In the next 30 years, the UN predicts that nearly three out of every four people in the world will live in an urban area. The implications for such large-scale urbanization trends are profound. Competition over scarce resources will be exacerbated. Violent ideologies will be amplified with increased interaction among people. Governments will struggle to both provide services at scale and sufficiently represent increasingly diverse interest groups. The effects will undoubtedly be destabilizing, and the American military will be called to operate in such areas in support of US national interests.

The aim of this Capstone is to evaluate emerging technologies and their implications for enhanced warfare in dense urban environments in the next 20 years by focusing on the case study of Seoul, Korea. The research shows that in order to achieve decision advantage across the levels of war (tactical, operational, and strategic), the Army must prioritize investments in data integration and analysis platforms that both enhance individual soldier situational awareness and also enable faster, more informed decisions by senior leaders.

This study identified three conditions that will shape how technology is used for future combat. The first trend is that advanced technology is more easily accessible, reducing the historical technological advantage of US ground forces. Second, future operational complexities in dense urban terrain will necessitate the operational speed achieved by autonomous weapon systems. Finally, warfare will always incentivize the adversaries’ development of capabilities that mitigate technological advantages.