Small Wars Journal

The Subterranean Battlefield: Warfare is Going Underground, Into Dark, Tight Spaces

The Subterranean Battlefield: Warfare is Going Underground, Into Dark, Tight Spaces by Todd South – Military Times

… It is happening in Syria now. Iraqi forces faced it in Mosul. Russia, China, North Korea, Iran all boast complex facilities laced with reinforced command and control and the ability to deploy thousands of troops, tanks, missiles and even launch planes from underground runways.

As with guerrilla fighters in Vietnam, militant groups from Islamic State to Hamas to rebel groups in Africa have expanded their use of the ­underground, whether in remote caves or by ­burrowing their way through cities such as the city of Darayya, Syria, for what became tunnel-on-tunnel warfare with the regime.

 

“They’ve gone underground to match our ­overmatch,” said retired Army Maj. John Spencer, chairman of Urban Warfare Studies with the Modern War Institute at West Point.

 

In the Zhawar Kili complex, Navy SEALs encountered a cave system in the early days of the Afghan War. They thought it would take a day to clear. Nine days later they had searched 70 reinforced tunnels, destroying 50 of them, including 60 structures inside a facility that included a mosque, repair shops, a medical facility and communications center.

 

And that was far from civilian populations. Armies today do not have that luxury…

Read on.