The Future Is Urban: Chief of Staff Milley Says Megacities Are the Future of Infantry Combat

An aerial photo of São Paulo, a Brazilian megacity with a population of over 12 million people. Image source:, credit to user chensiyuan

Much of the recent discourse regarding the future of infantry combat has centered around the long engagement distances encountered during the Afghan campaign, and the rise of designated marksmen as key elements in the infantry squad. However, arguably more important than the long-range ambushes of the Taliban were the urban engagements in both that campaign and the operations in Iraq. It seems the highest echelons of the US Army agree, as Chief of Staff General Mark Milley commented recently about the future urbanization of the battlefield (via

If war is about politics, it is going to be fought where people live, and “it will be fought, in my opinion, in urban areas,” he said. “That has huge implications for the United States Army.”

“So what this means then — and I have discussed this with the Army leadership — we are going to have to … optimize the Army for urban warfare,” he said.

This has implications for equipment, from the “width, size and weight of tanks” to the “rotor-span of helicopters,” the general said.

Truly preparing for urban warfare will mean redesigning fighting units to better cope with the compartmenting nature of city streets, buildings, floors and rooms, he said.

“The Army will definitely have to organize differently, probably into smaller, more compartmented groups,” Milley said. “We will have to have, what I think, is a lot of relatively small formations that are networked and can leverage Air Force and naval-delivered joint fires.”

The service is still debating the size of these units, but “probably somewhere in the range of companies to battalions,” he said.

“If you think of how some of our special operations operate today, that may be a preview of how large your Army operates in the future,” Milley said. “That doesn’t mean you do away with battalions and brigades, but the fighting element will probably end up having to be a much smaller entity.”

Because of the proliferation of smartphones, which enable people to send pictures and videos very quickly, it will be increasingly difficult to avoid being observed, Milley said.

“Smaller units will have to disperse more widely; they will have to in order to survive,” he said, adding that units will have to be more mobile than they are today.

“If you stay stationary for any length of time, say more than a couple of hours, you are probably going to get killed.”

Training and leader development will also have to change to deal with the more complex and intense nature of fighting in megacities, Milley said, especially when it comes to avoiding civilian casualties.

“Our forces are going to have to be much more highly trained in discriminating fire — the application of direct and indirect fire with a high degree of discrimination,” he said. “We can’t go out there and just slaughter people. That’s not going to work.”

I certainly recommend clicking through and reading the whole article at Most of the same points are covered in the following video, allegedly leaked from the Pentagon via The Intercept:

A heavily urbanized future battlefield presents a number of problems for military planners. The United States Army in particular is in a transitional phase away from a tactical and strategic paradigm developed to fight the Soviet Union and towards one more geared towards counter-insurgency and peacekeeping. As elucidated in the video, however, future urban combat could be a different animal altogether to that seen in recent campaigns. The proliferation of smartphones alone presents a huge challenge, since one smartphone video can seriously negatively affect the legitimacy of a peacekeeping effort. Internet access gives immediate aid to insurgency groups on how to construct bombs and how best to fight allied forces. New media give radical voices a larger platform upon which to stand, potentially destabilizing at-risk regions beyond the tipping point. None of these technologies are, by themselves, bad. However, they do make the job of military forces operating in a war-torn urban region that much harder.

It is also not strictly accurate to say that urbanization will negate the lessons from Afghanistan, but if the predictions are true it certainly will color them a different shade. Instead of sharpshooters and machine guns engaging each other at extended ranges in open terrain, a heavily urbanized environment will produce highly situational combat. In a city, combat can range from up close and personal in a domicile to several hundred yards across a highway or between tall buildings. In urban warfare, smaller units may become separated from their parent units, and may therefore have to fight for long periods of time alone and without support. Adding to this problem, even minority insurgencies may be able to mount mass attacks that pose a substantial threat to smaller units, even if those units are much better trained and equipped. To counter these threads, not only will the individual weapons of the infantry need to be improved, but the precision, effectiveness, and integration of their support weapons – such as artillery and air-delivered ordnance – will need to be augmented as well.

Urbanization therefore poses as serious a problem for small arms and ammunition designers as it does army tacticians and organizers. Weapons must be short and maneuverable, but capable of medium/long range fire at the same time, without sacrificing ergonomics. Ammunition must be powerful enough to break through intermediate barriers, but light enough to allow small units to carry enough ammunition to fight independently for long periods of time if need be. Projectiles must be optimized for short-range destruction, but also capable of flying for long distances when needed.

It may be that the talk of “megacities” (which bring back memories of Judge Dredd comics) and other hyperbole in both the article and video make it difficult to take seriously the idea of a heavily urbanized future for infantry combat. However, there doesn’t seem to be a solid counter-argument to the fact that cities – especially in the third world – are expanding, and that urban combat and urban insurgencies have played key roles in recent conflicts. We don’t know what the future holds, of course, but it seems unlikely that current trends will reverse.

I have on only brushed up against the problem of urbanization and the future of warfare. If you are interested in learning more, here are some links that contain more information and analysis:

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • valorius

    Predictions like this are meaningless. We could have to fight anywhere, at any time, with almost no warning.

    SEE: Afghanistan

    • Y

      He’s not saying where only fighting there… Just that Megacity’s and Slums are something to plan and train for before its to late.

      • valorius

        Unless something has drastically changed in the past year or two, the US military already spends a lot of time training for places like that.

        • Sid Collins


    • Right, but it also points out that going full battle rifle like the Army is proposing to “counter the PKM threat” and achieve “overmatch” in Afghanistan would be rather silly if our next conflict (and more probable future conflicts) will be in dense urban environments.

      • Blackhawk

        Saw an interesting article in some magazine that technology has made sufficient improvements in polymer-encased ammunition that some weapons have been developed and tested which provide a 40% decrease in weight and an increase in accuracy due to softer recoil; the upshot being that either a full-up battle rifle or a 6.5-ishmm rifle using such technology wouldn’t increase the infantryman’s ammo load as significantly as most would think.

        • Form Factor

          Except that its 166Rounds polymer cased vs 210rounds BRASS cased. Thats an hilarious bad weight. Also its 167% the Recoil Impulse and 281% the Recoil Force of even the hottest 5.56×45.

          Also it has 10rounds less capacity in Rifles.

          Its simpy extremly unoptimized, An optimized lighter, less recoiling round with same range performance is worth much more.

          • Ryfyle


      • valorius

        I would place the odds of the army switching to a general issue battle rifle at .001%.

        I would however be fully behind them issuing a 20″ barrel “M16A5” to all infantry forces though.

        • Porty1119

          I would really get behind a C7A2 configuration being general-issue. While I prefer fixed stocks, even with body armor, the range of heights encountered means that adjustables are better on issued weapons. 14.5″ barrels represent a poor compromise.

    • Calavera

      True that. As Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower once famously said of op plans for the D-Day invasion, “All planning goes out the window in the first hour of battle.” That being said, our planning includes elements focused on minimizing civilian casualties; surgical strikes with a view towards reconstituting national infrastructure post-war, “winning hearts and minds.” We’re Americans. It’s what we do. Our adversaries, however, rarely think that way. I suspect the battle ground of the future will doubtless be urban, but mostly leveled radio-active rubble.

      • valorius

        “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” -Mike Tyson

        Nations never know where that next punch is coming from, or is going to land.

        • Gary Kirk

          I believe he included at least one expletive in that quote..

        • noob

          Adam Roberts’ speculative fiction “New Model Army” (ISBN 9780575083639) has an interesting take on that – a “Power To The Edge” army held together by smartphones and software which evolves strategy, procurement, logistics and tactics using a “wisdom of crowds” approach and is self financing and stateless. It rampages across the UK, and gives ample contrast to the conventional forces that are trying to stop it.

    • Major Tom

      Indeed. They made pretty much this exact prediction in the 1990s. Then Afghanistan came and crapped all over that “truism”.

      • Joshua

        How many conflicts were between then and Afghanistan?

        A lot.

        • Form Factor

          And it wouldnt have been a problem if 5.56×45 from the beginning would have been made with a good Form Factor.

          • Joshua

            M855A1 is doing fine.

            Yeah 5.56 had some stumbles but with brown tip and M855A1, it’s no longer an issue.

          • Form Factor

            M855A1 improves: extremly reliable and fast reacting terminal ballistics, – and penetration

            What it doesnt is – Trajectory, Wind Drift, energy retention, Supersonic Range. aka %propability to actually hit at range

          • Uniform223

            “Trajectory, Wind Drift, energy retention, Supersonic Range. aka %propability to actually hit at range”

            > all that jazz you mentioned doesn’t mean jack if the shooter can’t hit the broad side of a barn to begin with.

          • Form Factor

            … Dude, at a given range a substantially flattened trajectory will make shots much more easy.
            Also beyond the supersonic range you loose a lot of accuracy.

            And wind drift is not something to blame the shooter for… ,reduced wind drift de facto increases % change of hitting a target at range.

          • Uniform223

            You’re misunderstanding me.

            I can give some random soldier or marine a semi-auto rifle with great potential accuracy and fires a good round. For example the Nemo Omen.



            If the target is moving and you are moving, it doesn’t matter how little wind drift effects the round you just sent down range. In actual combat or dynamic situations, the accuracy of the bullet and the weapon quickly becomes a very very very small factor in terms of accurate engagements.

          • tiger

            Which is why the bad guys wised up & invented IED’s. Standing around getting in gun fights is dumb.

      • valorius

        Remember Rumsfeld’s “Transformation”….”We don’t need tanks any more, they’re obsolete”….and “We dont need large occupying forces anymore, technology will make up for large numbers of troops” ?

        That dude was a flaming idiot.

        • LGonDISQUS

          Rumsfeld was half the man McNamara was in terms of being a bean counter.

          • Norm Glitz

            WOW! Talk about damning by faint praise!

        • tiger

          We are not going back to A Cold War sized Army. Tanks Are not Obsolete. But plans to fight WW2 style armor battles are. Far from a Idiot.

          • valorius

            He was an enormous flaming idiot. If we fight China or Russia there will be tank battles that equal or exceed that of WWII.

          • tiger

            Only a flaming idiot would engage either in a large Conventional war. You do not have the ships to even transport our single Armor Division To make that battle.Those that did, would be sub bait before they offloaded any.

          • valorius

            Guess what, our history is full of presidents that were apparently flaming idiots who engaged in large conventional wars. The most recent being a whopping 14 years ago.

          • tiger

            Sorry, but wrong. It takes two to tango. Saddam had his chances.

          • valorius

            Yes, it takes two to tango- and in every major war the US has ever been in, one of the two was our president.

  • Form Factor

    “Separated for a longer time, without support” = A light polymer case with a medium weight projectile 70<80grain but a good FORM FACTOR for excellent aerodynamics and range at 3000+ fps. Instead of unaerodynamic, heavy, high recoil, low capacity projectiles.

