This chapter describes techniques, procedures and special considerations that are used by platoons and squads throughout the planning and execution of operations in an urban area.

Section I. OFFENSE

While operating in urban areas, the major offensive collective tasks at platoon and squad level are attacking and clearing buildings. This involves isolating the objective, suppressing the threat, advancing the assault element, assaulting the building, clearing the building, and consolidating and reorganizing the force.

Regardless of the type of urban area or the structural characteristics, there are six interrelated requirements for attacking a defended building:

Proper application and integration of these requirements can reduce casualties and hasten accomplishment of the mission. The platoon leader, when developing the plan for an attack on an urban objective, must consider the type of building to be assaulted, the rules of engagement (ROE) , and the nature of the surrounding urban area. These considerations will determine the method of execution. For example, medium-size towns have numerous open spaces, and larger cities have high-rise apartments and industrial and transportation areas that are separated by parking areas or parks. Increased fire support is required to suppress and obscure enemy observation and fires that may be covering the open terrain and spaces between buildings. Conversely, the centers of small- and medium-sized towns, with twisting alleys and narrow roads or adjoining buildings, provide the platoon and squad with numerous covered and concealed routes that could decrease fire support requirements.

Platoon and squad leaders must consider the task and purpose they have been given and the method they will use to achieve the desired results. To seize or gain control of a building, group of buildings, or an area may not always require the platoon or squad to commit troops into the structures or to close with the enemy. For example, if the threat personnel are of low morale, poorly trained, under equipped, or lack leadership, they may be convinced to surrender or withdraw simply by a show of force and the use of a skilled PSYOPS team. At the other end of the spectrum, an enemy that is well trained, prepared to defend, and has the means to resist may be encountered. In this case the leader may decide (ROE permitting) to concentrate his direct and indirect fire weapons and other combat support systems onto the objective area to neutralize the threat without maneuvering troops to conduct an assault.


The platoon leader will normally organize his platoon into at least two elements: an assault element consisting of two rifle squads, and a support element consisting of the platoon�s crew-served weapons and one rifle squad as the support/reserve (Figure 6-1) . If engineers are not available, he can designate a breaching team from within either the assault or the support element or, depending on the situation, he may task organize a separate breach element. The size and composition of these elements are determined by the mission given, the number of troops available, the type and size of the objective building, whether the adjacent terrain provides open or covered approaches, and the organization and strength of the enemy defenses. As part of a company operation, the platoon will be part of either the assault element or the support element.

Figure 6-1. Platoon organization.

a.   The purpose of the assault element is to kill, capture, or force the withdrawal of the enemy from an urban objective and to seize key terrain. The assault element of a platoon may consist of one, two, or three squads. Squad leaders will normally organize their two fire teams into two assault teams or, in special circumstances, the squad may be kept as a single assault element.


Clearing techniques are designed to be executed by the standard four-man fire team. This does not mean that all four members must enter a room to clear it. Because of the confined spaces typical of building/room clearing operations, units larger than squads quickly become awkward and unmanageable. When shortages of personnel demand it, two- and three-man teams can conduct room-clearing operations, but four-man teams are best suited. Using fewer personnel adds to the combat strain and greatly increases the risks to the team. For clearing large open buildings, such as hangars or warehouses, it may be necessary to commit two squads simultaneously using a bounding overwatch movement technique to effectively cover the entire structure and provide force protection.

b.   The purpose of the support element is to provide immediate suppressive fire support to enable the assault element to close with the enemy. Suppressive fires must be closely controlled to avoid excessive expenditure of ammunition and prevent fratricide. The support element is normally controlled by the platoon sergeant or a senior squad leader and normally consists of the platoon�s crew-served weapons, light and medium antitank weapons systems, forward observer team, platoon medic, and any personnel not designated as part of the assault element (Figure 6-2) . The support element provides both direct and indirect fire support and other assistance to advance the assault element. This support includes, but is not limited to, the following:


The platoon sergeant must be prepared to rapidly evacuate wounded from the objective area to the company casualty collection point (CCP) . The use of ground ambulances may be impeded by rubble in the streets, barricades, and demolition of roads; therefore, litter teams could be used extensively. Also, snipers can affect medical evacuation from forward positions.

Figure 6-2. Platoon support element with squad integrated.

c.   The purpose of the breaching element is to clear and mark lanes through obstacles during movement, providing the assault element with access to an urban objective. The platoon leader organizes the force to ensure breaching elements are designated. One technique is to assign one fire team from the assault element as the breaching element. Alternatively, the breach can be conducted using an attached engineer or any member of the assault or support element who has had additional breach training.

6-2.     MOVEMENT

When moving in an urban area, squads and platoons use variations of the traveling, traveling overwatch, and bounding overwatch movement techniques. Often squads and fire teams will use the modified wedge (file or column) to move. Leaders must be aware of the three-dimensional aspect of urban terrain (streets, buildings, subsurface, and airspace) and anticipate enemy contact from all directions (Figure 6-3) . Squads and platoons are extremely vulnerable to sniper fire; therefore, countersniper TTP must be well rehearsed and implemented to prevent excess casualties. (See FM 90-10-1 for more information concerning countersniper techniques.)

Figure 6-3. Three-dimensional urban terrain.

a.     The assault force (squad or platoon) minimizes the effects of the enemy�s defensive fires during movement by:

b.     In lightly defended areas, the type of operation may dictate moving along streets and alleys without clearing all the buildings.

c.     The squads move along streets and alleys on one side of the street supported by an overwatching element. Each man is assigned a specific sector to observe and cover.

d.     To avoid exposure on the street or to provide mutual support, the squads should move through the buildings if possible.

e.     When armored vehicles are attached, the platoon moves on foot with two squads leading, one on each side of the street, using bounding overwatch movement techniques (Figure 6-4) . This technique is used to quickly locate, identify, engage, and eliminate any antiarmor threat.

Figure 6-4. Armored vehicles supporting infantry.


When armored vehicles are employed with the infantry, the platoon leader must brief his personnel to the dangers associated with vehicles engaging targets close to them (explosive effects, fragmentation fallout, and blast over-pressure) . (For more specific information on the effects of weapons see FM 90-10-1.)


The assault force, regardless of size, must quickly and violently execute the assault and subsequent clearing operations. Once momentum has been gained, it is maintained to deny the enemy time to organize a more determined resistance on other floors or in other rooms. The small unit leaders are responsible for maintaining the momentum of the assault, controlling movement, yet not allowing the operation to become disorganized. Enemy obstacles may slow or stop forward movement. Leaders must maintain the momentum by rapidly creating a breach in the obstacle, or by redirecting the flow of the assault over or around the obstacles.

a.   All routes to the breach and or entry point are planned in advance. The best route is confirmed and selected during the leaders� reconnaissance. The route should allow the assault element to approach the breach (entry) point from the blind side, if possible.

b.  The assault team�s order of march to the breach point is determined by the method of breach and their intended actions at the breach (entry) point. This preparation must be completed prior to or in the last covered and concealed location before reaching the breach (entry) point. Establishing an order of march is done to aid the team leader with C2 and to minimize exposure time in open areas and at the entry point. An order of march technique is to number the assault team one, two, three, and four. The number one man should always be responsible for frontal/door security. If the breach has been conducted prior to their arrival the assault team quickly moves through the breach (entry) point. If a breach has not been made prior to their arrival at the breach (entry) point, and depending on the type of breach to be made, the team leader conducts the breach himself or signals forward the breach man/element. One option is to designate the squad leader as the breach man. If the breach man is part of the assault team, he will normally be the last of the four men to enter the building or room. This allows him to transition from his breaching task to his combat role.(See FM 90-10-1 for more information concerning movement and breaching methods.)

