WASHINGTON: As the US military refocuses on Russia and China, it mustn’t forget the hard-won lessons of Afghanistan and Iraq, because they’ll only become more relevant in future conflicts. With technology spreading, populations rising, and megacities sprawling, “war among the people” — whether it’s counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, or just conventional warfare in an urban setting — will only get nastier and harder to avoid.
You thought roadside bombs were bad? Imagine off-the-shelf mini-drones bombing US troops. Homebrewed high explosives got you down? Imagine extremists with 3D printersand a database of weapon designs. Suicide car bombs? Imagine explosive-laden cars that drive themselves. US military transmissions jamming each other by accident? Imagine guerrillas getting cheap GPS and radio jammers online. Media revealing military secrets or reporting faux pas that get the local population up in arms? Imagine that local population, enemy informants included, tweeting video of everything US forces do.
“The problem of war among the people is getting harder,” said Paul Scharre, a former Army Ranger and civil affairs officer. “It’s getting more lethal, and people are empowered by information technology: They’re able to communicate and organize for action in ways they weren’t ten years ago. All of that makes war on the ground much more challenging.”
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