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The First Five Centuries

Any discussion about decline in the US should look to Britain for historical guidance.

Like the US, Britain started from a position of technological leadership and absolute economic preeminence.  As the technologies diffused, it was doomed by its small population to relative decline. Even if it had maintained its leadership in terms of income per capita, its total GDP would inevitably be eclipsed by GDP in US, just at GDP in the US will surely be surpassed by GDP in China.

Britain has, nevertheless, remained a world leader. It has an asset that GDP can’t buy.

Gordon Brown once observed that in establishing the rule of law, the first five centuries are always the hardest. Does this mean that each country follow this same slow path?

Of course not. The Privy Council now acts as the court of appeal for many nations in the Commonwealth. They retain local executive and legislative capacities, even their existing legal traditions. But through this arrangement, younger nations get instant access to a credible form of judicial independence. The new debate in Britain asks whether this arrangement could voluntarily be extended beyond the Commonwealth. See, for example, the discussion about Honduras’ preparation to send appeals to the Privy Council.

This debate has opened up because of efforts in Honduras to develop a new city-scale reform zone. (For more on this strategy, as highlighted in Brandon Fuller’s recent post.) The conjecture is that Britain could encourage in other places the kind of development that it spurred in Asia by fostering an outpost of British law in Hong Kong.

If, indeed, the rule of law is among the most important human inventions, the UK could continue to exert for decades — perhaps forever — an outsized influence on world affairs. All it needs to do is keep encouraging the spread of its most important invention.

Paul Romer is Professor of Economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business and Director of its Urbanization Project. The Urbanization Project addresses a truly historic challenge and opportunity: welcoming an additional 3 – 5 billion people to urban life in less than a century.

By Drew Erdmann

As the week’s discussion of urbanization closes, it is helpful to return to our starting point:  we are now living through something unprecendented in human history. For the first time most people live in cities and towns. And the pace and reach of urbanization will continue every day, every week, every month for the next two decades and beyond.

This urbanization is helping to reshape our physical and strategic landscape. The world’s economic “center of gravity” has moved more rapidly in the past decade than at any time in the past two thousand years, . Every strategist and student should again contemplate this map and its significance:nic-blog-mgi-shifting-economic-center-of-gravity2

This sort of historic change remains hard grasp, even when conveyed in such powerful graphic communications. Something more tangible is needed. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then perhaps two will be doubly powerful.

Consider Shenzhen, China, the city immediately to the north of Hong Kong and one of China’s first Special Economic Zones.  Here is a photograph of Shenzhen circa. 1990:

shenzhen-in-the-early-1990s1

Now consider this photograph of Shenzhen’s skyline taken in the past few years:

shenzen-today

Imagine the scale and pace of the change experienced in Shenzhen to move it from fields to metropolis in a matter of a few decades. Then multiply it a hundred of times over. That is what is happening around the world.

This week’s posts all highlighted the incredible stress such change will place on our economies, infrastructure, climate and environment, social relations, mores and values, institutions of government, and even our identities.  As Robert Kaplan’s influential 1994 article the ”The Coming Anarchy” argued, such stress can drive fragmentation, conflict, and decline. But at the time historian Paul Kennedy rightly cautioned against “doomsterism.” We should heed his caution today: while the profound challenges in cities like Lagos or East Saint Louis cannot be denied, there are success stories (consider again those photographs of Shenzhen’s development).

Looking toward 2030, our world will be shaped by the complex interplay of the dynamics fueled by urbanization. There will be winners and losers – between countries as well as within countries and cities themselves. Some will adapt, innovate, and blossom; others will stagnate, degrade, and wither.  Success will often be determined by how well leaders understand and act on the city as a system, as David Kilcullen argues. This will be an era defined in part by inequality and how well it is managed. We can envision ways to build more positive, innovative urban futures, as described by Brandon Fullerand Andres Cadena et al.  Yet, we can also imagine much more challenging outcomes (see other contributions on national security part 1 and part 2, and governance).  Some nation states might fragment under the strains of urbanization, while other national governments may simply decline in relevance as cities increasingly dominate the economic, social, and political lives of their citizens.  Might we be heading “back to the future” to the time before nation states when city states and other political structures reigned?  Whatever the outcome, the majority of humanity’s future will be found in cities.

