Military operations in megacities
A linguistic perspective
The challenge of conducting future military operations within megacities (cities with populations over ten million) lies in understanding the dynamic and multidimensional complexities of these urban areas. Military operations in megacities, whether combat-oriented or otherwise, will be similar to those in other urban environments, but will be complicated by factors unique to the megacity environment.
First and foremost, megacities are largely multilingual. While this can be said of large cities in general, the scale of multilingualism in megacities magnifies its effects. For instance, in New York City (NYC) - a metropolitan megacity of over eighteen million people - nine foreign languages are spoken by communities of one hundred thousand or larger. Language also plays a role in determining one's identity and the language community in which one decides to live. For example, the majority of Russian speakers in NYC tend to live in south Brooklyn and Staten Island, while Chinese speakers tend to cluster in Manhattan and Sunset Park. In megacities, language, culture, and regional context go hand in hand and often reach beyond ethnic identities.
In order to fully understand the context of a megacity, we must understand the role of the languages used in its communities. How _____(1) language communities interact in megacities? What tensions _____ (2) caused by multiple language communities in urban space? What role______ (3) language play in the power structures (government or otherwise) of megacities?
Adapted from Military Review - Jan/Feb 2016