Understanding Urban Warfare

No environment is more challenging for militaries than a city. No form of combat is more inherently destructive than urban warfare. And yet too often, militaries are both unprepared for the challenges of cities and unable to avoid being pulled into brutal urban fights.


In Understanding Urban Warfare, readers will gain more than just an appreciation of the unique challenges of urban warfare—from the limiting effects of three-dimensional terrain on many weapon systems and the multiplicity of enemy firing points on a city street to the overarching need to minimize civilian casualties and protect critical infrastructure and cultural property. The book also presents readers with new ways to understand the distinctive characteristics of a variety of cities—megacities, global cities, feral cities, and even smart cities—and how those characteristics impact military operations in urban terrain.


Readers will also be provided first-hand accounts of some of the most relevant urban battles in modern history—the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu, the 2004 Second Battle of Fallujah in Iraq—plus the 2020 Battle of Shusha in the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, and more—to illuminate trends and lessons to better understand urban warfare.


In an increasingly urban world, the future character of conflict will also be increasingly urban. This book sets out to understand that future.


c.256 pages  I   Size: 234 x 156mm  

Publication date:  expected September 2022

Understanding Urban Warfare

  • Foreword tbc


    List of Abbreviations



    Part I - Understanding the Operational Environment

    1. Understanding the City

    John Spencer with Dr. David Kilcullen

    2. Feral Cities

    John Spencer with Dr. Robert Norton

    3. Global Cities

    John Spencer with Dr. Saskia Sassen

    4. Smart Cities

    John Spencer with Dr. Sokwoo Rhee

    5. Megacities and the Military

    John Spencer with Col. (ret.) Patrick Mahaney

    6. Beneath the City

    John Spencer with Dr. Daphne Richemond-Barak

    Part II - Operational Case Studies

    7. The Battle of Ortona

    John Spencer with Major Jayson Geroux

    8. The Battle of Mogadishu

    Liam Collins with Col. (ret.) Lee Van Ardsdale, Col. (ret.) Larry Perino, and Command Sergeant Major (ret.) Kyle Lamb

    9. The Second Battle of Fallujah

    John Spencer with Lt. Gen. James Rainey

    10. Rebuilding Fallujah

    John Spencer with Col. (ret.) Leonard DeFrancisci

    11. The Battle of Ramadi

    John Spencer with Dr. Louis DiMarco

    12. The Battle of Sadr City

    John Spencer with Lt. Col. (ret.) Rob MacMillan

    13. The Battle of Mosul

    John Spencer with Maj. Gen. Roger Noble

    14. The Battle of Marawi

    John Spencer with Dr. Charles Knight

    15. The Battle of Shusha

    John Amble with John Spencer