(1)   . A suggested order of movement for a ballistic (shot gun) breach has the gunner up front, followed by the number one man, number two man, and then the number three man (team leader) . After the door is breached, the gunner moves to the rear of the lineup and assumes the position of the number four man.

(2)  . A suggested order of movement for an explosive breach without engineer support is; number one, number three (team leader) , number two, and then number four man. The number one man provides security at the entry point. The number three man (team leader) carries the demolition charge and places it. Number four provides rear security. After the demolition charge is placed, team members reform in the original configuration and take cover around a corner or behind other protection. Team members can line up on either or both sides if there is adequate protection from the blast.

(3)  . A suggested order of movement for a mechanical breach is the initial assault team in order, followed by the breach man/element. At the breach point the team leader will bring the breach element forward while the assault team provides local security. After the breach is made, the breach element moves aside and provides local security as the assault team enters the breach.

c.   Because of the three-dimensional threat associated with urban terrain, the assault element must maintain 360-degree security during movement to the breach (entry) point. If the assault element is to stop in the vicinity of the breach (entry) point to wait for the breach element to complete its task, the support element must maintain suppressive fire to protect the assault element.

d.   Entry at the top and fighting downward is the preferred method of clearing a building (Figure 6-5) . This forces the defenders down and out of the building where the support element can engage them. This method is only feasible, however, when access to an upper floor or rooftop can be gained from the windows or roofs of adjoining, secured buildings. Rooftops are treated as danger areas when surrounded by higher buildings from which enemy forces could engage the assault element. Helicopters should land only on those buildings that have a roof structure that can support their weight. If the structure cannot support the helicopter, soldiers can dismount as the helicopter hovers a few feet above the roof. Troops then breach the roof or common walls to gain entrance into the building. (If using explosives on the rooftop, ensure cover is available to the soldiers.) They may use ropes or other means to enter the lower floors through the holes created.


Soldiers should consider the use of devices and techniques that allow them upper level access without using interior stairways. These devices and techniques include, but are not limited to, adjacent rooftops, fire escapes, portable ladders, and various soldier-assisted lifts.

Figure 6-5. Assault element entering from the top.

e.   The support element isolates the building with direct and indirect fires to support the assault element�s move to the breach point. The support element covers mounted avenues of approach with antiarmor weapons, covers dismounted avenues of approach with automatic weapons, and suppresses enemy fires and neutralizes enemy positions to enable the breach team and assault element to move into position. The location of adjacent units must be considered in the emplacement of supporting fires.

(1)     The support element uses smoke to obscure the movement of the breach team and assault element to the building. If possible, the smoke obscuration is maintained until the assault element has entered the building.

(2)     Depending upon the ROE, just before the rush of the assault element, the support element increases suppressive fires on the objective and continues until masked by the advancing assault element. (See Figure 6-6 for grid fire control technique.) Once masked, fires are shifted to upper or lower windows and continued until the assault element has entered the building. At that time, fires are shifted to adjacent buildings to prevent enemy withdrawal or reinforcement.

(3)     If the ROE are very restrictive, the use of supporting fires may be restricted to known enemy locations that have engaged the unit.

(4)     The support element must also deal with civilians displaced by the assault, EPWs, and casualties.

Figure 6-6. Example grid fire control technique.

f.   In this technique, building numbers are assigned in a consistent pattern in relation to the direction of assault. In the example shown in Figure 6-6, the buildings are numbered consecutively, in a counterclockwise manner. Further, the sides of the buildings are color-coded consistently throughout the objective area (WHITE�direction of assault side; GREEN�right side; BLACK�rear side; RED�left side; BLUE�roof) . An odd-shaped building is also shown. Note that a �four-sided� concept was retained to minimize confusion. Further designations of WHITE 1, WHITE 2, WHITE 3, and so on from left to right can be added to specify which wall will be engaged. Apertures on the buildings are also labeled consecutively using rows and columns, as shown. In the example, “OBJ 4, WHITE, window A1” is the lower left-hand window on the direction of assault side of OBJ 4. All designations are labeled in relation to the direction of assault. (See FM 34-130 for additional information on building shapes and structural labeling.)


The assault element may be fighting just to get to the breach point; therefore, proper fire and movement will be required all the way to the breach (entry) point. The rest of the squad/platoon will provide support to secure (left, right, up, and down) the assault element. Remember that the fight is three-dimensional and in 360 degrees. If doors and windows are not used for the entry, the assault element must remain oriented on these danger areas as they approach the breach location. The assault element may need to augment or create obscuration with hand-held smoke, but must remember not to mask the fires of the support element or obscure the breach (entry) point from friendly observation and fires. If possible, the breach is conducted in such a manner as to allow the assault element to continue movement without having to wait at the breach (entry) point. Deception should be used to confuse the enemy as to the location of the primary entry point. This can be achieved by using fragmentation grenades, concussion grenades or stun grenades in an area other than the actual breach/entry point.

a.   The three breaching methods discussed here are mechanical, ballistic, and explosive.

(1)  This method requires increased physical exertion by one or more soldiers using hand tools such as axes, saws, crowbars, hooligan�s tools, or sledgehammers. The mechanical breach is not preferred as the primary breaching method because it may be time consuming and defeat the element of surprise. However, the ROE and situation may require the use of these tools, so soldiers should be proficient in their use. (See FM 90-10-1 for additional information concerning mechanical breaching.)

(2)  This method requires the use of a weapon firing a projectile at the breach point.

(a)     For exterior walls, the use of a tank or an artillery piece in the direct fire role is ideal if the structure will support it and if the ROE will allow it (see Section IV) . The main gun of an M1 tank is very effective when using the HEAT round; however, the SABOT round rarely produces the desired effect because of its penetrating power. The 12-gauge shotgun breaching round is effective on doorknobs and hinges, while standard small arms (5.56-mm and 7.62-mm) have proved to be virtually ineffective for breaching. Because of their ricochet potential and their “shoot-through” capability, small arms (5.56-mm and 7.62-mm) should not be used except as a last resort. Ballistic breaching of walls by shotgun fire is normally an alternate means of gaining entry. In most cases, ballistic breaching should not be considered the primary method for gaining initial entry into a structure because it is not a positive means of gaining entry. It may not provide the surprise, speed, and violence of action necessary to minimize friendly losses on initial entry. In certain situations, ballistic breaching may become necessary as a back-up entry method. A misfire of an explosive charge or the compromise of the assault force during its approach to the target may necessitate the use of ballistic breaching as a means of initial entry into the structure. Ballistic breaching may have to be followed up with a fragmentation, concussion, or stun grenade before entry.


The fragmentation and ricochet effects of standard small arms (5.56-mm and 7.62-mm) as breaching rounds is unpredictable and con-sidered extremely dangerous. Do not attempt in training.

(b)     Once initial entry is gained, shotgun ballistic breaching may become the primary method for gaining access to subsequent rooms within the structure. Surprise is lost upon initial entry, and other breaching methods are often too slow and tend to slow the momentum of the assault team. If a door must be used for entry, several techniques can be used to open the door. Doors should be considered a fatal funnel because they are usually covered by fire, or they may be booby-trapped. (See FM 90-10-1 for more information concerning weapon employment and effects.)

