MWI podcast: urban irregular warfare

dc_maracas medium

I don’t have a lot of time to listen to podcasts but this is one from COL John Spencer at Modern Warfare Institute that is worth a listen.

Something to think about when listening to talk about “peer to peer combat”: it’s still going to be downright guerrillas-in-the-mist in BUAs of any size.

https://mwi.usma.edu/the-great-equalizer-irregular-warfare-in-the-city

New book: Understanding Urban Warfare (Spencer/ Collins)

Okay, I usually don’t shill things, even my own work (much) but this is an item worth looking into if you are interested in the topic as I am.

On sale as of today, a new book on directions in urban operations that hits all the high spots – complexity of the urban battlefield, the extreme strains on logistical and C3I systems, high rates of casualties, concerns for the civilian population and protection of infrastructure, etc. and illustrates it with recent examples of extended urban battles, from Mogadishu 1993 to Shusha 2020 (Second Nagorno-Karabakh War).

John Spencer is the Chair of Urban Warfare Studies at the Modern War Institute at West Point, co-director of the Urban Warfare Project, and host of the Urban Warfare Project podcast. He is also the Chair of Urban Warfare Studies with the Madison Policy Forum and a Colonel in the California State Guard with assignment to the 40th Infantry Division, California Army National Guard as the Director of Urban Warfare Training.

From DSTL: Stuart Lyle on the Urban Operations Planner Course

52225038861_202c97d7f0_k-1847x1231

(photo credit: CA Army National Guard Public Affairs)

https://www.gov.uk/government/case-studies/stuart-lyle-international-knowledge-exchange-on-urban-warfare

Stuart Lyle of the UK Government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) writes about his experiences teaching and learning on the 40th Infantry Division Urban Operations Planner Course in July. I was really glad to meet Stuart and the lectures he gave were fantastic! He’s the one in the middle of the group, with the beard.

I also owe him a beer or three for helping me set up the game sets the night before we played the QUICK game, and for his introductory remarks before we started that set the context for the use of games in professional military education – he was far more articulate about it than I could ever be.

Urban Operations Planners Course: featured on the Urban Warfare Project podcast!

roomshot1

COL John Spencer of the Urban Warfare Project, and one of the three principals of the recent Urban Operations Planners Course, has BG Wooldridge back on his program to discuss how the second iteration of the course went… what changes they made, what was dropped and added and why, and how the course generally achieved its aim quite well!

The whole podcast is great listening – this course was run really well, in my opinion, and that was obviously not without a lot of prior work and thought. The QUICK wargame as a concluding exercise gets some discussion about 34:40; both were impressed with how the wargame went over and COL Spencer terms me “the Yoda of wargaming” – but apparently not because I am short or pudgy or sometimes difficult to understand!

Next serial of the course is 14-20 May, 2023.

https://mwi.usma.edu/urban-warfare-project/urban-warfare-project-podcast/

Urban Operations Planner Course: story in the Digital Grizzly

copy-of-7t0a9267-2329x1553

https://grizzly.shorthandstories.com/40thIDhostsweeklongUrbanOperationsPlannerCourse/index.html

A profusely illustrated story on the Urban Operations Planner Course in the Digital Grizzly, the  online version of the California National Guard magazine. (photos: California National Guard Public Affairs)

52225038861_202c97d7f0_k-1847x1231

Youtube channel: 40th ID Urban Warfare Center

The videos shot of the lectures during the recent Urban Operations Planners Course have been posted to the 40th Infantry Division Urban Warfare Center’s Youtube channel.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCF2zf038pwkv6N0mQfcskMw/videos

  • Non US Approaches
  • Information Warfare
  • Civil Affairs in Urban Operations
  • Protection in Urban Operations
  • Sustainment in Urban Operations
  • Intelligence in Urban Operations
  • Movement & Maneuver
  • Fires & Electronic Warfare in Urban Operations
  • C2 in Urban Operations
  • Subterranean Equipment /Tools
  • Subterranean Doctrinal Overview
  • Identify Threat Capabilities and Urban Tactics
  • Divisional Operational Approaches
  • The Liberation of Manila 1945
  • Joint Special Operations in Urban Environment (a long, entertaining talk by the very clever “Duc” Duclos)
  • Civil Military Integration in the Urban Operations Environment
  • Civilian Harm Mitigation (CHM) Practical Tools (one of two presentations by Ms. Sahr Muhammedally, an amazing person who has been at the centre of many major urban engagements and campaigns trying to prevent undue harm to civilians. This was a constant theme during the course.)
  • IPB in Urban (LTC Higgins, NYARNG)
  • Tools to Visualize the Urban Environment (goshwow presentation by technical folks from ESRI)
  • Urban Science: Trends in Urbanization Now and Into the Future (presented by the very smart Stuart Lyle of the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory)
  • Urban 101 (another introductory lecture by COL John Spencer)
  • Historical Trends (presented by MAJ Jayson Geroux of 1 RCR)
  • Why is Urban So Hard (presented by BG Wooldridge and COL Spencer, this was really the keynote of the course)
  • Law of War & Rules of Engagement (also by Ms. Sahr Muhammedally)

2022-02 Urban Operations Planner Course

QUICK lesson 1 geroux

(photo: Jayson Geroux)

I’ve spent the last week attending the second serial of the Urban Operations Planners Course, run by the 40th Infantry Division (California Army National Guard) and held at Joint Force Training Base Los Alamitos. And what an interesting week it was!