Taken together, this week’s posts make clear that urbanization’s dynamics and interpedencies will pose new challenges for every country and city in the next two decades. Politicians, soldiers, diplomats, business people, urban planners, workers, and educators will all need to navigate new city streets, literally and figuratively. Capturing these navigational complexities and consequences should be a major theme running throughout the Global Trends 2030 report.

*     *     *     *     *

A final word of personal thanks to all the contributors to the NIC Global Trends 2030 blog’s discussion of urbanization. These contributors offered original insights and analyses. And they offered these diverse perspectives from wherever they call home in this globalized era –  not only the United States, but also Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, and the United Kingdom. I appreciate how they responded with good cheer and great material to the request to contribute to the NIC’s dialogue aimed at improving the Global Trends 2030 report.  Thanks again!

Drew Erdmann is a Principal in McKinsey & Company’s Washington, DC office. He previously served with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the National Security Council staff. The views expressed herein represent his personal views and do not necessarily reflect the perspectives of any organization with which he is affiliated. 

Urban Growth, Inequality, and Telecommuting

By Xenia Dormandy

Among other issues that the NIC Global Trends 2030 effort highlights is the rise of inequality associated with urbanization. There are some aspects of this that add more complexity to the urbanization debate that could lead to slightly differing outcomes from those typically considered.

We often focus principally on inequality between states.  According to various sources including the World Bank and the UN, the Gini coefficient (a measure of inequality in which 0 indicates full equality (everyone holds equal wealth or income) and 1 full inequality (one individual holds 100% of the country’s wealth or income)) of many countries, including the US, China and India, is rising.  However, as urbanization and the Report make clear, inequality is also significant within states. As inequality between states could lead to inter-state conflict, so too can inequality within a state lead to intra-state conflict.

The consequences of this are increasingly apparent around the world. For example, the Occupy Wall Street movement in the US and the demonstrations over the past 18 months in Spain and Israel were about fairness (or the perceived lack thereof). The Arab Revolutions in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt last year were in large part about jobs, corruption, and equal opportunities. One of the greatest drivers of instability in the future decade is going to encompass this belief of growing perceived inequality. It is even playing a role in the current US election with much debate around President Obama’s push for ‘fairness’ though such initiatives as the Buffett rule.

The impact of this perception of inequality (including that between the urban and rural sectors) is magnified by the concurrent expansion in communications channels and information exchange. As never before those in the lower economic brackets are able to see and understand how the other half live. Whereas this information used to be unavailable or small leaks could be argued away, today the plethora and diversity of information sources all sending similar messages makes it impossible for wealthy elites to counteract. Again this is true both at a state to state level (e.g. for the North Korean government to suggest its standard of living is the same or above that of South Korea) and within a state (e.g., for Beijing to convince its population that there isn’t corruption in the system while the children of Chinese elites live a high life in the West as in the recent case of Bo Xilai’s son, Bo Guagua).

At the same time as these technological advances lead to more transparency, they also have another impact directly relevant to the urban/rural divide. This relates to the trend towards telecommuting. As statistics from Global Workplace Analytics show, in recent years there has been a significant upswing in telecommuting in the US (and perhaps elsewhere). Increasingly white collar workers are choosing to work from or near their home rather than commuting into the center of cities. New businesses have started up that provide offices for workers from different companies to come together and from which they can telecommute.

This trend, if it continues, could somewhat mitigate both the increasing urbanization (with all the associated costs that Drew Erdmann mentioned in his earlier blog) and the concurrent inequality rise between urban and rural populations.  As more (relatively) wealthy individuals choose to live and spend time on the outskirts of cities or even in rural areas, working from there, they will invest more in these areas so bringing economic benefits.  As communications technologies continue to improve and become cheaper, from conference calling to Skype to personal videoconferencing, this could have an impact on these other trends of rising inequality and urbanization and make less stark the consequences of the rural/urban divide.

Xenia Dormandy is a Senior Fellow at Chatham House in London.

By Andres Cadena, Mike Kerlin, Jaana Remes, Alejandra Restrepo, and Henry Ritchie

Fifty years ago next month, John F. Kennedy and a group of Latin American presidents were assessing their early progress when they marked the first anniversary of the signing of the Alliance for Progress. The effort aimed to boost Latin American income, democracy, literacy, land reform, price stability, income equality, and economic and social planning. Over the past five decades, the region made significant progress in some of these areas and struggled in others.

