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U.S. future wars

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Guerrillas in the West

Why our next war will be fought in cities.

By Shawn Brimley (The Washington Monthly, Nov-Dec 2013)

Two years after former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates left the Pentagon, he bluntly told an audience of West Point cadets that “any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should have his head examined.” With U.S. troops home from Iraq and drawing down in Afghanistan—and as the recent debate concerning potential U.S. involvement in Syria underscores—the American people are decidedly uninterested in sending their young men and women again into combat overseas.

But as Leon Trotsky said, “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.” The unfortunate truth is that however unpopular the cause or circumstance, the United States will encounter war again. It is therefore incumbent on America’s leaders—both civilian and military—to prepare for what that future war might require. Those leaders ought to read David Kilcullen’s new book closely.

Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerilla is an ambitious effort to describe how twenty-first-century conflict is migrating away from small mountain villages, farming areas, and frontier valleys of places like Afghanistan into sprawling cities like Mumbai or Mogadishu, where ubiquitous technology is enabling groups to establish networks of influence that are eroding the ability of governments to retain and exercise power and defend their citizens… MORE



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