Urban Warfare on a Grand Scale – Fighting in "Megacities"



Within the next 15 years, there will be three dozen or more cities two to four times the size of Baghdad, what the Army’s Future of Warfare Division calls ‘megacities’. Chances are we won’t have to fight in some of them – London or Tokyo, for instance – but others could become a battlefield. The portion of the earth’s population living in an urban sprawl increases every day. According to the Army Strategic Studies Group, 180K people a day move into a city somewhere. As a result of this massive urbanization (which is nothing new – been happening for years), over 60% of the world’s population will live in a city within the next fifteen years.

“Normal” cities are shitty places to fight (as many of you already know). Lots of Lance Corporals can tell you what Sun Tzu preached a couple of thousand years ago – stay out of urban sprawl if you can help it. We’re not the only ones who’ve had trouble FISHing (Fighting In Someone’s House) – remember these Russians in Grozny or these guys from AMISOM in Mogadishu?

Urban Warfare - AMISOM in Somalia

The unfortunate reality is, we’re going to fight in cities and towns in almost any foreseeable conflict – cities are bound to become strategic key terrain. The question of how that would play out in a megacity is the topic of a recent article in Army Magazine.

“You can’t just pour brigade after brigade into a megacity. They’ll just get swallowed up,” says Col. Kevin Felix in the article.

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Now, the article isn’t talking about MOOTW, humanitarian missions and whatnot. It’s talking about a full scale “shooting war.” Debate all you want about whether or not we’ll ever fight on a massive scale again, but it’s pretty fucking stupid to ignore the possibility.

“Ground maneuver from the periphery is also unrealistic,” the Strategic Studies Group says. The combination of urban congestion and enormous size of megacities “..makes even getting to an objective from the periphery questionable, let alone achieving an operational effect. The scale of megacities, in essence, defies the military’s ability to apply historical methods.”

Urban Warfare - First Chechen War

How many infantrymen, SOF elements and support personnel would it take to control Karachi? How bad would it suck to try to take Lagos or Tehran (or Detroit…)? Now compare that to the reduced number of Army personnel and the ever-shrinking Marine Corps.



Anyway, it’s a pretty good article that brings up some interesting points (and reiterates a few obvious ones). We figured you might want to read it and we’re utterly certain you have some good commentary about urban warfare. Feel free to opine.

You can read that article here.


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3 thoughts on “Urban Warfare on a Grand Scale – Fighting in "Megacities"

  • February 26, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

  • February 26, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    Never been in the military, not an expert in anything pertaining thereto. But to people who say we shouldn’t have stopped at the Elbe, I answer that the Russians took 100,000 casualties taking Berlin. I think we were smart to let them do it.

    I couldn’t imagine trying to “take” (in the Napoleonic sense) any big city today. No Western nation would tolerate the casualties.

    (Although, how hard could it be to take Mexico City? Winfield Scott did it.)

  • February 26, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    It all depends. If it is old school all out war then go WWII style and air power it into a smoldering pile of rubble. Of course, in the age of CNN people will never again accept massive civilian collateral damage.


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