Military Review English Edition November-December 2015 - Page 15

URBAN INDIVIDUAL and unsophisticated violence does not scare citizens out, is within reach of unskilled and readily available fighters, and merely requires anonymous general guidance, not traceable real-time command and control. To paraphrase Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 3-0, Unified Land Operations, this type of belligerent lacks a clearly defined organization on which his opponent can focus.21 An urban-based belligerent has no need to prevail in combat when megaurban contention is sufficient to force the opponent out. Military Implications The importance of popular support to conflictual coexistence gives new meaning to the concept of initiative in unified land operations. According to ADP 3-0— To seize the initiative (setting and dictating the terms of action), Army forces degrade the enemy’s ability to function as a coherent force. … Leaders continue to exploit the initiative until they place the enemy in a position that disables any ability to coherently employ military capability. This continued resistance can only lead to the physical destruction of the enemy military potential and the exposure of the enemy’s sources of power to imminent destruction or capture [italics added]. These are typically the military conditions required for the termination of a conflict on favorable terms.22 This understanding of initiative focuses on enemy forces. The underlying assumption is that the degradation of the enemy’s military capabilities exposes his power sources to destruction or capture. This assumption holds true for all sources of power, except for the one that matters in megacities: the protest potential of the population. Therefore, urban-based belligerents have a different view on initiative. They focus on people. The fall of Baghdad in 2003 clearly illustrates the different views on the problem of seizing and holding cities in an urbanized world. Upon entering the Iraqi capital, American forces destroyed enemy capabilities, seized decisive terrain, and secured critical infrastructure. By contrast, Moqtada al-Sadr organized a pilgrimage to Karbala and took control of Baghdad’s religious and social assistance centers.23 Events after 2003 showed that al-Sadr’s initiatives resulted in tighter control over large swaths of Baghdad than the control exercised by the U.S.-led coalition. The value of initiatives to gain control ov er the protest potential of the population is limited not only (Photo by Tara Todras-Whitehill, Associated Press) Egyptians celebrate the news of the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak 11 February 2011 in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt. “Arab Spring” antigovernment demonstrations swept through the Middle East in 2011, leading to the successful removal of several dictators in the region. MILITARY REVIEW  November-December 2015 13