DARPA’s Future War on the Urban Poor

Posted: August 11, 2008 in 2007, Articles, Intel Doc's
Tags: , ,

Below is an excerpt from the larger article: “Baghdad 2025: The Pentagon Solution to a Planet of Slums“, by Nick Turse and Tom Engelhardt:

In his tour de force Planet of Slums, Mike Davis observes, “the Pentagon’s best minds have dared to venture where most United Nations, World Bank or State Department types fear to go… [T]hey now assert that the ‘feral, failed cities’ of the Third World – especially their slum outskirts – will be the distinctive battlespace of the twenty-first century.” Pentagon war-fighting doctrine, he notes, “is being reshaped accordingly to support a low-intensity world war of unlimited duration against criminalized segments of the urban poor.”

In fact, this past October the U.S. Army issued its latest “urban operations” manual. “Given the global population trends and the likely strategies and tactics of future threats,” it declares, “Army forces will likely conduct operations in, around, and over urban areas – not as a matter of fate, but as a deliberate choice linked to national security objectives and strategy, and at a time, place, and method of the commander’s choosing.” Global economic deprivation and poor housing, the hallmarks of the urban slum, are, the manual asserts, what makes “urban areas potential sources of unrest” and thus, “[i]ncreases the likelihood of the Army’s involvement in stability operations.” And “idle” urban youth (long a target of security forces in the U.S. “homeland”), loosed in the future slum city from the “traditional social controls” of “village elders and clan leaders” and prey to manipulation by “nonstate actors” draw particular concern from the manual’s authors.

Given the assumed need to be in the urban Iraqs of the future, the question for the U.S. military becomes a practical one: How to deal with these uppity children of the third world. That’s where DARPA and other Department of Defense (DoD) dreamers come in. According to DARPA’s 2004 report, what’s needed are “new systems and technologies for prosecution of urban warfare… [and] new operational methods for our soldiers, Marines, and special operations forces.”

Today, DARPA, and other Pentagon ventures like the Small Business Innovation Research Program (in which the “DoD funds early-stage R&D projects at small technology companies”) and the Small Business Technology Transfer Program (where funding goes to “cooperative R&D projects involving a small business and a research institution”) are awash in “urban operations-oriented programs.” These go by the acronym of UO and are designed to support tomorrow’s interventions and occupations. The Director of DARPA’s Information Exploitation Office put it this way:

“[They are aimed at] conflicts in high density urban areas… against enemies having social and cultural traditions that may be counter-intuitive to us, and whose actions often appear to be irrational because we don’t understand their context.”

These programs include a wide range of efforts to visualize, map out, and spy on the global mega-favelas that the U.S. has, until now, largely scorned and neglected. A host of unmanned vehicles are also being readied for surveillance and combat in these future “hot-zones,” while all sorts of lethal enhancements are in various stages of development to enable American troops to more effectively kick down the doors of the poor in 2025.

Read the rest, including the new high tech programs and technologies they hav eon the drawing board for this ‘problem’, here.

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