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Strategic Horizons: U.S. Military Is Not Ready for the Age of Megacities

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Many security analysts and futurists agree that in the coming decades the prevalent form of conflict will not take place in remote rural areas like in Afghanistan but in the massive, highly connected megacities that are already experiencing most of the world’s population and economic growth. In his recent book “Out of the Mountains,” David Kilcullen, one of the most astute thinkers on the changing nature of security, argues that all aspects of human life in the future will be “crowded, urban, networked and coastal.” Megacities will be the locus of economic energy and cultural creativity in the future, but they will also be the source of much of the world’s insecurity.

Some megacities will be, in Kilcullen’s words, “feral,” like Mogadishu today; others will have pockets of stability and order surrounded by slum belts with little or no government control. State security services will struggle to deal with multidimensional instability intermixing crime and political conflict, whether based on ethnicity, race, religion, class or pure patronage. He predicts frequent irregular and unconventional warfare, stabilization operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief with “rare but dangerous instances” of state-on-state conflict. ...

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