• Military Thought
  • 2002-01-01MTH-No. 001
  • Size: 15.7 Kbytes .
  • Pages:63-68.
  • Words: 2383

Using Underground Service Lines and Structures in Urban Warfare


Col. V. A. KISELYOV Doctor of Military Sciences

Lt. Col. V. M. RYBALKO

Troops used underground service lines and structures for centuries, doing that as far back as the Roman and Byzantine empires. Already at that time there were undermining tunnels made under fortifications. The Russian army led by Ivan IV (The Terrible) made a skilful use of this tactics while storming Kazan (1552).

The topicality of this theme today is connected with considerable proliferation of cities and urban population numbers. Major populated localities tend to "sprawl" and expand their territory. Modern-day urbanization is characterized in particular by a transition from a compact ("pinpoint") town to urban agglomerations, urban- and rural-type territorial entities. By the last decade of the 20th century, Russia, for one, had nearly 50 agglomerations, which comprised one-third of all cities and were inhabited by approximately 65 million people.

The infrastructure complex is of much importance in city planning, with some of its elements (rail, motor, pipeline, electronic, cable suspension, etc.) having much influence on methods of urban warfare. Frequently, the sewerage, water supply, as well as heat supply system is a concealed but quite ramified network existing several meters below the earth surface. There are entire underground streets and districts, which have the same function as blood vessels do in a human body. Using these structures enables troops to rapidly transfer forces and assets from one area to another without being observed, and to penetrate the depth of dispositions of the opposing side.

The Soviet military art attached much importance to organization and conduct of warfare with reliance on underground service lines. For example, the late 1930s saw publication of Manual on Siegecraft Mine Operations for the Engineer Troops.

The Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 brought about a reappraisal of goals and conditions of underground warfare. Published in early 1942, Siegecraft Mine Operations and Mine Warfare, a manual for the engineer troops, defined

Pages. 63

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