    • So basically a 5.8×42, scaled up to 6mm?

      • FormFactor

        Are you kidding? The 5.8 Form factor is hilarious. It’s ballistic is garbage.

        • Ran 5.8 through the basic ballisitcs app using Nathaniels G7 data on it, looked to be doing 1700fps at 600 yards (what I’m assuming the minimum frag velocity is for EPR.) I’d be pretty pleased with that TBH.

          • Form Factor

            Its an ok round currently, but absolutly not anyway near perfected, and not what should be used for a large scale adoption round, the potential waist would be completly insane.

            Sure it does reach something, but that can be done with ease with a- lighter, less recoil, slightly more capacity, less wind drift, flatter trajectory round.

      • No one

        If you want to be super technical, the 5.8x42mm already fires a 6mm projectile (0.236 caliber, same as 6mm Lee Navy) but because of different standards of measuring calibers worldwide or even different standards in the same region, It’s listed as 5.8mm.

        I wouldn’t mind scaling a round like that up to .243 or .244 though, just because that’s a much more common “6mm” caliber in the west nowadays.

        • 6mm Lee Navy uses a 0.243″ projectile.

          • No one


    • ARCNA442

      What is your reasoning for wanting a projectile weight at the upper end of 5.56? If you’re trying to reduce weight and recoil wouldn’t the better form factor allow for a lighter bullet without losing performance?

      • Form Factor

        Yes but lets assume we use a smaller projectile with same bc as 5.56×45. You get a really tiny, low penetrating, less terminal performing, round.

        Recoil can be brought to 5.56 level with a good mechansim, weight is much less in general due to the polymer case… Why not rather increase performance for >no drawback<. Than you get a round lighter and with the same recoil as 5.56×45 but still cover any terrain combat range to 1200m. So you have a single round system with extrem logistic benefit.

        • ARCNA442

          When you say “single round system” I assume you mean replacing 7.62 as well. While I agree that the ballistics of 5.56 could be seriously improved, are you sure those improvements would be enough to make it a true 1200m cartridge without serious increasing the amount of propellent?

          The current 6.5mm cartridges have some pretty good ballistics with heavier bullets and much more case capacity and 1200m is approaching their max ranges.

          • Major Tom

            The 6.5mm CT round in the CTSAS (formerly LSAT) program achieves that. It does possess more recoil than 5.56mm but not by so much it makes it unworkable. Besides you can engineer solutions to recoil with both internal and muzzle components.

          • Form Factor

            The 6.5 CT Form Factor is hilarious, its weight and recoil insane. Its an unacceptable round.

          • Major Tom

            By whose standards? Yours? TFB just had a big old thing covering what 6.5 CT is.

          • Form Factor

            Its De Facto bad, over 126% the weight, compared to even max loaded M855A1 EPR its 167% Recoil Impulse and 281% Recoil Force.
            Low %hit propability, -10rounds capacity, and only 166Rounds instead of 210 is the exact opposite you want for urban combat….

          • Uniform223

            “Low %hit propability”

            > that comes down to the shooter not the bullet…

          • Form Factor

            A shooter with less rounds, -10rounds per mag , 167% Recoil Impulse and 281% Recoil Force will have de facto a decreased % hit propability.

          • BillyOblivion

            That’s some serious Pentagon Waste right there.

            The English, back in WWI, proved that a good rifleman with a good bolt action rifle in 303 could get hits at 100 meters repeatedly until the reload.

            I’m betting that the Enfield has a greater recoil than any modern semi-auto except maybe the G3. Which, btw the Germans used the G3 for years and it’s not gentle.

            More often than not “more training” is the answer. Or “Don’t be a candy butt”.

          • crackedlenses

            “a good bolt action rifle in 303 could get hits at 100 meters repeatedly until the reload.”

            Note: at 100 m. Try that out to 700-1000 m. as others have suggested farther up.

          • BillyOblivion

            You completely missed the point. FF was whining about the *recoil* on a 6.5mm round in a semi-auto. My point was that back when soldiers were trained to shoot instead of spending half their training time in multi-culti awareness and sexual harassment classes the (at least the british) had a medium caliber *bolt gun* that they could run as, or almost as fast as a semi-auto.

            I would suspect that a well trained WW1 soldier could shot about as fast, and accurately, at 800 meters (with iron sights) as a modern well trained 0311 could with a 7.62×51 semi-auto *with iron sights*.

            I’m not *advocating* returning to bolt guns. I’m not arguing in favor of them. I AM advocating that we spend more $ on training our soldiers, and if we do that the difference between a 5.56 and a 6.5ct will be

            You are right that a WWI (and WWII) vintage enfield will have issues at range with “average” infantry men. Although note (IIRC) that they had sights calibrated to 1300 yards on some models. Then again the average infantry man has problems at 700+ meters pretty much no matter what rifle he’s shooting.

            Recoil (which is what I was addressing) is *less* relevant the further out you get because as your distance increases your time to acquire your target becomes greater than the time it takes to get the rifle back on target.

            In fact the proper counter-question to my statement is “how fast can a shooter run a Lee Enfield at CQ distances.”, and that answer is Not nearly as fast as a even a modern AR10.

          • crackedlenses

            Ah, understood. I agree that more training is due, regardless of what weapon we end up using. I’d also point out that the better-trained troops with Lee-Enfields were known for their rate of fire as much as their accuracy at long distances.

          • Uniform223

            Your conclusion is limited an amateur at best. There is more to it then x number of rounds carried and y % of recoil that plays into effect of overall accuracy. Your assertion thAt more rounds carried along with lighter recoil impulse will improve overall practical accuracy is somewhat false. For example the M1 rifle. By all accounts in WW2 the M1 rifle proved to be effective and accurate. Yet the M1 rifle flies in the face of your assertion. After WW2 and Korea there was a shift in small arms doctrine and tactics.
            AARs by soldiers and marines showed military brass most soldiers and marines do not start to engage their intended target unit they get closer. Also in tactics, the element that can create and sustain the largest volume of fire and move was often the one that would win. Fire and maneuver doctrine/tactic still used today. Before that it was all about long range engagements. They wanted a round that best fit the new fighting doctrine/tactic. We went from 30-06 to 7.62x51mm to where we are now with SCHV rounds like 5.56x45mm.

            Let’s go back to your earlier comment…

            “Why not rather increase performance for >no drawback your assertion that we can make some kind of wonder round that is light in terms of weight and recoil but can engage out to 1000 meters is pure fantasy (in terms of current small arms technology and material). The writers for TFB have discussed this many times over. It would seem (to me) that chasing such an “intermediate” wonder round is mostly a fool’s errand. If the current 5.56x45mm is the “standard” in terms of recoil, light weight, and acceptable range; nothing will ever satisfy those “standards”. If want a round that has increased range and down range ballistic effect you will almost always have in increase in recoil and weight. You can’t get something for nothing.

            Also read TFBs interview article about the development of the CT round and the selection of caliber.

          • Joshua

            They had a thing where they interviewed the person behind the program.

            Pretty sure if you asked Remington if the ACR is amazing they would say yes.

            No one who leads a program will say it doesn’t improve capabilities.

          • Joshua

            You don’t know that because even in early 2017 the 6.5 LSAT Carbine only had mockups. So please keep spouting crap you know nothing about.

          • Form Factor

            All current 6.5 have insanly bad form factors, and are too heavy to be pushed at adequate velocity without insane recoil. Its a really bad diameter.

    • I think you actually want a medium form factor for urban ops, for a few reasons.

      • Form Factor

        Those are which reasons? Keep in mind, higher form factor means more swept volume for the same KE too.

        • Two big reasons: First, with urban warfare there is a greater emphasis on sectional density, and with smaller calibers you can only get that with long and relatively chunky bullets which will have correspondingly limited form factors.

          Second, more mass closer to the extremities of the projectile makes it more stable and resistant to bucking or deflection.

          Low-FF, high effieciency bullets are great for retaining velocity at extreme ranges, but when compromising between close range barrier performance and long-range penetration, the chunkier, higher-FF projectile is probably better.

          • BillyOblivion

            Most of the time you’re not going to want barrier penetration.

            Until you really really do.

            That’s what 100 round drums are for.

          • That does not seem to be the lesson that has been learned from recent urban conflicts.

          • BillyOblivion

            In recent “urban” conflicts “we” were fighting on “their” turf, and we were largely fighting in one to four or five story adobe/brick structures.

            If we got shoot throughs and collateral damage >>shrug<< (also we were using 5.56 which is at the low end of stuff penetration.) It won't reliably penetrate a good unre-enforced cinderblock wall.

            Which is a *good* thing once you move from 3rd world s*t holes to "2nd" world slums and first world high-rises as discussed in the video.

          • Fair point. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy in that circumstance to just use RRLP-style bullets which have excellent terminal effect and very low overpenetration.

          • BillyOblivion

            Could work. I’d be worried about the wrong bullets winding up in the gun at the wrong time, but stuff happens. (I don’t think ROEs will get any looser in the future even though in some places it should be very much “Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius”)

          • Sounds like an occupational hazard to me. Nice thing about RRLPs is that they will have a similar size and shape to lead-free EPRs, which will make compatibility much easier.

          • Form Factor

            Than – lets use the same cartridge and 2 diffrent projectiles, one with good FF, the other beeing frontheavy with an Urban Focus.
            So you only need one round and Rifle, can use both versions in the same Rifle, and choose one when you need optimum performance for your task.

          • There is no point in doing that. Just use the less efficient projectile for everything, it will have good downrange performance due to its high sectional density anyway.

          • Form Factor

            There is, why adopt two Rifles and waist millions.

            A bad FF projectile will have stupid range performance, energy retention isnt my concern, rather the stupid drop, wind drift, low supersonic range.

            You can use ONE Rifle for Urban Combat with a fronheavy projectile. And if you need to fight in diffrent terrain (will still happen..) than you can still use the SAME Rifle, and just use the optimized form factor round for that terrain with >extremly increased performance<, while still being able to chamber your standart urban combat round if you dont have much ammo left.

            Its the ultimate and extremly simple option.

          • “A bad FF projectile will have stupid range performance, energy retention isnt my concern, rather the stupid drop, wind drift, low supersonic range.”

            None of which matters if you can’t penetrate the barriers you need to penetrate at close range.

            “You can use ONE Rifle for Urban Combat with a fronheavy projectile. And if you need to fight in diffrent terrain (will still happen..) than you can still use the SAME Rifle, and just use the optimized form factor round for that terrain with >extremly increased performance<, while still being able to chamber your standart urban combat round if you dont have much ammo left.

            "Its the ultimate and extremly simple option."

            The US Army rejected this approach ten years ago.

        • I want to illustrate this a little better for you, just for the sake of posterity. I may also write an article on this. Let’s take two bullets, both EPRs, one which has a modest 0.97 i7 FF, and the other which has an excellent 0.855 i7 FF. If we model these projectiles in SolidWorks, say at 6.5mm, we see that the fatter, higher form factor one weighs 123.4 grains. The slimmer, lower form factor one weighs 112.8 grains.