(c)     Rifle-launched entry munitions (RLEM) (Figure 6-7) allow a remote ballistic breach of an exterior door or window without having the assault or breaching element physically present at the breach (entry) point. This allows the assault element to assume a posture for entry in the last covered and concealed position before the breach. The RLEM firer is not normally part of the assault element, but rather a part of the breaching or support element. This allows the RLEM to be fired from one position while the assault element waits in another position. In the event that the first round does not affect the breach, either the firer should prepare a second round for the breach or a second firer should be prepared to engage the target.

Figure 6-7. Rifle-launched entry munitions (RLEM).


Firer must be a minimum of 10 meters from target to safely employ a 150-gram round.


Exact minimum safe distances for firers and assault elements have not been established for this round.

(3)   This type of breaching requires the use of an explosive composition such as C4 or TNT, or a manufactured shape charge directed against the target.

(a) Exterior Walls. One of the most difficult breaching operations for the assault team is breaching masonry and reinforced concrete walls. Composition C4 is normally used for explosive breaching because it is safe and easy to use, and is readily available. Engineers are usually attached to the platoon if explosive breaching operations are expected. The attached engineers will either conduct the breach themselves or provide technical assistance to the infantrymen involved. The typical thickness of exterior walls is 15 inches or less. Assuming that all outer walls are constructed of reinforced concrete, a rule of thumb for breaching is to place 10 pounds of C4 against the target between waist and chest height. When detonated, this charge normally blows a hole large enough for a man to go through. However, on substandard buildings, a charge of this size could rubble the building. When explosives are used to breach windows or doors the blast should eliminate any booby traps in the vicinity of the window or door frame. (See FM 90-10-1 for information concerning demolitions.)

(b) Charge Placement. Place charges (other than shape charges) directly against the surface that is to be breached. When enemy fire prevents an approach to the wall, a technique may be to attach the breaching charge to a pole and slide it into position for detonation at the base of the wall untamped. Small-arms fire will not detonate C4 or TNT. Take cover before detonating the charge.

(c) Tamping. Whenever possible, explosives should be tamped or surrounded with material to focus the blast to increase their effectiveness. Tamping materials could be sandbags, rubble, desks, chairs, and even IV bags. For many exterior walls, tamping may be impossible due to enemy fire. An untamped charge requires approximately twice the explosive charge to produce the same effect as a tamped charge.

(d) Second Charges. Breaching charges will not cut metal reinforcing rods inside concrete targets. If the ROE permits, hand grenades should be thrown into the opening to clear the area of enemy. Once the area has been cleared of enemy, the reinforcing rods can be removed using special steel cutting explosive charges or mechanical means.

b.   The success of the assault element often depends on the speed with which they gain access into the building. It is important that the breach location provide the assault element with covered or concealed access, fluid entry, and the ability to be overwatched by the support element.

(1)   Mouseholes provide a safe means of moving between rooms and floors. C4 plastic explosive can be used to create mouseholes when lesser means of mechanical breaching fail. Because C4 comes packaged with an adhesive backing, or can be emplaced using pressure-sensitive tape, it is ideal for this purpose. When using C4 to blow a mousehole in a lath and plaster wall, one block or a strip of blocks should be placed on the wall from neck-to-knee height. Charges should be primed with detonating cord or MDI to obtain simultaneous detonation, which will blow a hole large enough for a man to fit through.

(2)   Because the internal walls of most buildings function as partitions rather than load-bearing members, smaller explosive charges can be used to breach them. When C4 or other military explosives are not available, one or more fragmentation grenades or a Claymore mine can be used to breach some internal walls. These field expedient breaching devices should be tamped to increase their effectiveness and to reduce the amount of explosive force directed to the rear. Extreme care must be taken when attempting to perform this type of breach since fragments may penetrate walls and cause friendly casualties. If walls are made of plaster (dry wall) , mechanical breaching may be more effective.

(3)   The general-purpose charge and the flexible linear charge are field expedient charges that can be used to breach interior and exterior doors. These charges give the breach element an advantage because they can be made ahead of time and are simple, compact, lightweight, and easy to emplace. (See FM 90-10-1 for more information concerning door breaching charges.)

(4)   Regardless of the technique used to gain entry, if the breach location restricts fundamental movement into the room or building, local or immediate support must be used until the assault team can support itself. For example, as a soldier moves through a window and into the room, he may not be in a position to engage a threat; therefore, another window that has access to the same room may be used to overwatch the lead clearing team�s movement into the room. The overwatching element can come from the initial clearing team or from the team designated to enter the breach location second.


A large portion of combat in urban areas takes place at very close ranges, often between small groups of combatants within the confines of a single room. Success or failure is often determined by actions taken instinctively by individual soldiers and fire teams as they encounter complex situations. One of the complexities often encountered is the intermixing of combatants with noncombatants in the same building and often in the same room.

a.   The principles of precision combat are surprise, speed, and controlled violence of action. These principles do not change regardless of ROE. The three principles of precision combat are each relative to one another�successful surprise allows increased speed; controlled violence coupled with speed increases surprise.

(1)   Surprise is one of the elements necessary for a successful assault at close range. The assault team achieves surprise by attacking at a time and location unexpected by the defender. Hand grenades, concussion grenades, or stun grenades are used to achieve surprise. These techniques are most effective against a nonalert, poorly-trained enemy. An explosive or ballistic breach will also provide the element of surprise by stunning the occupants of a room.

(2)   Speed provides a measure of security to the clearing unit. Speed allows soldiers to use the first few seconds provided by surprise to their advantage. In urban combat, speed does not mean incautious haste. It can best be described as a “careful hurry.”

(3)   Controlled violence of action eliminates or neutralizes the enemy and decreases his chances of inflicting friendly casualties. Controlled violence of action is not limited to the application of firepower only. It also involves a highly motivated soldier and his ability to dominate and control the combat situation.

b.   The fundamentals of clearing operations are the actions soldiers take while moving along confined corridors to the room to be cleared, while preparing to enter the room, during room entry and target engagement, and after contact. Team members must�


Soldiers can carry and use small plastic flex cuffs to control civilian detainees or captured military personnel.

Figure 6-8. Sample marking SOP.

c.   Methods of movement, firing techniques, weapon positioning, and reflexive shooting, are fundamentals used in urban combat. Employing these techniques is an effective means of achieving success, minimizing noncombatant casualties, and conserving ammunition. Each member of the unit must understand the principles of precision combat and his part in their successful execution.

(1)     Special clearing techniques may be required when highly restrictive ROE are in effect. The enemy situation may require that, rather than using firepower to suppress and neutralize buildings in the objective area, the units may need to clear only a few selected buildings methodically to accomplish its mission. Examples of reasons for a highly restrictive ROE are:

(2)     In a situation where the ROE favor overwhelming firepower, units should employ direct and indirect fires, demolitions, and fragmentation or concussion grenades as necessary to assist in clearing an objective defended by an alert and determined force without noncombatants. (Refer to Chapter 4 of this manual for specific information concerning Battle Drill 6, Enter Building/Clear Room.)


To prevent the possibility of fratricide or injury to friendly inhabitants, leaders should consider the use of nonlethal stun grenades rather than the fragmentation or concussion grenade.


