For political resistance movements, the urban operational area has historically provided both a great deal of danger, as well as ample opportunity. If even a large minority of the civilian population supports the resistance, and the majority is either neutral, or has been alienated by the actions of the regime, the resistance will be able to survive and continue the fight. The classical concept of a resistance movement controlling the rural countryside while forcing the regime to function solely in large, built-up urban areas still has merit, but a multi-pronged approach wherein rural guerrillas use interdiction missions as their primary modus operandi to prevent regime utilization of lines of communication (LOC) and supply routes in rural areas, while urban guerrillas utilize raids and ambushes on security force facilities, infrastructure, and personnel in built-up areas, while the subversive underground continues its campaign of subversion and sabotage against regime-specific infrastructure, is the future of successful resistance movements.
The ready access to portable, high-resolution video recording devices, even in pocket-sized cell phones, as well as the easy upload of such video recordings to the internet, provides an instant worldwide audience for the resistance to spread its message. The ability of the regime to readily identify fleeing resistance personnel in rural terrain, while certainly not precluding the successful execution of a rural guerrilla campaign in suitable environments, such as alpine areas and thickly wooded terrain, and jungle-like swamp terrain, does offer numerous obvious advantages to the resistance movement who can utilize urban environments to their advantage.
Cities are the centers of human activity, but each city possesses its own unique characteristics. These characteristics are the basis of METT-TC analysis of the environment for mission-planning. Whatever else characterizes a given built-up area, its location may wholly or partially limit its development and thus determine the external form and dimension of the activity. Just as no two cities are alike externally, no city is uniform internally. A city is composed of various different nuclei or neighborhoods. There are business, industrial, and service areas, as well as residential neighborhoods that may range from inner-city ghettos to comfortable, affluent suburbs. Depending on the city and its local surrounding environment, as well as the socio-political attitudes of the civilian population, there may be large wooded parks and “green-belts” in the midst of the built-up areas.
While a truly rural area has the potential to be completely self-sustaining in its essential needs, an urban area can never fulfill all of its own essential survival needs. The resources, goods, and services that residents of an urban area need as well as the goods and services it provides to other communities and/or the surrounding areas determine the essential function of a given city. Included in the standard functions that determine a city's purpose for existance may include economic, political, religious, educational, residential, or any combination of these.
Despite the differences from one built-up area to the next urban areas possess certain similarities that provide us with some general characteristics that influence the inherent nature of guerrilla tactical operations in urban areas. The nature of cities offer some critical challenges to the military/paramilitary planner as well as the operative. Successful planning must be far more detailed than is normally required for even the most challenging rural missions. As the saying claims, “Proper prior planning prevents piss-poor performance.”
The nature of a city involved in a guerrilla resistance favors the defender who is native to the city.