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Wargame Report: Protecting Civilians in High-Intensity Urban Warfare

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.

About this publication
Strengthening NATO’s Ability to Protect is a research initiative of the Transforming Conflict and Governance Program at the Stimson Center. This project seeks to build bridges between NATO stakeholders and the expert community to act on the Alliance’s ambition to protect civilians in its operations around the world. To help NATO succeed, Stimson launched this project, in partnership with PAX and supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to cultivate and offer external expertise to NATO as well as assess the current levels of doctrine and guidance on PoC within NATO nations and partners. Emphasis is on solutions-focused research and building bridges across governments, academia, international organizations, and NGOs. In support of this project, Stimson is commissioning a series of papers authored by leading experts in their fields that considers protecting civilians and NATO’s future missions, capabilities, and approaches. The papers, published throughout 2021 and 2022, aim to engage NATO stakeholders as they consider NATO’s role in future conflict, support further implementation of the NATO Policy on the Protection of Civilians, and focus on NATO’s 2030 agenda and beyond.

About this report

Date of publication:

Mar 18, 2022


Marco Grandi, Marla Keenan, Wilbert van der Zeijden


PAX and Stimson


This publication is part of the "Strengthening NATO’s Ability to Protect" project, a partnership with Stimson and PAX, supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

About the "Strengthening NATO’s Ability to Protect" projectMore publications from the "Strengthening NATO’s Ability to Protect" project
Wargame Report: Protecting Civilians in High-Intensity Urban Warfare

Mar 18, 2022, Marco Grandi, Marla Keenan, Wilbert van der Zeijden

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