As tiny flying UAVs blanket an impoverished neighborhood, a squad of special-ops Spidermen and Geko warriors will crawl and slither up apartment-building walls, while teams of robots are simultaneously hopping through first floor windows, and Terminator-Human teams are kicking down front doors to capture an enemy drug kingpin. Nearby "angry crowds" of politically-minded youth will be engaged by heavily-armed tele-operated SWORDS Talon robots, while a few up-armored cyborg troops, at a safe distance, fire their loitering smart grenades at a gathering crowd of armed slum-dwellers who believe themselves well hidden and protected in nearby alleyways.
Of course, no matter the fantasies of Pentagon scientists and planners, such futuristic solutions will not replace U.S. reliance on massive firepower, even in labyrinthine cities, as was true with Tokyo during World War II, Pyongyang during the Korean War, Ben Tre in Vietnam, and the Sunni city of Fallujah during the current war in Iraq. As Major Tim Karcher, the operations officer for the Army's Task Force 2-7 Cavalry, recalled of the American assault on Fallujah in November 2004, "We sat there for a good six or seven hours…watching… this death and destruction rain down on the city, from AC-130 [gunship]s to any kind of fast-moving aircraft, 155 [millimeter] howitzers. You name it, everybody was getting in the mix."
Given the military's fear of sending large numbers of American troops into the enemy- friendly landscape of the urban mega-slum, where significant casualties are almost unavoidable, this form of Pentagon-preferred urban renewal is unlikely to be replaced, no matter what technologies come down the pike.
Monday, July 30, 2007
Nick Turse at Tom Dispatch has a look at future "urban pacification" plans.