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Melee. Why NATO army is ineffective in urban battles?
Material posted: Publication date: 05-01-2017
Difficult the storming of Mosul and other captured "Islamic state" (organization banned in Russia) cities involving Western armed forces makes you wonder, what can NATO armies? As there set training close combat in urban environments, especially the sweeps indoors?

To understand how the armies of the West fighting in urban areas, what are their tactics and tricks, why is it so difficult to re-learn the commandos, the scientists decided to observe the process of military training. For several years the author of the latest study on this subject was called for training in five NATO countries: Germany (Hammelburg), Canada (Gagetown), USA (marine corps base camp Pendleton), France (training Centre operations in urban areas, CENZUB) and the UK (Training center commando units of the Royal Marines of great Britain, CTCRM and five training camps). Because all the soldiers were shooting blanks, the scientist managed to stand soldiers behind or sit in places that they stormed.

The most valuable were the observations made in CTCRM. There was built a special complex — multiple semi-open spaces around special towers, where the instructors. In addition to personal observations the author took 47 interviews with instructors, students and participants of military actions in the middle East.

When the "grenade machine gun" don't work anymore

Photo: © Executive Office

Of course, to fight in urban areas modern army did not start in the twenty-first century: remember Stalingrad, Berlin, Seoul and hue. However, in the last century in the cities fought each other, mainly large units, army or divisions. Now the situation has changed. But even in recent military literature of the West fighting in the city was considered at the tactical level, company or battalion, but the most interesting is just at the micro level: the platoon office, link.

Oddly enough, the debacle in Grozny and Mogadishu has taught little West. Even the U.S. Marines (one of the most "innovative" units) developed new forms of interaction infantry and tanks in the city and embraced the British experience patrolling the streets (Northern Ireland) is, but the storming and cleaning of the premises more recently have remained at the level of 1944. "Throw grenades. When they blow, burst into the room and poured all the fire from the machine", — stated in the field manual corps for warfare in human settlements (1993).

Only the challenges NATO has faced in the cities of Iraq and Afghanistan in the 2000s years, forced the soldiers to turn to the experience of special forces. During the second battle for Fallujah (2004), the U.S. Marines took the city in the usual way, in the spirit of the Second world war, which led to many casualties among the civilian population. Here is how to behave in the military: staff Sergeant David Bellavia decided to clean house in the district Golan. Upon entering the room where the rubble of the furniture was hiding at least one local militia Sergeant sprayed the room with bursts from his assault rifle. He released nearly 500 rounds of ammunition, but was not able to hit the enemy!

The inefficiency of such a scattered fire, and numerous casualties forced the Marines and other military to go cap in hand to the special forces. The same after the seizure of hostages during the Munich Olympics in 1972 created a few units who can quickly take control of the building, neutralize the terrorists and rescue the hostages. British SAS, American Delta and DEVGRU, German GSG 9 — they are actively developed and exchanged experiences in recent decades. They have armies of NATO and borrowed the tactics of fighting in enclosed spaces (close quarters combat, CQB)

Alphabet melee

Photo: © Polaris/East News

So, in the first place (after the riot) in the teaching of close combat tactics military put marksmanship. "The main thing — accuracy. Need to be accurate. You kicked out of the unit, if you double miss. In low visibility conditions it is still possible to avoid, but in General you have no margin for error," — said the instructor of the number of American commandos. The emphasis on accuracy forced the Marines to rebuild the whole process of the drill. Before the US army firing was part of a disciplinary action: if someone has a bad showing in the dash, he was forced to run extra kilometers. Now, in preparation for the fighting in the city instructors are carefully looking for the causes of errors are: concentration, breathing, body position, — in fact, as athletic trainers. Instead of punishment for poor shooting they correct individual errors.

The second direction of "training" — understanding the structure of the municipal buildings. Instructors tirelessly repeated: the main thing is angles and field of view. From a tactical point of view any building consists of numerous angles. Successful actions require maximum use of cover they provide, while minimizing threats (when looking around). To take shelter and assess the field of vision are taught on an individual level, but actually completed courses CQB NATO soldiers learn a standard set of poses and skills of handling weapons — especially with a pistol that for most military personnel remains an exotic weapon.

Unpredictable mazes


Alas, one individualized training is not necessary. The tactics of fighting in the city requires testing of concerted collective action at the level of Department (8-12 people) and especially managers (3-4 people). Normal battle (in the open area) by the platoon commander selects one branch for fire support, the other sends the attack (e.g. the enemy reinforcement), and the third holds in reserve. In the city, instead of "flat" areas have to deal with many horizontal, vertical, internal, external and underground locations. This implies two problems. First, every home and every ladder "digested" the troops into separate units, making it difficult tactical maneuvers and forcing the soldiers to be ready for any role. At the same time indoors the military is forced to be in dangerous proximity to each other — at the risk of face and hurt teammates "friendly fire".

