Fire in the City Airpower in Urban, Smaller-Scale Contingencies

Fire in the City Airpower in Urban, Smaller-Scale Contingencies

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This study examines the roles and missions of airpower in urban operations in smaller-scale contingencies. Urban operations, often referred to as military operations on urbanized terrain (MOUT), are some of the most complex and difficult missions currently facing the US military. Smaller-scale contingencies introduce the challenge of significant political constraints and an increasing intolerance for casualties and collateral damage. To capture the difficulty of urban combat, the study concentrates on cases where combat operations were either conducted or planned. The study examines five cases in which airpower, including land and carrier based aircraft as well as helicopters, was involved. The cases include the battle for Hue during the Vietnam War, the Israeli siege of Beirut in Lebanon, Operation Just Cause, the US invasion of Panama, UNISOM II in Somalia, and Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti. Mobility, in the form of strategic airlift and helicopter mobility, was generally the most important airpower contribution to urban, smaller-scale contingencies. Additionally, surface attack was decisive in some cases and helped to limit casualties and collateral damage in others. Other airpower missions, such as command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and information operations supported urban operations. Additionally, the case studies suggest that airpower can, under certain circumstances, coerce an adversary into complying with our demands. The cases also show that any misuse of, or failure to fully exploit the capabilities of, airpower can lead to dire consequences such as higher casualties, increased collateral damage, and mission failure. Capabilities that are critical to urban combat include precision surface attack in all weather conditions, limited lethality, and survivability. A gap in capability between vulnerable fixed-wing gunships and survivable fighter aircraft suggests a materiel solution is required to develop an aircraft with the capability of a gunship and the survivability of high-performance fighters. Finally, current doctrine, training, and wargaming must be improved to incorporate US airpower into all urban more

Product details

  • Paperback | 120 pages
  • 215.9 x 279.4 x 7.11mm | 371.94g
  • Createspace
  • United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1514167794
  • 9781514167793