Megacities and the United States Army: Preparing for a Complex and Uncertain Future
CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE ARMY STRATEGIC STUDIES GROUP ARLINGTON VA
Pagination or Media Count:
Cities with populations of ten million or more are given a special designation megacity. There are currently over twenty megacities in the world, and by 2025 there will be close to forty.1 The trends are clear. Megacities are growing, they are becoming more connected, and the ability of host nation governments to effectively deal with their explosive growth and maintain security is, in many cases, diminishing. Megacities are a unique environment that the U.S. Army does not fully understand. Megacities are growing so fast that it is becoming increasingly difficult for host nation governments to keep up with infrastructure and resource requirements. Drivers of instability are already present and in many places are growing by the day. It is inevitable that at some point the United States Army will be asked to operate in a megacity and currently the Army is ill-prepared to do so. The scale and connectedness of megacities lend gravity to events within them, which can quickly capture international attention and compel military commitment. Accurate predictions of where unrest will occur will likely continue to elude analysts in the future as it has in the past. Monitoring megacities, however, may provide decision makers with effective predictors of looming instability with global impact. The problems found in megacities explosive growth rates, vast and growing income disparity and a security environment that is increasingly attractive to the politically dispossessed are landpower problems. Solutions, therefore, will require boots on the ground. By increasing its appreciation of megacities, the U.S. Army can better understand how it might operate within them as part of a joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multinational JIIM team. Leaders who appreciate the complexity of these environments will provide options to the National Command Authority that more closely match the objectives set forth in current and future National Security Strategies.
- Unconventional Warfare