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City Fights
Cover of City Fights
City Fights
Selected Histories of Urban Combat from World War II to Vietnam
"Urban terrain will likely be the predominant battlefield of future wars."
As September 11 and Somalia proved, hostile forces are now engaging America differently, avoiding open combat with our enormous military, striking at our civic centers or dragging us into theirs. But urban warfare isn't new; it is as old as the battle of Jericho. Now an incomparable collection written by esteemed military veterans—some currently serving, others civilian analysts—re-creates the last century's most astonishing examples of this kind of fighting . . . and offers important lessons for our future.
Here are fourteen riveting histories that are both invaluable teaching tools for security leaders and engrossing accounts for any reader. They include
  • William M. Waddell's "Tai-Erh-Chuang, 1938: The Japanese Juggernaut Smashed"—How China defeated the Japanese in battle for the first time in three hundred and forty years, by using a city only as a pivot area and attacking the exposed flank and rear ranks of its unprepared enemy.
  • Eric M. Walters's "Stalingrad, 1942: With Will, a Weapon, and a Watch"—The largest and longest-running urban fight of the twentieth century, in which the Red Army became the tortoise to the Germans' hare, out-lasting its stronger foe.
  • Norm Cooling's "Hue City, 1968: Winning a Battle While Losing a War"—The six-day fight for the cultural center of Vietnam revealed how the American military's distrust of the media made it fail to expose the enemy's mass executions and lose the all-important information war.
    And these eleven additional accounts:
    "Warsaw, 1944: Uprising in Eastern Europe" by Maj. David M. Toczek
    "Arnhem, 1944: Airborne Warfare in the City" by Lt. Col. G. A. Lofaro
    "Troyes, France, 1944: All Guns Blazing" By Col. Peter R. Mansoor
    "Budapest, 1944-45: Bloody Contest of Wills" by Col. Peter B. Zwack
    "Aschaffenburg, 1945: Cassino on the Main River" by Mark J. Reardon
    "Manila, 1945: City Fight in the Pacific" by Col. Kevin C. M. Benson
    "Berlin, 1945: Backs Against the Wall" by Maj. Mike Boden
    "Jaffa, 1948: Urban Combat in the Israeli War of Independence" by Benjamin Runkle
    "Seoul, 1950: City Fight after Inchon" by Maj. Thomas A. Kelley
    "Da Nang-Hoi An, A Tank Skirmish in Quang Nam Province" by Dennis C. Fresch
    "Evolution of Urban Combat Doctrine" by Mark J. Reardon
    From the 1944 Warsaw uprising that almost caused the complete destruction of Poland's capital to the crucial, near-forgotten fight for Manila in 1945 . . . from snipers and shoulder-launched missiles to tunnels and tanks . . . all aspects of the most important urban conflicts are revealed in stunning detail. Compelling and cautionary, City Fights powerfully reminds us that, in our ever more urbanized and vulnerable world, "if a state loses its cities, it loses the war."
  • "Urban terrain will likely be the predominant battlefield of future wars."
    As September 11 and Somalia proved, hostile forces are now engaging America differently, avoiding open combat with our enormous military, striking at our civic centers or dragging us into theirs. But urban warfare isn't new; it is as old as the battle of Jericho. Now an incomparable collection written by esteemed military veterans—some currently serving, others civilian analysts—re-creates the last century's most astonishing examples of this kind of fighting . . . and offers important lessons for our future.
    Here are fourteen riveting histories that are both invaluable teaching tools for security leaders and engrossing accounts for any reader. They include
  • William M. Waddell's "Tai-Erh-Chuang, 1938: The Japanese Juggernaut Smashed"—How China defeated the Japanese in battle for the first time in three hundred and forty years, by using a city only as a pivot area and attacking the exposed flank and rear ranks of its unprepared enemy.
  • Eric M. Walters's "Stalingrad, 1942: With Will, a Weapon, and a Watch"—The largest and longest-running urban fight of the twentieth century, in which the Red Army became the tortoise to the Germans' hare, out-lasting its stronger foe.
  • Norm Cooling's "Hue City, 1968: Winning a Battle While Losing a War"—The six-day fight for the cultural center of Vietnam revealed how the American military's distrust of the media made it fail to expose the enemy's mass executions and lose the all-important information war.
    And these eleven additional accounts:
    "Warsaw, 1944: Uprising in Eastern Europe" by Maj. David M. Toczek
    "Arnhem, 1944: Airborne Warfare in the City" by Lt. Col. G. A. Lofaro
    "Troyes, France, 1944: All Guns Blazing" By Col. Peter R. Mansoor
    "Budapest, 1944-45: Bloody Contest of Wills" by Col. Peter B. Zwack
    "Aschaffenburg, 1945: Cassino on the Main River" by Mark J. Reardon
    "Manila, 1945: City Fight in the Pacific" by Col. Kevin C. M. Benson
    "Berlin, 1945: Backs Against the Wall" by Maj. Mike Boden
    "Jaffa, 1948: Urban Combat in the Israeli War of Independence" by Benjamin Runkle
    "Seoul, 1950: City Fight after Inchon" by Maj. Thomas A. Kelley
    "Da Nang-Hoi An, A Tank Skirmish in Quang Nam Province" by Dennis C. Fresch
    "Evolution of Urban Combat Doctrine" by Mark J. Reardon
    From the 1944 Warsaw uprising that almost caused the complete destruction of Poland's capital to the crucial, near-forgotten fight for Manila in 1945 . . . from snipers and shoulder-launched missiles to tunnels and tanks . . . all aspects of the most important urban conflicts are revealed in stunning detail. Compelling and cautionary, City Fights powerfully reminds us that, in our ever more urbanized and vulnerable world, "if a state loses its cities, it loses the war."
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    • Chapter One