What has changed most in the last 50 years is the playing field: from mostly rural to mostly urban. Latin America’s progress over the coming years and decades will turn on what happens in the region’s cities. It is not a coincidence that the Inter-American Development Bank has launched a Emerging and Sustainable Cities program and that Latin America already absorbs more World Bank urban development lending than any other region.

Back in the early 1960s, less than half of Latin Americans lived in cities. Now, four out of five make their lives in urban settings. That makes Latin America the most urbanized region in the world after North America. Most of the action is taking place in 198 large cities, home to 260 million people and $3.6 trillion in GDP.  McKinsey Global Institute research has found that these large cities will only get more important. 65 percent of Latin America’s economic growth to 2025 will occur in those large cities, and they’ll contribute 1.5 times more to global growth than large  These trends could easily lead the region’s cities to declare victory.

But the needs, and the opportunities, are immense.  We studied eight of Latin America’s ten biggest cities and found dramatic improvement potential in four dimensions—economic performance, quality of life, environmental sustainability, and finance and governance—of an Urban Performance Index (UPI).

The good news is that each dimension of urban performance has its standouts: Monterrey, Mexico in economic performance; Buenos Aires and Bogota in health services; Lima and Bogota in solid waste management; and Sao Paulo in urban planning. To capture their potential as engines of economic growth, each category’s laggards need to catch up, not quite as easy as it sounds.

To boost economic performance, Latin America’s cities will need to team up with federal policymakers. Less restrictive labor policies and lower tariffs on imported inputs will help manufacturers. Service sector companies will gain productivity if more join the formal sector, with the help of lower labor taxes, more compliance monitoring, and other initiatives. And the natural resource sectors can boost their productivity—for example, Latin American mines are only 30 percent as productive as their U.S. counterparts. Productivity growth will also depend on more transparent land ownership and zoning regulation, reliable urban infrastructure, and intercity transportation networks.

Capturing all this economic potential requires improvement on the other dimensions of urban performance. More efficient management of water, energy, and waste will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stave off water crises; it will also boost economic productivity and cut costs. Urban planning, congestion management, accessible housing, efficient public transportation, stronger education and better security will not only improve quality of life, but they will also smooth the way for firms to set up and expand in the region’s cities. And none of these improvements can happen without stronger finance and governance. That means increasing tax collection, managing debt more effectively, and reducing corruption, while not being afraid to expand the planning horizon and invest in critical services like housing, transportation, education, and health care.

Improvement in all of these dimensions can only truly be called progress if it extends to the neediest people in Latin American cities. The region still suffers from some of the starkest inequality in the world, and its cities are no exception.  So the agenda next era of progress must be an inclusive agenda.

To achieve a competitive, inclusive future, Latin American cities will require strategic vision, tough decisions and tight management. They will also need to build innovative models of collaboration among city governments, businesses, non-governmental organizations, and universities.

Fifty-one years ago, it was Latin American presidents who signed up for the Alliance for Progress with President Kennedy. Now, the mayors stand at the center of the action, and they’re off to a promising start. They recently joined their peers from around the world in the signing of the Mexico City Pact to reduce urban greenhouse gas emissions. Some have engaged with the Inter-American Development Bank’s Emerging and Sustainable Cities program, focused on excellence in mid-sized cities.

To sustain the momentum, Latin American cities—and all who help shape their fate—must recognize that, in the next five decades, their progress is the region’s progress.

Andres Cadena is a Director in McKinsey & Company’s Bogota, Colombia office and leader of McKinsey’s Public and Social Sector Practice in Latin America. Mike Kerlin is an Associate Principal in McKinsey & Company’s Philadelphia office. Jaana Remes is a Senior Fellow with the McKinsey Global Institute. Alejandra Restrepo is Practice Manager for McKinsey & Company’s Public and Social Sector Practice in Latin America. Henry Ritchie is a Principal in McKinsey & Company’s Rio de Janeiro, Brazil office. The views expressed herein represent their personal views and do not necessarily reflect the perspectives of any organization with which they are affiliated.  The McKinsey Global Institute report cited in this post is Building Globally Competitive Cities: The Key to Latin American Growth

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Urbanization’s Implications for Governance

So far, this week’s blog has featured discussions of overall urbanization dyanmics and their potential economic and national security (part 1 and part 2) implications. Now we turn to governance. Humanity’s rapid movement to cities in the coming two decades will inevitably challenge governance structures around the world.  These three contributions share a commimtent to this foundational conclusion, but they then derive from it different possible futures.

