Within about two decades, roughly 60 percent of the world's
population will live in cities, particularly megacities of more than
10 million, according to a recent National Intelligence Council
Some of those inhabitants will be bent on terror
and destruction of the regional and global community and the Army
must be prepared to deal with that threat, according to Lt. Gen. H.
R. McMaster, director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center,
speaking at a media roundtable today.
Pvt. Stephen Perez, a New York Army National Guard member assigned to Joint Task Foce Empire Shield, patrols at Penn Station in New York City, Nov. 23, 2010. (New York Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Marcus P. Caliste)
The roundtable was part of Exercise Unified Quest, which
was conducted Aug. 17-22, 2014 ... which included a megacity
disaster scenario set in what McMaster termed the "deep
future," 2030 to 2040. Constructive simulation, using
computers, was used to create a fictitious environment,
weapons, and red, blue and green players, meaning enemy,
friendly and host-nation military, he said.
members of the other military services, coalition partners,
and experts on future global events participated in the
The scenario was plausible, but extreme in
nature, in order to stress the capabilities of the Army,
which operated against an adaptive insurgency, criminal
element, failed government and humanitarian crises. The
emergency was caused by a dam bursting with an ensuing flood
and a disease outbreak.
There were some key takeaways
from the exercise.
"You can't just pour brigade after
brigade into a megacity. They'll just get swallowed up,"
said Col. Kevin Felix, chief of the Future Warfare Division,
who also participated in the media roundtable.
being swallowed up, he meant operating in a dense urban
landscape where command and control becomes problematic and
where the enemy hides itself and its weaponry among the
civilian populace. Some of that weaponry in the scenario
turned out to be biological and chemical.
players, or enemy, "surprised us as well. They did less
fighting than expected," Felix said. "They focused on the
long game, keeping their heads down," waiting for the
government to fail and the right time to set their plans in
Felix compared their tactics to the Japanese
during the Battle for Okinawa. The Americans in 1945 were
allowed to land on the beaches relatively unopposed, while
the enemy hid in well-concealed and protected caves in the
hills farther inland, bidding their time.
in a deep future megacity, the Army is preparing its
Soldiers today to have a better understanding, respect and
appreciation of cultural differences as they train with
regionally aligned forces worldwide. Felix said
relationships can make a big difference in the outcome of a
Also, he said Soldiers who can
adapt, understand complexities, ask the right questions, and
have a knowledge of group dynamics will be the ones who
McMaster pointed out that the Army cannot
take technological superiority for granted in future
conflicts. It is becoming increasingly easy for non-state
actors to acquire sophisticated technologies and that is
expected to be an increasing concern. These technologies
include cyber capabilities, new types of weaponry and
devices that can disrupt the electromagnetic spectrum.
If anything, new technologies will make the future
battlefield an even more complex and chaotic environment,
where Soldiers will have to be able to make split-second
decisions and be comfortable operating in ambiguity, he
Because of the stress of uncertainty and
potential violence and the high cognitive load placed on
them, Soldiers will need to be especially resilient. Their
training must reflect this and be as realistic as possible,
Because of the confined spaces,
Soldiers in a future megacity operation will likely operate
in small groups. The danger is that some of these groups
could become isolated and pinned down, he said. Therefore,
these groups must be mutually supported and linked closely
with combined arms assets and joint capabilities.
Soldiers also need to have improved equipment such as
lighter weaponry and ammunition and autonomous systems, he
said. Operational energy will increasingly be important to
reduce the logistics footprint as lines of supply become
extended. Operational energy includes such things as fuel
and battery efficiencies, lighter materials, advanced engine
and transmission systems and non-petroleum fuels such as
But while maintaining the edge on new
technologies is vital, "the most intelligent and capable
system will always be our Soldiers and leaders," McMaster
By U.S. Army David Vergun
Army News Service
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