          Of course, the slimmer, less draggy one has an excellent 0.270 G7 ballistic coefficient. The fatter one has a more modest BC of 0.261, despite being heavier.

          However, the fatter one has a sectional density of 0.253, while the lighter, less draggy 112.8 grain projectile has a sectional density of only 0.231.

          Sectional density scales proportionally with caliber, which means that if we want to scale up the lower drag bullet to the same sectional density as the fatter 0.97 i7 FF bullet, then we need to scale all the way up to 0.289″ (versus the original 0.264″), which produces a corresponding weight increase to 147.8 grains!

          So, paradoxically, the fatter less ballistically efficient bullet actually gives you a higher sectional density at a lower weight. If sectional density is a concern (as it is in urban conflict), then projectiles actually need a form factor that balances between ballistic efficiency and sectional density, and IMO that shakes out to around ~0.95-0.97, although I haven’t done a full optimization study on it yet.

          • Form Factor

            I know all that. Thats why i noted the 1 Rifle, 1 Cartride, 2Projectiles option.

          • Yes, but there’s no point given how close the two projectiles are in ballistic coefficient. Just use the fatter one.

          • Form Factor

            Your Data is verry unoptimized to be honest.

          • Form Factor

            *Also you mix up something there. Yes its similar BC (slightly lower) BUT for much less velocity and higher weight….. much lower supersonic range, much more drop, much more wind drift.

          • Velocity is a bit lower, weight’s a bit higher, supersonic range is a bit lower, drop is a bit more (but drift isn’t really different)… But overall, not enough of a difference to justify another round.

          • FormFactor

            Nathaniel, I thought about it, actually your data is FATALLY flawed, by 3 things, one you should know but did forget, the other 2 you just don’t know yet. I know where you’re coming from with these opinions but as said they are verry limited.

          • I didn’t really present any data here, but feel free to enlighten me.

          • It’s optimized for different things. If you’re optimizing for close range performance then you can’t afford as slender and efficient of a projectile as you otherwise could. Just the way it is.

          • Form Factor

            Also you mean G7BC not form factor at the 0.261 etc units…….

          • derp. yes

      • BillyOblivion

        That depends on what you mean by “medium form factor”.

        I had a friend who spent quite a bit of time in Israel before doing 10 months as a security contractor in Iraq in 2003 or 2004.

        He noted how the different rounds in play (5.56, 7.62×39 and 7.62×51/54) had different effects on the buildings there. The 5.56 left dings. The 7.62×39 took out chunks of wall (mostly stone/brick walls) the other two, well, you saw the other side.

        If you expect to be fighting close in, either surrounded by “hard” buildings or inside buildings you’re going to *need* to reduce over penetration, and you’re going to want (or not [1]) to reduce the sound of the firearm.

        I can’t (quickly) find a good comparison of penetration in building materials between 5.56 and .300 blackout subsonic, but 5.56 (55 grain at least) penetrates LESS than 9mm in sheet rock and 2×4 environments. Terminal effect at 10 to 100 meters is adequate.

        My first order guess is that 5.56 out of short barrels would be best for inside structures and short range work.

        In MEGACITIES long range work is going to get VERY complicated. You’re going to have lots of people moving around and target ID is going to be a YUGE problem (is that a guy with a gun, or a englishman with his brolly? A spotter with a telescope, or a “citizen journalist” with a zoom lens. Is there a difference?)

        I would expect there more than the ‘stans that the squads will have a mix of tools to select from, or specialists in their mix, but the need for 500+ meter engagements will be MUCH less and handled with specialist units.

        [1] If you issue *good* hearing protection/radio combinations then you might WANT let it get loud. It alerts non-combatants to GTF down (alerts the badguys too, but if it’s loud enough it may also keep them off guard and reduce THEIR ability to communicate).

        • What does this have to do with form factor?

        • Form Factor

          M855A1 EPR negates the first part of your text.

  • Martin Grønsdal

    Urban doesn’t mean exclusively close combat. It presents a myriad of distances too, and with that possible advantages and drawbacks.

    • Y

      …..As said in the article…..

      • Martin Grønsdal

        …..As said in the article and my comment…..

        but yeah, I just underlined it.

        • Brocus

          keep in mind that the range an enemy in an urban environment will be engaged at will vary, thus posing opportunities as well as disadvantages

  • If only there was the ability to have a handy, MP5 sized rifle with a 16″ barrel, suitable for both CQB and medium range engagements….

    • Johannes von’ Strauch

      It is…. Just wait a few years.

      • Johannes von’ Strauch

        Actually it would be 20″ barrel for MP5 length.

        • That would be pretty impressive – with 27″ for the MP5, and 20″ of that barrel, that would only leave 7″ for the magazine and bolt.

          Inquiring minds want to know how this magic will occur.

          • Johannes von’ Strauch

            By someone who spent an insane amount of time on this (aka me +3 Years 12hours per day, 7days a week). Takes a lot of passion, innovation, motivation, time and with that many sacrifices. But in the end the Apex point is reached.

          • Young Freud
          • Form Factor

            Old gen, nothing for the future, still waists a lot of space, typical bottleneck mechansim.

          • Jack

            I’m interested in your thoughts. You over everything but I haven’t seen you offer up a better option.

            Are you like this at parties too?

          • BillyOblivion

            He wouldn’t know.

            He’s never been invited to one.

          • FormFactor

            I literally have no time to even go to parties so no.

          • Young Freud

            TBF, thou, the F90 is only 16″ at 27″ OAL. The F90M is the one with the 20″ barrel at 31″ OAL.

          • Big fan of the AUG/F90.

            Currently the closest to his size is the Kel Tec RDB- 27″ with a 17″ barrel.

            The only thing I can think of that would get to 20″ barrel / 27″ OAL would be a radically telescoped bolt, where the majority of the bolt rides over the barrel with just 1″ or so rear of the chamber for extraction and insertion of the rounds.

            And the problem with this is that it would seriously move the ejection port back towards the shoulder, so rather then using a simple shell deflector like the F90 for left-shoulder shooting, it would require some type of forward or downward ejection.

            Personally I’d rather see a F90 with a reflex suppressor, using an 18″ barrel with no flash hider (so same OAL as the 16″). So you’d have a suppressed 18″ rifle with a 31″ OAL – the same as the MP5SD.

          • Michael R. Zupcak

            some kind of electronic servo that operates the bolt instead of tapping gas like it’s 1940.

            Obviously, the technology isn’t small enough yet but it will be soon. More aircraft are being designed with “fly by wire” controls so if pilots and GulfStream G650 passengers can come to trust redundant electronics then so too will our firearm designers and military.

          • Johannes von’ Strauch

            Totally uneeded…

          • Isaiah Johnson

            You seem to have a design up your sleeve judging by your comments. Are you in the process of manufacturing a bullpup rifle?

        • Johannes von’ Strauch

          Done the cm inch math, its actually 21,748″ to be accurate.

  • Ben Loong
    • ozzallos .

      LOL. This was exactly what I was picturing with the megacity title. I AM THE LAW.

    • Paul White

      Seriously underappreciated movie!

      • NotKarlUrban

        Dredd was exactly what I wanted (and expected); awesome flick. Now compare that to the previous Judge Dredd with Stallone…. *puke*

      • PersonCommenting

        Demolition Man as well.

      • Tassiebush

        My kids appreciated it… Gee I shouldn’t have let them watch that!

      • USMC03Vet

        More like way overrated. The internet declares one of the best action movies in a long time except nothing in it is really memorable. I wouldn’t want to watch it a second time, and Stallone did it better!

        • Gambler X

          It was an entertaining movie. Karl Urban isnt much of an actor to begin with (see RED) so having him wear a helmet and grunt for 90 minutes wasnt a stretch. Story was simple, the world they created was plausible, granted Stallone Dredd is closer to the comics but it just felt like The Fifth Element featuring Judge Dredd.

    • That’s definitely a good example of Urban combat.

      • valorius

        I get it. 😀

    • bsd

      Future urban war, search in youtube:
      Its a funny clip.

      “elements focused on minimizing civilian casualties; surgical strikes with a view ”
      I think that surgical doctrine make west more weak like roman empire when become “civilized”.
      To make population yours you need to win, you need to be more stronger than the enemy.

  • Herr Wolf

    so basically a complete bloodbath

    • Lederhosen-Man

      Ja genau.

  • Tim

    Yech. Glad I’m retired (and I’ve deep in the woods).

    Good luck with that ‘urban fight’, y’all…..

  • Heartbreaker

    Urban theaters with limited engagement distances would be an area where a .300BO suppressed SBR would shine. (I’m not a .300 fanatic, just saying)

    • Form Factor

      By that time shorter Rifles with still long barrel lenght and better powder burning will be available anyways… No need for super low KE/mm² and hilarious steel penetration of .300blk.

  • Chuck

    You fight with the army you’ve got. It comes down to flexibility. Maybe some specialization. We have a 10th mountain division. How about an urban div???

    • BillyOblivion

      Marine Corps has been training MOUT since the early 1980s.

  • Lee Enfield

    Use our technilogical advantage.
    Don’t play by the enemies rules.
    The “civilians” in those cities support the Islamists so they are not civilians.
    A 1,000 from the enemy Islamist cult is not worth one of our guys.

    Tactical low-yield neutron bombs with kill radius 100-200 yards.

    • Clearly the solution to terrorism is waging nuclear terrorism. Solid plan.

      • Lee Enfield

        I was just being nice to the leftover natives that they would be able to still use the buildings after the neutron strike.

        But heh, if dozens of MOABs soothes your anti-nuclear conscience I’m more than happy with that.

        I learned from WW2 history, a flat city tends to discourage the enemy.

        • Thiago Kurovski

          “Let’s take or destroy Minsk, St Petersburg, Kiev, Karkhiv, Odessa, Sevastopol, Stalingrad… they will be totally discouraged, would never fight again.”

    • ARCNA442

      While I don’t think neutron bombs are the solution (they still cause massive amounts of blast damage and where intended mainly to kill people inside armored targets like tanks), I think we may have to revisit our ROE’s and tactics.

      Reading accounts from WWII, they simply didn’t bother with things like room clearing because they knew just bloody it was. Any structure suspected of containing enemies was simply leveled with artillery or cleared with grenades.

    • Young Freud

      What’s the game plan if you have to retake New York or Los Angeles or Dallas or Atlanta? What do you do if you’re fighting a civil insurrection in those same cities in order to restore order? What are you doing if you’re intervening into a civil conflict in Rio, Dubai or Moscow on behalf of a beleaguered recognized government (the Moscow bit actually happened during the Russian Civil War, so that possibility could happen again)? Namely, what do you do if you politically unable to bomb the enemy out?

      I’m sure Russia would love us to nuke Moscow if we had to help them put down rogue elements of their army.

