Military Review English Edition November-December 2015 - Page 12

the breakdown of administrative services, causing citizens to flee the city. The resulting decrease of the urban population diminishes the number of soldiers necessary to control the population. Moreover, as the number of citizens goes down, the effectiveness of standoff weapon systems goes up, allowing the opponent to replace soldiers with technology. Successful urban-based belligerents swamp the opposing force inside the city without scaring the citizens out. Weapon System or Power Source The August 1996 and January 2000 battles of Grozny illustrate that cities (Photo by Shakh Aivazov, Associated Press) offer the urban-based belligerent many View of Leninsky Prospect in the Chechen Republic capital city of Grozny, Russia, opportunities to escalate the level of 13 April 1995. Shelling and aerial bombardment by Russian forces during the previous January made it one of the most dangerous streets in the world. violence against a militarily superior opponent.11 However, they also reveal the size of the force needed to control the citizens living there. limitations of such an approach. Grozny’s concrete strucQuinlivan demonstrated that two parameters determine tures provided cover and concealment. Chechen fighters force requirements to hold a city: population size and used sewers to move around the city swiftly without contention level.9 Comparing peaceful and conflict areas exposing themselves to enemy fire. Defensive positions around the world, he shows that—depending on the on the upper floors of high-rise buildings denied the level of contention—force requirements per thousand of Russians the advantages offered by tanks because of the population range from two lightly armed police officers limited elevation of their guns. Moreover, narrow streets in a patrol car to twenty heavily equipped and adequately limited the Russian ability to maneuver and strongly supported members of the armed forces. In megacities, reduced observation and fields of fire. This allowed this rule completely changes the character of urban warthe Chechens to fight at such close quarters that the fare. That force requirements for urban combat are proRussians could not call in indirect fire support because of portionate to population size rather than enemy fighter the prohibitive risk of fratricide. strength puts the urban individual in the center of strategy In fact, Chechen fighters transformed Grozny’s urban development. Because of the sheer size of the population, infrastructure into one huge weapon system designed an urban-based belligerent inflicts higher costs on enemies to deny the Russians the advantages they derived from by mobilizing city dwellers against enemy forces than their numerical and technological superiority. In 1996, by directly fighting them.10 Therefore, the strength of Chechen fighters succeeded in this. However, the princiurban-based belligerents resides in their abil ity to tune the pal disadvantage of such a high level of violence is that it level of contention to an optimum level. depopulates the city. In the case of Grozny, the populaLow levels of contention do not bother the opponent, tion shrank from three hundred thousand at the outset but extremely high levels of violence do not threaten of hostilities to less than twenty thousand at the end. As the enemy either. Above a certain level, acts of violence more and more civilians left the capital, Chechen fighters yield diminishing returns. Even though extreme violence offered the Russians clearly defined geographic locations increases the opponent’s force requirements for combat, it they could focus on. Drawing on the 1996 lessons learned, lowers force requirements for population control meaRussian armored and infantry troops no longer entered sures. Extreme violence leads to rampant insecurity and the city but sealed it off. They sent in small reconnaissance 10 November-December 2015  MILITARY REVIEW