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180907urbanization400NATO Urbanization Wargame took place in Shrivenham, UK from 2-7 September.

Mega Cities, triggered by massive influx of population from rural areas, will require different military skill-sets, adjusted processes and new technology for NATO and national forces to successfully address security challenges. To prepare what is needed in 2035 and beyond to prevail in urbanized areas, experts from military and non-military sectors gather at the UK Defence Academy in Shrivenham, UK, to war game possible urban scenarios in the future.

The interest in this Wargame is intense as it aims to develop the abilities of allied forces to succeed in condensed urban environment. On Wednesday, September 5th, Air Marshal Edward Stringer, CB, CBE, MA, BEng, Director General of Joint Force Development and Defence Academy, received first-hand information about the Wargame and its way ahead. He was welcomed by Brigadier General Philippe Boisgontier, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Capability Requirements, Targets and Review, representing NATO Allied Command Transformation as one of the sponsors of the Wargame. Air Marshal Stringer showed great interest in the NATO concept development process. The concept as a result of the Wargame recognises the importance of information in the urban operational conceptual development across all domains and it is crucial for NATO nations to continue their work to be able to adopt, develop those warfighting capabilities, tactics and procedures in order to operate successfully in the complex urban environment in future.

Major General Mitch Mitchell (MBE), Director of Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre of the UK Ministry of Defence, stated in his key note address at the beginning of the Wargame that “this is something that NATO badly needs”. Mitchel is convinced that “this project is a major international undertaking. The likelihood of us operating in a condensed urban environment has increased significantly. The value of good concepts to form coherent force development across all nations is vital to compete in this environment better tomorrow and tomorrow’s tomorrow.”

What started with a study phase in 2014, is now culminating in an Urbanization Wargame, helping to prepare the Alliance for future scenarios. Military and civilian representatives from 12 NATO and two Partner nations, NATO Centres of Excellence, governmental and non-governmental organizations, city representatives as well as academia and industry are involved in war gaming urban scenarios. A total of 70 attendees, including Senior Advisors, and Adjudicators who are a part of the white cell and exercise control (EXCON) and players who are grouped in blue, red and green teams identify potential gaps in the current military capabilities by using three vignettes: Deployment into non-member nation, offensive operations to eject enemy forces, and transitioning to stability activities and civil authority. Two simulating models (Archaria and MARVEL) are used at the Wargame enabling participants to better understand key features of the urban environment and the role of the blue, red and green teams but also give them insights of the consequences of their planned courses of actions.

Recommendations to adapt a particularly military skill-set, processes and technology needed to succeed in urban areas will be published in a report available to NATO nations, partners and civilian entities in fall this year. In addition, the results will support the NATO Defence Planning Process and its follow-on work but also be reflected in the Strategic Foresight Analyses and Framework for Future Alliance Operations, published by NATO Allied Command Transformation. Both documents are geared towards anticipating and preparing for the ambiguous, complex and rapidly changing future security environment.