      • Lee Enfield

        What a bunch of far out scenarios. Face it, besides the Left, there is only one existential threat to the western world and we’ve ben fighting with both hands tied behind our back. Why should we fight on our enemies terms.

        And just for the record, I’m okey dokey with a neutron being dropped in NY and LA. Heck tomorrow is OK.

        • Someone Else

          And I’d be perfectly fine with putting all the delusional Breitbart readers infesting our society being put into Los Alamos and nuked.

          The difference is I don’t go around saying how I’d like to start WW3 every 2 seconds. (Though, that would probably just cause a worldwide celebration.)

    • BillyOblivion

      Wouldn’t it be simpler to build economic institutions such that everyone could afford enough food, decent housing and high speed internet porn?

      • mosinman

        internet porn would probably cause more unrest in certain countries

        • BillyOblivion

          It would cause a bunch of Imams to screech and try to raise the rabble, but they wouldn’t show up because they’d be at home, sitting in front of the cumputer.

  • Lazers.

    • Form Factor

      Mirror Armor… Badum Tssss

      • in a dirty third world, i doubt the fog of war would make it possibe to keep it free and clear of dirt or scratches… And oblique shots still have ricochet issues for the wearer.

        • Form Factor

          Multilayered Mirror Armor with normal (non burning) camo uniform over it… As soon you get hit, a bit of the camo uniform gets destroyed, but the serval mirror layers reflect the lazer.

          Storing energy in batterys/ accu is already extremly hard, propellant powder is insanly lighter for the same energy. And as soon as a large portion is reflected, energy usage will become even more insane.

          • Young Freud

            That’s what combined arms is for. Have the lasers burn anything that isn’t suitably protected by mirrored surfaces or anti-flash white, then use kinetic weapons on everything that’s brightly exposed. Repeat if necessary.

            Also, if DEW becomes commonplace, expect myriad array of laser spinoffs (since you can use lasers to cause localized explosions via phased plasma blooming or using an ‘acoustic laser’ beam to deliver hi-frequency, hi-intensity sound and/or vibration) and other particle weapons like ion and x-rays to be used. In short, anything out of the Brigador computer game’s arsenal.

          • Form Factor

            In vehicles yes. In Smallarms you will have serious energy storage problems. Expecally if your limited by weight because you need another kinetic weapon too.

  • retfed

    Oh, c’mon!
    Winfield Scott took Mexico City with 5,000 guys, so how hard can it be? (Not to mention Cortes.)
    On the other hand, the Russians took 100,000 casualties taking Berlin, so . . .
    Maybe Germans fight harder.

  • How would a mega-city look after a MOAB or two?

    • Major Tom

      A sudden hole or two where some city blocks used to be. A skyscraper blown in half. That sort of thing.

    • Form Factor

      Red, by the blood of 1% militants and 99% innocent civilians.

      • Lee Enfield

        As “innocent” as the German citizens during WW2.

        • Form Factor

          So you claim every German in ww2 was an evil Nazi…? As the wide known evil baby nazis with MG42’s.

      • micmac80

        US likes to tweak the numbers and rate terrorists as males old enough to hold an AK ,so above 8years or so and since the Seal in Yemen where SEALs called for CAS on a vilage , women above 10y so then ratio balances out.

    • BillyOblivion


  • USMC03Vet

    No matter how “small” the US Army goes, Big PX will still be there.

    • Sid Collins

      Sir… does this mean that Ann-Margret’s not coming?

      • valorius

        Very funny Joker. 😉

  • Major Tom

    I just thought of something. Already this prediction is going down the crapper.

    If Korea is the next war, there’s only two places on the entire Peninsula where you end up with significantly urbanized areas. Seoul and Pyongyang. The rest of the Peninsula has more in common with Afghanistan than Europe.

    • Uniform223

      So the smaller cities and towns all over the country doesn’t mean a thing? Just because it isn’t a big metroplis like Seoul or Pyongyang doesn’t mean urban combat will not happen. Great thinking there 2nd Lt.

      • Major Tom

        It does mean this “prediction” about hyperurbanized areas being the future of combat falls flat immediately. Say Korea was the next war. Unless the North completely rolls over the border defenses, we’re not fighting a protracted battle in Seoul. Likewise the small towns and cities means a dynamic environment especially considering you have a ton of open and often well-defended territory between them. You’re not driving town to town to conduct MOUT a la Iraq. You’ll be fighting in mountains, forests, valleys, towns, the whole she-bang. Building an army entirely around urban fighting is going to get its teeth kicked in in Korea. The same mistake we made in 1950. Especially considering it’s a long way from the border to Pyongyang.

  • Uniform223

    The very experienced and controversial LTG. Boykin predicted that any future conflict will in one way or another be in or involve densely built up and populated places.

  • Paveway

    Cordon, order everyone out, everyone left is considered hostile, then level the place. Simple.

    • Major Tom

      You’d have to ID and exhaustively search everyone who comes out. Insurgents and militants routinely abuse such things to slip out and away to fight another day. They go right past your checkpoints dressed and acting like civilians.

    • Jared A. Faber

      Yeah, just evacuate all 12,000,000 people out of Rio so you can fight there. The logistics of just evacuating everyone from the city would be massive, let alone providing food, shelter, and sanitation. That pales in comparison to Katrina evacuees (about 600,000 after 1 month), what you are talking about is a Syrian refugee crisis all over again (11,000,000.)

      • Thiago Kurovski

        What the hell are you fighting in Rio? Rio is absolutely not a military concern for the US Army.

    • BillyOblivion

      As Napolean (IIRC) once said “Quantity has a quality all it’s own”.

      You can’t clear block by block because if they aren’t on the first blocks you clear they’ll know you’re coming.

      You can’t cordon the whole city and sort them out because they don’t wear uniforms, they don’t follow the Geneva/Hague/Whatever conventions, and they aren’t all “military aged males”.

      They don’t (always) use conventional weapons, and they DO use propaganda videos.

      • Paveway

        If its a full scale major theater war, you level the city.

        If its not, and just a police/occupation action, well….we shouldn’t even be trying.

        Terrorism? Pin-pick stealthy raids on high value targets and/or drone strike or fires on a building.

        Fighting in mega cities with regular army/marines on a massive scale to control the city is foolish.

        But hey invent a crisis for the budget wars. Big Army has to get its share!

        • BillyOblivion

          In February of 1945 we leveled Dresden using a conventional air attack. In August of the same year we leveled Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

          People are *still* whinging at us about war crimes and general inhumanity. And this was against governments/societies that did things like the Holocaust and the Rape of Nanking (and large parts of Korea and China).

          This was also before the Internet made disinformation and straight up lies (STEEL DOESN’T BURN!!!!!) trivial.

          But what happens (to draw from the Cyperpunk world of William Gibson) when you get a couple thousand fighters from ISIS WorldWide(r) in the Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis time-delayed streaming their attacks over servers outside the US through heavily encrypted onion-routed protocols?

          You going to drop a MOAB on an American city that is under attack by what is more than a “terrorist attack”, but something less than a “Theater War”? You going to send in tanks and hellfire missiles and trash infrastructure and kill non-combatants 10 to 1 to combatants?

          That’s mediapathetic, and it will be all over the internet in all it’s glory 8 or 10 minutes after it *starts* happening.

          The only way you’re going to be able to combat it is to live stream YOUR teams counter attack. And your soldiers BETTER be polite and not miss.

          Honestly (see my first comment in this thread about Gibson) I don’t think it’s going to get this bad IN THE US. Right now there’s a (not to get political) movement of US citizens out of urban cores towards less crowded areas.

          I think Europe will see this problem a LONG time before we will–they are already denser than we are, and they have a different police/military paradigm (generally) than we do and they have lower legal barriers to using military for police functions where here in the US we are “militarizing” police to work in that gray area.

          • Thiago Kurovski

            1- Where do you find a couple thousand ISIS fighters?

            2- In this fictional world with couple thousand ISIS fighters in Boston-Atlanta, the fictional inhabitants of the fictional cities will want a response and won’t care for the civilian casualties nearly as much.

    • Thiago Kurovski

      The Mongols had it the right way! Khwarezm? Cleared!

      This type of level-the-city warfare never works unless you go full biblical plague level of crazy. And no, we’re not doing that…

  • FT_Ward

    “Smaller units will have to disperse more widely; they will have to in
    order to survive,” he said, adding that units will have to be more
    mobile than they are today.”

    Who does he see as the enemy? What current enemy would make US ground units need to spread out to survive? Why would you need to spread out more in an urban area than a desert? Surely the buildings would provide additional cover. Wouldn’t extra dispersion create gaps for the enemy to exploit? Or is he talking about policing?

    It sounds to me as if the general wants new gear and to appear “innovative” without the logical step of needing far more troops. If you intend to clear and hold Rio or Mexico City you’ll need the draft more than a new short barrelled rifle or mini-tank.

    • Form Factor

      Bunching up in an urban area means a ton of casualties by only one grenade / Rpg. And also beeing more spread that they cant just go around (with smartphone communication) your unit to escape.

      • FT_Ward

        He’s talking about the size of AORs and gaps between them not how many people go in a room.

  • Bullphrog855

    We can “terraform” a concrete jungle if need be

  • Joshua

    You don’t say? Glad a talking head is finally saying it.

    This is why the 5.56 was adopted in the first place.

    The M4A1 excells in sub 500M ranges and to be wanting to equip everyone to Excell in Afghanistan at all ranges ignores the future.

    • Form Factor

      Also with polymer cases and an aerodynamic projectile “Afghanistan ranges” can be reached no problem, at/under 5.56 brass cased weight.

      • Joshua

        And none of those wunderraffles have seen field trials…Or even actual use yet.

        The 6.5 LSAT MMG was a weighted mock-up late 2016, with the carbine being a weighted mock-up early 2017.

        LSAT is ages away since they decided to focus on 6.5.

        Besides a 500M general issue rifle? We already have that with M4A1+M855A1.

        Anything more and you’re in DMR/GPMG range.

        Not to mention past 500M requires better glass than what we have to properly engage a moving Target using cover.

        • Form Factor

          Because most people are unable to use mathematics and put in some real effort.

          “DMR range”… most “dmr’s” use insanly bad Projectiles, theyr performance is just hilarious, so your “dmr range” is less than can be reached with a good round at only 12grams any day.

        • valorius

          It is a joke to state that the M4 is a 500 meter rifle in anything but expert hands, in battlefield conditions.

          • Uniform223

            The M4 is very much capable of tagging a human type silhouette out to 500 meters. In the hands of infantry marines and soldiers the M4 has been known to effectively engage out to 500 meters. However those instances are few and far inbetween. You are correct that in more dynamic situations filled with stress, the ability to effectively “tag” anything pass 200 drops like a lead brick in water.