In “Citizens of Cities Not Nations – Implications of an Urban World for Government,” Jonathan Woetzel of McKinsey & Company and Co-Chair of the Urban China Initiative suggests that our primary political identities may shift from nation states to our cities.

In “Urbanization as Opportunity,” Brandon Fuller of the NYU Stern Urbanization Project offers an optimistic image of cities’ future through successful urban planning.

In “Urban Growth, Inequality, and Telecommuting,” Xenia Dormandy of Chatham House highlights the importance of inequality — and perceived inquality — between and within countres for future governance.

By Jonathan Woetzel

An urban world is a fundamentally different place with implications for governance, environment, and technology, not just demography. In some ways this will be a “back to the future” experience. Conurbations are the original unit of social organization dating from Gilgamesh and the warring states of China. Technology development, notably large-scale agricultural engineering, led to imperial bureaucracies and the amalgamation of these clusters into what became nation-states. However, cities have always been the centers of civilization. By 2050 the scale and density of these clusters relative to the whole of humanity will be unprecedented.

The implications go well beyond demographics. In an urban world there is no longer a rural reservoir. Impacts of social crises no longer roll slowly through the countryside, sometimes to peter out unnoticed by the rich and powerful. Rather events explode, demanding immediate responsive governance. Humanity’s most pressing security threats will be urban in nature with the advent of bioterror and pandemics. Environmental pressures will be immediate as urbanites struggle to adapt to a volatile context with rising weather uncertainties, extended global supply chains, and mounting waste and water challenges. On the positive side, innovation hubs will drive scientific development. The correlations between technical productivity and density are clear. Geoffrey West’s work notes that with urban scale we get 1.2 times everything – patents, economic growth, crime. The basis is network effects as in an urban context we get to share it all – the good, the bad and the ugly.

The winners will be those urban leaders who are most effective at building cohesive, integrated, sustainable clusters. National governments that stand in the way of these clusters will fall behind as the costs of their inefficient health plans and outdated military machines mount. Successful clusters will have the scale to fend for themselves politically, economically and environmentally in an atomized landscape. Accountability will be a first marker of their potential. Recognizing the complexity of federal, state and local interactions, cities that have gained an increased measure of local responsibilities for both income and expenditures will be more successful in making change happen. Effective local leaders can enable local clusters to form, incorporating externalities in a planned way, enfranchising minorities, and developing integrated city plans. Key tools include the use of big data, empowering city employees, and long-term professional financial management.

Successful cities are the future – there is no other model for human development. The urban world will be one in which we will be first and foremost, citizens of cities.

Jonathan Woetzel is a Director in McKinsey & Company’s Shanghai Office and Co-Chair of the Urban China Initiative (http://www.urbanchinainitiative.org). The views expressed herein represent his personal views and do not necessarily reflect the perspectives of any organization with which he is affiliated.

Urbanization as Opportunity

By Brandon Fuller

“Without cities we would all be poor.”

- Jane Jacobs, The Economy of Cities

If Jacobs was right, and there’s good reason to believe that she was, the world in 2030 stands to be a much better place. According to UN estimates, the urban share of the world’s population will grow from just over 50 percent in 2010 to 60 percent in 2030. The vast majority of this urbanization will occur in the developing world, where urban areas are expected to add another 1.3 billion people by 2030.

There are two ways to accommodate this influx of urban residents: expand existing cities or build new ones. In both cases, weak and ineffective governance poses a significant challenge to successful urbanization. The graph below shows the negative relationship between a country’s score on the Rule of Law Index and its expected average annual rate of urban growth over the next four decades.

At the NYU Stern Urbanization Project (UP), we’re focused on urban growth strategies that account for the conditions of governance in the developing world. One initiative, led by Paul Romer, focuses on new cities — particularly the potential for new cities to advance reform and improve choices for urban migrants. Another initiative, led by Solly Angel, focuses on urban expansion.

Urban Expansion

With growing numbers of urban migrants, the physical expansion of developing world cities is inevitable. If incomes continue to rise relative to transport costs, the trend toward expansion will be even stronger. Such expansion needn’t be unsustainable. Because urban densities in the developing world are more than double those of Europe and Japan, they can decline considerably without inducing the sorts of suburban sprawl associated with land-rich developed countries like the United States.

