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 projection.
A megacity disaster scenario was set in 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.
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.
By 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.
The red 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 motion.
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.
To operate 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 megacity intervention.
The US 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