        • roguetechie

          The better glass is most definitely coming. Matter of fact it’s kind of already here! They have the hardware etc figured out, but it looks to me like they’re working to skip one or two generations of the bulky, kinda fragile, low battery life, and temperamental phase before they start initial fielding.

    • valorius

      I am quite sure you mean it excels at Sub 300 m ranges.

      • Joshua

        No M855A1 defeats hard targets better than M80 out to 500M and consistently fragments out to 500M, it also maintains the ability to hit a 6″x6″ plate with a 92% hit probability from the M4A1 at 500M.

        The M4A1 firing M855A1 is a 500M weapon easily.

        • valorius

          The problem is actually hitting targets under battlefield conditions with a 14″ carbine at ranges beyond 300m- which about 1% of infantry forces are probably capable of even on a good day.

          • Joshua

            No doubt, But that is a training issue.

            The Hardware is there and able, the user is not sadly.

          • valorius

            The M4 makes it harder than it has to be. I’ll go to my grave saying the 20″ M16 is the ideal infantry rifle. Well, until they invent laser rifles 😀

          • Joshua

            How so?

            The M4A1 is more accurate than the M16A4 due to the thicker RO921HB barrel it has.

          • valorius

            Not at long range.

          • roguetechie

            The ranger carbine course says different.

          • valorius

            Rangers are elite troops with far more rifle training than standard Infantry forces.

          • iksnilol

            Giving them a 20 inch barrel won’t make mediocre shooters good.

          • roguetechie

            A better 5.56 cartridge, a nice heavy profile 16 inch barrel with mid length gas system, and something like L. James Sullivan’s most recent counterpoise type rate reduction system, very simple adjustable gas block, and maybe even an open bolt full auto closed bolt semi fcg carbine with a few other tweaks and new parts/accessories could make for a world of difference very easily.

            Especially for guys who aren’t the tip of the spear this is an attractive solution since it really wouldn’t require a bunch more training than these guys get currently. The training they would get would need to be tweaked and altered slightly, but you wouldn’t need a bunch more of it.

            I can see this being a very attractive option for the people in charge even if it’s not what we personally see as a good solution!

          • valorius

            20 inch barrels flatten trajectory, reduce time of flight, and extend the range at which the projectile is supersonic. It definitely helps extend effective range in battle.

          • lostintranslation

            “1%” is probably the best result ‘after’ they have visited Specsavers.

        • FarmerB

          Sorry, you lost me at the 6×6 at 500m with 92% hit. With combat optics, you can barely see a 6×6″ plate at that distance. If you’ve have said 15×18″ with 75% I might have been on board. No doubt, the fact that you’re quoting such exact numbers mean you’re sourced it from somewhere, but a few hours at the range will quickly demonstrate it stretches credibility.

  • 22winmag

    By urban combat, what we are really referring to here is static defense, patrol, and police actions.

    Headshots… nothing but headshots.

    • Form Factor

      If Military Police units come into your hood try doing your fairy tale “headshots only”.
      In static situations i know what you mean but “nothing but” is just wrong.

      • 22winmag

        I was referring to Iraq war videos (taken by the other side) in urban areas. A whole lot of servicemen in armor died from sniper fire to the head, neck, and thigh.

        • roguetechie

          No, just no!

          First off, good luck with that…

          Second, you do realize that body armor is just as much about other stuff flying around as bullets right?

  • BillyOblivion

    RE: Video;

    Sounds like someone read way too much William S. Gibson.

    • Young Freud

      We live in the worst version of cyberpunk, unfortunately.

      I recall reading a statement from an Australian police commissioner about the future of crime and that policing will be difficult and there’s a bit where he goes on about “part human clone, part-robot” cyborgs and suddenly it brings to mind Syndicate and Shadowrun.

    • That’s because we are drifting ever further into the grimdark cyberpunk dystopian future Saint Gibson promised us.

      • BillyOblivion

        I read that stuff like it was crack in the late 80s and early 90s–until the genre got stupid and repetitive.

        To say we’re heading there is like the Environmentalists saying we’re all going to burn up when Global Warming triggers the next Ice Age–it takes the worst numbers from the error bars on carefully selected studies, ignores the good things that are happening (of course in the early 1990s I thought that the Cyberpunk worlds were the *best* possible outcome as Russia hadn’t quite collapsed..Oh, yeah. Putin).

        There’s a lot of people who *don’t* want that world working against the dirtbags who are doing the sorts of things to take use there.

        • Hahahah, it was just a joke.

        • Aerindel Prime

          Good things are happening??

          • BillyOblivion


            World wide poverty and hunger are at the lowest levels in recorded history. To the extent that life expectancies are dropping it’s because people eat too much.

            In fact most of our “problems” today are like that. People complain about “micro-aggressions” because we’ve made most of the “macro-aggressions” either illegal or social faux-pas so egregious one only commits them while wearing a white hood.

            We’re not worried about “acid rain” (which was a real concern when Gibson penned his first short stories, and IIRC shows up in one of them). We *know* how to get large amounts of cheap, clean energy but don’t mostly because (a) we’ve got slight less cheap, slight less clean energy and (b) NIMBY.

            On the Climate front Global warming has either been in hiatus since 1998, or if not is still under-performing *EVERY* model by about 2 degrees C, most of the purported negative effects are either lost in the noise, or more counter balanced by positive effects.

            There is movement in the Nuclear Energy sector–it looks like at least one modern “Small Modular Reactor) design might be approved in the next 18 months or so–which would REALLY bring down the cost of electricity.

            Also on that front the Shale Gas/Fracking revolution has brought cheap natural gas back, which burns a lot cleaner than coal–which means less mercury and other crud released into the environment.

            Medical innovation hasn’t been hit *too* hard by the Affordable Care Act, so new drugs and procedures are still in the pipeline. Devices are taking a hit, but that’s correctable at the political layer, it’s not an intractable problem.

            Guns, in the US, are freer than they’ve been in a *LONG* time, as long as you’re not in Mordor (aka “New Jersey”) or New Mordor (“aka California”), and thanks to Obama causing overproduction and Hillary running the worst campaign in for like EVERY, they are going to be cheaper for a while. Ammunition prices should also start falling a bit.

            Oh, and Hillary. Not to get too deep into politics, but on the firearm front there’s a good thing right there, no?

            I could go on, but I won’t.

  • Audie Bakerson

    Designing tanks for in-city use?

    Wouldn’t throwing RPG-7 warheads, without the safety cap on, out an overhead be a threat to armored vehicles in a megacity?

    • Aerindel Prime

      They have an inertial safety that requires the highh gees of being fired to arm.

      • Audie Bakerson

        I’ve heard stories of Jihadis blowing themselves up. Possible third world copies lack that feature?

    • LGonDISQUS
      • 22winmag

        Can they whip out an autoGlock?

    • If you can drop something on top of an armored vehicle with impunity, a good ol’ whiskey bottle full of gasoline and oil (or styrofoam) with a flaming rag in the mouth usually works just fine.

      • valorius

        Not any more. Todays armored vehicles have over pressure NBC systems and are highly resistant to such tactics. See: 2003 invasion of Baghdad.

        • How are they building tanks to resist flaming liquids pouring into the engine compartment– don’t most MBTs blow their exhaust straight up these days?

          Google isn’t helping much, how’d armor fare against molotovs in Baghdad?

          • valorius

            Even if burning liquid got into the engine compartment, all modern tanks have automatic halon fire suppression systems.

          • iksnilol

            But what about the threads? I know finns used jars with petrol and a soaked rag as a wick, they threw it in the threads, which messed up the threads and made the tank immobile.

          • valorius

            Treads are made of steel. It might melt or burn off the track pads, but oh well. The tank will still run fine.

          • Uniform223

            The trick is getting that close. In a built up area, armored units or any type of vehicle for that matter; never operate alone. Dismounted units guard the flanks.

          • You’d think, but a quick perusal of Youtube and Liveleak finds a frankly baffling number of Syrian tanks getting thwacked by TOWs and Fagots from well within the engagement distance of the infantry which seem to have stayed home and taken a nap that day.

            There’s also the fact that if they’re in an area where someone can toss one off onto them from above in the first place, it’s probably not feasible for anything short of a full division to clear the area, what with blocks of tall buildings full of people and all.

          • Warren Ellis

            The Syrians aren’t exactly known for being good fighters. Even among Arab militiaries, it’s almost a tie between them and the Saudis from what I’ve heard.

          • Phil Hsueh

            I think that the drop flaming objects on the back of a tank was to either overheat the engine and turn the tank into a pillbox, or to set off the fire extinguishing system and force the crew out.

    • valorius

      The conventional wisdom was that armor was extremely limited in urban environments. Then the 2003 Thunder Run happened, when a single US Army heavy bde conquered Baghdad in a matter of hours.

      Out the window went that conventional wisdom.

      • Thiago Kurovski

        Armor has conquered huge cities easily and then failed abjectly the next time. Cities are different, urban anti-armor and armor fighting are skills.

        • valorius

          Your point does not contradict mine. Armor has a role in urban warfare.

  • Don Ward

    I don’t see what the issue is. So long as we have enough MOABs and M58 MICLICs to clear mega cities of insurgents, neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block, we should be just fine.


    • Aerindel Prime

      No, you are not.

      • No one

        <—– The Joke

        <—– Your Head.

  • Ark

    Trying to plan for a fight in a city like Lagos or Karachi or Lahore is enough to give someone nightmares. An insurgency could operate in a place like that until the end of time.

    What are you going to do, move the entire population out? One of those cities represents an entire Syrian refugee crisis. You can’t drop bombs in a city with 35,000 people per square mile. How do you get that many people clean water if the water plant gets blown up? Food? Medical care?

    Al Qaeda had it wrong. You don’t bleed the US into ruin by making it fight in the mountains of Afghanistan. You drag it into urban combat in a city of ten million people.

    • Form Factor

      Al Qaeda did fought in Iraqi Citys too…

    • valorius

      Or Seoul.

    • FarmerB

      No reason the city couldn’t be in the US – Chicago? LA?

  • gusto

    maybe send some of your guys done to train with guys like BOPE?

    they could sure use help, there are more people in Brazilian favelas than in many countries

  • Captain Obvious

    Cell phones a problem? Shut the system down. Technology can be turned off. Never understood why we didn’t/don’t take out the cell phone service in Iraq/A-Stan. Just shut down the towers/system.

    • BillyOblivion

      Because it’s less than 10 percent of the population that is really the problem. Most people there might not like us, but if we help them build a stable society they’re hate for us will be abstract.

      If we make their lives crappier they’ll hate us more and be more willing to support people who want to kill us.

    • Tassiebush

      I’ve thought about that but it raises questions like how long can you do it without getting locals offside which is fatal in the long term unless you actually intended to wipe them out which might be the case in a sectarian/ethnic civil war but isn’t tenable to any western government. When you selectively shut down the network it would signal that you are about to conduct action. The other thing is decentralized phone systems are coming into being. I know here a system has been developed for letting people continue to communicate during outages by direct phone to phone contact. It was designed for disasters. It isn’t in use but it’s easy to imagine it in a dense urban context it would come into use. As an aside it certainly amazes me how widespread phone communication is in places like Syria where it’s unlikely there’d be any concerns about alienating besieged communities. There must be “Rebel” phone providers.