The squad and platoon will conduct consolidation and reorganization immediately after each action where soldiers are engaged and ammunition is expended. Consolidation is the action taken by the squad or platoon to ensure its security, to prepare for a counterattack by the enemy, and to prepare to continue the mission. Consolidation in an urban environment must be quick in order to repel enemy counterattacks and to prevent the enemy from infiltrating back into cleared buildings or floors. After securing a floor (bottom, middle, or top) , selected members of the unit are assigned to cover potential enemy counterattack routes to the building. Priority must be given initially to securing the direction of attack. Security elements alert the unit and place a heavy volume of fire on enemy forces approaching the unit. Reorganization occurs after consolidation. These actions prepare the unit to continue the mission by ensuring key leadership positions are filled and important weapon systems are manned. Many reorganization actions occur simultaneously during the consolidation of the objective.

a.   Squads assume hasty defensive positions to gain security immediately after the objective has been seized or cleared. Squads that performed missions as assault elements should be prepared to assume an overwatch mission and to support another assault element. Units must guard all avenues of approach leading into their area. These may include:

b.   After consolidation, leaders ensure the following actions are taken:


If the unit is going to continue with its original mission, its “be prepared/on order” mission, or receives a new mission, it must accomplish the following tasks:


In urban areas, buildings provide cover and concealment, limit fields of observation and fire, and block movement of troops, especially mechanized troops. This section covers the key planning considerations, weapons selection, preparations, and the construction of a platoon defensive position on urbanized terrain.


Planning the defense begins when the leader receives a mission or determines a requirement to defend such as during consolidation and reorganization after an assault. The leader must use terrain wisely and designate a point of main effort. He chooses defensive positions that force the enemy to make costly attacks or conduct time-consuming maneuvers to avoid them. A position that the enemy can readily avoid has no defensive value unless the enemy can be induced to attack it. The defense, no less than the offense, should achieve surprise. As platoon leaders conduct their troop-leading procedures, they also have to consider civilians, ROE, limited collateral damage, and coordination with adjacent units to eliminate the probability of fratricide. Maneuver, methods, and courses of action in establishing defensive positions in and around urbanized terrain are METT-TC intensive.

a.     The squad�s and platoon�s focus for defending in an urban area is the retention of terrain. As with most defensive scenarios, the squad and platoon will defend as part of the company. The platoon will either be given a sector to defend or a battle position to occupy and the platoon leader must construct his defense within the constraints given to him. In an urban area, the defender must take advantage of the abundant cover and concealment. He must also consider restrictions to the attacker�s ability to maneuver and observe. By using the terrain and fighting from well-prepared and mutually supporting positions, a defending force can delay, block, fix, or inflict heavy losses on a much larger attacking force.

b.     One of the most common defensive tasks a platoon will be given during urban operations is to conduct a strongpoint defense of a building, part of a building, or a group of small buildings (Figure 6-9) . The platoon�s defense is normally integrated into the company�s mission. The platoon leader organizes the strongpoint defense by positioning personnel and their weapons systems to maximize their capabilities. Supporting fires are incorporated into the overall defensive plan to provide depth to the engagement area

(1)     The platoon leader organizes the defense into a series of individual, team, and squad fighting positions located to cover avenues of approach and obstacles, and to provide mutual support in order to repel the enemy advance. Snipers should be positioned to support the commander�s intent and to allow for the opportunity to engage C2 and key targets.

Figure 6-9. Defensive strongpoint.

(2)     Depending on the length of the mission, the platoon should stockpile munitions (especially grenades) , food and water, medical supplies, and fire-fighting equipment.


While operating in an urban area, it is highly possible that the infantry platoon will be called upon to conduct a hasty defensive mission. Unlike the deliberate defense, the hasty defense is characterized by the lack of information about enemy forces and the lack of time to prepare the defense. All of the troop-leading procedures are the same, and many of the priorities of work of the deliberate defense will be the same but may take place concurrently. Units are deployed, weapons emplaced, and fighting positions prepared in accordance with the amount of time available to the unit.

a.   The extent of preparation the platoon is able to accomplish will depend on the amount of time available. Normally, when occupying hasty defensive positions, the platoon takes advantage of the cover and concealment already present. Given time and materials, the platoon will continue to make improvements to the positions.

(1)     In a hasty defense, the platoon will first establish security and position crew-served weapons. The priorities of improvements may be directed by the priority of work contained in the unit TACSOP. As a minimum, these improvements should include fields of fire, overhead cover as well as additional direct fire protection, and camouflaging of individual positions. Fighting positions in buildings are constructed away from windows and other openings in the shadows of the room using appliances, furniture, and other convenient items and materials. Some of the more common hasty fighting positions in an urban area are corners of buildings, behind walls, windows, unprepared loopholes, and the peak of a roof (Figure 6-10) .

Figure 6-10. Hasty firing positions.

(2)     Throughout the defense, the platoon continues to improve its hasty defensive positions. Over time, the hasty defense can become a deliberate defense. The platoon leader and his squad leaders make continuous adjustments to the defense to reduce weaknesses that could result in the failure of the overall defense. The priority of work will serve as the guide for improving the defense, and the leaders will supervise the accomplishment of the following tasks:

b.   As time permits, the leaders ensure the following improvements are accomplished:


A critical platoon- and squad-level defensive task during defensive urban operations is the preparation of fighting positions. General defensive considerations in urban terrain are similar to any other defensive operations. Fighting positions in urban areas are usually constructed inside buildings and are selected based on an analysis of the area in which the building is located, the individual characteristics of the building, and the characteristics of the weapons system.

a.   The priorities of work are the same as those listed in Chapter 2, Section V, of this manual. However, because of the unique qualities of the urban environment, special attention should be given to the following:

(1)     Select key weapons and crew-served weapon positions to cover likely mounted and dismounted avenues of approach. To cover armored avenues of approach, position antiarmor weapons inside buildings with adequate space and ventilation for backblast (on upper floors, if possible, for long-range shots) . Position MGs/SAWs to cover dismounted avenues of approach. Place them near ground level to increase grazing fires. If ground rubble obstructs grazing fires, place MGs/SAWs in the upper stories of the building. Ensure weapons are mutually supporting and are tied in with adjacent units.

(2)     Ensure the position is free of noncombatants. Remove them from the area of operations before occupying the position.

(3)     Clear fields of fire. Prepare loopholes, aiming stakes, sector stakes, and TRP markings. Construct positions with overhead cover and camouflage (inside and outside) .

(4)     Identify and secure subsurface avenues of approach (sewers, basements, stairwells, and rooftops) .

(5)     Stockpile ammunition, food, fire-fighting equip-ment, and drinking water.

(6)     Construct barriers and emplace obstacles to deny the enemy access to streets, underground passages, and buildings, and to slow his movement (Figure 6-11) . Integrate barriers and or obstacles with key weapons. Cover all barriers and obstacles by fire (both direct and indirect) and or observation. Conceal the obstacle from enemy observation as much as possible. Erect the obstacle in an irregular pattern to hinder enemy movement. Employ the obstacle in depth (if possible) . Tie the obstacle in with existing obstacles.

Figure 6-11. Obstacles blocking street.

(7)     Improve and mark movement routes between positions as well as to alternate and supplementary positions. Improve routes by digging trenches, using sewers and tunnels, creating entry holes, and emplacing ropes for climbing and rappelling and ladders for ascending and descending.

b.   The following must be considered when establishing a defensive position.

(1)   The first priority is establishing all-around security. Each position should have at least one soldier providing security during all preparations.

(2)   Select buildings that provide protection from direct and indirect fires. Reinforced concrete buildings with three or more floors provide suitable protection while buildings constructed of wood, paneling, or other light material must be reinforced to provide sufficient protection. One- and two-story buildings without a strongly constructed cellar are vulnerable to indirect fires and require construction of overhead protection for each fighting position. If possible, use materials gathered from the immediate area to build the overhead cover.

