Author: John Spencer

So You Think the Army Can Avoid Fighting in Megacities

“The Army will never need to fight in a megacity.” Over the past few months, MWI has published several articles exploring combat in megacities and examining the Army’s preparation for such an operating environment. The response these articles have produced has brought into the open a debate—ongoing and almost shockingly intense—not about whether the Army is prepared for the unique complexities of dense, urban terrain, but about whether there would ever be a reason for the Army to even consider entering a megacity. A not insignificant minority—including some very smart and experienced people—has voiced some variation of the opinion...

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The Army Needs an Urban Warfare School and it Needs it Soon

Train as you fight. It’s the first of the Army’s ten principles of training, meant to ensure that the Army will develop and execute tough, realistic training. As long as we train as we fight, no soldier should confront a situation or an environment for the first time in combat. Unfortunately, the Army occasionally ignores this principle. Case in point: despite history and global urbanization trends, the Army doesn’t adequately train for operations in urban environments.  It is time that changed.  The Army needs to establish an urban warfare school to prepare soldiers to fight and survive in dense...

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What Does it Mean to “Win” in Mosul?

With an increased defense budget on the horizon, it is important to keep in mind that we cannot spend our way to victory against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Iraq or Syria. This was the logic behind owner George Steinbrenner’s New York Yankees outspending their opponents, yet still losing to Billy Beane’s upstart Oakland A’s in 2002. Similarly, when it comes to defeating violent groups such as ISIS, the military needs more “Moneyball” — that is, better data and metrics to assess what it means to achieve “victory.” Like Michael Lewis’s bestseller, the book “Moneyball...

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What an Army Megacities Unit Would Look Like

A few weeks ago, I published the article “It’s Time to Create a Megacities Combat Unit.” This article received both criticism and support. Some of the supportive messages suggested that I take the next step and offer an organizational solution. If trends in both global population movement and the nature of warfare—both of which I discussed in the previous article—do in fact warrant the establishment of a brigade trained and equipped for the full range of military operations in a megacity, the next question to be addressed is clear. What would such a unit look like? One of the...

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