I am trying to work out some of the final details of a modern urban compound, surrounded by perimeter walls and a gate. A battle (modern urban warfare with firearms and grenades mainly) takes place here between two opposing sides (both modern military about 150 men each) and I am wondering whether the fact that there is a gate that has been breached has any relevance to the strategy the resident side devise in beating their intruders?

The main argument is whether to re-close the gates or keep them open (as they are already) during the battle/conflict where the intruders are all already within the compound. The argument I thought was worth exploring was that by closing the gates the enemy would be boxed in inside and unable to escape, making the job easier for the residents to completely eradicate all of the intruders. At the same time, this would have the same disadvantage on the residents if they somehow were unable to reopen the gates to escape themselves.

Therefore would the above be a worthwhile strategy or even a relevant consideration for the residents to not only protect their breached compound, but also to eradicate or capture all of the intruders?

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    $\begingroup$ I'm guessing the gates that were breached would have been blown up-unless the gates were bypassed due to surprise. A lot of this depends on the psychology of the troops. Rarely does an attacker engage a numerically and technically equal force unless forced to by extreme circumstances. Why are these attackers doing this? $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Jan 24 at 15:41
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    $\begingroup$ Is this a setting for a video game? These are the kinds of scenarios you seem to see in video games designed to have perfectly equal starting conditions. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Jan 24 at 16:13
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    $\begingroup$ I'm dubious to the reality of the first paragraph in modern warfare with equally trained troops. Specifically, both the attackers and defenders are going to have UAVs and supporting artillery. What's the end goal for the attacker: capture prisoners and intel, or kill everyone? $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Jan 25 at 0:53
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    $\begingroup$ This seems to be a question of writing the story, i.e. plot rather than actually devising the world or setting. You seem to have the setting done, and since I don't see any worldbuilding context to your question, I'm going to vote to close for being story based. Not this is a "bad" or uninteresting question, it's just not the kind of question we really engage in here. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Jan 25 at 1:12
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas, it's a tough one, in good fiction there is always going to be a blurred line between the setting and plot. In fact this question is about designing a setting/world that can better influence the outcome and conflict of the plot, which is an important aspect of a fictional setting/world. Since a static setting that is simply a container for the characters to wonder will lack engagement and believably. Everyone else, without going into the plot, the intruders aim to capture some prisoners and kill everyone else. They are both private military outfits so only use firearms & grenades. $\endgroup$
    – FrontEnd
    Jan 25 at 2:53

Probably not.

To defeat your enemy you want the enemy to retreat, be killed to the last (which is rarely good for your side!) or surrender. By blocking their retreat you have limited one of their options. That would be great if you have the upper hand and want to eliminate these people by forcing them to surrender or die, but if the battle isnt decided yet it just means you've eliminated an option for the enemy to stop the fight.

Soldiers dont want to die. This is one of the reasons professional trained soldiers who have an untrained and outnumbered militia against them can still waste more than 100.000 bullets to get a single kill. Those bullets are there to get your enemy to take cover and stay in cover, rather than to kill. If you close the doors then you signal an intent: you either kill us, surrender or die yourself. The most dangerous soldier is one who fights for his life. Those soldiers take more risks and will fire with intent to kill more often. And if they think for a moment that your intention is to kill them all you'll have the most dangerous battle on your hands.

You want your enemies to retreat, which considering you are the defenders is usually a victory, or to surrender. A surrendered enemy who is treated well is valuable: it signals safety to stop fighting while retreating and fighting might get you killed. Surrender is contagious, while each soldier killed just encourages people to fight harder and not get killed themselves.

Close the door when you are about to offer them a chance to surrender, or when you think the enemy might be ready to surrender but some might try to retreat.

  • $\begingroup$ Good answer, but I'm wondering what happens if the door lets in new supplies/soldiers. Might want to plug that hole then. $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Jan 24 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Demigan , very helpful but are you also please able to comment on the benefits/negatives from the residents perspective eg. if the gates are closed will this limit the residents in any new particular way such as making their escape harder etc and whether such negatives (if any) outweigh the advantages $\endgroup$
    – FrontEnd
    Jan 24 at 23:29
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    $\begingroup$ @FrontEnd if you have control of the gates the residents have no reason to fear being locked in, you re-open them if you need to make your escape. Its rather surprising that the residents have the choice to close the gate when the attackers are inside actually, how did the attackers get inside in the first place? I also suspect that there is at least one other way out of the compound, if only in case of fire. Static defenses are more easily destroyed with artillery so you want another exit for a quick escape. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Jan 24 at 23:46
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    $\begingroup$ Quoting Sun Tzu: "Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape, and they will prefer death to flight. If they will face death, there is nothing they may not achieve. Officers and men alike will put forth their uttermost strength. Soldiers in desperate straits lose the sense of fear" $\endgroup$ Jan 25 at 7:01

If the intruders are a modern, professional military, they would probably try to clear the compound systematically. Once they breached a gate and secured a foothold beyond the gate, they would try to hold their line-of-retreat and line-of-resupply secure. That means the defender would need a successful counterattack to even consider fixing the gate.

The problem with securing an advance is that it ties down troops. You specified that attackers and defenders have roughly equal strength, and if the attackers put a squad into each secured room, hallway, or courtyard, the'll be out of squads very soon. But there isn't really any alternative, real soldiers are not like D&D characters descending into a dungeon ("never split the party ...").

If you google a bit, you can find many US Army field manuals online, they make nice background reading for a game or story set in the real world or with equivalent technology.

  • $\begingroup$ Very good points thank you. I have tried to look through some field manuals actually but I struggled to find the relevant details. Would there be specific sections or headings I should search for re strategy? $\endgroup$
    – FrontEnd
    Jan 24 at 23:34
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    $\begingroup$ Tactics, not strategy. 3.21-11 chapter 6, 90-10-1 from 1993, chapter 3. $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Jan 25 at 5:35

Adding on to the other answers, consider, what's the defenders' objective. Is it to kill all their enemies? Or is it to defend the compound? Chances are high it's the second option.

Would you want a desperate force of armed opponents carrying explosives boxed in inside the place you're defending? Or would you rather just make them run away and leave this place?

In defense scenarios, everything comes second to the main objective, defending the place. Sure, it would be good to capture the opponents, still nice to kill them off, but the primary objective is to defend.


This answer is complementary to other answers and is meant to provide some food for thought.

A modern military would likely level the compound with artillery, airstrikes or similar means. If that would be unfeasible (e.g. it would endanger nearby friendly or civilian buildings), they would likely level the compound with armored bulldozers. In general, using troops to clear buildings is dangerous so it's avoided when not necessary. So, if you insist on a firefight, you need to think of a reason. For example maybe attackers think there's a hostage or something valuable that needs to be retrieved? Maybe they have orders to capture prisoners? Maybe they are in a hurry and all artillery/aircraft are busy at the moment?

The gate is an obvious point of entry and is likely to be heavily defended. Attackers might want to breach the wall instead, perhaps in more than one place simultaneously. And if they make openings in the wall, the gate being closed or open is not that important anymore.

Since the defenders are a modern military too, they likely have secured a route for resupply and retreat. That might be through the gate or through the wall. It's going to be defended, but if the wall already has a hole in it, it might be another point of entry for the attackers.

Assuming the defenders had time to prepare, on the ground level of the compound, windows and doors will be blocked. This means attackers could use some extra equipment besides rifles and grenades.

Additional useful info, some of it based on field manuals:


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