Small Wars Journal

The Missing Link to Preparing for Military Operations in Megacities and Dense Urban Areas

The Missing Link to Preparing for Military Operations in Megacities and Dense Urban Areas by Claudia ElDib and John Spencer - Army Times

With the global trends of rapidly rising populations, urbanization, urban crime and political violence, military personnel will find themselves deploying into dense urban areas.

Many senior military and civilian leaders recognize the need to do much more to prepare for these operations. But while the military has a long history of evolving its doctrine and training for urban combat, and the field of urban studies is well established in civilian academic institutions, it is only a recent development that soldiers will be able to intellectually prepare for cities as much as train for them.

Today, over 50 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. By 2050, two out of every three humans on the planet will reside in a city. The U.S. military will continue to be asked to conduct a full range of operations in major cities — whether it is assisting in offensive operations against insurgents like ISIS in Mosul and Raqqa, peace-keeping operations in Sarajevo and Mogadishu; or humanitarian aid operations in Port-au- Prince, Haiti, or Muzaffarabad, Pakistan. It is not a matter of if, but when again, we will send Army units to conduct missions among the populations of dense urban areas.

Army senior leaders have made it clear that the Army will begin preparing for operations in dense urban areas. The chief of staff of the Army, Gen. Mark Milley, has said, "In the future, I can say with very high degrees of confidence, the American Army is probably going to be fighting in urban areas,” and with readiness as his number one priority, Milley believes the Army “need[s] to man, organize, train and equip the force for operations in urban areas, highly dense urban areas.”…

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