How the U.S. Army and Marines are preparing for future urban wars

BY OLIVIA MILTNER

For Iraqis returning to Mosul, the homes missing roofs and walls, filled with rubble, are a reminder of what existed before ISIS took control of the city in 2014. To the U.S. Army that helped liberate the city — originally designed as a fortress — after a nine-month campaign, the ruins and a lingering threat are pointers to the future. Massive piles of tangled debris and burned cars line the streets, framing gutted houses. But though the main roads have mostly been cleared, side streets throughout the city remain blocked by tangled debris and riddled with explosives, left behind by ISIS in places that are too narrow for coalition vehicles to access.

Mosul is the latest pointer to the urban nature of theaters in which many future conflicts may be set. Experts view situations the U.S. has found itself in over the past 15 years as foreshadowing a part of what the Army and the Marines may face with increasing regularity in the years ahead. It’s a future they are preparing for.

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