Storming the City
In an increasingly urbanized world, urban terrain has become a greater
factor in military operations. Simultaneously, advances in military
technology have given military forces sharply increased capabilities.
The conflict comes from how urban terrain can negate or degrade many of
those increased capabilities. What happens when advanced weapons are
used in a close-range urban fight with an abundance of cover?
Storming the City explores these issues by analyzing the performance
of the US Army and US Marine Corps in urban combat in four major urban
battles of the mid-twentieth century (Aachen 1944, Manila 1945, Seoul
1950, and Hue 1968). Alec Wahlman assesses each battle using a similar
framework of capability categories, and separate chapters address urban
warfare in American military thought.
In the four battles, across a wide range of conditions, American forces
were ultimately successful in capturing each city because of two
factors: transferable competence and battlefield adaptation. The
preparations US forces made for warfare writ large proved generally
applicable to urban warfare. Battlefield adaptation, a strong suit of
American forces, filled in where those overall preparations for combat
needed fine tuning. From World War Two to Vietnam, however, there was a
gradual reduction in tactical performance in the four battles.
“This is a very serious and well executed work. The quantity of
knowledge packed into these pages is immense, with conclusions closely
tied to the declared purposes of this study and strongly supported by
abundant evidence; this book has real value.” —Anthony James Joes,
Saint Joseph’s University, author of Resisting Rebellion and