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Future Wars: Protecting Civilians In High Intensity Urban Warfare - Wargame Report

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This report details the proceedings and findings of the October 2021 Protection of Civilians Tabletop Exercise (TTX), which was organised by PAX and the Stimson Center, held at the First Germany Netherlands Corps (1GNC) Headquarters, developed and facilitated by the Cordillera Applications Group (CAG). This innovative, first-of-its-kind, four-day event brought together a diverse group of military and civilian participants to study and understand better the impact of high-intensity urban conflict on civilians.

The principal objectives of the wargame were to:

Increase awareness of PoC operational dilemmas across command functions and how PoC integrates into the planning and conduct of operations.

Apply and stress test NATO’s PoC approach, identifying capability and doctrinal shortfalls and ethical challenges. Identify critical factors and aspects relative to Article 5 operations (i.e., both hybrid and high-intensity conflict) in an urban area, including the impact of combat operations on national resilience levels and how that affects civilian protection.

Identify areas for developing NATO’s PoC policy, doctrine, and capabilities.

Protection of Civilians in today’s interconnected urban environments will require additional knowledge, skills, and capabilities. While NATO has made progress conceptually on urban operations and Protection of Civilians, the TTX showed a critical and timely need and opportunity to interrogate further where they overlap and are mutually supportive. The experience of the TTX tells us there is more work to be done to build urban warfare capacity and awareness, understanding, knowledge, and skills from the high tactical up and across domains. A key part of that will be understanding how PoC and resilience tie into urban conflict and their collective strategic effects on the Alliance and the battlespace.