Cities in developing countries should come to terms with urban expansion. Ignoring it won’t stop it. People will continue to arrive in an uncoordinated fashion, excluded from the formal sector and consigned to congested slums. Some planning will be necessary. But given the massive scale of urbanization and the governance constraints that characterize much of the developing world, overly intricate planning efforts may be just as likely to fail as no plan at all.

UP advocates for a lighter touch approach, one in which governments consolidate land for public space and arterial roads based on realistic forecasts of urban expansion. This approach ensures corridors for public service provision and effectively coordinates the private decisions that comprise the majority of urban development. By spacing arterial roads 1 kilometer apart the city can make public transport accessible to everyone; by making room for expansion the city can ensure that the supply of housing remains ample and affordable.

New Cities

Political risk in the developing world remains a key bottleneck to what would otherwise be relatively high-return investments in urban infrastructure. Policy innovations that mitigate political risk can channel enormous amounts of foreign investment into rapidly growing cities; investments that would in turn offer billions of people opportunities to work their way out of poverty. UP believes that charter cities—new cities built in special reform zones—offer a promising way to mitigate political risk and drive reform in the developing world.

The first country to adapt the charter cities concept to its development strategy was Honduras, a country whose urban population is expected to more than double in the next few decades. Seeing this urbanization as an opportunity for reform, the Honduran government established a new legal entity known locally as la Región Especial de Desarrollo (RED).   

Though part of sovereign Honduran territory, the RED will be largely autonomous. Critically, the RED will also have the power to partner with credible foreign allies, such as Canada and Mauritius, on core government functions including policing, jurisprudence, and a range of public service provision. Such partnerships can strengthen the rule of law in the RED, attracting investors, generating jobs, and providing safe new options for the millions of people in the region who currently lack them. The Honduran government believes that reform in the RED can complement the process of reform and reconciliation elsewhere in the country.

Enhancing Global Stability and Growth

Looking forward to 2030, UP is optimistic about the prospects for urbanization to enhance global stability and buoy trade and investment flows. We believe that inclusive urban planning strategies, grounded in the understanding that urban expansion is inevitable, are more likely to result in cities that are accessible, affordable, and peaceful. We also believe that new cities, based on innovative models of international cooperation, have an important role to play in driving reform, unlocking high-return investment opportunities, and improving the choices of urban migrants.

Brandon Fuller is a Research Scholar with the NYU Stern Urbanization Project.

Three new contributions continue the discussion of the national security implications of urbanization:

In “Fighting in the New World: What Urbanization Means for Military Planners,” Janine Davidson of George Mason University explores the implications of the new urbanization for future war planning.

In “Military Operations as Urban Planning,” Michael Evans of the Australian Defence College makes the case for an interagency approach to future military operations in urban environments where the military works hand-in-hand with “urban planners, emergency services and policing.”

In “Urbanization, Security and Resiliency,” Nancy Brune of the Center for a New American Security argues that urban infrastructure planning, investments, and management should matter to national security experts.

When combined with yesterday’s contributions, these posts on urbanization and national security offer a series of provocative insights and suggestions that all strategists should consider.

ByВ Janine Davidson

The trends outlinedВ in this blogВ and in theВ McKinsey reportВ should not go un-noticed by military leaders and planners.В  Given that war is and has always been a fundamentally human endeavor, the fact that the vast majority of humanity will be living in complex mega-cities means that fighting, for better or worse, will be in urban environments, most of which will be located on coastlines.

Urbanization, especially when combined with other emerging trends such as climate change (asВ Will Rogers points out), resource scarcity (especially water), poverty, and radicalization will pose great challenges to governments.В  Thinking of theВ city as a system, as proposed by David Kilcullen, is useful for city planners, city managers and military planners.В  City planners and managers should be focused on promoting resilience, as the ability to withstand shocks, flex, absorb, and regenerate will be the trademarks of successful cities of the future.

