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1998-05-02 22:45:14


Marine Officers Train in Chicago for Future Urban Combat



A group of 80 U.S. Marines are training in Chicago. They need such training, the military authorities say, because cities are where the wars of the future will be fought.

This is an Associated Press story (May 2).

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As the Marine Corps looks ahead to the next century, it predicts few wars waged on open battlefields. Big foreign cities are more likely the site of most future conflicts.

But the Marines are ill-prepared for combat among skyscrapers and sidewalks. So as part of a two-year experiment in big-city warfare, about 80 Marine officers wearing camouflage uniforms will visit Chicago next week to tour the subway system, a water filtration plant, bridges, the police and fire departments—even the city's underground tunnel network.

"Our tactics, doctrine and technology have not kept up with urbanization," Gen. Charles C. Krulak, the corps' commandant, told the Armed Forces Journal. "In future conflicts, our enemies will lure us into the cities in an attempt to mitigate our capabilities and make us fight where we are the least effective."

The program, begun last summer, has included training in a four-block model town at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and envisions later practice war games in Charleston, S.C., and Jacksonville, Fla. It is to culminate in a mock battle in an as-yet-unidentified West Coast city. . . .

Chicago was chosen because it has features typical of the big, complex cities U.S. forces could someday find themselves fighting in: a river, shore access, subways, even a drawbridge.

Big cities are considered likely scenes of combat because 70 percent of the world's population will live in urban areas by 2020 and because cities tend to have such classic ingredients of conflict as poverty and cultural, religious and social tension.

Krulak established the warfighting lab in 1995, and it has a budget of $32.5 million this year. The Marines want to learn how to maneuver around city infrastructure, communicate while in close quarters with an enemy, minimize the impact on civilians and care for casualties when medical facilities may be offshore.


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