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Alternative Governance Structures in Megacities: Threats or Opportunities

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Technical Report

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U.S. Army War College -Strategic Studies Institute Carlisle United States

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Many cities are growing into mega land areas filled with complex terrain and populations where the U.S. military will undoubtedly have to engage. Often, states fail to provide basic services to some territories, leaving inhabitants disenfranchised. These gaps are then filled by social entrepreneurs, often ethnic or religious-based civil society groupsor even organized crime syndicateswho effectively identify niche needs in the marketplace and fill them more effectively than other competitors, including traditional state authorities. Leaders of these groups maintain control through various means, including violence, coercion, and service provision or through tribal, religious, or other cultural ties and structures. In order to understand and predict the emergence of alternative governance, and to identify whether it represents a threat or opportunity to U.S. interests, we must develop a toolkit, which can be based on existing sources and analytic methods that only need to be expanded to the city level or weighted and appropriately applied. Such foreknowledge is a force multiplier for planning and operating in an urban environment, particularly one as dense as a megacity.

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