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Urban Warfare Project

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As the world becomes more urban, military forces must be prepared for cities to become battlefields. The Urban Warfare Project podcast, from the Modern War Institute at West Point, features conversations with practitioners and scholars and sets out to explore the unique characteristics of urban warfare.

As the world becomes more urban, military forces must be prepared for cities to become battlefields. The Urban Warfare Project podcast, from the Modern War Institute at West Point, features conversations with practitioners and scholars and sets out to explore the unique characteristics of urban warfare.


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As the world becomes more urban, military forces must be prepared for cities to become battlefields. The Urban Warfare Project podcast, from the Modern War Institute at West Point, features conversations with practitioners and scholars and sets out to explore the unique characteristics of urban warfare.




A Firsthand Account of the Battle of Mariupol

When Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February, one of their first targets was the city of Mariupol. The battle that followed is an epic story of resistance in which a very small number of Ukrainian fighters defended the city for over eighty days against a Russian force five to eight times their size, preventing the Russians from diverting to other parts of Ukraine. In this episode, John Spencer is joined by Aiden Aslin, a British citizen who took part in that battle and was captured by...


The Battle of Jenin

The Battle of Jenin took place in April 2002 and was a key battle in the Israel Defense Forces' (IDF) Operation Defensive Shield. In this episode of the Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by Dr. Ohad Leslau, a historian in the IDF's history department and one of the world’s leading experts on the 2002 Battle of Jenin.


Russia, Ukraine, And Urban Warfare

In this episode, John Spencer is joined by Michael Kofman, research program director in the Russia Studies Program at the Center for Naval Analyses and fellow at the Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The discussion explores the general composition and force design of the Russian military, before turning to the subject of Russia's military performance in Ukraine. Based on this foundation, Michael then offers his insights on some of the major urban battles...


Round 2 of the World’s Only Urban Warfare Planners Course

In this episode, John Spencer welcomes back Brig. Gen. Robert Wooldridge, the deputy commanding general for operations of the 40th Infantry Division, California Army National Guard. In July, the division held the second iteration of the world’s only course specifically for division and brigade staff officers and noncommissioned officers, aimed at developing the skills needed to plan successful large-scale combat operations in the major urban areas. Brig. Gen. Wooldridge joins to describe the...


Studying the Battle of Kyiv, Part 1

In this episode, John Spencer is joined by retired Colonel Liam Collins. The former director of the Modern War Institute, he also served as a defense advisor to Ukraine from 2016 to 2018. Last month, John and Liam traveled independently to Ukraine to study the Battle of Kyiv. In this first part of a two-episode conversation, John and Liam share some of their preliminary observations on how Ukraine successfully defeated a Russian assault on the capital—ultimately forcing the attackers to...


Why Urban Warfare is the Hardest

Urban warfare is the hardest type of warfare any nation can ask their military to conduct. It is more difficult, more complex than any other form, fought on terrain that is not neutral. Militaries can get better at it, but they most first understand why it’s so challenging. In this episode, John Spencer highlights the particular challenges presented by dense urban terrain, sharing insights based on years of research and historical analysis, along with firsthand experience with both urban...


A New Way of Combined Arms Urban Warfare Training

In January 2022, John Spencer traveled to the UK to observe a British Army Warfighting Experiment. The experiment was one of many that allows the British Army to partner with the innovation community and industry to explore technological possibilities to address the specific challenges of urban warfighting. In this episode, John speaks to Rob Taylor, CEO of a UK-based organization that specializes in developing immersive close-combat training facilities and opportunities. Rob describes the...


The Israeli Way of Urban Warfare

In this episode, John Spencer is joined Brigadier General Meir Finkel. An armor brigade commander in the Second Lebanon War, he is the current head of research and former director of the Dado Center for Interdisciplinary Military Studies / IDF J3. He explains the evolution of the Israel military approach to fighting in dense urban areas and describes several of the unique organizations, tools, and tactics the Israeli military has developed specifically to meet the many challenges of urban...


Social Media and the War in Ukraine: The Walter Report

Social media has played a sizeable role during the war in Ukraine. Not only are various platforms being used for information campaigns by both sides, social media tools like Twitter are the way many people around the world are watching the war unfold. Almost immediately after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Walter Lekh, a Ukrainian doctor living in the United States, organized a Twitter Space—an audio livestream where any Twitter user can listen in—featuring news and expert commentary about...


