Understanding the Evolving Urban Threat
The U.S. military has traditionally attempted to avoid conflict in urban environments because of their complexity and density and their tendency to complicate and slow maneuver, and inflict civilian and military casualties. This complexity is driven by both the magnitude and dimensionality of the physical environment but even more so by the density and diversity of human populations, and the global growth of “megacities” is making this complexity challenge that much worse. Yet, as recent operations in Syria, Iraq, the Philippines and Ukraine have shown, military forces cannot avoid cities. Operations ranging from humanitarian assistance and counterinsurgency to major combat operations are increasingly taking place in cities, and even future major conflicts could compel operations in urban environments as a domain with opportunities for influence and power projection. To operate amidst this complexity, the U.S. military needs new capabilities to understand and operate within urban environments, as well as to influence them from outside. This panel will explore the urban challenge, as well as opportunities for new technologies and warfighting constructs to help prevail against evolved urban adversaries. Topics will include sensing and information collection, knowledge assimilation, and decision support systems. Special attention will be given to the human dimension to explore ways to discover intent and pressure points and to understand networks and their associated affinities and sentiments.