(3)   A platoon position should not be established in a single building when it is possible to occupy two or more buildings that permit mutually supporting fires. A position without mutual support in one building is vulnerable to bypass, isolation, and subsequent destruction from any direction.

(4)   Do not select buildings that are obvious defensive positions (easily targeted by the enemy) . If the requirements for security and fields of fire dictate the occupation of exposed buildings, the platoon will be required to add reinforcement materials to the building to provide suitable protection to the troops inside.

(5)   To prevent isolation, individual and crew-served weapons positions should be mutually supporting and have fields of fire in all directions. When clearing fields of fire, try to maintain the natural appearance of the surrounding area if possible. Removing objects that interfere with the gunner�s field of vision may be necessary.

(6)   Defensive positions should have at least one covered and concealed route that allows resupply, medical evacuation, reinforcement, or withdrawal from the building without being detected, or at least provides protection from direct fire weapons. The route can be established using underground systems, communications trenches, or walls and buildings that allow covered movement.

(7)   Positions in buildings should permit observation of enemy avenues of approach and adjacent defensive sectors. Upper stories offer the best observation but also attract enemy fire.

(8)   If possible, avoid selecting positions in buildings that are obvious fire hazards. If these flammable structures must be occupied, reduce the danger of fire by wetting down the immediate area, laying an inch of sand on the floors, and providing fire extinguishers and fire fighting equipment. Ensure that each defender is familiar with the withdrawal routes and that they have the opportunity to rehearse their withdrawal using these planned routes in the event of fire.

(9)   Time is the one element in METT-TC that the platoon and its leaders have no control over. The most important factor to consider when planning the use of time is to provide subordinate leaders with two-thirds of all available time. The unit TACSOP provides the leaders with their priorities when time does not allow for detailed planning. The platoon will complete defensive preparation IAW the TACSOP and the commander�s operational priorities.

c.   Preparation of the platoon�s individual fighting positions will normally be conducted inside the buildings the platoon has been assigned to defend. As with all defensive positions, the leader�s first task is to establish security. This will normally be in the form of an observation post located within the protection of the platoon�s direct fire weapons. The OP should be manned with at least two personnel. Leaders then assign individual or two-man positions to adequately cover his sector. The squad leader will position himself to best control his squad. The platoon leader will designate the level of security to be maintained. The remaining personnel will continue to work preparing the defense. The leaders will continue to make improvements to the defense as time permits. (The preparation of fighting positions is discussed in detail in FM 90-10-1.)

d.   Additional defensive preparation tasks may be required in basements, on ground floors, and on upper floors.

(1)   Basements require preparation similar to that of the ground floor. Any underground system not used by the defender that could provide enemy access to the position must be blocked.

(a) Doors. Unused doors should be locked or nailed shut, as well as blocked and reinforced with furniture, sandbags, or other field expedients (Figure 6-12) .

(b) Hallways. If not required for the defender�s movement, hallways should be blocked with furniture and tactical wire.

(c) Stairs. Unused stairs should be blocked with furniture and tactical wire, or removed (Figure 6-12) . If possible, all stairs should be blocked, and ladders should be used to move from floor to floor and then removed.

Figure 6-12. Blocking stairs and doorways.

(d) Windows. Remove all glass. Block unused windows with boards or sandbags to prevent observation and access.

(e) Floors. Make fighting positions in the floors. If there is no basement, fighting positions can give additional protection from heavy direct-fire weapons.

(f) Ceilings. Erect support for ceilings that otherwise would not withstand the weight of rubble from upper floors.

(g) Unoccupied Rooms. Block rooms not required for defense with tactical wire.

(2)   Upper floors require the same preparation as ground floors. Windows need not be blocked, but should be covered with wire mesh, canvas, ponchos, or other heavy material, to prevent grenades from being thrown in from the outside. The covering should be loose at the bottom to permit the defender to drop grenades.

(3)   Routes are required that permit defending forces to move within the building to engage enemy forces from any direction. Plan and construct escape routes to permit rapid evacuation of a room or a building. Mouseholes should be made through interior walls to permit movement between rooms. Such holes should be marked to enable defenders to easily locate them during day and night conditions. Brief all personnel as to where the various routes are located. Conduct rehearsals so that everyone becomes familiar with the routes.

(4)   Buildings that have wooden floors and rafter ceilings require extensive fire prevention measures. Cover the attic and other wooden floors with about one to two inches of sand or dirt, and position buckets of water for immediate use. Place fire-fighting materials (dirt, sand, fire extinguishers, and blankets) on each floor for immediate use. Fill water basins and bathtubs as a reserve for fire fighting. Turn off all electricity and gas. If available, use any existing fire extinguishers found in buildings.

(5)   Conceal radio antennas by placing them among civilian television antennas, along the sides of chimneys and steeples, or out of windows that would direct FM communications away from enemy early-warning sources and ground observation. Lay wire lines through adjacent buildings or underground systems or bury them in shallow trenches. Lay wire communications within the building through walls and floors.

(6)   Rubbling parts of the building may provide additional cover and concealment for weapons emplacements or serve as an obstacle against the enemy. Because of the inherent danger associated with rubbling a building, engineers should perform this task. Units should limit rubbling so as not to impede their own movement within the urban area. If not designated by higher, the platoon must receive permission from higher before rubbling a building within its sector.

(7)   Platoons must position obstacles on the roofs of flat-topped buildings to prevent helicopters from landing and to deny troops from gaining access to the building from the roof. Cover rooftops that are accessible from adjacent structures with tactical wire or other expedients and guard them. Block entrances to buildings from rooftops if compatible with the overall defensive plan. Remove or block any structure on the outside of a building that could aid the attacker in scaling the building to gain access to upper floors or to the rooftop.

(8)   Position obstacles adjacent to buildings to stop or delay vehicles and infantry. To save time and resources in preparing the defense, platoon leaders must allow the use of all available materials, such as automobiles, railcars, and rubble, to create obstacles. Vehicles can be tied together by running poles through their windows. Leaders must supervise the construction of obstacles to ensure they are tied to buildings and rubble areas to increase effectiveness, and to canalize the enemy into engagement areas selected by the leader. Direct support engineers can provide advice and resources as to the employment of obstacles and mines.

(a)     The principles for employing mines and obstacles do not change in the defense of an urban area; however, techniques do change. For example, burying and concealing mines in streets is difficult due to concrete and asphalt. Mines may be placed in sandbags as a technique of camouflage.

(b)     Civilian construction equipment and materials must be located and inventoried. This equipment can be used with engineer assets or in place of damaged equipment. In host nation countries, coordination must be made with proper civilian officials before use.

(9)   The field of fire is the area a weapon or group of weapons may cover effectively with fire from a given position. After the defensive positions are selected and the individuals have occupied their assigned positions, they will determine what clearance is necessary to maximize their field of fire. Leaders and individuals must view fields of fire from the fighting position and from the view of the enemy. Only selective clearing will be done to improve the field of fire. If necessary, the position will be relocated to attain the desired field of fire. Within the field of fire leaders will designate for each weapons system a primary and an alternate sector of fire. Each weapons system has unique requirements for its field of fire, and the platoon and squad leaders must ensure these requirements are met. Each position is checked to ensure that the fields of fire provide the maximum opportunity for target engagement and to determine any dead space within the sector of fire.

e.   Employ antitank weapons in areas that maximize their capabilities in the urban area. The lack of a protective transport could require the weapon to be fired from inside a building, from behind the cover of a building, or from behind the cover of protective terrain. Leaders should make every effort to employ antitank weapons in pairs so that the same target can be engaged from different positions. Another consideration is security for the crew and system. This is necessary to allow the gunner to concentrate on locating and engaging enemy armor.

f.   Snipers give the platoon a force multiplier by providing an overwatch capability and by engaging enemy C2 targets. Snipers normally operate in two-man teams, which provides the shooter with security and another set of eyes for observation and to locate and identify targets. Leaders should allow the snipers to select their own positions for supporting the defense. An effective sniper organization can trouble the enemy far more than its cost in the number of friendly soldiers employed. Snipers deploy in positions where they are not easily detected (Figure 6-13) , and where they can provide the most benefit. (See FM 23-10 and FM 90-10-1 for more information on the employment of snipers.)

