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Understanding Urban Warfare

As used by the United States Army.


Amazon Bestseller.


Understanding Urban Warfare is an excellent primer on the challenges of urban warfare. Seasoned “urbanistas” (scholars of urban operations) and newcomers to the issue will benefit from the text. - Parameters


A timely, important, and exceptional examination of the extraordinary challenges of urban warfare. - General David Petraeus (U.S. Army, ret.).


More training in actual urban areas, integrating the consequences of short-term decisions on long-term success and better incorporation of other-than-military considerations: these and more are essential if preparations are to reduce the high costs of urban fighting. This book is a step in the right direction. - Association of the United States Army.


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 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.


“Understanding Urban Warfare’s ambitious title reflects the authors’ challenging objective to make combat’s most complicated form understandable - and Liam Collins and John Spencer have succeeded brilliantly. Leveraging the experiences of recent operations, they provide insights and lessons essential for soldiers and policymakers alike. A riveting read.” - General Stanley McChrystal (US Army, Ret.) former Commander of U.S. and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Afghanistan and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), New York Times best-selling author of My Share of the Task and Team of Teams.


“A timely, important, and exceptional examination of the extraordinary challenges of urban warfare by two soldier-scholars with considerable experience and expertise in urban combat. Understanding Urban Warfare is the consummate study that demonstrates how critical it is that policy makers and military leaders understand the dynamics of urban ecosystems and how to deal with them.” - General David Petraeus, US Army (Ret.), former Commander of the Surge in Iraq, U.S. Central Command, and NATO and US Forces in Afghanistan, and former Director of the CIA.


“Impressive in both breadth and detail, Understanding Urban Warfare manages to be extremely readable and a very useful introduction to this vitally important subject.”Sir Antony Beevor, author of Stalingrad, Berlin - The Downfall 1945, and D-Day - The Battle for Normandy.


"Our next war will most likely be fought in cities. Here Col Collins and Col. Spencer have compiled more than a dozen case studies, each featuring a different expert participant. The reader can grasp the challenge: It seems urban warfare, like all other branches of combat, is so sui generis that no cookie-cutter model of doctrine applies. So one has to read widely and adapt, adapt, adapt." - Bing West, bestselling author of No True Glory: A Front-line Account of the Battle for Fallujah.


“John Spencer and Liam Collins are to Urban Warfare what Billy Mitchel was to airpower or Karl Doenitz was to submarines.” Max Brooks, New York Times best-selling author of World War Z and Devolution.


Liam Collins and John Spencer have pulled together new insights and unique perspectives on Urban Warfare, a topic the importance of which is obvious after the renewed Russian invasion of Ukraine.  Understanding Urban Warfare is a book that is a not only of immense value to military professionals, but also of interest to all who want to understand the character of today’s and tomorrows armed conflicts.” – Lt. General H.R. McMaster (U.S. Army, ret.), the former National Security Advisor and bestselling author of Dereliction of Duty and Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World.


392 pages  I   Size: 234 x 156mm  

Publication date:  3rd October 2022

ISBN: 978 1912440 351 pbk / 978 1912440 429 hbk 

Understanding Urban Warfare

  • Introduction


    Part I - Understanding the Operational Environment


    • Understanding the City

                     with Dr. David Kilcullen


    • Feral Cities

                     with Dr. Robert Norton


    • Global Cities

                     with Dr. Saskia Sassen


    • Smart Cities

                     with Dr. Sokwoo Rhee


    • Megacities and the Military

                     with Col. (ret.) Patrick Mahaney


    • Beneath the City

                     with Dr. Daphne Richemond-Barak


    Part II - Operational Case Studies


    • The Battle of Ortona

                     with Major Jayson Geroux


    • The Battle of Mogadishu

                     with Col. (ret.) Lee Van Ardsdale,

                     Col. (ret.) Larry Perino,

                     and Command Sergeant Major

                     (ret.) Kyle Lamb


    • The Second Battle of Fallujah

                     with Lt. Gen. James Rainey


    • Rebuilding Fallujah

                     with Col. (ret.) Leonard DeFrancisci


    • The Battle of Ramadi

                     with Dr. Louis DiMarco


    • The Battle of Sadr City

                     with Lt. Col. (ret.) Rob MacMillan


    • The Battle of Mosul

                     with Maj. Gen. Roger Noble


    • The Battle of Marawi

                     with Dr. Charles Knight


    • The Battle of Shusha

                     with John Spencer



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