  • lostintranslation

    If you are interested in a more ‘in depth’ background it may be worth reading some of the books written by David Kilcullen on, or around this very topic. He was one of the first to conceptualise and voice concern over the possibilities of conflict in mega cities. He has also made many presentations on this topic that are available on YouTube.

    Therefore; this is not a new topic and I’m sure feral mega cities have been chewed over, at great length, in many round table discussions.

    The TFB Article is interesting, but I sense that there is a hope that the prospect of urban warfare in mega cities will mandate the retention of 5.56×45.

    A couple of thoughts to go with this interesting Article:
    -Mega cities do not exist in isolation, they typically require food and fuel.
    -Who controls the countryside will invariably control the cities……perhaps, with the exception of the littoral.

    • I always appreciate a comment with suggested reading. 🙂

      “The TFB Article is interesting, but I sense that there is a hope that the prospect of urban warfare in mega cities will mandate the retention of 5.56×45.”

      I know a lot of people find this hard to believe, but I have very little attachment to the 5.56x45mm. It’s most redeeming characteristic is its light weight. Beyond that and its low recoil, eh, it’s alright. It could be a lot better.

      I did this to myself, though, since I have spent so much time playing devil’s advocate to others and trying to course-correct conversations away from generating overreactions. Too late I realized that’s not how humans work, and that most of the time all I was doing was signalling “I’m a member of the 5.56mm tribe!” to people. Oh well.

      It all seems to have turned out OK, though.

      • BillyOblivion

        WTF do people tribe up around a bloody *caliber*?

        I can see arguing the merits of this loading of that round with a specific barrel for a given use, after all it’s mostly men here and that’s what we do, but it’s like Ford v.s. Chevy. Anyone who’s got significant emotional commitment to it needs something important in their life to care about.

        Frankly in the given enviroment (large cities) the optima solution is to go with 7 man squads. A Squad leader and a rifleman carrying a medium length rifle with a 3 or 4x scope , two riflemen with M4s set up with RDS, The Assistant squad leader and two riflemen with semi auto shotguns.

        You clear a room with a Mossberg Jungle Gun it *stays* cleared. You pop someone with it at close range it might not be a one shot kill, but it’s a close as you’re going to get to one. You can also load it for breaching, it’s hell on wheels in a running gun battle AND has reduced range, both through walls and in the open air.

        This gives the squad leader the ability to have 3 guys provide close and medium defense while he and the other rifleman work a distance problem, or have the ability to build flexible room clearing teams with overwatch on the fly as conditions change.

        And yeah, one of the conventions bans the use of shotguns. But that’s an artifact of 1800s Westphalian Nation States, and when we’re fighting THEM we comply. When we’re fighting folks who aren’t uniformed, state actors we don’t *have* to follow it.

        • “WTF do people tribe up around a bloody *caliber*?”

          I dunno. I think humans will tribe up around anything. Sometimes I catch myself doing the same thing, it just seems to be a part of the human condition. Gotta watch for it.

        • No one

          Shotguns were never banned in warfare, they’re used by the military to this day, the closest Shotguns actually game to being banned in warfare was in WW1 when Germans were getting their a–es kicked by Americans who, unlike most armies, actually brought shotguns for trench warfare which were highly effective in that regard. (Terrible irony that the same army that introduced Chemical weapons and Flamethrowers tto that same war had the nerve to call shotguns *inhumane*)

          THIS NEVER PASSED, therefore shotguns are still legal.

          • BillyOblivion

            Ah. My misunderstanding. I must have conflated a few things in with the Laws of Land Warfare classes from 10 to 32 years ago.

            Still. more reason to have that ability in inventory.

          • Drake_Burrwood

            This comes from a ruling the Supreme Court made that since no one showed the court evidence that the sawed of shotgun had any utility in war the 2nd didn’t cover it.
            It would be noted at the time the defendant had disappeared and there was no defense attorney to show anything.

            There are other issues with that ruling but that is where non-military are liable to get the idea.

        • CommonSense23

          Shotguns have extremely limited use these days. They are pretty much for breaching and being able to fire less lethal munitions. Which breaching shotguns can do both well and not limit you with a extremely low capacity, high recoil weapon.

          • Uniform223

            but it’s been in Call of Duty…


            Also it’s usefully for fighting extraterrestrial that hunt other sentient beings for sport on a distant planet.


          • BillyOblivion

            We’re not talking about what we have today, we’re talking about things like clearing rooms in a fookin high rise, or moving through the slums of a shanty town trying to get to insurgent(ish) forces based there.

            What the bloke in the video is talking about is not something US troops have done before on any sort of scale (falluja comes closest, but we were able to clear at least some of the people out, and we (deliberately) gave time for the hard cases to trickle in).

            As for high recoil, there’s 5’3 inch *girls* running 12 gauge side by side or over and under shotguns in trap and skeet. You telling me that a 19 year old Marine or Army grunt doesn’t have what it takes to do that with something like a Mossberg jungle gun or a Beretta 1301?

            See this:

            Thirteen years old. Effectively ZERO testosterone.

            Cops of all sizes have been using pump action shotguns in fast moving street fights for years. The sorts of missions *DISCUSSED IN THE VIDEO* ride that line between police work and military operations. Or more accurately they will wander back and forth across that line as the situation dictates. And when you’re a kilometer inside a shanty town your mission can change quite quickly.

            I *could* be wrong about the utility of the shotgun in both dense urban cores and very flimsy shanty/slum environments, but I also know that the sorts of heavy, long range projectiles often discussed *are the wrong thing*.

            Remember this:


            Hunters using long range/high velocity bullets with dangerous game. Got multiple through and through wounds on the lion.

            Up close and far away are two different problems and need two different solutions.

            As to “low capacity”, a single shell of #1 buck contains up to 16 .30 caliber pellets. A 5 shot tube magazine gives you 80 BBs, and can be topped off as you move. Clear a room, top your gun. Get to cover, top your gun. This isn’t for use on extended patrols out in the bush.

            Maybe the right answer is something more like the Skorpion VZ 61–a .32 ACP low recoil at a high cyclic rate to put LOTS of rounds on target fast, but reduced penetration of walls.

            I suspect that the shotgun won’t even be considered because the military generally still thinks about “close” fights being 50 to 100 meters.

            I think that’s what the video is trying to break people out if.

          • Tassiebush

            I think the main problem for a 12gauge in mass urban conflict would be that the lowest level body armour would negate it’s effectiveness but I do really agree that the best tool is a quick pointing pattern firing gun that is proven to have the best chance of a first round hit and that is an advantage you’d want. It’s like what is needed is something that can have those benefits but with better penetration. Maybe a hyperburst firing gun or some sort of improved shotgun round.

          • CommonSense23

            Dude how much experience do you have clearing rooms. Cause their is zero benefit a shotgun is going to have over a 5.56 rifle once breaching or less than lethal use is out of the way.Much less once you leave a building. Then you link to a video of hunting and talk about a scorpion in 32acp. Then you want to basically have a squad that isn’t even two full fire teams, and have half the squad practically hamstring in a firefight on the street.
            And do you really think that girl is firing full power 00Buck or Slugs in that shotgun?

          • Drake_Burrwood

            My Shotgun is also my CCW due to crippling issues with hand mobility I can’t safely fire any of the other shotguns my wife and sons have.
            Due to the “advantages” of being a fat old man, cloth styles and ability to hide stuff. I conceal carry a Raging Judge Magnum, with a .410 seven shot speed loader.
            My holster has loops that allows me to add .45 long colt to the mix if I need accurate shots.
            I simply don’t exist in any set of real long range tactical consideration. But in close battle ground style, I can switch between snapshot, and called shots depending on how my cylinder is loader.

        • valorius

          The US military has several models of shotguns in the inventory if the mission calls for them.

      • valorius

        If there is something substantially better than 5.56mm to be had, it’s yet to be invented.

        • roguetechie

          That’s not really true.

          We see in 5.45×39 and our own 5.56×38 FABRL experiments that we could very easily make a much better 5.56. What’s really interesting is that the FABRL round wasn’t loaded nearly as hot as it could have been. There was still substantial room in the case as well as a huge reserve of potential peak psi left on the table. Utilizing this plus modern projectile construction techniques applied to the AR-2 bullet shape can net you a substantially better cartridge than 5.56 which is also quite a bit lighter.

          Then there’s the work on a 300 blk cbj tech ab saboted round… Replace their tungsten wunderdart with the same AR-2 bullet shape projectile that uses modern construction and you’ve now got a raging hell beast of a 5.56 round that’s still slightly lighter than the current 5.56×45 ammo.

          Make no mistake either, raging hell beast is a very accurate description of this cartridge!

          • valorius

            I do not concur that 5.45x39mm is in any way superior to 5.56mm. If anything, it’s inferior in many measurable ways.

          • roguetechie

            From a ballistic standpoint it sure as hell isn’t. It’s ability to use longer bullets with finer form factor is what allows it to weigh around 2 grams less per round be capable of 500 meter effective range from 16 inch barrels and have substantially less concussive report even when used with the standard ak-74 brake.

            In all of those respects it’s undeniably the better round.

          • valorius

            Again, i am highly dubious about 500 meter claims from an AK-74.

          • roguetechie

            I can reach out to 5 with my polish 74 and my AR74

          • valorius

            “under combat conditions.”

          • roguetechie

            With decent optics it’s easily possible, especially with my AR74!

            AR 74 by the way is a standard AR15 which uses a modified AR47 style lower modded to take ak74 magazines.

            Mine uses decent components throughout the gun, but was still overall cheaper than the optics I place on them and I use an actual Bulgarian ak74 brake as well as mid length gas system.

            Not only is it just as capable of engaging at range, but it’s also so much nicer to shoot than a 5.56 AR with just a bird cage FH!

            If you lived near me I’d just have you come shoot it and see for yourself!

          • valorius

            I’m in the mountains of Pa. Is that close to you?

          • roguetechie

            Not unless you own a learjet lol

          • valorius

            A G5 Gulfstream is on my list of things to buy if i win the mega millions. 😀

          • roguetechie

            Ugh so I kinda didn’t say what I really wanted to in the first reply, hopefully #2 goes better.

            Bear in mind that we agree on many things WRT the M16 family. Since I do not have the budget for running m855a1 or mk318 I run most of my AR setups with 20 inch bbl’s that have pretty heavy profiles without the 203 cut / the stupid a2 heavy profile only forward of the standard handguard! I do it c7a2 (I think that is the right designation) 20 inch and 6 position stock style. AKA the ass end only carbine as Nathaniel has coined them!

