In the past, most big battles were fought on empty plains, forests, and farmland. Unfortunately, global growth, new technologies, and political changes have altered fighting methods. Battles for Mosul, Aleppo, and many other strategic locations are fought within the cities themselves. This new trend towards urban conflict may have some concerning effects on civilian populations. The UN Refugee Agency fears that there will be an impending humanitarian catastrophe if preventative measures are not taken.
Warfare Changes Result in More Urban Warfare
In the past few decades, more people are becoming aware of the toll that urban warfare takes. When a highly populated city is attacked, hundreds of people can be killed in just a few minutes. If violent terrorists have taken a city, they may indiscriminately harm the population. Unfortunately, injuries occur even when troops are attempting to liberate the city. Even if the military is not actively targeting civilians, they can be caught in the crossfire or injured when strategically important buildings are bombed.
When wars are fought in cities, it can be difficult to determine the difference between civilians and hostile troops. In some sad instances, the military does not care. For example, the Syrian government haphazardly bombs Aleppo and Damascus districts without trying to protect or separate civilians from the military. Not only are civilians confused with soldiers frequently, but some military officers may force civilians to work for them as soldiers or manual laborers. This results in a variety of moral and ethical dilemmas.
There are many factors that have contributed towards this rise in urban warfare. As farming and hunting become a less effective way of life, low-income families travel to cities to start over. In many developing regions, this results in huge cities like Cairo and Mosul that are full of unrest. Clashing cultures, extensive poverty, a lack of resources, and corrupt governments can cause battles to break out at any moment. Sadly, over 50 million people are currently living in war-ravaged cities. They struggle to find food and water, and explosive remnants hidden under roads or in buildings can harm unsuspecting civilians at any time.
The shifting globalization trends make it likely that most wars will continue to be fought in cities. Therefore, many governments are creating new technologies to adapt to this new method of warfare. In most instances, these new technologies are intended to reduce civilian casualties while reducing enemy troops more accurately. There is a higher focus on espionage and surveillance of electronic communications. When employed correctly, these new spy technologies can determine the location of hostile troops and ensure that no civilians are caught in the area.
New technologies are not just limited to hacking phones or internet service in the area. Some nations are developing small drones and wearable sensors so that leaders can monitor troops and prevent friendly fire from harming civilians. There is a shifting trend away from widescale bombs and machine guns as new technologies search for ways to only target those who are not innocent civilians. Though new globalization trends may be responsible for more urban warfare, technological innovations could save civilian lives.
New Technology Is Needed to Prevent Humanitarian Disasters
Currently, battles in cities have extremely grave consequences. Not only are more civilians killed, but more civilians also have to flee their homes. This leads to an influx of refugees in other areas, and the clash of cultures is causing political unrest in areas like Germany. Though more efficient ways of fighting wars are typically seen as a bad thing, new technologies designed for city warfare may be able to cut back on casualties.
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