Figure 6-13. Sniper position (cut away) .


The conduct of the defense in an urban area is similar to the conduct of the defense in any other area. The current standard sequence of actions is listed in Chapter 2, Section V of this manual.


The process of consolidation and reorganization in an urban area is similar to the process in any other area. The current standard sequence of actions is listed in Chapter 2, Section V of this manual.


A platoon may be given the mission to counterattack in order to retake a defensive position or key point, to destroy or eject an enemy foothold, or to stop an enemy attack by hitting his flank and forcing him to stop his movement and establish a hasty defense.

a.     A platoon counterattack is planned at company level to meet each probable enemy penetration. They must be well coordinated and violently executed. Counterattacks should be directed at the enemy�s flank and supported with direct and indirect fires.

b.     If tank support is available, t should be used to spearhead the counterattack. Tanks have the mobility, firepower, and survivability to quickly execute the counterattack mission. Tanks are ideally suited for destroying enemy armor, heavy weapons, and fortifications with their main gun and engaging enemy infantry with their coaxial machine gun. This capability will assist the infantry in executing their part of the mission.

c.     The counterattack mission is planned and coordinated as part of the defensive operation.

(1)     Considerations for counterattack planning may include, but are not limited to, the following:

(2)     Control measures needed for the conduct of the counterattack include:


As part of a brigade or joint task force, the infantry platoon may be required to conduct stability and support operations in environments that are not traditional combat missions. In this situation, the platoon must be prepared to conduct stability or support operations and then transition into a conventional offensive or defensive mission. The platoon may also be called on to conduct stability or support operations following the successful completion of a combat mission. A well-trained unit will be able to transition from war fighting to stability and support operations, or from stability and support operations to war fighting quickly and effectively. During stability or support operations, the platoon can expect to conduct a wide range of combat or noncombat tasks. Essentially, the unit accomplishes these tasks through the execution of tactical tasks such as security patrols, road blocks, check points, convoy escort, and food distribution.


Stability operations apply military power to influence the political environment, facilitate diplomacy, and interrupt specified illegal activities. They include both developmental and coercive actions. Developmental actions enhance a government�s willingness and ability to care for its people. Coercive actions apply carefully prescribed limited force and the threat of force to achieve objectives. Units conduct stability actions to accomplish one or more of the following:

Platoons will normally employ TTP similar to combat actions in order to facilitate the unit�s ability to accomplish the above. The major distinguishing characteristic will be the ROE. (Table 6-1 shows examples of tactical tasks.)

Table 6-1. Example of tactical tasks.



Peace Operations

Move tactically; Conduct a route reconnaissance; Conduct an area reconnaissance; Establish roadblocks and checkpoints; Enter and clear a building/room; Conduct offensive and defensive subterranean operations; Defend a building; Establish static security positions in an urban area; Perform surveillance from an OP; Employ force protection measures; Conduct convoy security; Maintain communications in an urban area; Conduct resupply operations; treat and evacuate casualties; Handle noncombatants and detained personnel; Conduct platoon riot control formations. Employ quick reaction force.


Move tactically in urban area; Conduct an area reconnaissance; Conduct a route reconnaissance; Establish a static security position in an urban area; Perform surveillance from an OP; Enter and clear a building/room; Establish roadblocks and checkpoints; Employ force protection measures; Maintain communications in an urban area; Handle noncombatants and detained personnel. Employ quick reaction force.

Noncombatant Extraction Operations

Infiltrate an urban area, Move tactically in urban area, Establish roadblocks and checkpoints; Protect the force; Defend a convoy; Defend; Maintain communications in an urban area; Perform delay. Employ quick reaction force.

Arms Control

Establish roadblocks and checkpoints; convoy escort; Assist and monitor inspection of arms; Maintain communications in an urban area; and conduct surveillance. Employ quick reaction force.

Support to Counterinsurgencies

Defend, Protect the force; Conduct area and route reconnaissance; Conduct combat patrols; Conduct an assault; Maintain communications in an urban area; Handle noncombatants and detained personnel. Employ quick reaction force.

Show Of Force

Move tactically; Demonstrate capabilities; Prepare a defense; Maintain communications in an urban area; Conduct training exercises. Employ quick reaction force.

Civil Disturbance Operations

Maintain communications in an urban area; Conduct patrols; Handle noncombatants and detained personnel. Employ quick reaction force.


The purpose of support operations is to provide essential supplies and services to aid designated groups. These activities are conducted to assist foreign and domestic civil authorities responding to crises. Platoons will conduct support actions as part of a company support operation in order to save or protect lives, reduce suffering, recover essential infrastructure, improve the quality of life, and restore situations to normal. Because of the nature of humanitarian and environmental assistance, the platoon can expect to interact with other units and agencies such as engineers, MPs, and NGOs. Support actions rely on a partnership with other government and nongovernment agencies. Liaison with these agencies and between local governments is critical. Regardless of the positive relationships built, force protection always remains a top priority. (Table 6-2 shows typical tasks associated with each type of support operation.)

Table 6-2. Example of tasks.



Humanitarian Assistance

Provide manpower for relief efforts, Conduct search and rescue actions, Conduct security patrols.

Environmental Assistance

Provide manpower for relief efforts, Establish communications, Provide water distribution, debris removal, and Conduct security patrols.


Stability and, to a lesser extent, support operations are missions that begin with humanitarian goals and objectives and can escalate to combat. Whenever the peace process fails, the mission of the platoon can change quickly. The platoon leader must ensure his unit is prepared to make this transition. The unit must retain the ability to conduct offensive and defensive operations by reinforcing humanitarian tasks with training that is realistic, challenging, and meaningful.

a.   Contingencies are events that may occur but are not likely or intended. Contingencies are planned for as an “on order” or “be prepared” mission. When conducting stability and support operations the platoon leader makes plans to shift his effort as the situation develops. He must ensure his platoon can shift from peace operations to a combat mission as required.

b.  The platoon leaders are responsible for the training and discipline of their soldiers and how they will respond when confronted with a variety of situations during full spectrum operations. A balanced mindset must be achieved between peace operations and the conduct of war fighting. Soldiers cannot become so complacent during peace operations that they lose their warrior spirit, nor must they be so aggressive that they use unnecessary force to resolve conflict. This balance is the essence of peace operations and the fundamental aspect that will enable the unit to perform its mission successfully and avoid an escalation to combat. Proactive leaders that are communicating and enforcing the ROE are instrumental to achieving this mindset.

c.  In the event that the stability or support operation is extended over a prolonged period, training will need to be conducted that focuses on individual and collective combat tasks. This training should include transitioning from peace operations to combat operations. Leaders can incorporate some of the training in the stability or support actions they are conducting.


