Military Review English Edition November-December 2015 - Page 13

URBAN INDIVIDUAL units to locate Chechen urban fighting positions and destroyed them from safe distances using fighter aircraft, artillery, and thermobaric rounds. Lacking a recruitment pool to replace losses, attrition ultimately led to the collapse of the Chechen defense of their capital. Although the Chechen concept of operations was innovative, it nevertheless reflected a vision that sees combat as “the only effective force in war.” 12 This vision remains rooted in nineteenth century military theory that holds that “it is evident that destruction of the enemy forces is always the superior, more effective means, with which others cannot compete.”13 In this line of thinking, using the urban infrastructure as a battleground is merely another way to gain a position of advantage over the enemy. Conversely, the 2005 Israeli withdrawal from Gaza shows that—above a certain size—cities offer fundamentally different options to the urban-based belligerent. In unruly megacities, force requirements for population control measures approach those needed for decisive battle. In 1967, the Israel Defense Forces needed eleven brigades to defeat the Egyptian army and conquer the Sinai Desert—including Gaza.14 In the aftermath of the Six-Day War, it took the Israel Defense Forces just a few battalions to police the 350,000 demoralized Palestinians living there.15 However, the population quickly grew and radicalized. In one generation, Gaza transformed from a conglomerate of villages into an extended urban area. Activist movements such as Hamas continually mobilized the 1.3 million Gazans in frequent and violent protests, supplemented with occasional terrorist attacks. As a result of rapid urbanization and increased contention, Israeli force requirements for population control rose to nine brigades.16 To contain Hamas, Israel had to field ever more soldiers. In 2004, the Israel Defense Forces were fighting almost the equivalent of the Six-Day War, week after week with no end in sight. This situation proved unsustainable. In an unprecedented decision, the Israeli government designed a disengagement plan and asked parliament to approve it. On 16 February 2005, the Knesset voted the dismantlement of Israeli settlements in Gaza and the unilateral withdrawal from the area.17 During the events that led to the takeover of Gaza by Hamas, combat never was the effective force in war. Likewise, belligerents who use the urban population as a power source rather than the urban infrastructure as a weapon system apply a fundamentally different form of warfare than that described by classic military theory. The mechanism urban-based belligerents use to win is not combat—it is conflictual coexistence. Conflictual Coexistence In conflictual coexistence, gaining the support of the megaurban population is the decisive operation. The actual campaign of violence and contention is but a way to (Photo by Ariel Schalit, Associated Press) Thousands of Israeli protesters demonstrate 15 May 2004 in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, Israel, rallying for a pullout from the Gaza Strip. MILITARY REVIEW  November-December 2015 11