The Atlantic

When the Army Planned for a Fight in U.S. Cities

In 1968, one retired colonel warned that urban insurrections could produce “scenes of destruction approaching those of Stalingrad.”
Source: U.S. Army Center for Military History

Editor’s Note: This is part of The Atlantic’s ongoing series looking back at 1968. All past articles and reader correspondence are collected here. New material will be added to that page through the end of 2018.

In January 1968, Colonel Robert B. Rigg, a retired Army intelligence officer, published an article in magazine that captured the attention of an establishment reeling from recent riots in Watts, Detroit, and other American cities. He argued that those disturbances might be relatively mild precursors to a coming rebellion in the streets––that during the next few years, “organized urban insurrection could explode to the extent that large American cities could become scenes of destruction

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