Second, in soldiers encounters unpredictable number of threats. In numerous areas you can hide mines, enemies or hostages; corridors and stairways lead to a new "maze"; basements, attics, transitions, even the closets hide the danger. Entering into every house and every room, the assault team should immediately evaluate the number and quality of threats, put them in order of importance and distribute the tasks among the soldiers. If group members learn to understand each other perfectly, precious time will be lost on the calls and the storming of the building in danger of collapse. And that learning this kind of coordination, a kind of "ballet" (waste of choreographed movements) focus group training.

Military basketball

Photo: © EAST NEWS

Penetration into buildings is practically always carried out through the door. "In the normal course of combat training for urban battles, we were taught to log in, blowing up walls or jumping in the window. But in Fallujah, the Marines are tasked to clean up 50-60 buildings in the day. The breakout of the walls of time actually was not," wrote the participants of the battle for Fallujah. Entrance — the most dangerous moment of the entire operation: assault team immediately gets into the affected area. The defender doesn't just know where to wait for the enemy, and fired at the entrance, but well see war in the light in the doorway.

Here has become the base for NATO equipment — the five-step entrance. For all variants of five major elements remain the same:

to clear a doorway;
to clear the adjoining space;
to secure the selected angle;
to verify the sector of fire;
to hold a command position.
In a specific example implementation of this algorithm looks like this: the first soldier level includes and protects the "blind corner" (which is not immediately visible). The second ensures the safety of one of the open corners. The third and fourth respond to threats from the space directly in front of the door. All members of the group trying to move the affected area and take a command position — an imaginary line at a distance of feet from the front of the wall.

One technique the "five steps" to clear out the space, of course, is not enough: after entering assault group lurking a lot of surprises. For example, during training of British Marines easily able to secure an ordinary room: sofa, chair, TV. Then the complicated job: instructors organized on the right wall of the open passage into the next room, and on the left side a small door to the pantry. And then the Marines were confused: did not understand how to simultaneously clean the first room and defend yourself from the enemies that will likely see them through the passage to the next room (and hiding in the back). The soldiers immediately were frightened and stayed at the entrance to the premises, the clarity and coherence of the movements disappeared. Or they turned back to the right aisle, opening yourself to enemy fire, or back to the pantry again exposed to the danger. As a result, the trainers had to come down from the tower and literally push and pull the Marines in flak jackets, like toy soldiers, placing them in the right order — so that everyone covered their threat space.

After a series of such collective training the military to acquire sufficient skills not to get lost in the buildings of the most complex layout. We are talking about the "encyclopedia", where almost practiced separate "articles" — staircases, corridors, T-shaped bifurcation, elongated and L-shaped room and so on. "CQB is similar to basketball or football. The ball is constantly in motion. Where to move — you know through training. If you collect the best NBA players in one team, it will show very average results. We need to train together. But when you put the guys together and they will train together, then they will become to do the right thing," — said in an interview with army instructor CQB (USA). In the end such training, even when in contact with unknown building-plan the assault team easily recalled need the algorithm and adapt it to new situations.

The main battle over the budget


However, it would be incorrect to assume that the triumphant spread of CQB techniques among the armies of NATO was a clear success story. Yes, the effectiveness of combat operations in urban environments has increased. But not always the time and cost (for different exercises to teach soldiers with sniper precision shooting, for example) are justified. Even in the Iraqi and Afghan campaigns storming and cleaning of city buildings didn't take too much space. And for each new skill you have to pay the loss of the old: for example, in the late 1980s, reconnaissance United States Marine corps (Force Recon) are faced with the fact that the fascination with the tactics of urban combat have resulted in the loss of basic for their skills in reconnaissance. In the end they had to throw from CQB training programmes.

Despite all these considerations, NATO armies continue to actively "invest" in CQB. Most likely, the reason is not purely military needs, and the status of the game. For politicians and the people "spetsnaz" fighting techniques seem much steeper than the movement of regular infantry, somewhere running and firing machine gun in all directions. An important role was played by the media, Hollywood and video games. Learning warfare in urban environments and thereby following the special forces, infantry increases its prestige.

Moreover, at the strategic level CQB allows the armies of NATO countries to compete with each other — who will become more important and valuable partner for large operations. So, aiming for a full return to NATO, the French built a center CENZUB to show itself as a leader in training the tactics of urban fighting.

Prestige CQB is actively used in the hard struggle for funding. So, the British Marines emphasize is not his unique ability to parachute, and experience in urban combat. For the Minister of defense organize a demonstration Stripping facilities at the training Centre of the commandos. Judging by informal interviews, army officers look with envy at the kind of self-promotion in the Marines and expect a new redistribution of budget funds in favor of the latter. British special forces, for its part, jealously looking at impostors-Marines. "If you want to learn CQB, first learn how to run many miles at a speed of 4 km/h. in General, it is our prerogative", — with these words, the commandos were met by instructors from the Marines who asked them to share their skills.

* * *

To summarize. The interest of the NATO armies for close combat in enclosed urban spaces emerged because of problems in the middle Eastern campaigns of the 2000s, and today's terrorist threat and the war with the "Islamic state" continue this interest is heated. But very soon this strategy will become a weapon in another war — the infantry NATO covered her like a shield, raising its prestige and protected from budget cuts.

Anna Polonsky


Tags: USA , armed forces , NATO

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