FEATURE: The Pentagon plans for a new hundred years’ war

Slum fights

Duane Schattle doesn’t mince words. “The cities are the problem,” he says. A retired Marine infantry lieutenant colonel who worked on urban warfare issues at the Pentagon in the late 1990s, he now serves as director of the Joint Urban Operations Office at U.S. Joint Forces Command. He sees the war in the streets of Iraq’s cities as the prototype for tomorrow’s battlespace. “This is the next fight,” he warns. “The future of warfare is what we see now.”

He isn’t alone. “We think urban is the future,” says James Lasswell, a retired colonel who now heads the Office of Science and Technology at the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory. “Everything worth fighting for is in the urban environment.” And Wayne Michael Hall, a retired Army brigadier general and the senior intelligence advisor in Schattle’s operation, has a similar assessment, “We will be fighting in urban terrain for the next hundred years.”

Last month, in a hotel nestled behind a medical complex in Washington, D.C., Schattle, Lasswell, and Hall, along with Pentagon power-brokers, active duty and retired U.S. military personnel, foreign coalition partners, representatives of big and small defense contractors, and academics who support their work gathered for a “Joint Urban Operations, 2007” conference. Some had served in Iraq or Afghanistan; others were involved in designing strategy, tactics, and concepts, or in creating new weaponry and equipment, for the urban wars in those countries. And here, in this hotel conference center, they’re talking about military technologies of a sort you’ve only seen in James Cameron’s 2000-2002 television series Dark Angel. [complete article]

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