            I do this because IMO, and for my use case / ammunition selection, doing it another way is throwing away velocity etc that I want and need!

            We’re definitely in agreement on that…

            So when I bring up the 5.45 topic just keep in mind that I’m not trying to sell you anything, I’m just relating my experiences to you.

          • valorius

            No worries man. I was just clarifying my position as well.

          • roguetechie

            I get it, and I understand people’s skepticism.

            It’s misplaced in this instance, but I still very much get it.

          • valorius


    • EC

      From Vicksburg to Aleppo, it’s been clear that there are other options than going in to clear out a heavily urbanised area.

      Don’t go to the enemy. Have them come to you. Especially when you have the advantage of time and numbers.

    • b0x3r0ck

      You can produce food and fuel inside a building. I can see building being constructed with ideal of producing these two thing. Bio-fuel can only go so far so I can see other fuel being gathered from outside the city.

      Personally I’m on the side of the fence that believe that the battle rifle going to replace the assault rifle. At least for the military, threats are just going to become harder to kill. Third World countries are starting to make level 4 body armor standard issue. The 5.56 was just not meant to go against armored targets. Also drones are picking up more traction be it UAV or UGV the odds of a soldier fighting one is going up each year. The days of fighting under trained under geared tribesmen are going to come to an end.

      • valorius

        The large caliber battle rifle is dead as Dillinger.

        5.56mm is better vs armor than 7.62mm.

        • No one

          Hey! I saw one of Dillinger’s original death masks in a museum once. Nevermind it’s called a “death mask”, It looked perfectly life like to me!

          Much like how the M14 looks perfectly life like to those who don’t know anything about how modern combat works at all.

          • valorius


      • No one

        Which is why M193 will penetrate Level III+ plates at ranges of 50m and under and M855A1 will penetrate them and the Kevlar carrier vest like butter at 300m right? M80 won’t even penetrate Level III or other targets M193 and M855A1 can at the muzzle.

        Clearly we need a 7.62mm standard issue rifle which would be a massive step backwards to defeat level IV plates!….. except for the fact that M80A1 and Steel cored .30-06 AP won’t penetrate Level IV plates at any range so adopting 7.62mm to deal with “Third world counties in level IV armor! (which you didn’t list of course)” makes about as much sense as buying gasoline to throw on your house to put out a fire.

        Also clearly infantry rifle fire is the way to take out UAVs who probably wouldn’t even be able to hit them with a rifle.

        What actual argument do you have for 7.62mm again?

      • Tassiebush

        5.56 was designed to pierce a steel GI helmet at something like 500yards if I recall correctly, but I could see penetration taking more priority. I completely agree about the idea that fuel probably will be made in cities to an extent. I can see far more decentralization of water, food, energy and manufacturing. It won’t be self sufficient but it will be economically and strategically significant amount.
        Re more drones that is certainly true but I can actually see the urban equivalent of the under trained under equipped tribesmen being the other threat alongside this one.

        • James Kachman

          “5.56 was designed to pierce a steel GI helmet at something like 500yards if I recall correctly, but I could see penetration taking more priority.” The infamous “helmet penetration specification” was for M855, not more modern bullets such as M855A1, MK318, MK262, and it came at the cost of terminal ballistics.

          • Tassiebush

            I looked into it* a bit more and the 500yard spec was the 55grain load that preceded m855. Looks like m855was to do the same thing at 800m.
            *citing the ever dubious Wikipedia

          • James Kachman

            Yep! M855 was the 800m helmet spec, M193 had 500 meter performance required. That 500m figure was the downfall of several contemporary intermediate cartridge attempts, such as the Winchester .224.

          • Tassiebush

            It’d be interesting to see what a round designed to defeat contemporary body armour and barriers with adequate stopping power would look like.

          • James Kachman

            Look at M855A1 🙂 Body armor penetration, “barrier blind” properties, meaning it penetrate barriers, and better terminal ballistics were all qualities included in M855A1. It truly will be a wonderful round when the issues get worked out. (It’s about 7k psi more chamber pressure than a normal round, and they have some feeding issues.)

  • Blackhawk

    And so we’re coming around the circle again from the mid-70s Post-Vietnam when we were prepping for battle on the plains of Europe. Still a mix of short- and long-engagement ranges and moving every 12 hours at most. That will mean another revamp of Army Aviation unit TO&E again, since they’ve become optimized over the past 15 years to operate out of fixed bases instead of in the field with the grunts.

  • Gambler X
  • Rimfire

    If I never hear or read the words “form factor” again, it will still be too soon. Beat the poor horse to death with it already, just stop now.

  • Ryfyle

    Mechs and SMGS as far as the eye can see.

    • Calavera

      “I Surrender, Darlin’.” (Obscure reference to popular WW II song).

  • adverse4

    It will be in the mega-cities of the US first. Not sure which side the US Military will be on if the Socialist Party gets control of the government. And yes, the US Military will fire on US citizens. US citizens will be firing on them.

    • Someone Else

      So are you yet another sovereign citizen who’s dumb enough to believe everything Breitbart tells you?

      Sure sounds like it.

  • FT_Ward

    What type of rifle the US Army uses is completely irrelevant. The important point is that a general is talking about yet another optional war this time in a mega-city- i.e something about four times as big as Baghdad- before the suburbs (think Mosul) have to be dealt with. That would require the return of the draft and cost at least $ 500 billion per year.

    Strategy beats operations which beats tactics which beats training which beats equipment. Spending money on getting ready to do stupid things is insanity or corruption.

    • valorius

      Seoul is a mega city (triple the population of NYC). Odds are quite high that war there could occur in the next year.

      • Sean

        OR week.

        • valorius

          Let’s hope not.

          • Uniform223

            I second your sentiment.

      • FT_Ward

        Perhaps and if so the US will bring it on. Again it’s strategy that counts and threatening the North Koreans may not be the best way to get them to do as the US wants. Actually threatening the North Koreans is exactly how to get them to develop better nuclear weapons and delivery systems.

        • Warren Ellis

          The North Korean mission has nothing to do with US threats. They’re an ethnic regime that prides itself on the blood purity of its Koreans whose message boils down to “Koreans are too pure and childlike and require a Dear Leader mommy to protect and nurture them against and barbaric, evil foreignors who will rape and murder them.” Even when we giving them food aid in the 1990s, the north Koreans were portraying that as us giving them tribute.

          There is no real hope of them moderating because their regime and country is built upon the notion that Koreans must eternally be “protected” against the outside world so they always will be pushing for “reunification” with South Korea which they consider to have been corrupted and thus needing to be purified (as in SK submits to NK). The regime literally needs to have enemies all the time in order to rest its legitimacy on protecting ethnic Korean purity.

  • Sal F

    Aaaaand….As soon as the Army is fully optimized for urban street crawling, a war with Russia will break out in the plains of central Europe – or we will have to fight China for some island. :-).

    I think that the lesson of Afghanistan and Iraq is much simpler – if you are the United States Military, you have to be ready for war ANYWHERE. Or enemies inhabit all manner of different climes, geographies, and infrastructure systems. I think we did a halfway decent job in Iraq, going from un-armored humvees, Interceptor armor, and iron sights, to M1114s, MRAPs, CROWs turrets, TUSKs, IOTVs, a red dots. We CAN be adaptable – we just need to be able to do it quicker.

    • SP mclaughlin

      “fight China for some island”
      That’s what the Navy/Marines are for though.

      • No one

        Starting a war that would get literally everyone killed?

        I sure hope the leaders of the world are smarter then the TFB comments base on the topic of the politics of war, but then again, they’re still human, so probably not.

      • valorius

        There are far too few Marines to fight China alone. Besides, the US Army has been the backbone of the two biggest amphibious invasions in history- Normandy and Okinawa.

        • Uniform223

          I know the US Army was involved with the Okinawa campaign but from my understanding it was mainly a USMC effort… I could be wrong. US Army’s largest amphib landing in the Pacific theater took place in the Philippines.

          • valorius

            From Wiki, on the Battle of Okinawa:

            “The United States created the Tenth Army, a cross-branch force consisting of the 7th, 27th, 77th, and 96th infantry divisions of the U.S. Army with the 1st and 6th divisions of the Marine Corps,
            to fight on the island.

      • Friend of Tibet

        For China, Islands at South China Sea is CORE INTERESTS (ROC also claims the island just in case you think the claim is made up only by China)

        For US, Islands at South China Sea is only a STRATEGIC INTERESTS in Asia region.

        Will US want to start a war to challenge China’s core interest? I don’t think so.Bluffing yes but Marines no 🙂

    • valorius

      Exactly this. We need to be prepared for every possible contingency. Up to and including an alien invasion fleet.

    • Anonymoose

      We will need to be prepped for megacities for China. The population is almost entirely concentrated along the coast in megacities.

      • Paveway

        Why are we invading mainland china?

        • Anonymoose

          Why not?

          • No one

            Because everyone dies in a Thermonuclear war.

            Seems like a good reason.

          • Anonymoose
          • No one

            “What is dead may never die!”

          • tiger

            Because it is stupid as hell.

          • Anonymoose

            So has been every one of our wars since Korea.

          • tiger

            The reasons for the engagements made sense. The execution of them was questionable to stupid.

          • Drake_Burrwood

            There is an ancient rule of warfare. “If you must fight a Battle fight it in someone else’s corn field.”

          • tiger

            We could never win such a fight. It is a wet dream to think we would ever engage the PRC or Russia in a serious fight. Nobody is marching into Hong Kong or Flying over Moscow…..

          • Drake_Burrwood

            If the question was between doing it here or doing it there.

            Truthfully.. I believe allowing them to attack here and dealing with our currently unorganized Militia then go over there to finish the job.
            Would work best.
            It would mess our “corn fields” to her and gone though.

          • raz-0

            Why couldn’t we win?

            I think the problem is you have internalized our stupid definitions of war that politicians have these days. That mindset imagines one can wage a civilized war that the populace of your opponent nation state won’t mind being in the middle of because there will be no collateral damage. It imagines war as a deeply nuanced political tool.

            Favelas, mega cities, anything population and construction dense makes that impossible as even a remotely sane pretense from day 1. It works like shit even when that is all spread out a lot.

            Reality is you wage a war because you want the geographic location for your own and intend to stay there, or you wage a war to cause enough damage to make your opponent willingly stop whatever it is you want them to stop. Occasionally you wage a war just to see as many of the opposition dead as you can manage.

            We are never occupying a large nation. Maybe India or China could, maybe. If they could manage to organize a spare 100 million bodies for the job.

            As for the other two, wining is a possibility, it just may be a really shitty definition of “win”.

    • B-Sabre

      given that our track record for predicting where our next war will be is exactly 0.000, I expect our next fight will be in Antarctica.