One of the most important lessons learned from recent urban operations is the need for a fully integrated combined arms team. The nature of urban operations makes it infantry-centric. However, the urban battle should never be exclusively an infantry fight. A powerful combined arms team properly employed in an urban area will enhance mission accomplishment. Although the infantry soldier is required in order to clear and secure an urban area, the integration of mechanized infantry, armor, and engineers is needed for increased lethality. These teams must be supported by closely integrated aviation, field artillery, communications, and logistical elements. This section discusses the more common combat multipliers available to the infantry platoon during the execution of UO.


Based on the considerations of the METT-TC analysis and the operational ROE, a situation may arise that requires the attachment of heavy forces in direct support of the light infantry mission. Tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles (BFVs) , with their mobility, armor, and firepower can provide direct support to the infantry from securing a foothold to supporting their advance through the urban area. This paragraph discusses tactics and techniques used by infantry units when working with armored vehicles.


(1)  . Leaders must understand the principles of employing infantry and armor forces to maximize their capabilities and ensure mutual support. Maneuver by the infantry is enhanced by support from the armored vehicles.

(a)     The infantry assists the heavy forces by infiltrating to clear obstacles or key enemy positions and disrupt the enemy defense. They provide security for the armored vehicles by detecting and suppressing or destroying enemy antitank weapons. They designate targets and spot the impact of fires for tanks and BFVs.

(b)     Heavy forces support the infantry by moving with them along an axis of advance and providing a protected, fast moving assault weapons system. They suppress and destroy enemy weapons, bunkers, and tanks by fire and maneuver (Figure 6-14) . They also provide transport when the enemy situation permits. (See Chapter 2, Section IX, paragraph 2-47, Infantry Riding on Armored Vehicles.)

(c)     Armored vehicles should never be maneuvered individually. The smallest maneuver level for armor is a section (two vehicles) .

Figure 6-14. M1 in direct support of infantry.

(2)  . The infantry platoon may have combat elements in direct support. The platoon leader is responsible for incorporating these elements into his command and control functions. Because most support elements have a habitual relationship with the combat unit they support, the platoon leader may only need to give them an update to recent changes to guarantee the C2 remains a high priority.

(a)     Tanks, BFVs, and infantry must work closely at platoon level. In most operations where they work together, infantrymen must establish direct communication with individual vehicles to ensure quick and accurate response to directions given.

(b)     Infantrymen and vehicle crews must know how to communicate by radio, telephone, and visual signals. Prior to the start of an operation, infantry and tank leaders must coordinate the methods of communication and the types of signals that will be used. For immediate, direct communication with the M1, the crew can run communication wire from the AM-1780 through the loader�s hatch or vision block and be connected to a field phone attached to the outside of the tank.

(c)     During the planning phase of an operation, infantry and armor leaders must allocate sufficient time for the conduct of detailed brief-backs and rehearsals. The purpose of these activities is to verify that long- and short-range communications are effective, and that what is expected from each organization is understood.


For further discussion concerning the strengths, limitations, and employment considerations of armor with the infantry, see C1, FM 7-10, Appendix L and FM 90-10-1.

b.   While operating in concert with armored forces, infantry leaders must be knowledgeable of the capabilities, limitations, and effects of the armor weapon systems. He must understand the dangers these systems pose to his soldiers when operating together. He is responsible for ensuring that his soldiers are briefed about these dangers.

(1) (a)     Normally, the primary ammunition for the main gun in the urban environment is the HEAT round. It is the most effective round against masonry and will penetrate all but the thickest reinforced concrete. A HEAT round will create a hole large enough for a man to fit through in masonry or concrete but will not cut the reinforcing steel bars. HEAT is also effective against earthen and sandbag reinforced strong-points. A 120-mm HEAT round does not become armed until it is about 36 feet from the end of the gun tube.

(b)     Multipurpose antitank (MPAT) rounds will penetrate masonry and concrete, but are less effective than HEAT rounds against heavier structures.

(c)     Armor-piercing discarding sabot (APSD) ammunition has limited use against nonvehicular targets, and its discarding petals endanger accompanying infantry. Sabot petals create a hazard area extending 70 meters on either side of the gun target line for a distance of one kilometer.

(d)     The external M2 HB machine gun can elevate to +36 degrees; however, to fire the M2 on the M1A2 Abrams, the tank commander must be exposed to enemy fire

(2) (a)     The primary role of the Bradley fighting vehicle in an urban environment is to provide suppressive fires and to breach exterior walls (Figure 6-15) . The vehicles� armor-piercing rounds can be very useful in urban terrain. They can penetrate concrete up to 16 inches thick and can easily penetrate brick structures. They are highly effective against earthen and sandbag reinforced structures.

Figure 6-15. BFV conducting a breach using the spiral firing method.

(b)     The BFV can elevate its 25-mm gun to about +60 degrees and depress the gun to about �10 degrees.

(c)     The crew has limited visibility to the sides and rear and no visibility to the top when buttoned up.

(d)     The BFV can be outfitted with an external phone hookup for communications with accompanying infantry.

(e)     The 25-mm gun can be used effectively against enemy-occupied buildings and fortifications, firing AP, HE, and even TP-T rounds.

(3) Figure 6-16 shows the difference in the capabilities of the BFV and the M1 tank with regard to fields of fire on urban terrain. Note that the BFV can engage a target 9 to 10 stories high at 20 meters, whereas an M1 tank requires 90 meters.

Figure 6-16. Fields of fire on urban terrain.


When employing these weapon systems to support the infantry assault, leaders must be aware of the explosive effects and fragmentation fallout, as well as the blast overpressure, and how it will affect the infantry on the ground. (For more specific information on the effects of weapons see FM 90-10-1.)

6-17.    ENGINEERS

Normally an engineer squad will be attached to an infantry company. Most engineer manual labor tasks (for example, preparing fighting positions) will have to be completed by infantry units, with reinforcing engineer heavy-equipment support and technical supervision. (For further discussion on the employment of engineers with the infantry, see C1, FM 7-10, Appendix L and FM 90-10-1.)

a.   During offensive operations, an engineer sapper team may be attached to the infantry platoon that is designated as the primary assault element. They may be required to conduct the following tasks in support of the infantry platoon.

b.   Engineers may perform the following tasks in support of the platoon during the defense of an urban area.


When employing demolitions in conjunction with the infantry assault, leaders must be aware of the explosive effects and fragmentation fallout, as well as the blast overpressure, and how it will affect the infantry on the ground. (For more specific information on the effects of weapons, see FM 90-10-1.)

6-18.     MORTARS

Mortars are the most responsive indirect fires available at battalion and below. Their mission is to provide close and immediate fire support to maneuver units. Mortars are well suited for combat in urban areas because of their high rate of fire, steep angle of fall, and short minimum range. Leaders must plan mortar support with the FSO as part of the total fire support system. (See FM 7-90 for detailed information on the tactical employment of mortars.)

a.   The primary role of mortar units is to deliver suppressive fires to support maneuver, especially against dismounted infantry. Mortars can also be used to obscure enemy observation and to illuminate the target area at night. Mortar fires inhibit enemy fires and movement, allowing friendly forces to maneuver to a position of advantage. Effectively integrating mortar fires with dismounted maneuver is key to successful combat in an urban area at the rifle company and battalion level.

b.   The selection of mortar positions depends on the size of buildings, the size of the urban area, and the mission.

(1)     The use of existing structures (for example, garages, office buildings or highway overpasses) for hide positions is recommended to afford maximum protection and minimize the camouflage effort.

