Megacities Combat Units

On Tuesday, January 31, 2017, MAJ John Spencer with the Modern Warfare Institute at West Point wrote a short article advocating the creation of a “Megacities Combat Unit” for the US Army. MAJ Spencer cites the increasing urbanization of the world’s population. For example, currently “54.5 percent of the world’s population live[s] in urban areas” and this number is expected to increase to over 60 percent by 2030. MAJ Spencer advocates transforming a Brigade Combat Team (BCT) to focus on urban warfare in megacities. While I agree with MAJ Spencer that in future conflicts the US Army will not be able to avoid megacities, I disagree with his premise of establishing a specialized BCT to focus on megacities. Instead of “training, manning, and equipping a 5,000-soldier force to specialize in urban operations” I believe that a better alternative would be to create a specialized unit resembling the Asymmetric Warfare Group. Such a group could focus on gathering lessons learned from other urban operations and would be able to more quickly disseminate that knowledge across the US Army when the United States conducts urban operations in megacities. Additionally the creation a smaller more specialized unit would be less burdensome on the Army personnel system. Furthermore a smaller unit would ensure those joining a unit specializing in megacities brought specialized skillsets similar to the Asymmetric Warfare Group. Overall I agree with MAJ Spencer’s thought that the US Army should do more to prepare for operations in megacities, however, I do not agree with establishing a 5,000-soldier BCT to focus on megacities operations.

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