      • Tassiebush

        Hehe I’m actually half seriously considering asking the next politician I see to explain their thoughts on how ready Australia should be to protect our Antarctic territory! I could totally see the Chinese muscling in on our territory decades from now. Basically we’ve got a large chunk of it that no one really recognizes. I do know that when planes fly over Chinese bases there, there is mobile phone reception but the signal says something along the lines of you being in Chinese territory.

    • n0truscotsman

      Any war with Russia or China will end with thermonuclear weapons exchanged, world ending stuff.

      Our preparations for OIF were abysmally bad, and MRAPs were already a 30 year old technology at that point.

    • tiger

      That cost $$$$$$$. We are $20 Trillion in debt. And have a population where 75% of military age people are not even military quality. And with a war now at 16 years plus, Where anybody going to jump on the bandwagon to fight anywhere?

  • The_Champ

    Welcome to the internet, where everyone is an expert on everything, including urban combat.

  • b0x3r0ck

    I find it funny that when people hear city they think it means CQB and engagements under 500 meters. A 2 man PKM team out of a large building would have a lot of control over a 1000 meters. Being realistic troops should be able to engage between 700-1000 meters even in a urban environment. We should also keep in mind that what police officer and what military troop have to deal with are two different. In most cases what police have to deal with is a few hostiles in a city block vs troops dealing with a hostile city.

    • Tassiebush

      That makes me think about the current retaking of Mosul. The first phase seems to have been in more open eastern Mosul areas with wide long straight streets where range and overwatch could be exploited then the current phase seems to be much denser. Apparently suicide bombers are using motorbikes rather than car bombs. It was telling regarding density that an airstrike killed about 150civilians after hitting ISIS fighters positioned on the roof (probably deliberately positioned to make that happen).
      Some cities would have vast scope for movement under cover where controlling the open spaces would be much less significant.

  • john huscio

    So it’ll be alot like district 9, but without the aliens

    • valorius

      Maybe even with the aliens. Who knows.

  • Tassiebush

    Actually sounds like the best option is to steer clear. It’s really a situation where soldiers are increasingly becoming more paramilitary police like in their scope but that approach while neccesary on occasion isn’t effective by itself.
    I think it’s interesting to start by thinking of it from a militia/gang perspective. What’s in the pipeline that might play into or out of their hands? Decentralization will probably be a significant factor. I think assuming we see manufacturing becoming less centralised (3d printing, cmc, file sharing etc) we could see cheap disposable weapons. These might pop up in conflicts where there is no existing stockpile and no external sponsor.
    These might be of far greater sophistication than we’ve seen previously seen. If the propellant can be corrosive and the gun is a consumable then it’d probably open up a few options. I can see a return to ideas in small arms design aimed at equipping huge numbers of minimally trained fighters. It’d be hard to deal with an enemy that lobs panzerfaust equivalents at you down alleys or maybe hyperburst firing fletchette bullet hoses (probably getting a bit into realms of fantasy with that much sophistication). Perhaps armour will be able to be made in a decentralized fashion too.
    Decentralization may play against non state actors too. If homes are more independent in water, food and energy then non state actors won’t be able to exert as much control either. Perhaps all authority will be more tenuous.

    • Paveway

      blow back SMG’s, crude RPG’s/Mortars, and EFP’s are enough to bog down even the most advanced Military on the planet. All relatively easy to make.

      Stay out of those areas. If they are such a problem, deploy a death star on that hive of scum and villainy.

      • Tassiebush

        I’m really curious actually about how much body armour influences the outcome of gunfights since it’s pertinent to the smg relevance.
        I’m guessing the key to beating insurgency is probably as much about capacity to evaluate intelligence gathered as much else. It’s a given that a modern army can probably in the near future flood an area with listening devices and could dominate most spaces as needed but not being able to actually evaluate that data in a decent timeframe will probably be an impediment.

        • 22winmag

          Body armor and helmets are better suited flak protection than for gun battles. One good Ukraine war video will remind you of this. I mean body armor is better than nothing when kicking down doors, but in less dynamic roles, armor seems to invite shots to the head, neck and groin.

      • 22winmag

        That’s true. The Germans spent so much manpower and resources dealing with partizan Warsaw, they finally just pounded it with 15 inch artillery for a few weeks, when such resources were really needed at the front.

    • Stuki Moi

      As they say, the only sure way to win a gunfight, is to not take part in it.

  • Paveway

    The crux of this argument is what is the scenario?

    What is the reason driving the operational need to control a mega city?

    In a major war of existence (read WW2 today), then absolutely cities would be leveled. We may or may not try and give non-combatants a chance to evac.

    Since that major war of existence is highly unlikely, the only plausible reason for trying to occupy these mega cities is nation building. Simply put, we shouldn’t be involved in that bullcrap.

    Terrorism/Police Actions? Covert strikes with SOF, or even Regulars.

    Occupying such a place? No way. If it needs occupying to deny it to an enemy, then level it. If you don’t have to stomach or the threat doesn’t rise to level it – stay out.


    Edit: Retaking your own mega-city? Cordon, bypass and starve out enemy resistance. There is a reason we bypassed massively garrisoned Japanese Islands during WW2. Cut them off, starve them out, move on.

  • bsd

    The future of urban war :

  • bsd

    Future war in megacities copy in youtube :
    “CGI Animated Shorts HD: “Fortress/Крепость” – by Dima Fedotof”

    But i think “elements focused on minimizing civilian casualties; surgical strikes with a view ”
    make west more weak like roman empire when they become “civilized”.
    You must be more stronger that enemy, simply.The people only if loyal to the strong, not to the polite.

  • LazyReader

    Stewart Brand said it years ago, the future of humanity is urbanization, the world is now half city, it’s up from what was 14% urban in 1900, it’s gonna be 60% urban people by 2030 and 80% urban people by 2050, that’s 7 billion people living in cities. While he was speaking of course of energy and urban population trends and environment, he didn’t research the effects urban society would spell on warfare. And the results will be absolutely horrendous. You cant bomb the enemy installation, call in artillery strikes, advance mechanized vehicles. We would wish to limit civilian casualties as much as possible, but the defending party does not (or even uses civilians as human shields). We now have to fight in 4 dimensions, the streets, the airspace, the inside of buildings, rooftops, balconies and the underground infrastructure.
    It’s safe to say a conflict in an urban area will look something like COD: advanced Warfare.

  • Warren Ellis

    How exactly can one train for megacities though? Doesn’t most current urban combat training focus upon like small villages at most because it’s far too expensive to create say a highway and a bunch of skyscrapers to do training with?

    Also aren’t practically everyone’s armies too small to fight in even one megacity? I mean can’t people get lost in them?

    • Thiago Kurovski

      Most buildings in a normal megacity are far from skyscraper sized. OTOH, judging by what it took to handle Berlin, or Iraq, a megacity will take several dozen divisions at least.

      • Warren Ellis

        Can’t you lose entire divisions, as in troops getting literally lost, inside cities like NYC or Seoul or Tokyo or wherever?

        • Thiago Kurovski

          Cities are well mapped and GPS friendly.

          OTOH, I don’t want to think about fighting inside buildings or metro stations and service areas. These are comparatively small and self-contained, so you’re not losing divisions here, but I can see a company or even a battalion of Middle American soldiers having a lot of trouble with something like Châtelet-Les Halles: think a giant shopping center full of tunnels.

  • A.WChuck

    “Sharpen your entrenching tools boys, we’re taking this city!”
    The future seems to be shaping up as a never ending Siege of Stalingrad.

  • John Yossarian

    Seriously? Just firebomb them from the sky – It worked in WWII.

    • FT_Ward

      It didn’t. The Soviets lost 300,000 troops in the Battle for Berlin, that city had been bombed for three years and didn’t have skyscrapers. It didn’t work at Stalingrad either. Wrecked masonry buildings are easier to defend that intact ones.

      • John Yossarian

        I was thinking of bringing them to heel – Not conquering terrain. That’s been the objective of war anyways. And it worked just fine against the Japanese.

        • FT_Ward

          Fire bombing Seoul? Mexico City? You aren’t talking about destroying Chinese cities are you?

        • Tassiebush

          The trouble is that’s based on an assumption that the conflict is in a place with no allies to get off side and no political fallout and the assumption that you’re own population which probably has at least a minority from that part of the world won’t care about what you do. Back in ww2 you had an alien culture and a familiar one that had both been in a very aggressive drawn out war with us (assuming you’re American.
          I’m Australian) and they had threatened and occupied large areas and bombed them etc.
          Propaganda was easy against that, but since then things have changed a lot.
          It’s a win the battle lose the war or bring the war home scenario these days.
          Having said all that a large part of this is about having the strategy, ideology and propaganda to prevail. Maybe the trick is more one of offering reasonable terms and arming everyone in a city and presurring them as a larger community to deal with the enemy while keeping things at arm’s length.

    • int19h

      Check out Battle of Grozny 1994.

      Also Donetsk right now.

      • Thiago Kurovski

        What about Second Grozny?

  • Michael A. Pickle

    Piffle, just throw grenades until the screaming stops then follow with a satchel charge. Problem solved.

  • Martingard

    Trying to be “Politically Correct” in a war zone is just not ‘Fundamentally Correct’. Our troops get killed while the enemy hides behind civilians. Being picky is suicidal.

  • David Goldberg

    The future is an 80’s movie. Get ready for it.

  • FT_Ward

    The major tactical problem would be clearing and holding skyscrapers especially ones with underground connecting tunnels, sub-ways etc. Destroying an allies city may not be in the cards so knocking them all down may not be an option. The civilians in the buildings would also have to be looked after in some fashion.

    It would be interesting to see a two sided exercise run in a skyscraper- 30-40 stories plus- scheduled for demolition so mouse holing etc.could be done. Given a competent enemy company (-) in defence who had a week or so to prepare I expect it would be a brigade (+) objective which brings us back to how big an army do you need.

    BTW Seoul has 71 buildings in this range and Mexico City has 17.

  • Renato H M de Oliveira

    Destroy the cities’ water and energy supply, destroy its largest bridges and other accesses and wait a few days. The city will surrender soon.

  • Jay

    “Megacities Are the Future of Infantry Combat”….
    …and the caliber of weapons will be measured in Megatons.

    • No one

      You want to equip our brave nuclear staff with mere jamomatic poodleshooter assault megaton ICBMs?!

      The future of warfare demands a harder hitting Gigaton range battle ICBM design!

    • Thiago Kurovski

      Actually the current ICBMs use hundred-kiloton caliber, “SCHV” bullets.

      I’m serious. Look up MIRVs.

  • Mike

    Urban warfare, so a short rifle, like a bulpup would be in order.

    • No one

      Or we could just stick to 14″-16″ barreled carbines like a vast majority of most modern armies have adopted standard issue so far.

  • survivor50

    “Urban Environments” is why lots of WW II vets didn’t want to talk about it.
    Thank GOD for the JUNGLE…

  • tiger

    The future is Urban? The past 70 years of results say we kinda suck at urban war. Short of leveling places.