Still, cities will face extreme shocks and crises, no matter how resilient they may seem.  And, as the U.S. military’s long forgotten 1996 Joint Operating Concept for Military Support to Stability, Security, Transition, and Reconstruction (SSTR) pointed out, “Once such difficult conditions emerge, the drivers of instability and conflict tend to reinforce one another, creating a degenerating cycle in which conditions continue to deteriorate, and the feelings of insecurity and the grievances of the local population intensify.”  The authors of that JOC conceptualized the stability operations environment as a complex system under stress and recognized that the longer a system was exposed to chronic stresses such as crime, gang violence, or insurgency, or the greater the magnitude of the shock from a natural disaster or war, the more the system risked collapse.  Preventing or reversing this potential spiral was the defining task of SSTR.  The JOC authors struggled with how to approach this phenomenon using a systems approach and left much unanswered, but their “system under stress” model is a useful frame on which to build as we attempt to cope with the inevitable challenges of urbanization and contemplate what military operations in such environments might be like.

Prevention and Resilience

Across the U.S.G. there is an emerging emphasis on prevention and resilience.  On the civilian side, this is reflected in new U.S. development programs such as the Global Climate Change Initiative, the Global Health Initiative and Global Food Security.  In his 2012 “Annual Letter,” USAID Administrator, Rajiv Shah, emphasized the need to shift the focus from “relief to resilience – from responding after emergencies to preparing communities in advance.” Feed the Future, for example, calls for a shift from emergency food relief to helping build local capacity that can promote food security and help prevent famines.  Likewise, the Obama administration built on President Bush’s most successful second-term USAID initiative, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), by developing a plan for the next five years that transitions from an emergency focus, enhances partnerships with other AIDS programs, builds local government capacity and focuses on sustainability, prevention, and resilience.

Similarly, as DoD’s recent Budget Priorities document suggests, the U.S. military seeks to “reduce the demand for significant U.S. force commitments to stability operations,” by strengthening the ability of local and regional security forces to respond to their own crises.  In a perfect world, such security enhancement efforts would be integrated with development efforts and those of other countries, non-government aid organizations, and the private sector for a more holistic approach to helping societies prepare for the stresses associated with rapid urbanization, resource scarcity, and climate change.  But of course we do not live in that world; and while outside assistance from the U.S. and others may help, the fact is that many of our global cities will face extreme crises due to natural, man-made, or a combination of these shocks.  And when this happens, inevitably, the U.S. military will be called in to assist.

Lessons for the Future

While military planners must not get stuck in the past continually “fighting the last war,” they must also recognize where lessons can be learned.  To prepare for the complex urban environments of the future, we might start by analyzing and “red teaming” a couple of the more challenging recent cases to consider what lessons future enemies have been gleaning and how such lessons might be applied in the complex urban fights of the future.  The following cases present a cross-sectional array of lessons, for both our enemies and ourselves:

1. The Shock of Mumbai:В  In November, 2008, a well-trained and well-armed Pakistani terrorists group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, launched a sophisticated raid on the most populous city in the world, the coastal mega-city of Mumbai, India.В  After commandeering fishing vessels in the middle of night, 10 commando-terrorists landed on two separate points in the heart of the city and began to systematically execute civilians in eleven pre-determined highly populated target locations.В  They had used Google earth to plan the attacks on each target, and their actions were coordinated via a Pakistan-based command center using cell phones and VOIP.В  Their leaders leveraged television news and social media, such as Twitter, to monitor the actions in real time.В  The attack continued for three days as the local police struggled to respond through the complex maze of their own city streets and the babble of reports coming in.В  Special Indian counter-terrorism and para-military forces, including the National Security Guards, the Rapid Action Force, and Marine Commandos were needed to engage the terrorists as local police forces were simply out-gunned.

The Mumbai attackers leveraged the very complexity of the city as well as its coastal location to launch a highly sophisticated and terrifying attack that was simply beyond the capability and capacity of the local law enforcement to prevent or to respond.В  Until the lines were cut, the terrorists were able to track the movements of security forces on television news while barricaded with hostages in one of the hotels.В  Foreign forces, had they been called in to assist, might have brought more sophisticated weaponry or communications equipment, but would have had to cope with limited maneuverability among hordes of traffic and people on unfamiliar streets, and may have arrived too late to the game anyway.