      Tai-erh-chuang, 1938: The Japanese Juggernaut Smashed, by 2d Lt. William M. Waddell

      The tactic of attacking fortified cities is adopted only when unavoidable. . . . If the general cannot overcome his impatience but instead launches an assault wherein his men swarm over the walls like ants, he will kill one-third of his officers and troops, and the city will not be taken. This is the disaster that results from attacking fortified cities. --Sun Tzu

      In early April 1938 a lone Chinese soldier stood on a wall in the town of Tai-erh-chuang to survey his surroundings. Tanks, armored cars, and trucks were strewn about the countryside, abandoned once they had run out of fuel. Dead horses, broken machine guns, and deserted field guns lay across the landscape. The soldier could detect the faint smell of burning flesh. Interspersed among the quiet chaos lay 16,000 dead Japanese soldiers. For the first time in 340 years, China had defeated Japan in battle.

      The Imperial Japanese Army faltered in Tai-erh-chuang because it was lured into a vicious city fight for which it was dangerously unprepared. The semimodern Japanese army had not achieved the necessary combined-arms integration to prosecute such a battle. Japanese infantry hid behind the strength of their firepower, tanks advanced without adequate protection, and neither of them effectively used maneuver to gain a tactical advantage over the opponents. Furthermore, the Japanese commanders themselves committed operational blunders as their minds become dangerously fixated on the consuming fight within the city's bounds.

      Chinese acumen stood in contrast to Japanese deficiencies. Perhaps owing to their material inferiority, the Chinese in and around Tai-erh-chuang displayed remarkable imagination. Their situation forced them into creative tactical and operational solutions, which served to frustrate the disjointed and uncoordinated efforts of the Japanese invaders. The disasters that beset the Japanese and the forethought that benefited the Chinese provide insightful lessons for the modern military.

      The story of the Sino-Japanese War is one of immense struggle punctuated by catastrophe. Taken as a single event, the victory at Tai-erh-chuang illustrates that the Chinese could be capable planners and organizers. It also highlights the sophistication of their military thought. The Chinese not only understood their adversaries' mind-set but manipulated it to advantage. In effect, the Chinese laid a trap at Tai-erh-chuang. The Japanese were lured into and systematically destroyed in a brutal street fight, punctuated by sweeping maneuver.

      Early Days of the Sino-Japanese War

      The opening of the Sino-Japanese War had not gone well for the Chinese. The defense of Shanghai had been a valiant but an ultimately futile effort. Chiang Kai-shek's German-trained Central Army held on to Shanghai through a series of gruesome offensives and equally foolish dare-to-die defensive stands. The height of China's military modernization perished in Shanghai. Casualties for the battle may have been as high as 300,000. By December 13, 1937, the Japanese had pushed their way to Nanking. Chiang shifted his headquarters to the relative safety of Wuhan in December. Things were equally worrisome in the north. Paoting and Tsangchow fell to the Japanese First and Second Armies, respectively, on September 24. Chinese resistance was crumbling before the Japanese advance, while Chiang carefully hoarded his remaining units in order to preserve his delicate hold on Chinese leadership.

      The Japanese intended to force a Chinese capitulation by endangering the ad hoc capital at Wuhan. Rail and river provided the...

    About the Author-
    • John Antal is an author, editor, and veteran of the US Army. A retired colonel, he served for 30 years in combat units in Germany, Korea, Kuwait, and the US after graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point. Antal has published several books of both fiction and nonfiction, and has also contributed to military anthologies such as Maneuver Warfare, Digital War, and By Their Deeds Alone. In addition to having over 150 articles appear in magazines and professional journals, he is also the founding Editorial Director of the Armchair General magazine.
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    Selected Histories of Urban Combat from World War II to Vietnam
    John Antal
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