Today it is often said that the future combat will take place in dense urban areas probably including in megacities. While urban warfare itself is nothing new, there are trends that inexorable force battles to move to urban areas to a larger extent than ever before. Urbanisation and new technology also impacting on how urban battles are to be fought in such areas.
First, the strategic environment is changing with inexorable urbanisation as the earth’s populations are moving to cities, often to megacities with populations of over 10 million, and today more than half of the world population lives in urban areas. As wars are ultimately decided where people live, the armies need to organise, equip and train to win fights in urban areas, including in megacities. This is a challenge, as the army has always preferred to avoid and bypass urban areas.
Second, technological development not only force battles to the city, e.g. with sensors eliminating the cover traditionally gained from darkness and forests or as the only way for irregular fighters to even out the odds against technologically superior forces. Third, add to this the breakdown of the border between war and peace, with much of today’s warfare taking place in the grey-zone between the two, which further increase the need to account for other than conventional warfare, much of which can be expected to occur in urban areas where half the world population live.
My research focus on the different challenges and expectations for urban operations on today and tomorrows battlefield, and how to handle issues and problems including outlining best-practices and available tools. These include:
1) the technological impact on urban operations, ranging from drones, autonomous systems, to technology used by a soldier fighting on the ground,
2) the impact of, and for, different kinds of combatants in urban environments,
3) the ethical and legal aspects of urban warfare, and
4) the impact of the civilians (e.g. control of non-combatants, policing, sustainable control, humanitarian assistance, evacuation).