Military operations in urban terrain (MOUT) and close quarters battle (CQB) is the most dangerous environment in which we operate. Threats can come from above, or appear and disappear in an instant in the urban clutter. The fighting is fast, violent, and confusing. Good communication is needed at all levels to provide timely information as well as avoid friendly fire incidents.

  • Stay aware of the vertical element in a MOUT environment. Enemies can be on the rooftops, and it requires sharp observation from all players to spot them before they can do harm.
  • Know your sector of observation/cover and be diligent in watching/covering it. One person letting their guard down for a few seconds can doom many.
  • Pie off all danger areas. Pieing is simply the process of moving carefully and deliberately in a fashion that allows you to see as much of an area as possible before entering it.
  • Stay off of the walls. Walls act as backdrops for explosive rounds to detonate on, and being too close to them will make it that much easier for an enemy to lob a grenade or rocket your way and take you down.
  • Stay out of the open. Move from covered position to covered position, and avoid lingering in the open. Streets are natural kill zones in urban areas and are frequently covered by machineguns.
  • Be aware of the danger of ricochets. Traveling down a narrow alleyway can become even more dangerous when rounds being fired at you start ricocheting off of the ground and walls to wreak even more havoc.

Clearing a Building

Why to Clear a Building

There are many reasons for why a building may need to be cleared out via infantry. Some of these reasons follow.

  • Must secure the building, but cannot demolish it due to any of the following:
    • Area is too hot to safely place demolitions
    • No demolitions are available, or cannot spare demo on the building due to operational needs.
    • Collateral damage is a concern
      • ROE Restrictions
      • Civilians inside or nearby
    • Building contains assets that cannot be destroyed, such as intelligence material, prisoners, etc.
  • Building presents a threat to the security of friendly forces and must be cleared to ensure security.
    • A threat is perceived when enemy combatants are known or suspected to be inside. They could be shooters, spotters, observers/lookouts, or triggermen.
  • Building is identified as key terrain.
    • It offers a good friendly position if taken
    • Taking it denies an effective defensive position to the enemy
    • It is an objective

Covering & Clearing Teams

In order to effectively clear a building, we split into two parts - the covering team, which provides security outside of the structure and the clearing team, which actually goes into the structure to clear it out room by room. The clearing team picks an entry point in advance and from a distance, followed by a cover team laying down smoke concealment or suppressive fires when possible, which is then followed by the clearing team rapidly moving towards and breaching through the entry point.

The cover team is responsible for:

  • Suppressing the building while the clearing team moves into position
  • Suppressing floors that the clearing team is not on
  • Communicating with the clearing team to coordinate said suppression
  • Preventing any hostile forces from exiting the building

The clearing team is responsible for:

  • Moving methodically through the structure room-by-room until it is cleared of hostile forces
  • Communicating their movements to the cover team so that the cover team can shift fire accordingly

Entry & Stack Methods

Stacking

We use two methods of stacking, one is with both members on the same side of the doorway which is called a (stack). This will either be a Left or a Right stack in practice. The second is called the (Split Stack) where members are split between both sides of the entrance.

Entry

We always use the hook method when breaching buildings, when you are ready to enter you will always enter the building and proceed in the direction in which you were stacked on.

Room Clearing Procedures

When the stack is set, the next step is to actually carry out an entry from start to finish. For this, the following steps act as a guideline for how a typical room take down occurs.

  1. Ensure your weapon is on full-automatic and that you have a fresh magazine inserted.
  2. Throw a flashbang or a fragmentation grenade into the room, if available and no friendly or civilian forces are potentially inside. If a frag or bang has been thrown, the players wait for it to detonate before entering.
  3. Each player enters in sequence, engaging targets to their front as they move through and out of the 'fatal funnel' that is the doorway.
  4. After moving through the doorway, each player continues in the direction prescribed by their stack side, clearing from his front to the corner he is moving towards. Players must continue to move into their 'corner' regardless of the amount of enemy fire received - continuing to push to their corner will draw fire towards them, allowing the following members of the stack to successfully enter the room and begin engaging the enemy.
  5. After clearing his 'near' corner, he continues moving towards it while pivoting to clear the wall that runs to his 'far' corner.
  6. After clearing the far corner, he clears to the center of the room, then clears to the other side of the room, stopping short of where his teammate is.
  7. Once the room is deemed clear, each player announces Clear! to his teammate. If the situation requires, communication may be absent for security's sake.

The entire process, from start to finish, happens in a few seconds at most. When exiting a building the clearing team should state loudly that they are coming out of the structure before doing so, to ensure that the covering team does not mistakenly engage them.

Crossing Urban Danger Areas

All members are required to be familiar with what to do when dealing with danger areas in the urban environment. Due to the chaotic and fast-paced nature of urban combat, there are no strict roles for each fireteam member to take when crossing urban danger areas. Instead, roles are based upon where in the formation a given person is, regardless of their fireteam role.

When moving up to a street danger area, the first person in the formation will stop at the corner, scan both directions, take a knee, and then say Set! via direct-speaking. The second person in the formation will then move up, make his own scan, and decide on how he will move across. When he is ready, he will say Crossing! and then rush across the danger area. The remaining members of the fireteam will follow across at intervals of their choosing, based upon whether enemy fire was received and various other considerations. The last to cross will say Last man! to let the cover man know that it will be his turn to move next. The last person to cross will be the cover man, who was the first person to have reached the corner.

Other Urban Tactics

High/Low Corner Stack

When covering corners, if one player kneels while another stands behind them, two pairs of eyes and two rifles can cover the same area, increasing effectiveness. This is commonly known as a high/low stack and can be employed naturally whenever the situation allows. Note that the kneeling player must not stand unless he has cleared it with the standing player - else he's likely to stand up into a bullet.