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Military Contingencies in
Megacities and Sub-Megacities


Phil Williams and Werner Selle

Urbanization is one of the key megatrends of the 21st century. Consequently, the possibility of US military involvement in a megacity or near megacity is an eventuality that cannot be ignored. After elucidating the nature of urbanization and developing a typology in terms of smart, fragile, and feral cities, we give consideration to the kinds of contingencies that the U.S. military, especially the Army, needs to think about and prepare for. Understanding the city as a complex system or organism is critical and provides the basis for changes in intelligence, recruitment, training, equipment, operations, and tactics.

One of the key takeaways is the need to understand the urban environment and the need to work with (instead of against) the flows and rhythms of a city. Without such an approach, the results of military involvement in such a formidable environment would likely be disastrous; with it, the prospects for success would at least be enhanced.