A solid week of really great lectures and exercises on urban warfare, featuring people like COL John Spencer of the Modern War Institute’s Urban Warfare Project, Stuart Lyle of the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Dr. Jacob Stoil of the School of Advanced Military Studies, and MAJ Jayson Geroux of the Royal Canadian Regiment. I met a lot of really interesting students as well – most were Americans but there were also  students from the Australian, British, Chilean, Dutch, and German armies.

Unfortunately soon after I arrived at the Base I developed a bad summer cold that also turned into laryngitis… fortunately my voice recovered just in time, for the last day was a “learn by doing” exercise featuring group play of the Quick Urban Integrated Combat Kriegsspiel or QUICK, designed by yours truly… I’ve been working on it since last December.

roomshot1

It landed very very well; the 40 students seemed really engaged by it. Also, about 20 remote students played online at the same time, using a VASSAL module produced by Curt Pangracs at the Command General and Staff College.

gameshot1

(Of course people got to use their Military Pointing Skills!)

This was the first time I had the opportunity to teach a game, any game, to a large group of people, many of whom were non-gamers. Fortunately I had a set of great facilitators including faculty from the Joint Special Operations University, Stuart Lyle and students and instructors of the course. It never would have worked without them!

The QUICK now joins the range of free print-and-play games I offer on this website; it’s available to everyone – files are on this separate page: The QUICK Page

However, be aware that I will soon be making some small changes and revisions to the game rules and charts due to feedback and comments from the students.

Me and BG

Me and BGEN Robert Wooldridge, Deputy Commander of 40ID, sponsor of the course and avid wargamer himself.

Urban warfare: 40ID’s new webpage

burned-out-soviet-tanks-1956-600x377

https://calguard.ca.gov/40id-urban-warfare

The US 40th Infantry Division (headquartered in California but responsible for National Guard units from Nebraska to Guam) is becoming the centre for development of training and doctrine in urban operations. Last summer they ran the first serial of the Urban Warfare Planners course (More on the Urban Warfare Planners Course) and will do it again in July 2022.

This new webpage is a great resource for manuals, case studies, links to other resources, and yes even a page for civilian market wargames on urban combat (District Commander: Maracas gets a look in, and there’s more to come).

Check it out!

Space-Biff! on Bloc by Bloc (3rd edition)

kent state disturbance playset

(image: National Lampoon, ca. 1971)

https://spacebiff.com/2022/01/29/bloc-by-bloc

Thankfully, Bloc by Bloc isn’t ideologically agnostic. It’s radically and refreshingly committed to egalitarianism, clear-eyed about the contradictions that tug at modern efforts to effect change, and both deeply angry and hopelessly idealistic.

Oh, Daniel Thurot just keeps swinging and hitting them wayyy over the fence… what a nice surprise today to see that he has written a piece on the new edition of Bloc by Bloc: Uprising. It is the third edition, coming soon on Gamefound and I will be there for it, just as I was when the game was first noised about on Boardgamegeek.

Bloc by Bloc: compelling subject matter, good presentation, and genuinely interesting mechanics for both cooperative (Kumbayah) and semi-cooperative (duelling agendas) versions. One of the more inspiring things I’ve played in years.

The point is, change begins somewhere. The bug of hope must first be contracted. Whether it speaks of suffrage, liberty, civil rights, opportunity, or true equality before the law, Bloc by Bloc is no mere polemic. It understands its contradictions and grapples with them. It speaks a message while remaining playful. Most importantly, it instills a yearning for something better.

February 15, on Gamefound!

Bloc by Bloc: The Insurrection Game

https://gamefound.com/projects/draft/zxc58ag7firw48g1aggj8ue80qo

More on the Urban Warfare Planners Course

The US Army’s First Urban Warfare Planners Course

(photo: Modern War Institute website)

A couple of weeks ago I posted a news item on the first ever Urban Warfare Planners Course, run by the staff of the 40th Infantry Division in California. News you can use

The Urban Warfare Project at the US Military Academy, Modern Warfare Institute has posted a very good podcast where they interviewed BG Robert Wooldridge, deputy commanding general for support about this first course – how it came about, what it is intended to do, and where they want it to go. Normally I do not have the time or patience to listen to podcasts but I did this one. You should too!

https://mwi.usma.edu/the-us-armys-first-urban-warfare-planners-course/

Podcast includes just a few tantalizing details of the tabletop exercise they ran, facilitated by LTC Luke Gygax (yes, the son of That Gygax, he serves in the California National Guard) on the adventures of a multinational task force engaging in combat operations in a dense urban area against a peer enemy. Factions included US forces, Allied forces, Civilians, the Enemy, and a Criminal element. Dice were rolled and chaos ensued!

This is inspiring me to return to work on an idea I had a while ago, the Scaleable Urban Combat Kriegsspiel… I had thought about the District Commander system could be useful as a manual system the Army could use for tabletop exercises, and it quite likely is, but perhaps I could work out something even easier to get into than District Commander Maracas. I easily forget how far these manual games lie outside “ordinary” people’s experience and frame of reference.

[ETA: A later post about their thoughts on offering the course, and what they plan to do next: https://mwi.usma.edu/what-we-learned-creating-the-armys-first-urban-planners-course]