2. Mexico Under Stress:  Where the Mumbai raids reflect the shock that can be applied to a complex urban system by a very small group of terrorists, the war against the drug cartels across Mexico demonstrates how the chronic violence of organized crime can stress a system nearly to a breaking point.  For violent criminals in places like Mexico a mixture of urban and rural environments can be leveraged to conduct operations.  But what is perhaps more important to grasp is how such illicit non-state and transnational actors are able to actively exploit the cultural and institutional pre-dispositions of traditional governments that prefer to bifurcate “crime” from “war,” and thus law enforcement tasks from those of the military.

In Mexico, one might conclude that the police have been “defeated” through infiltration of the ranks, corruption, and intimidation.  The answer has been for the Mexican government to call in its military to bring stability, law, and order to the cities most overwhelmed by violence and crime.  Of course, the militaries are not well trained in such para-military or police-like work, are usually unfamiliar with the local environments, and thus have had little success in reversing this degenerative spiral.  Should other governments be invited to intervene, they would face a similar conundrum on whether to send police or military units to assist.

The lesson for the “bad guys” of the future is to find ways to operate in this gap between crime and war.  Similarly, pirates off the coast of Somalia understand clearly that due to the international regimes regarding crime and war, they will neither be targeted like an enemy naval vessel and blown out of the water nor prosecuted in any particular court with authority over their crimes.  War-like criminals, transnational gangs, and traffickers of the future will ride their violent activities to the edge of this perfect gap until governments determine how to close it.

3. Katrina, Haiti, Japan and the Spiral to Chaos:В  Hurricane Katrina that hit the U.S. coastal city of New Orleans in August 2005 demonstrated that the developed world is not immune to systemic urban breakdown.В  As local police and first responders left their own posts to protect and aid their own families, the most vulnerable citizens were without protection, food, and water.В  Once it became clear that the police were no longer present, common criminals began to loot and gangs began to form.

In Haiti, the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit in 2010 similarly overwhelmed local authorities.В  In addition to rescuing and caring for refugees, the need to prevent or stop the spread of disease in a city of 3.5 million was a challenge.В  In future, responding to epidemics will present even greater challenges to weak mega-cities hit by similar natural disasters.В  Even military troops may not have the capacity to treat or quarantine the populations that may be required.

Finally, the 2011 combination of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster in Japan reflects clearly both the vulnerability of our complex mega cities and the value of resilience.В  In Japan, earthquake-proof buildings limited the type of full-scale destruction we might anticipate if such a triple-disaster were to hit a less resilient, highly populated, urban center.В  Still, despite a laudable level of resilience, Japan still needed humanitarian disaster relief from others.В  Meanwhile, the nuclear part of the disaster has made populations around the world reluctant to adopt nuclear solutions in the future.В  This presents challenges to urban planners who must address the need for more and more energy to power mega cities.

Future Military Planning

A couple of themes emerge from these cases for military planners to consider.

The first is that militaries will continue to be called on when civilian agencies are overwhelmed.В  In each of the cases above, the challenges were beyond the capacity and capability of local law enforcement or first responders.В  As the cases of Japan and Katrina show, this will likely be true even in the more developed and modern cities.

Second, we need to get very serious about “interagency” planning between police and military forces.  The traditional lines between these two may exist for good historical reasons, but they are becoming a liability.  Terrorists, insurgents, pirates, well-armed transnational traffickers and criminals have learned to operate with near impunity in this gap.  When criminals are better armed than police, we need to rethink how we conceptualize these two realms.  In Mumbai, only the special para-military types of units were able to compete with the terrorists.

Third, military planning must consider both the advantages and disadvantages technology provides.  American forces rely heavily on cyber and space-based technologies for communication, navigation, and targeting.   On the low end, the military must train and plan to fight “unplugged” – that is, in environments where such systems are down or compromised.  On the higher end, for environments when the lights stay on, leveraging social media for up to date information or clever crowd-sourced geo-mapping must be part of the military’s repertoire.  Importantly, military planning must account for either scenario in the same plan.

Fourth, if the military is to train the way it will fight, it will need to conduct more of its exercises and training in real cities, and do so side by side with law enforcement.  Small “MOUT” (military operations in urban terrain) sites at military training centers have gotten more sophisticated, but they do not expose troops to the real complexity and “fog” they will face attempting to navigate or control crowded, over-populated streets in mega-cities.

