Large, dense urban areas are both the engines of our economic prosperity and the locus of future national security challenges. As the world continues to grow more and more urban, challenges to the political stability and security in many cities around the world increases our own national security concerns. As members of Congress get closer to approving a National Defense Authorization Act, they will continue to make tough decisions on what we as a country will invest in to protect our national interests. Military capabilities optimized for urban areas needs to be high on that list.
According to the United Nations, over 50 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. In North America we are over 80 percent urban. By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cites. Projections show this urbanization, combined with the overall growth of the world’s population, could add another 2.5 billion people to urban areas in less than thirty years, with close to 90 percent of this increase taking place in Asia and Africa.
New research released just this month, which used geospatial technology rather than self-reported demographics statistics relied on by the United Nations, shows that global urbanizations figures may be much higher than previously reported. According to the research, over 80 percent of the world’s population, or almost 6.4 billion people, live in urban areas.
Whatever the true global urbanization figures are, the rise in importance of cities cannot be argued.
Claudia ElDib is a logistics program manager at Arizona State University Research Enterprise and a SOLE Demonstrated Logistician. John Spencer serves as a senior scholar with the Modern War Institute and Co-Director of the Urban Warfare Project. He is a retired Army major who served 25 years as an infantryman, including two combat deployments to Iraq. Follow him at @spencerguard. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the US government.
Image credit: Omar Chatriwala