Attacking the Heart and Guts

Plans of Alessandria

Urban Operations Through the Ages.

Cities predate the modern nation-state by several millennia and have long been the focus of culture, politics, economics, religion, and all other aspects of endeavor that represent civilization.

Because of their importance, cities have been the dominant focus of military operations for most of human history, and a fundamental purpose of armies has been defending or attacking cities. Attacking defended cities has been one of the most difficult and potentially costly military operations. This was reflected in the ancient Chinese text, The Art of War, which recognized the challenges of seizing cities and admonished its readers that the lowest realization of warfare was to attack a fortified city.

This maxim has been passed to many modern armies that continue to want toavoid large-scale urban operations. Unfortunately, although strategists have advised against it and armies and generals have preferred not to, the nature of war has required armies to attack and defend cities, and victory has required that they do it well.

The importance of capturing cities has always been evident. In China, it became the dominant requirement of warfare around the second century A.D. (approximately six hundred years after Sun Tzu). In Europe, cities became a primary focus of warfare in the Middle Ages. Almost from their conception, cities raised walls for their own defense, and the walled city remained a significant challenge to armies into the twentieth century. Walls also provided a police and customs barrier, regulating who entered the city and permitting the taxation of goods passing through the gates.

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Author: Lieutenant Colonel Lou DiMarco, U.S. Army

Article Source: http://louisdimarco.com

Keywords: Urban Operations, Urban Warfare, Siege Warfare, Cities






Lieutenant Colonel Lou DiMarco, U.S. Army

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