One of the biggest challenges will be scale. While the surges in Afghanistan and Iraq may demonstrate the value of greater numbers of boots on the ground for complex insurgencies and stability operations, the inability of mega-cities under stress to absorb, house, and feed these troops will require military units to be as small and as self-sustaining as possible.В  The military should experiment with off-shore staging, building on the hospital-ship model from previous disasters, and also think through how to have greater impact with smaller numbers.

Finally, as Japan and Katrina show, for massive shocks caused by Mother Nature, local-level response, even in some of the more resilient cities, will not be enough. Regional and global relief regimes will need to be leveraged and coordinated with the private sector and relief organizations.В  As the jammed airfields in Haiti revealed, coordination of the myriad humanitarian relief groups will become increasingly problematic unless we develop pre-determined rules of the road.

Some national security and military leaders may think that now that we are winding down in Afghanistan and Iraq, we will be able to actively avoid anything resembling those population-centric missions in future.  But it is a simple fact of military planning – especially in a democracy – that the military does not get to chose where it gets sent, what wars it will fight, what enemies it will face and in which environments.  An increasingly urbanized world means the military will find itself in cities, among crowded populations, and fighting savvy enemies who have been paying close attention, learning, and adapting.  The cases presented here are only a sample of the lessons the military must continue to mine in order to prepare itself for this new fight.

Janine Davidson is Assistant Professor at George Mason University’s Graduate School of Pubic Policy. From 2009-2012, she served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Plans where she oversaw the development of guidance for military campaign and contingency plans and the review and assessment of plans.  She previously served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and with theUnited States Air Force, where she was an aircraft commander and senior pilot for the C-130 and the C-17 cargo aircraft.

Military Operations as Urban Planning

By Michael Evans

There is little question in my mind that the demographic trends creating rapid urbanization will, over time, influence the conduct of joint warfare. By 2030 up to seventy per cent of the world’s population is likely to inhabit an urban area marking a strategic shift from landscape to cityscape. Moreover, many of the new urban centres will be in Asia and Africa. Even if one disagrees with Parag Khanna’s observation that we are approaching a global inflection point in which ‘the age of nations is over. The new urban era has begun’, we are, nonetheless, in the midst of a profound geopolitical shift in which urban areas will figure prominently in future Western joint military planning.

The difficulty the US and its allies will confront is that, while some global megacities may become hubs of stability, many others in the underdeveloped world are likely to become distributed slum ecosystems for a volatile migrant underclass marked by unemployed youth that will be easy recruitment material for revolutionary militias or any number of transnational insurgent groups or hybrid warfare opponents. It does not require a great leap in imagination to realise that the dystopian features of urbanization will favour the forces of transnational disorder. The rise of ‘metropolitical warfare’ is not a Blade Runner fantasy but a looming reality in the decades ahead – General Krulak’s ‘Stepchild of Somalia and Chechnya’ with a vengeance.

As a result, it will be incumbent in full-spectrum military operations to develop a form of urban operational art that exploits robotics and digitisation and appropriate low-tech capabilities. Cities are classic complex adaptive systems, a blend of interactive human and material forces, unpredictable and difficult to control.

Our conceptual problem in Western strategy is that we often equate city warfare with the horrifying battles of Stalingrad and Manila from a World War II paradigm – or else we default to MOUT (Military Operations in Urban Terrain). This is an outmoded approach and must be replaced by a MOUP (Military Operations as Urban Planning) approach in which military professionals leverage knowledge from urban planners, emergency services and policing – in short an inter-agency approach.

After ten years of counterinsurgency, there is, of course, little appetite for urban military operations. Unfortunately, urban development in the ‘global South’ will continue and it will intersect with insurgency, terrorism and hybrid warfare. Most urban development is predicted to be decentralized and may over time become focused on sprawling ‘city webs’, dense enclaves with no clear urban-rural divide and this will favour any number of armed groups who may, in turn develop a rural-urban interface. Cities such as Karachi in Pakistan are a good example of this development and potentially pose a severe challenge to state-order.

An urban lens in strategy and security policy must then be developed in the US and the West – and this must go beyond military professionals and embrace the policy community and defense intellectuals. The city as a battlespace is not a place where we would choose to fight, but it may become necessary in some future contingencies.

It was Lewis Mumford in his book 1961 book The City in History who warned us that evey city contains within it the ‘lethal genes’ of war. Fifty years on Mumford looks more prescient than ever.

Dr. Michael Evans is a Fellow at the Australian Defence College in Canberra, Australia.