(2)     Mortars should not be mounted directly on concrete; however, sandbags may be used as a buffer. Sandbags should consist of two or three layers, be butted against a curb or wall, and extend at least one sandbag width beyond the baseplate.

(3)     Mortars are usually not placed on top of buildings because lack of cover makes them vulnerable. Overpressure can injure personnel, and the shock on the floor can weaken or collapse the structure. Mortars should not be placed inside buildings with damaged roofs unless the structure�s stability has been checked.

c.   During urban combat, mortar HE fire is used more than any other type of indirect fire weapon. The most common and valuable use for mortars is harassment and interdiction fires. One of their greatest contributions is interdicting supplies, evacuation efforts, and reinforcement in the enemy rear just behind his forward defensive positions. Although mortar fires are often targeted against roads and other open areas, the natural dispersion of indirect fires will result in many hits on buildings. Leaders must use care when planning mortar fires during urban combat to minimize collateral damage.

(1)     High-explosive ammunition, especially the 120-mm projectile, provides good results when used on lightly built structures within cities. It does not perform well against reinforced concrete found in larger urban areas.

(2)     When using HE ammunition in urban fighting, only point-detonating fuzes should be used. The use of proximity fuzes should be avoided, because the nature of urban areas causes proximity fuzes to function prematurely. Proximity fuzes, however, are useful in attacking targets such as OPs on tops of buildings.

(3)     During World War II and recent Middle East conflicts, light mortar HE fires have been used extensively during urban combat to deny the use of streets, parks, and plazas to enemy personnel.

d.   In the offense, illuminating rounds are planned to burst above the objective to put enemy troops in the light. If the illumination were behind the objective, the enemy troops would be in the shadows rather than in the light. In the defense, illumination is planned to burst behind friendly troops to put them in the shadows and place the enemy troops in the light. Buildings reduce the effectiveness of the illumination by creating shadows. Continuous illumination requires close coordination between the FO and FDC to produce the proper effect by bringing the illumination over the defensive positions as the enemy troops approach the buildings.

e.   When planning the use of mortars, leaders must consider the following:

(1)     FOs should be positioned in the upper levels of buildings so target acquisition and adjustments in fire can be accomplished effectively.

(2)     Leaders must understand ammunition effects correctly to estimate the number of volleys needed for specific target coverage. The effects of using WP or RP may create unwanted smoke screens or limited visibility conditions that could interfere with the tactical plan.

(3)     FOs must be able to determine dead space. Dead space is the area in which indirect fires cannot reach the street level because of buildings. This area is a safe haven for the enemy. For mortars, the dead space is about one-half the height of the building.

(4)     Mortar crews should plan to provide their own security.

(5)     Commanders must give special consideration to where and when mortars are to displace while providing immediate indirect fires to support the overall tactical plan. Combat in urban areas adversely affects the ability of mortars to displace because of rubbling and the close nature of urban combat.


During urban combat, field artillery provides general support, direct support, and general support reinforcing to infantry units. This paragraph provides considerations for the use of field artillery in the direct-fire mode. (For further discussion on the employment of field artillery in urban terrain, see C1, FM 7-10, Appendix L and FM 90-10-1.)

a.     When FA supports fighting in urban areas, the fire support coordination measures necessary to provide adequate, yet safe, support must be carefully considered because of the close proximity of friendly forces to the enemy. When planning for fire support leaders should consider the following:

(1)     The increased cover and concealment afforded by the terrain.

(2)     Ground observation is limited in urban areas.

(3)     Adjusting fires is difficult since buildings block the view of adjusting rounds.

(4)     Acquiring targets is difficult in urban terrain because the enemy has many covered and concealed positions and movement lanes.

(5)     Forward observers must be able to determine where and how large the dead spaces are.

(6)     The use of air burst fires is an effective means of clearing snipers from rooftops.

b.     Employing artillery in the direct-fire mode to destroy fortifications should be considered, especially when assaulting well prepared enemy positions (Figure 6-17) . Also, restrictive fire support coordination measures, such as a restrictive fire area or no-fire area may be imposed to protect civilians and critical installations.

Figure 6-17. SP howitzer in direct-fire mode.

(1)     The 155-mm self-propelled howitzer is extremely effective in neutralizing concrete targets with direct fire.

(2)     Concrete-piercing 155-mm rounds can penetrate 36 inches of concrete at ranges up to 2,200 meters.

(3)     When employing artillery in the direct-fire mode and maneuvering the self-propelled howitzers within the urban area, it is important that the infantry secure them because they do not have any significant protection for their crews.


When employing these weapon systems to support the infantry assault, leaders must be aware of the explosive effects and fragmentation fallout, as well as the blast overpressure, and how it will affect the infantry on the ground. (For more specific information on the effects of weapons, see FM 90-10-1.)


Infantry units may receive support by a variety of attack helicopters including (but not limited to) the AH-64, AH-1, OH-58D/RAH-66, MH-6, and MH-60. Attack helicopters can provide area fire to suppress targets and precision fire to destroy specific targets or breach structures. Attack helicopters can also assist with intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and communications using their advanced suite of sensors and radios. Other supporting helicopters, such as the UH-60, CH-47, and MH-47, may also have weapons systems (7.62-mm machine gun, .50-caliber machine gun, 7.62-mm mini-gun) that aid in the suppression of enemy forces when operating in urban terrain. Operational control of attack helicopter units will remain at the level of battalion or higher; however, attack helicopters may conduct direct air-to-ground coordination with companies and platoons during combat operations. (For further discussion on the supporting role of the attack helicopter, see C1, FM 7-10, Appendix L and FM 90-10-1.)


The tactical use of antiarmor weapons does not change in the urban environment but how they are employed does. Some of those employment limitations are: stand-off, displacement after engagements, the ability to fire in-depth engagements, more obstacles, increased danger zones, and all-round security. (For further discussion on the employment of antiarmor weapons in the urban environment, see FM 7-8, Chapters 2 and 3; C1, FM 7-10, Appendix L; and FM 90-10-1.)

a.     Although antiarmor weapons are primarily designed to destroy armored vehicles, they can also be used to damage or destroy fortifications. Additionally, they can be used for ballistic breaching of doorways and the walls of lightly constructed buildings to create entry points. They may also be used for creating deceptions, just before the assault element enters the actual initial breach (entry) point. The larger systems (TOW and Dragon) , which have highly magnified day and thermal sights, can be used to detect snipers and to disrupt or kill them with long-range missiles.

b.     Engaging targets from an enclosure creates unique hazards. Before positioning soldiers in enclosures (combat only) , leaders must consider several factors that affect safety. Only in combat, and when no other tactical option exists, should antiarmor weapons be fired from an enclosure. If antiarmor weapons must be employed this way, the enclosure must meet the following minimum requirements.


When employing these weapon systems to support the infantry assault, leaders must be aware of the explosive effects and fragmentation fallout, as well as the blast overpressure, and how it will affect the infantry on the ground. (For more specific information on the effects of weapons see FM 90-10-1, Chapter 8.)

6-22.     SNIPERS

The company sniper team is an important and effective combat multiplier. While conducting offensive operations in urban areas, the sniper can be used as part of the support element to provide precise, long and short-range fires. They can also be an invaluable source of information with their observation capability. The sniper team is a company asset and may be attached to a platoon in order to conduct a mission specific task. However, it is unlikely that the platoon would be given tactical control of a sniper team. (For further discussion on the employment of snipers, see FM 23-10 and FM 90-10-1.)