forth., modern military fate are decided within these new fierce battlegrounds; far away from the riches of the seapower, most of these, and untouchable or nightmarish to airpower (civilian, infrastructure, hearts and minds, spectator’s at home etc), and mostly in favour of highly mobile, small units of special trained forces, as IDF are capable to produce, and show of their utility in modern urban operations in Lebanon, Gaza, West Bank.
For Military Practitioners, we can no longer seek to ”by-pass” the cities, as we are at the present so influenced by this thought, but rather we must start training our forces to fighting and dominating, that commanding the streets, and alas, the cities. only through this can we finally attain a complete/absolute victory.