Concrete Hell Revisited

In this episode, guest host Jayson Geroux is joined by retired Lieutenant Colonel Louis DiMarco, a professor of military history at the United States Army Command and Staff College. Dr. Di Marco is the author of the influential 2012 book Concrete Hell: Urban Warfare from Stalingrad to Iraq. In the conversation, he discusses how he became interested in urban warfare and describes the urban warfare history course he developed and continues to teach at the Command and Staff College. He also...


What Will the Battle of Kyiv Look Like?

Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, it has been apparent that Moscow's strategic goal is to remove the current government and replace it with a Russian-friendly regime. Because cities are the economic and political centers of power for nations, it is no surprise that the capital city of Kyiv has been the decisive objective from the very start. The fight for Kyiv is the only battle that matters in this war. In this special episode, John Spencer discusses what the battle will look like. He...


Walking the Urban Battlefield of Shusha

From October 30 to November 8, 2020, a large-scale battle took place as both sides in the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War fought for control of the city of Shusha. A year later, John Spencer traveled to Nagorno-Karabakh to study the war and the details of the battle—from the unique qualities of the urban and surrounding terrain to the tactics of both the defenders and attackers. In this episode, he shares a short lecture he delivered based on his research during that visit.


Learning from Mumbai

On November 26, 2008, ten Pakistan-based terrorists simultaneously attacked and sieged multiple sites across the megacity of Mumbai, India. The world watched in horror as the attacks terrified the city for almost three days. Often referred to as India’s 9/11, the attacks were planned and orchestrated seemingly with the precision of a military special forces unit. In this episode, host John Spencer presents a short lecture on the attacks, describing some of the features of the megacity of...


The Urban Warfare Project's Christmas Wish List, 2021 Edition

What do urban warfare experts have on their Christmas lists? In this episode, Colonel (CA) John Spencer is joined by Major Jayson Geroux and Mr. Stuart Lyle for a holiday-themed conversation about the tools and capabilities they really hope Santa brings. Maj. Geroux is a member of the directing staff of the Tactics School at the Canadian Army’s Combat Training Centre and Mr. Lyle is researcher at the UK-based Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.


The Mothers’ Bus Attack and the Yamam

On the morning of March 7, 1988, three members of the Palestine Liberation Organization hijacked a bus full of Israeli women traveling to work near the town of Dimona, Israel, in what has become known as the “Mothers’ Bus attack.” Maj. Gen. Avshalom Peled was at the time a platoon commander in the Yamam, an elite Israeli counterterrorist organization that specializes in close-quarters battle, and took part in the rescue operation. He joins this episode and describes his role in the now...


Feral Cities and the Military

In this episode, John Spencer is joined by Dr. Richard Norton, aprofessor of national security affairs at the US Naval War College and a retired US Navy commander. Dr. Norton discusses his research on what he calls "feral cities"—those in which the state has lost the ability to maintain the rule of law yet remain a functioning actor in the greater international system.


Inside the Battle of Shusha

Observers watched the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War closely, searching for indicators of the character of warfare on tomorrow's battlefields. The lessons extracted have covered advanced technology and unmanned platforms, proxy dynamics, the ongoing relevance of armor, and more. But some of the most important lessons have received much less attention. They center around the increasingly unavoidable importance of combat in cities and are drawn principally from the battle for the city of Shusha—a...


The US Army’s First Urban Warfare Planners Course

In this episode of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project Podcast, John Spencer is joined by Brig. Gen. Robert Wooldridge. He is the Deputy Commanding General for Support of the 40th Infantry Division, California Army National Guard—which just held the Army’s first urban warfare planners course. Listen as he explains the gaps that drove the division's leaders to create the course, the challenges in designing the course, the lessons they learned executing the course, and what comes next as the team...


The Man in The Tank Wins: IDF Armor, Part 2

In this episode, the second in a two-part series, John Spencer continues his conversation with retired Brig. Gen. Yom Tov Tamir. In the previous episode, he reflected on his long career as an armor officer in the Israel Defense Forces, in which he held positions from tank commander to division commander. Part two picks up with a description of his experiences during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, including the last battle of the war, the Battle of Suez, which ended disastrously. Based on his...


The Man in The Tank Wins: IDF Armor, Part 1

In this episode, the first in a two-part series, John Spencer is joined by retired Maj. Gen. Yom Tov Tamir. He served a long career in the Israel Defense Forces as an armor officer holding positions from tank commander to division commander. In 1973, he was an armor battalion commander during the Yom Kippur War. In part one of the conversation, he reflects on his career as an armor officer—from a secret trip to Germany in 1964 to learn about American tanks, through his service in the 1967...