The information presented was written by Chris Buckham; however, it was published in The Canadian Army Journal. Therefore, the material is reproduced here by the author with the permission of the journal. If you would like to republish this information or refer to excerpts please contact the Editor Canadian Army Journal (ANDREW.GODEFROY@forces.gc.ca). Website for the Journal is: http://www.army.forces.gc.ca/caj/default-eng.asp?view=more
Author: Louis A DiMarco
Illustrations: 47 B/W, 19 Colour
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
DiMarco’s work is interesting and useful in that it spends a great deal of effort providing a strategic and operational level (‘big hand/small map’) overview of the conflict and the events leading up to it. The challenge with this is that the degree of analysis of the evolution of urban warfare is somewhat limited. I would have anticipated a greater attention and focus on the actual development and execution of urban doctrine. Additionally, DiMarco’s premise (identified in Chapter 1) that ‘warfare’s historically traditional locale’ is the urban battle space is, in my opinion, not accurate. One does not have to look very hard to find innumerable historical examples of field combat, siege warfare and, least of all, fighting in urban settings that underscore the multi-facetted nature of war.
Nevertheless, DiMarco’s work does have some very valuable analysis associated with it. He does identify a number of consistent themes associated with success in urban combat. Intelligence, isolating the environment from reinforcement, specialized weapon systems and joint operating teams as well as working to separate the combatants (both conventional and asymmetric) from their civilian population support base all retain resonance. Additionally, the failure of many nations to remember and learn the lessons from the past (therefore failing to apply them) proved to be both costly and time-consuming.
DiMarco has produced a worthy product but it attempts to address too many issues that are secondary to, and have little bearing on, his stated primary focus. A good example of this was his discussion of the use of Republic of South Korean forces in the retaking of Seoul during the Korean War. The author’s outline of their involvement, while interesting, adds nothing to the discussion of how urban warfare was undertaken and developed.