28 Pages

Urban Operations and Network Centric Warfare


Contemporary architect/urbanists like to praise the wild unruly nature of urban growth, believing that order will emerge spontaneously from a city’s chaotic condition. An unbounded expanse of urban substance has erased from their minds any desire to impose a rational plan or regulatory control over the disorganized urban terrain. It is impossible for them to conceptualize the future of cities when all dierences, identity and tradition have been discarded in the dust bin of outmoded practices. If the architect/urbanist can no longer sustain the idea of projective city plans,

or theorizing about urban development and population characteristics in emerging nations, this is not so for the U.S. military which over the last decade has developed a strange juxtaposition of urban planning procedures, geographical imagination and military strategies termed ‘military operations on urbanized terrain’ or ‘urban operations.’ It has long been an assumption of military planners that ghting in urban areas has its pitfalls. In repetitive citations, almost all the military journal articles placed under review in order to discover what is meant by ‘urban operations’ make reference to the ancient master of war Sun Tzu who advised as early as 500 b.c. that

the worst policy is to attack cities. Attack cities only when there is no alternative … [T]hose skilled in war … capture his [enemies’] cities without assaulting them and overthrow his state without protracted operations.1