Managing Complexity During Military Urban Operations: Visualizing the Elephant


Publication Date: January 2004

Publisher: RAND Corporation

Author(s): Russell W. Glenn

Research Area: Military and defense

Type: Brief


The complexity that characterizes modern urban operations combines with a perceived intolerance of military casualties to make actions in cities among the most difficult missions that U.S. armed forces will undertake. This study proposes a new planning approach that employs identification of critical points--the essential elements of the urban area’s physical and demographic terrain--along with the notion of density--the quantity of elements and activities within the urban space--to aid military personnel in their efforts to overcome the complexity. Integrating this approach with the traditional command estimate process should assist the planner in determining how best to allocate a command's ever-scarce resources.