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Overpopulated, Underdeveloped Urban Agglomerations: Tomorrow's "Unstable" Operating Environment
NAVAL WAR COLL NEWPORT RI JOINT MILITARY OPERATIONS DEPT
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This paper asserts that a unique future operational environment is developing overpopulated, underdeveloped, urban agglomerations. A proposed definition for this operating environment is as follows an overpopulated urban area that is located within a developing or underdeveloped state, has a population exceeding 5 million people, and has a government that is unable to provide basic services to its inhabitants and lacks the resources to develop and maintain a suitable infrastructure. This paper argues that future operational commanders conducting military operations in overpopulated, underdeveloped urban agglomerations will likely fail to meet the functional objectives for Phase IV Stability Operations e.g., security, humanitarian assistance, economic stabilization, infrastructure, rule of law, governance, and participation and the criteria for transitioning to civil authorities unless the Department of Defense begins to recognize the unique characteristics of these operating environments, both intrinsically and doctrinally. Although this operating environment would be challenging for major combat phases i.e., Phases I-III, emphasis is placed on Phases IV-V because the advantages of superior combat power, intelligence, and force adaptability either have significantly less effect on success in Phases IV-V, or are offset to some degree by the unique characteristics of the operational environment. The paper examines cornerstone joint doctrine on stability operations in an effort to determine if it provides suitable guidance for stability operations in this new operating environment. The paper concludes with simple measures that can be taken today to mitigate the risk of operational failure in the future.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE