Urban warfare presents novel and complex challenges. In conventional warfare in an urban setting, tanks, field guns and aerial bombs are freely used to demolish buildings and fortifications offering protection to the enemy. Things, however, become extremely difficult in counter-insurgency or anti-terrorist operations because operations are required to be conducted amidst innocent people living there and the security forces cannot freely use heavy firepower for fear of causing unacceptable collateral damage. Precisely for this reason, guerrilla warfare or unconventional warfare in an urban setting becomes a very attractive option to the terrorist and the insurgent. This includes a broad spectrum of operations, ranging from terrorist bombs, snipers, ambushes, and landmines, to use of improvised mortars and even regular artillery; from terrorist attacks on civilian targets to guerrilla warfare, and even pitched battles.
Most of the armies, paramilitary forces and police forces of the world are unprepared for fighting unconventional wars in urban environments as they do not have comprehensive doctrines on urban guerrilla warfare combat operations tactics, technique and procedures. That's why the British were at their wits' end in fighting the IRA, and the mighty Soviet war machine -eventually beat a very costly retreat from the rugged land of Afghanistan; they had a very tough time in Chechnya also. In India, we have had extensive collateral damage in the Operation Blue Star and continue to have so in Kashmir and naxal-infested areas, adding to the problem of alienation. Urban encounters frequently prove costly for the security forces. The 26/11 attack in Mumbai totally confounded us - both casualties and damages could have been minimized had we been better trained.
A critical analysis of urban unconventional warfare requires intimate knowledge of the conditions in which the combat operations have hitherto been conducted by both the guerrillas and the security forces, and what aspects of those conditions were critical to their success or failure. Urbanization of the battleground requires the development of new skills and core competencies in the security forces. This book, for the first time in the world, contains a comprehensive and masterly exposition of the various facets of Urbari Warfare.
Author: Dr NC Asthana
Features: HB, Manas