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Out of the Mountains: The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla


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David Kilcullen's new book, Out of the Mountains, is based on the premise that demographic trends and the democratization of technology will force many, if not most, future wars into highly connected, densely populated, littoral areas. And whether or not Western militaries currently have any intention of fighting in those sorts of conflicts, history demonstrates we will. Efforts that begin as humanitarian assistance or noncombatant evacuation may overlap areas of complex urban conflict. Even during state-on-state wars, irregular operations in urban terrain will feature prominently. These conflicts, regardless of the form they take, will share several characteristics.


Through a series of vignettes that include Somalia, the Mumbai attacks, and the Arab Awakening, the author shows how urban-littoralized battles are occurring in increasing frequency and involve not just local, but international actors. Whereas I provided a Reader's Digest version of the new phenomenon of networked urban "flash" insurgencies in UW 2.0, Kilcullen lays out in significant detail how soccer hooligans, social media, and online activists became the action arms in the revolutions that rapidly toppled Arab governments earlier in the decade, and how these same types of actors will impact future urban conflict.






* There is value in this book for a range of audiences; urban planners, diplomats, NGOs involved in conflict resolution, Marines, and special operators can all take away something from Kilcullen's field research and analysis. For naval observers, the appendix, in which the author discusses some capabilities required by military forces operating in and around networked urban environments, might be the most interesting part of the book. Kilcullen questions some of the assumptions behind current Naval/Marine Corps doctrine including the ability to bypass urban areas with vertical lift and the validity of sea-basing, although he notes that expeditionary logistics are as important as ever.




* I would also add of value to those who like to know what is going on in GWOT

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